HOWB 021 – Building the Sassafras Wooden Canoe; Celebrating 20 Episodes!

by admin on February 9, 2012



Building the Sassafras Canoe – Dan Mattson
In today’s episode I talk about the Sassafras 12′ Canoe project I am working on.    I am building the canoe using plans from the book “The Canoe Shop” by Chris Kulczycki.  If you are interested, you can order this book on my website resources page.

The first thing I did when I purchased the book was to cut the binding off with my band saw, then have Office Depot spiral bind the book (cost $4.00) so I could lay it open on my work bench.  A couple other things I did a little differently:

  • I placed the panel layout closer together on the plywood so I can build the boat out of 3 sheets of Okoume instead of 4.  To do this, I entered all the diagrammed panel offsets into an Excel table, then used Excel’s fraction capability to deduct from each of the offsets to arrive at offsets that would place the panels closer together on the plywood.  If you want help doing this in Excel, just let me know –  it’s pretty slick. Here’s a pic of my Excel spreadsheet (please don’t use these numbers for anything!):

Original Table of Offsets and revised Table

  • As you can see from the table, the planks were originally space about 4″ apart, I reduced the spacing to 1/4″.  The only downside doing all this is that I will have to make five extra panel cuts – if you use 4 sheets, you can cut all 20 of the half panels in 5 cuts.
  • I used Chinese knockoff BS1088 plywood at 1/2 the cost of certified BS1088.  The jury is still out on this cheaper stuff – the plys are not equal thickness and there are a few stains and surface imperfections.
  • I increased the scarf to 1 1/2″ (4mm ply).
  • I am tracking all my time and costs for the project – this is a first for me!!!
To hear more of the gory details, click on the green player button above!

Here’s some pics of the project:

My trusted helper "Woodenboat Wilson"


Saber saw mouth with black marks as guides


Abattening we will go, abattening we will go, hi ho the dairyo......


Listener Feedback On My First 20 Episodes:
I wrote to my trusted email subscription list (click here to subscribe) asking them to help me celebrate my first 20 episodes by answering one of two questions: 1.) Which is your favorite episode and why;  2.) What would you like see on future episodes.

Thank you to Tug Buse, Pete Leenhouts (Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building), Tom Raidna (, and Chris Kleinfelter ( for your responses.  Click on the green player button above to listen.

Want to help?  Please leave feedback!
I want to build a community of people from all over the world who want to connect, learn, share stories and photos, and have fun with wooden boats.  I would REALLY appreciate you sending me wooden boats pics, stories, or projects you are working on.  You can also write in my blogs comment sections, email me at, or call my feedback hotline at 424 261-2360.  And click on Subscribe to subscribe to my email news list.


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