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FAQ

Can an inexperienced person build a canoe?

Absolutely! Be prepared to take your time and read our books completely before you start. You can buy the plans to shorten the process and give you confidence in the design. There is lots of tech support available either through the Bear Mountain builders forum and directory as well as from the companies selling the materials you will be using.


What is the average amount of time taken to build a canoe?

This varies depending on how many of the parts the builder makes and how many are purchased already machined. It also depends on the skill level of the builder. Ted suggests that it should take anywhere from 100 to 250 hours with 200 hours a good average.


How much is shipping?

For the kits, it can vary depending on location, weight and size. Once you've placed your order, we will contact you with a final quote. See our Shipping Page for details on costs.


Since many of the plans are shown in the table of offsets in Canoecraft and KayakCraft, what is the advantage of buying plans?

There are some builders who want to cut the wood on their own property, saw the log on their own mill and then draw their own plans. The point is, our method of small boat building allows you to get involved in the process where you choose. If you feel the need to loft your own boat, there are several good references that will teach the process. If the building process is of more interest to you than learning the craft of lofting, plans are probably a good place for you to begin your project.


Why do the plans show only one side of the hull?

The problem with full-size paper plans is that like wood, the paper is affected by humidity; a rise in humidity will cause the fibers to expand and the size of the paper will expand. We address this problem a number of ways.

Our plans are printed on high quality drafting paper with a high-rag content. The stability of this expensive paper is far superior to copy paper but there is still the possibility of some change. Working from plans that are on one sheet means that if there is a change in the size of the paper, the change happens to all the stations equally and they stay in proportion. Tracing one side of the mold and flopping it on the centerline ensures that the hull will always be symmetrical. We also seal the plans in a plastic tube immediately after printing so we can be sure they arrive at 100%. Storing the plans in the plastic sleeve when you are not working with them is recommended.


Why not print the complete mold station on separate pieces of paper?

If the paper does expand or shrink, the width of your boat will change twice the distance that it would have if it had been drawn on one side and the plan flopped on the centerline. The big consideration is who knows if all the sheets have changed at the same rate.


Why not print the plans on drafting Mylar?

Mylar is the most stable material for plans but most builders would find the added cost unreasonable. If our plans are stored carefully in the plastic sleeve, the added stability of the Mylar is redundant.


Who is Steve Killing?

Visit Stevekilling.com


In what way is Canadian Canoes associated with Bear Mountain Boats?

Ted and I have been working with Ron Frenette at Canadian Canoes for years. Ron Frenette started Canadian Canoes in the mid 1980's while working at a day job teaching Outdoor Education with the Toronto Board of Education. Some how in the evenings Ron and his wife Pat found the time to operate their company which focused on helping people to build their own canoes and kayaks - and to learn to paddle them. Now that he has retired from teaching Ron spends his time helping people build boats and supplying parts for Bear Mountain as well as taking some of us lucky folks on canoe trips each summer. We are fortunate to work with Ron and to have access to his vast experience building and using small boats. Ron’s proximity to the trucking companies in Toronto saves our customers in shipping costs since Peterborough is located 150 miles from Toronto.


In what way is Bear Mountain associated with Noah’s Marine?

Bear Mountain Boats is not associated with Noah's Marine. 


Can I stain my canoe before fibreglassing, or will this interfere with epoxy adhesion?

Yes, you can use stain as long as it is not oil-based. For more info on aniline dyes, see Kayaks You Can Build, which includes details on three kayaks Ted built using a cherry red, a green and a black stain over plywood. They looked amazing, though it is important to experiment first as the colour of the wood combines with the colour of the dye to produce a new tone.

Also note that West System technical staff did testing and found some oil-based stains will work. See this article for more.


Can you use a roller to apply epoxy?

You can, but first we prefer the brush and squeegee method to apply epoxy, which will work best to fill the fibreglass weave and offer better control. The roller will build up the depth of the layer of epoxy. See the fibreglassing videos in the Canoecraft Workshop Series on YouTube for more.


