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Stonefly build in Australia


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Hi fellow boaties,


I have been building a stonefly with my 13 year old son Henry. I decided we needed another canoe as Henry grew and no longer was comfortable sitting between myself and my wife Polly in our touring canoe. I bought the Kudzu craft book online as I was intrigued by the SOF style and felt it would be a light weight solution to a second canoe as our fibre glass touring canoe is pretty heavy.

I started by plotting the frames on autocad using the offsets in Jeffs book. I then had them cut out of 15mm marine plywood on a CNC router which did a great job much faster and neater than I could  have done with the jigsaw. I then rounded all the edges with the trimmer and gave them a sand.


The freshly cut frames.

more to come.....

Tony and Henry


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I next sourced and bought some western red cedar for the stringers. I bought 10mm x 50mm 2 x 2.4m lengths and 2 x 3.0m lengths.

I then ripped it up on my table saw to the exact dimension of the stringers and gunwales and scarfed them together using my trusty epoxy glue. The scarf joints are about 300mm long. Next I ran it all through my router table with a 2mm radius round over bit. So far so good. I used masking tape to clamp it together whilst the glue sets. Brilliant stuff.








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The strongback. I bought 2 x 3.6m lengths of 90mm x 45mm framing timber for my strong back and screwed it to a few other bits of 90 x 45 to extend the length, carefully leveled and straightened it then added a few strips of MDF to give me a nice flat surface to build on . This was then screwed to some blocks on my little saw horses so it was at a good height. Before I did anything else I gave all the long lengths a sand as they were too long for my workbench. I then carefully marked out the frame positions made up some brackets and screwed them in place. Now I feels like something is happening.

After checking each frame for squareness, levelness plumbness and position Henry and I then layed the keel into the slots in the frame and clamped on 4 of the frames. I then decided to make 3 more frames to hold the other 3 frames in position.






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Starting to get very exciting as we added the top stringers and held them in place with the ocky straps. Next we clamped the bow and stern in place and quickly trimmed of any excess length before starting to trim the stringers to the stern. With my japanese saw and block plane we had them nicely fitted in no time. It was then we got out our new roll of sinew, drilled some holes and paying careful attention to the book made our first lashing. Pretty good though they all shifted down a few mm's on tighten them up. At the bow I had a hole above and below the stringer through the frame. That stopped them sliding anywhere. After that we started lashing the stringers and after our first frame and then resting our fingers we did a better job on the next frame. I did end up wearing some gardening gloves as I was getting some tender spots on the fingers. I reckon it took about 8 hours to complete the lashing and I must say that I am very impressed with this method of joining timber together. So much more elegant than screws and glue and I expect far stronger with the added bonus of having a bit of give.

Really starting to look like a canoe now, and very elegant it is too.














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Work has continued on the stonefly with good progress. Trimmed the cedar outwale to bow and stern and glued it to the frames and ends with epoxy being careful to apply just the right amount to minimise the clean up. Clamped it on then did the other one. Next I made the blocks out of marine ply and worked out how many and where I wanted them. I chose plywood as I think the stripey look matches the ends of the frames and I wanted minimal timber in between the gunwales. It was at this stage that I decided to add some handles to each end which Henry turned from some cedar. These determined how we would finish the inwales at their ends so as it all had to go together at the same time so it was important that it was all worked out before gluing up. I was a bit unsure how I would do the decks at this stage and in retrospect I should have done the rear handle the same as I did the front one but closer to the stern so a shorter handle was used.



I next glued the plywood blocks to the outwales then the inwales to the outwale/block assembly. I ran out of clamps so used masking tape which I find an excellent clamping device. The front handle was inserted into holes as we went and the rear handle was glued in place before. Once the glue was dried the tape was peeled and excess glue was trimmed off. Looking good and very pleased with the results.


