Gary Gilland's Indienne ™ Cedarstrip Canoe

The summer of 2012 found Gary Gilland of Beacon NY building his second canoe in approximately 35 years. His first canoe was 10 feet long and of his own design. For this project he chose our Indienne ™ canoe design and used Northern White Cedar strips with Mahogany decks, hull accents, and gunwales.

Gary chose to laminate thin layers of wood together for the decks & gunwales, rather than steam bend these components, which works just as well for these dramatically curved parts.

Many thanks to Gary for sharing the following pictures and comments. His professional level of craftsmenship is very impressive!


The hull's sheerstrip ends are laminated strips of Northern White Cedar, stacked & glued together & then clamped over a template cut the same shape as our deck & gunwale template drawing included with our plans for steam bending these parts.


Here's the same laminated sheerstrip installed on the forms after the glue has dried. Gary is installing his strips "level", as demonstrated in our canoe plans.

Gary made arrow accents from Mahogany strips to enhance the hull's sides.


Here's what the arrow accents look like installed on the hull. Note how the curved laminated sheerstrip butts into the regular sheer strip.



End view during construction. Just a few fill-in strips are needed to complete this end.


Here's Gary's bottom arrow accent made from Mahogany strips being installed.


Here's a closeup view of the bottom arrow accent being installed.  


The bottom arrow accent is completed and looking fantastic!

Gluing up the laminated Mahogany strips for the gunwale ends.

 Here's two of the laminated gunwale ends after the glue has dried, waiting to be installed.


Installing the gunwales - merging the laminated curved gunwale pieces into the straight gunwale stock. Note Gary's version of a scarf joint to accomplish this (below). Note the additional, custom "Indian Head" decal graphic Gary ordered, installed next to our supplied Indienne logo decal. They are installed on each side of the bow.


Gary writes: "Instead of steam bending I decided to laminate the decks and gunwales. Each of the eight ends of the gunwales are made of ¼“x1”x 6’ Mahogany bent, glued and clamped over the same pattern used in the plans to steam bend them. I also used this same method to bend the ¼” x ¼” pieces of cedar for the sheer line so there would be no question or doubt the two would match. The decks were bent over the same pattern to ensure a good match also. They are made of Mahogany also. 3 pieces, ¼” x1”x18” long were laminated to form a ¾”x 1”x18” long curved piece. I then laminated 9 of them edge to edge to form a bent piece of wood ¾”x9”x18”. I did this twice, once for each deck then cut to fit to each triangle of the bow and stern. I covered each with cloth and epoxy, top and bottom. Later they would be covered again when gunwales are installed and wrapped with cloth and epoxied."

The "License #" & appropriate canoe model name (logo) decals come with the our canoe plans. Gary had us make additional decals for his Indienne canoe. Along with the "Indian Head" decals (below), he ordered a "Handcrafted By" decal (above) for installation on the interior of the hull.


Gary's careful application of the fiberglass cloth and marine epoxy on the hull made a flawless finish! Gary writes " For fiber glassing I used Raka 127 low viscosity epoxy and 350 non-blush hardener with their 6 oz. cloth. I applied a seal coat of epoxy, sanded when cured. I then applied a football shape of cloth on the bottom up the hull to the water line with epoxy and let cure. I then sanded that being sure to feather the edges at the water line. The second layer of cloth covered the entire canoe and sanded when epoxy was cured. The canoe was then finished with 2 fill coats of epoxy applied with a 3” foam roller sanded smooth between coats and after the second coat. All other coats epoxy was applied with plastic scraper. This same procedure was used on the inside as well minus the football cloth. So the outside has 5 coats of epoxy and 2 layers of cloth and the inside has 4 coats of epoxy and 1 layer of cloth."

Gary states: "The finished canoe weighs 70 lbs. with 3 seats installed."

Gary adds: " I used Benjamin Moore 440 Spar Varnish for the 3 finish coats on both inside and out. I chose this varnish because it contained all the ingredients the upper end varnishes had for less money, about $80 per gallon vs. $120. I used about ¾ of a gallon on the whole canoe. I applied it with the same kind of 3” foam roller I used with the epoxy and had sanded it between coats with 120 grit sandpaper except for the final coat. For that I used 120 grit then 320 grit sandpaper and applied final coat. Of course I made the surface dust free between coats by wiping down with a damp cloth then a tack cloth.
I estimate it took 200+ hours to complete in a span of 5 months. I worked on it almost every day and spent several vacation days on it also.

Gary's talents go beyond building his own canoe. He is also a skilled woodworker and woodcarver!

Gary writes: "I have made cabinets, furniture and carved a few birds out of wood in my younger days. Pics are of a Red- tailed hawk and a Boreal Owl."


Gary has graciously allowed his email address to be shared for any questions you might have. Contact him at

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