Build small whilst thinking big


Experiment with cedar strip canoe building with this 1:12 scale model from Bear Mountain Boats

The cedar strip method of boat building allows for the creation of some truly beautiful canoes and kayaks. This comes not just from the natural colours of the epoxy-coated wood, but also from the way the thin planks can be curved and twisted to create the sleek shape of the hull. A master at this is Canadian-based Ted Moores, who along with his partner Joan Barrett have been building head-turning craft since 1974.

The couple own and run Bear Mountain Boats at Westport near Ontario, where they build a wide range of wooden canoes using WEST SYSTEM epoxy and run occasional seminars to pass on their skills.

Ted Moores and Joan Barrett

Epoxycraft was contacted by Matt Snell, who is part of the team of craftsmen that work with the company. “I help Joan and Ted with some of their tech stuff and I’m submitting this entry on their behalf,” Matt wrote. “Ted is the author of Canoecraft, a popular manual on the construction of wood-strip epoxy canoes. We thought this little project might be of interest to epoxycraft readers.”

‘Little’ project is the operative word, because the team have come up with an ingenious way of not only recycling leftover wood but also of allowing budding canoe builders to try the skill sets on a small-scale project first.

“After many years of building canoes and selling material to small builders, we’ve noticed there are lots of woodworkers who would like to try their hand at small boat building but simply don’t yet have the space – or the confidence,” Matt explained. “We also noticed we had a lot of off-cuts of high quality wood lying around from our larger projects and kits. The idea to make 1:12 model kits came about as a result.”

The kits are supplied with WEST SYSTEM 105 Epoxy Resin with 207 Special Coating Hardener for a clear finish. This combination really brings out the richness of the natural wood.

“The fact that building these models is so similar to the process of building at full scale is quite appealing,” Matt continued. “Model makers set up moulds just as they would on a bigger project. The two varieties we currently sell match the specifications of the Peterborough Canadian and Chestnut Prospector. Apart from the satisfaction of actually building one, they just look great on a bookshelf or mantelpiece. We’ve even had a customer tell us she presented a model canoe to her partner instead of an engagement ring when she proposed!”

(The charming story of this unusual marriage proposal can be found here)

Matt is convinced that these models will really help people keen to learn the hugely satisfying art of cedar strip planking, but on a manageable scale.

“If you’re intimidated by the prospect of building a full-size canoe, this is a great way to familiarise yourself with every step of the process while keeping the time and resources investment under control,” he said. “The epoxy fibreglass layup at this scale is particularly good practice.”

The kit includes all the material necessary to make the mould, planking, decks, stems, gunwales, thwarts paddles and display stand. Also included is the required WEST SYSTEM epoxy along with the fibreglass cloth that helps to strengthen the finished hull. There is a 40-page instruction booklet but also plenty of video-tutorial online from other canoe enthusiasts. The kits are suitable for ages of 14 and up and should take around 35 hours of absorbing work to complete. The kit for either design currently costs Canadian $125 ex-shipping, although customers outside North America need to be aware that epoxies can’t be sent by air so would need to be shipped surface mail or sourced from your local WEST SYSTEM epoxy distributor. 

More details can be found at Here you will also find some fascinating features, guides, videos and customer feedback on how to build your very own bespoke canoe.


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