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Really starting to look like a boat now. I decided to use more cedar for the decks as I didn't want too many different timber species competing for attention. I had some short bits lying around so ripped them to 12 mm thick with a slight taper on the edge then glued them together to get a slightly curved top to the decks. I made a couple of templates and settled on the size. As I mentioned in the previous post in retrospect I should have moved the rear handle forward a bit further and inserted the ends into the inwale instead of gluing it to the ends of them. This limited me to a shorter rear deck than i wanted and meant that the detailing varied between ends. Anyway I then glued a short reinforcing piece under the front deck before gluing it onto the trimmed tops of the gunwale and did the same to the rear deck. After the glue was set I trimmed the edges of the decks flush with the outwales and set about sanding all the timber carefully. I had already given the frames and stringers one coat of OSMO so I started by coating the gunwales, blocks and decks their first coat. A bit slow getting the finish between the in/outwalesDSC_0202.thumb.jpg.974ba7f16e77584c3a98586847f4154a.jpgDSC_0203.thumb.jpg.e9a78e7a0ef9bb66cb8992f0165b25c2.jpgDSC_0201.thumb.jpg.dee4512d738080b96bf848b091953930.jpgDSC_0206.thumb.jpg.c56a9d41c6066a6afcce0ea79bf9ed18.jpgDSC_0208.thumb.jpg.9de9a61828b94a80009b2dd69440b5e8.jpgDSC_0195.thumb.jpg.c4b25bf7e2a3da42f7cc39ed5a78b1ff.jpg but I was careful so I didn't get runs. Once the first coat was dry I gave it all a fine sand being careful not to sand the lashings and gave the whole frame the final coat of OSMO. When doing the finishing I took the canoe frame off the brackets and was pleased to feel how light it was even though the floors and thwarts were not in.  I also made a seat frame with blind mortice and tenon joints for strength.



I then flipped the frame over and made up the floors from 12mm marine ply. Pre drilled sanded and finished them then lashed them in. This was the hardest lashing job I think as one was bending over a lot and going from above and below to get the sinew through. But pleased with the result and once again can see the superiority of lashing over glue and screw.DSC_0235.thumb.jpg.0bbd87750f786aac1d8713be67681533.jpgDSC_0234.thumb.jpg.608bce2dd836bfb771267d1437a9323c.jpgDSC_0233.thumb.jpg.c1a45e723bdc76d5c7333f73618c2286.jpgDSC_0231.thumb.jpg.1f5ec723a6e3a9d0b1083c698199598c.jpgDSC_0236.thumb.jpg.bec3119706cf0b75182ba6d4b99ac591.jpgDSC_0237.thumb.jpg.61fcbf8b9029d9a73060f8c958f50852.jpg see . So very pleased so far and now I can start on the skin. Exciting and a bit scary.

I will post soon to let you know how I go.

cheers Tony



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When I use epoxy I always smear both mating surfaces and use enough to assure squeeze out all around.  I either clean it wet with solvent or trim it off when partially cured.  Some mask first, I usually can't be bothered.  Epoxy is a gap filler, when a little filler is used and clamping too tight starves the joint.


Boat looks great.

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Thanks Dave, 

Good advice re epoxy.


My stonefly is nearly finished now. I have successfully skun it and have given it 3 coats of finish with 1 to go.

The fabric went on really well with no dramas. Got myself some amusingly home made looking canvas pliers from chine an ebay which despite the crude construction of said tool did the job and allowed me to pull it up nice and tight. I had a few minor wrinkles along the gunwales which the iron managed to remove though I missed a couple on the underside where the fabric had been folded for postage. Maybe next time I will iron those out before I start. Got some stainless steel staples (8mm) which seemed just the right length. Made up some rubbing strips out of cherry I had in the workshop almost as much work in those as the rest of the build. 

Question - looking at making a greenland paddle. Will this type of paddle work for a stonefly?

Anyway here are some more photos even though this forum seems to be almost deserted!

Looking forward to getting it on the water, maybe next weekend. (sorry about the upside down photos I don't know what is going on there)

cheers Tony



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  • 3 weeks later...

well the stonefly is finished. I will add the remaining construction photos here then post in the launch section.


The final job to do was to coat the fabric using oil based exterior grade clear polyurethane. I put on 4 coats which is slightly yellow/green but overall not a bad look. I was a bit disappointed to notice s few wrinkles in the side after a few days. Nothing really bad but they show up and would look better without them. I did try a little heating with the heat gun from the inside, but I was so paranoid of melting that I don't think I heated it enough to do anything. It was possibly that the weather got a bit cooler and damper which didn't do anything to help.

Anyway after that I screwed on the side strips which is a pleasing finishing touch and added a couple of rubbing strips on the bottom.

I decided to use rubber balls for buoyancy but I couldn't lash the back one in so used a few plastic bottles. I will have to work on that as it looks a bit crap.

I lashed in my leather upholstered seat and we were ready to launch.

My rear thwart is just temporary.


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  • 3 months later...

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