Build a Willow-Ribbed Canoe

View Syllabus

Skin-on-frame boats evolved from baskets. Coracles — round, basket-like crafts — are still in use in Wales for salmon fishing; Irishmen still row their Currachs off their wild west coast, and native people of the arctic still fish from kayaks and umiaks. Yet these boats also appear in a variety of modern forms—from tough whitewater, aluminum framed take-down boats, to wood-framed, nylon skinned baidarkas.

By combining Celtic and Native American methods and designs with traditional and modern materials, we will produce a 10½’ by 27” wide double paddle canoe weighing about 18 pounds. We will use forty willow rods for the ribs, water-based glue; cotton or hemp cord for lashing, a polyester fabric for the skin, and water base polyurethane for waterproofing. In this boat building course, students will acquire the principles to build various sized canoes, kayaks or skiffs. The finished class project will be raffled off to participants for $590.


Building Systems Design and Building Science


All levels


  • Sterling College: 1 Continuing Education Unit ($130 additional)
  • American Institute of Architects (AIA): 14 Learning Units

Related Courses