Welcome to the 2018 season

Our website will shortly be updated so that you can book and pay for your paddling online. Until then, reach us by phone, or by email at enquiries@chesterkayakhire.co.uk, where there will always be a prompt and friendly reply. See you on the river soon!

Tel: 01244 422007

How are modern canoes made?

Canoes are basically very lightweight narrow boats, which usually feature points at each end. They are open topped and require the use of paddles to propel them along. Canoes are typically used for recreation, white-water sports and touring.

Traditionally, canoes were constructed from a wood frame, covered with bark, and they were used primarily for exploration and trade purposes, which could not have been done so easily without them. Eventually, manufacturing techniques were improved upon and most canoes and kayaks were made from aluminium.

Today, however, the vast majority of modern canoes are constructed using either moulded plastic or lightweight composite materials, such as fibreglass. Contemporary vessels can also be fitted with a range of modifications, such as motors and sails, in order that they can be used for a wider range of purposes than was previously possible.

Design and construction

Most modern canoes and kayaks are made commercially. This means that they tend to be much more precisely designed than the craft of old. Typically, computer-aided design, or CAD, is used to expertly design canoes. This software allows designers to create the perfect vessels for a range of different circumstances. They also carefully select the right material for each canoe, depending on what it will be used for when sold.


The vast majority of canoes and kayaks are now manufactured with rather steep ‘V’ sections at both the stern and bow ends. They also feature a shallower ‘V’s midship. This means that if a fiberglass material is being used in the construction, the canoe will need to be ‘laid up’ in a mould by hand to ensure that the stiff material is less likely to crack should it face a serious impact.


Plastic canoes and kayaks are typically much easier to manufacture than those made with other materials. They are moulded using a rotomold, which simply means that they are manufactured rotationally, using a combination of polyethylene resins. These canoes stand up much better to impact than most.


It is surprisingly easy to construct a basic wooden canoe and a lot of hobbyists make their own. However, the more sophisticated wooden canoes that you will see for sale have had a bit more work put into them. Usually, wooden canoes are constructed using thin strips of wood, which are then covered by a protective layer of fiberglass. However, stich and glue plywood canoes can be made without the addition of fiberglass, and they will not suffer for it.

Stitch and glue

Stitch and glue canoes are constructed by cutting out the required pieces, drilling holes in the edges, and using copper wire to stitch the pieces together. Once stitched, the pieces are glued and reinforced with fibreglass.

Strip built

Strip-built wooden canoes are made by cutting out thin strips of light wood and gluing the edges together. They are strengthened with a fiberglass and epoxy resin, which is layered on to the wood.

Skin on frame

A skin-on-frame boat is more akin to a traditionally constructed canoe. It is usually made of a stretched nylon or canvas cloth, which is coated with PU, paint or rubber to make it waterproof over a wooden or nylon frame.