Opelu Canoe – Cutting And Assembly

Here I’m cutting the long planks to form the sides of the canoe cutting_panels02


The finished planks. Each piece is shaped differently and when stitched together will ‘shape’ the canoe.






Stitched together with plastic cable ties

I experimented with hanging the canoe to let gravity determine the fore and aft rocker.hanging_canoe03

Later I added a box frame as the sides were ‘flapping’ around.






The canoe glued together!

Opelu Canoe – Scarf and Glue Plywood

OK, I have my scale model and now it’s time to start making the ‘real’ canoe! Just to recap: I decided not to use either the Waka Ama or Ulua plans, but to create my own design using the scale drawing in “The Hawaiian Canoe” on page 69. I made two 1/4 scale models of the canoe hull – one out of solid redwood, and one from plywood strips I stitched together the same as I’ll be doing with the full-size canoe. My first step will be scarfing together two sheets of 1/4″ marine ply; these will be joined end-to-end to make a single sheet 4 ft wide by almost 16 ft long. scarf_n_glue01

I start by stacking the sheets of plywood on top of each other pushing each sheet back from the edge 2″ – this will create a 1:8 ratio for the angle of the scarf. Using a plane and sander I make the scarf.


The finished scarf. This is actually 4 sheets of 1/4 inch plywood.

scarf_n_glue05Here all 4 sheets are ready to be glued up at one time.


All glued and clamped. The epoxy resin glue will create a joint as strong as the wood around it.



The finished joint. Now I have a sheet of plywood that is 15 ft 10 inches long.

Opelu Canoe – Model and Design

I’ve been studying the canoe designs in “The Hawaiian Canoe” by Tommy Holmes, as well as the Ulua by Gary Dierking, and the Waka Ama by Selway-Fisher. I’ve come to the conclusion that the Waka Ama is not really a “Hawaiian” design in that the bow and stern are symmetrical: meaning that the canoe can be propelled either way – just depending on which direction you set up the seats. This is a common design in parts of the Pacific – but not in Hawaii. The Ulua is primarily a sailing canoe; in his book “Building Outrigger Sailing Canoes” Gary Dierking even comments “I’m a sailor and I’ll only paddle if I must.” From what I’ve learned/read most Hawaiian style, single hull, outrigger canoes are primarily paddling canoes – that may also be sailed.

OpeluWith that in mind I’ve done my best to build a 1/4 scale model of the Opelu canoe from “The Hawaiian Canoe” page 69. Using some scrap redwood I created this modelIMG_20130708_193122.

This is 46 inches long X 4.75 inches wide so the finished canoe should be about 15 feet 4 inches long and 19 inches wide. Planning to make this as a ‘stitch and glue’ canoe I then cut plywood planks also at 1/4 scale.

IMG_20130709_161139After stitching together with wire the model looks like this:




With no bulkheads or seats to maintain the shape I inserted temporary cross pieces to hold the proper width. Now I just have to scale this up to Full Size!