 I’ll be in the Westport area. Can I pick up my order in person?

Yes, of course. We are happy to show folks around our workshop. Pickups can be made if you’re in the area and would like to save on shipping costs. Call (705) 740-0470 or email info@bearmountainboats.com to discuss details. Pickups are also possible in the Mississauga region through our partner Ron Frenette of Canadian Canoes.


I’m wondering about using my locally available woods rather than western red cedar. What considerations should I be aware of?

The building system we use relies on core composite construction with two strong layers of glass and epoxy with wood planking as a spacer. The structural strength is supplied by the fibreglass and epoxy, meaning you can use almost any type of wood. The main consideration will be the final weight - look for a species that will weigh about 25 lb/cubic foot.

Weight consideration applies to the trim you choose as well, though to a lesser degree. You should also factor in whether you will be able to mill strips at the required length, and how easy the wood is to work with. Knotty wood, for instance, necessitates numerous joints and will affect the final appearance. With those caveats in mind, feel free to experiment! Using local wood just makes sound ecological and economic sense. 


Are your plans available as a digital download?

No, our plans are only sold in hard copy at this time.


How many layers of varnish do you recommend?

It depends on your varnish’s ultraviolet inhibitor. Marine varnish should list the percentage protection per coat, and you should aim for 12% total. Using Pettit Hi-Build this amounts to four coats.


 Should I apply epoxy to the trim as well as the hull for extra protection?

Some builders choose to do so, but we don’t recommend it. Varnishing the trim will provide adequate protection from the elements. Because varnish is not as hard, it is more resistant to cracking, which can happen easily to epoxied gunwales when thumped by a paddle, etc.


 How often should I re-varnish my canoe?

With normal use, you might re-varnish every 3-4 years to ensure optimal protection and longevity for your craft. Always store your boat out of direct sunlight. Of course it will depend on how much you use your boat.  Regular inspection to check the integrity of the varnish will tell you when to re-apply – if it is wearing off then don’t wait to apply more.


 What type of varnish do you recommend?

Ted prefers Pettit Hi-Build varnish because it builds up layers easily and offers excellent UV protection. You can order Pettit Hi-Build from our shop here [LINK].


I’d like to scale my project to a custom size. Is this advisable?

You can increase or reduce a model’s length by up to twelve inches without drastically altering performance. Our rule of thumb is to make the changes evenly over the length of the mold. Beyond that, we can’t say with any certainty what the boat’s final characteristics will be. There is a section in Kayakcraft which will assist in you in understanding the design principals involved.


 I’ve found a deal on fibreglass. What weight should I look for?

Fibreglass cloth is not a good area to make economies, as cheap varieties could be difficult to work with but more importantly have poor longevity and adhesion strength.

The finish on the glass is important since it is the interface between the glass and the resin. Most common fiberglass cloth is formulated requiring a resin with a solvent to bond properly. Since epoxy is 100% solids it does not have a solvent in it. We sell high-quality 6 oz x 60” fibreglass, selected for its compatibility with the woodstrip epoxy method and coated with a special finish to be compatible with West® System epoxy. Use caution when purchasing discount fibreglass. You might ask for technical data on the product you are purchasing.


 I’m an inexperienced paddler. Which model would you recommend for someone who is just starting out?

The Freedom 15 or Ranger 15 are very stable, versatile, and responsive designs and should please paddlers of all types. If you’re not an experienced canoeist these two are your safest choices. Some of our more specialized models like the Hiawatha and Redbird are excellent canoes, but are less forgiving in terms of stability. Refer to our comparison chart for more info.


I want to double-check – do the offset measurements for the molds make an allowance for the 1/4 inch strip thickness, or are they the outside finished size of the hull?

Yes, all our designs make an allowance for planking thickness.


 Will my canoe’s tumblehome affect the installation method for the gunwales?

No, in our experience we have never had a problem with installing seats or thwarts despite not making a special allowance for the tumblehome.

 

Still researching? Visit our Getting Started or Choosing a Design pages.

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