Lines Become Forms. Forms Become Canoes.

Engineers and marine architects draw circles and lines, complex designs that become ships. The 'Loftsman' extracts dimensions and details from designs, transforming them into ship-size templates and molds for making actual parts that get shaped and rolled. A smaller simpler vessel, the canoe, fits on a single sheet of paper.

NWC canoe plans eliminate the need for lofting. Complete a web order for any of our canoe plans and you receive an automated text message containing a hyperlink back to the NWC store. Click the download button. The next screen displays an end-view line drawing. Read on before you send us the “You’ve gotta be kiddin', these are worthless” email.

Start by saving the pdf on your screen to a USB or other portable media. Next, get connected to steam-roller size printer. Web search "large format copy services" if you don't have access to a large format printer. Chances are you will find a nearby copy shop that wants your business. FedEx Office certainly will come up (not an endorsement). Even if you live in a remote area, you can upload the pdf file through the FedEx Office website and have full-size canoe plans delivered to your door.

Simplify the transfer of plans to plywood by making multiple copies, one copy for each building form. Go through the stack of paper and consecutively highlight one form line on each of the drawings. Use the 'stems and horseshoes' template we provide to mark additional lines for attaching to your strongback. Tape the corners of one full size drawing onto the plywood or particleboard you plan to cut your forms out of. Cut a mask just outside the highlighted line. Lift the working part of the drawing and spray-glue the exposed plywood. Lay the paper back, smooth it flat and pull the mask away. Repeat for the next form and the next.

When a hand calculator cost $300 and we worked with mimeograph machines and blueprints, canoe builders would fold their plans in half along the stem line, lay carbon paper face down on their plywood, open the half-folded plans and trace a single form line, tracing necessary lines onto plywood via carbon paper, repeating for the opposite side of that form and each building form thereafter, a tedious one line at a time process. This process sill works if you make only one full size paper copy of our NWC canoe plans.

With every station and stem form represented on the plywood, you're ready to start cutting. A hand-held jigsaw or band saw will make quick work of the rough cutting. Cut to within a 1/4-inch of the highlighted line. Clamp the form to a solid horizontal surface so you can get to the edge. Use a belt sander (hold it loose and vertical) or other hand tool of choice to fair/smooth down to the highlighted line. It really is this simple. You can paste and cut a canoe in an afternoon. Lofting anxiety no longer stands between you and your handcrafted canoe.

Are you ready for cedar strips yet?

©2014 Northwest Canoe, Saint Paul, Minnesota