What Are the Benefits of a Wooden Canoe?

Dan Cavallari

Modern canoe models are usually made from fiberglass, acrylic, Kevlar®, aluminum, or a combination of these materials. Less common is the wooden canoe, which was far more common before lighter materials were available. While a wooden canoe may not be as light as other types of canoes, it will have distinct advantages: the look and feel of the canoe made of wood will be unrivaled by other materials, and the construction of such a canoe can be done more easily than with other materials that require special machinery.

Wooden canoes are often built as part of efforts to preserve Native American culture.
Wooden canoes are often built as part of efforts to preserve Native American culture.

Making a fiberglass or Kevlar® boat often involves working with caustic chemicals and may require the use of special machinery. Making a wooden canoe requires common woodworking tools, but usually not large machinery, and there will be no caustic fumes from chemicals until the boat is stained and sealed. The variety of materials one can use when building a wooden canoe also lends it versatility and beauty: certain woods can be quite beautiful, but they can also be exceptionally resistant to water and sun damage, as well as damage from direct impacts. The look of the finished wooden canoe will be aesthetically pleasing and far more interesting than a canoe made from other materials.

The hull of the wooden canoe can be built quite narrow, making speed much easier to attain in the canoe. This design also lends itself to easier paddling, as the paddler will not have to work as hard to propel the boat forward. The hull can also be designed for exceptional maneuverability. It is usually coated with a layer of fiberglass to help protect the wood from impacts, though this layer of fiberglass is clear to allow the grain of the wood to show through. Such canoes are generally not used for boating on rough waters on rivers; instead, the boats are usually used only on calm, flat water.

These canoes are almost always handmade, which lends a certain mystique to the boat. In some cases, the wooden canoe can make a fine showpiece even when it is not in water, though the owner of such a boat is likely to pay far more for it than he or she would for a fiberglass, Kevlar®, or aluminum canoe. Repairs to wooden canoes can also be difficult, especially if the damage is quite severe. Minor repairs can generally be made easily, but again, the cost of such a repair may be greater than it would on other materials.

Readers Also Love

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Forgot password?