I had an idea for building an outrigger canoe – bend a sheet of plywood to form the middle section of the canoe, and the cut and ‘fold’ the ends to form the bow and stern. Why did I want to do this?? Because I had an idea…LOL…

Instead of jumping right into a full-scale canoe I thought it would be a good idea to start with a prototype.

I began with a full 4’X8′ sheet of 1/8″ plywood and made cuts for the middle ‘plank’ and the two gunwhale ‘planks’ on both the bow and the stern. (This is the stern).

Then I bent the plywood around two forms (this is now the bow).

I flipped it over and kept cutting each ‘plank’ to fit, screwing into a block I cut for the bow.

I stitched all the ‘planks’ together with plastic zip ties then epoxied the inside seams. Next I fiber-glassed and epoxied the outside seams.

I had an old ‘ama sitting around and a couple 2×2’s and lashed everything together. The finished “canoe” is just under 8’ long.

I paddled it up Kalihiwai River from the beach to the first set of rapids, 3/4 mile each way, with no problems! Prototype Successfull!!

Unfortunately I was having problems with my phone and didn’t take many pictures of the next phase, but…

I scarfed 1 1/2 sheets of plywood together to make a 12 foot canoe so I made a new frame/strong-back to shape the canoe.

Here’s the finished canoe. It was a “quick and dirty” construction process – proving the idea quickly was the goal.

This next canoe is also a 12 ft long. I’ve refined the design and am having fun with the results! It is made with 1/8″ marine plywood, which enables it to bend into the frame/strong-back. To strengthen the middle section (where you stand and work) I have laminated an additional sheet of 1/8″ ply about 4 ft long.

This canoe is just about 12′ long – so 1. 5 sheets of plywood scarfed together to make a 12′ sheet. This is the bow cut out..

Bow cut out, bent into the frame/strongback.

Bow ‘planks’ stitched together.

Bow fiber-glassed with epoxy resin.

Lashing iako to wae (outrigger arm to canoe).

Experimenting with a couple different ‘ama
designs. The smaller one rode too low –
completely submerged under the water!

Lashing ‘ama to iako.

Origami Canoe

I had a lot of fun with this project! Though I’m not sure if I’ll continue this design… the floor is so round inside that it is difficult to stand in the canoe. Laminating the additional ply to the center section of the canoe is a hassle and uses a lot of epoxy. Also the bottom is so round outside that any light breeze seems to blow me sideways!