Stitching the Planks Together

Marking & Cutting Out the Planks
Joining the Plank Lengths
Stitching the Planks Together
Epoxying & Taping
Fitting Gunwales & Seats
Decking & Finishing

(Building a New Plywood Design)


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Stage 3 - Stitching the Hull Plank/Panels Together

 This is the exciting stage - having prepared our planks we will now start to form the hull by joining the planks/panels together along their edges (at the 'chines' and centreline) with stitches. I use nylon coated garden binding wire but some prefer old copper household cabling or plastic cable ties.

 The shape of the canoe will look awful to start with but be patient and reserve judgment until all the planks are stitched together and the bulkheads are in place.

18. Drill holes for the stitches—match up each pair of planks and drill 2.5mm holes roughly 6mm from the edge of the plank at approx. 250mm centres—along both edges of the bottom plank (No.1) and the top edge/chine of the other panels/planks except the top plank—hold a wood block under the planks as you drill so that the veneer on the underneath plank does not break out as the drill goes through. 19. Stitch the bottom pair of planks together along the centreline—I use medium weight garden binding wire—clip off 70mm lengths, push through the holes and twist the ends together on the outside of the plank—do not tighten the stitches at this stage.
20. Do not stitch right up to the very ends (around the bow and stern curve) - this will come later after all the planks are together and we then start to form the bow/stern. Open out the bottom pair of planks. 21. Stitch the next pair of planks to the first pair—start at the centre of each plank and again do not tighten the stitches.
22. Continue with the third pair of planks—do not worry about the overall shape of the canoe and leave the chine seams at the ends of the planks un-stitched. 23. Start to pull the planks into their correct position—stitch the 2 bulkheads in place at the lines previously marked on the inside of the planks—drill a pair of holes 15mm apart—one each side of the bulkhead position and drill a hole through the bulkhead to match, -  then stitch through.
24. Continue by stitching the 4th set of planks in place. 25. As already mentioned, do not stitch the ends of the planks together yet and leave the last part of the chines unstitched too.
26. Follow with the 5th and last plank. 27. Towards the bow and stern—release the stitches and shave the plank edges if the planks will not lie together without overlapping. Look at the shape of the bow/stern from the side and use a plane or sander to make any adjustments necessary to get a fair curve.
28. Tighten all the stitches—start with the centreline seam and work up the sides and towards the ends—make sure that the inner corners of the plank edges come together without overlap. When all the stitches have been tightened use 2 or 3 lengths of wood as ‘winding sticks’ across the gunwales to check for twist—if the sticks appear parallel there is no twist—if there is twist in the hull, adjust the stitches. 29. Gaps like this (right) are fine and will be filled with thickened epoxy—larger gaps should be filled with slivers of ply epoxied in place.

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