Two plywood canoes designs – How to choose a plan.

There are two plywood canoes in my range catering for quite different parts of the market. A quality first class boat and also a very cheap and easy to build boat that still works well.

Eureka Classic canoe on left. Quick Canoe on right. There is also a motor canoe version of the Quick Canoe.

Two canoes. Simple and Classic. How to choose.

To order the Quick Canoe simplest and cheapest plywood canoe plan – $30

To order the Eureka best plywood canoe plan – $75

USA Quick Canoe 155 kit available – USA

Also there is the Electric Canoe built the same way as the Quick Canoe here.

One is the best plywood canoe I could come up with – the Eureka Canoe. It is probably best built of premium materials such as gaboon plywood to further reduce the weight. Building time is around the 70 hours mark, but most part time builders seem to take about three months of part time work.  The premium materials recommended bring the cost out to $400 to $800, but you could build cheaper.

The Eureka plywood canoe - light and beautiful

Eureka Canoe – Classic shape from a plywood canoe.

The other is the simplest and cheapest plywood canoe that would still look good and work well – the Quick Canoe. I will be developing the Quick Canoe into a series of boats over time. I have also made the plans of this boat really cheap to fit in with the low budget nature of the project.  Boats have been built for budgets of $130 – $250 and building time has been as short as 4.5 or 5.5 hours from two experienced builders, though a nice job will take around 20 hours for a first time builder.

simple homebuilt plywood canoe

Generally the lower end of the prices is building in Canada or the USA where materials are a lot cheaper than the rest of the world.

(also introducing  the Quick Canoe Electric – 34lb thrust trolling motor gives 5 to 7 mph – $30)

The things the two plans have in common are the detail in the plans – anyone can build either of these boats following the step by step instructions. There are several photoessays from home boatbuilders of different experience on my forum and the consensus is the plans are pretty good. I also update the plans using feedback from builders, so as time goes by the plans improve even more.

Simplest possible plywood canoe that works fine.

Ok … so how to choose between these two boats.

Slideshow of assembling the Quick Canoe – fast build plywood canoe
Slideshow of assembling the Eureka – classic stitch and tape plywood canoe

The Eureka is based on classic canoe touring shapes from a time when canoes were used for real transport. Everything from delivering the milk or mail, heading off for six months collecting beaver pelts – less common today, but the main idea is the boats had to work well whatever the conditions were like. They had to travel real distance and be efficient and track well despite wind and waves.

So the Eureka paddles very nicely. It will greatly outperform the average fibreglass boat (though there are some very good classic shapes available in North America in fiberglass – but none in most of the rest of the world). The wooden boat is also about half the weight of most glass canoes. A typical Eureka built with Gaboon comes in around 45 lbs (20kg) but making some effort and building of thinner ply you can get down to 33lbs (15kg). Great for portages and getting it on the car roof. It is built by the stitch and glue method.

Eureka plywood canoe - stitch and glue boat plan

Eureka being assembled by the stitch and glue method.

The Quick Canoe is a much simpler shape, but I have kept the classic sheerline of a “proper canoe”. The unusual skeg/keel arrangement is to overcome the normally crappy directional stability of three panel canoes.  The skeg/keel can be reduced if more manoeuvrability is required for various uses but it is about right for lake travelling as it is.

arthur heading off for 2 weeks in missouri. Quick Canoe builds in a couple of weekends. Cheaper than hiring! storer boat plans

The Quick Canoe is made of only three panels and it is suitable for using duct or gaffer tape to hold it together while the filleting or glass taping happens on the inside of the boat.  This is a not a method that will work with any boat shape (don’t try it with the Eureka!!!), but it has been trialled through several boats with the Quick Canoe and seems to work quite well. While I am a great believer in epoxy to reduce maintenance and reliable construction the Quick Canoe – as a cheap project – would be fine in good exterior plywood and with polyester resin and glass tape.  It won’t last as long as an epoxy one … but at this price … who cares!   It is way more ecologically sound than a full glass or plastic boat.



Quick Canoe - super simple, super cheap plywood canoe

The Quick Canoe gets taped together before flipping and epoxy filleting or glass taping the inside

Tought enough to carry around .. the two Quick Canoes being built in France.

quick canoe assembled with duct tape - tough enough to carry and move around before epoxying. storer boat plans

So the summary is … if you want a really nice paddling canoe, the Eureka is a great choice – inexpensive, lightweight, easy to build, very nice to paddle.  If you want the simplest, cheapest and fastest to build then the Quick Canoe is a good choice.

Eureka Canoe Main Page

Quick Canoe Main Page including videos

Plywood Canoe Plans and ordering info

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25 Comments on "Two plywood canoes designs – How to choose a plan."

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What are the length/beam/load capacity of Eureka?

Colleen Canaday
Hi Michael…my husband, Ori, who is an avid woodworker and designer has had me sit in front of this computer looking at ALL your canoes (yes they are beautiful, but he is the enthusiast…lol). He is desperately trying to find free plans for his first attempt at building a canoe so he can try it out before spending heaps of money on the Eureka (which of course is what he wants at the end of the day). I read in your site that you started with a prototype and then moved on to the amazing creations of yours today…so I… Read more »
Jim Brown (Jim B in TN)
Jim Brown (Jim B in TN)
MIK, Have missed your presence on the group. I have built and sailed your OZ MkII PDR and love it. Now thinking of building a sailing canoe aimed at paddling for two, and sailing mostly for one, but occassionally for two. I am 77 years old, 6′-3″, 250 lbs, and not quite as agile as I once was. Would I be best off with: 1. Eureka with a drop-in sailing rig. 2. Quick Canoe with a drop-in rig. 3. Beth Actually, I backed into the PDR scene by going to your website to find Beth, but got sidetracked into… Read more »
Jim Brown (Jim B in TN)
Jim Brown (Jim B in TN)


Thanks for the response. I know Paul personally, as we visited at his home on a trip up north to visit our kids. He is also a frequent contributor to the Sailing Canoes Yahoo Group. I value his opinions.

I am leaning toward the Eureka, as I am familiar with working with stitch & glue and epoxy, and love working with really nice Okoume (Gaboon?) ply. Will have to wait a while as my shop is now filled with a Murphy Bed (bed that folds up into the wall) Project!

Jim B in TN

Jim Brown (Jim B in TN)
Jim Brown (Jim B in TN)



I have emailed with Paul, and I think the best thing for now is a Quick Canoe with your drop-in rig.

Maybe later the Eureka with elegant batwing sails per Todd Bradshaw. I will order the plans from Duckworks as soon as I can get a new ink cartridge, perhaps later this week.

I appreciate your very detailed instructions, and even though I have built several boats, your instructions always remind me of something I need to have remembered, but didn’t.

Jim B in TN

Jim Brown (Jim B in TN)
Jim Brown (Jim B in TN)
MIK, I have purchased the plans for the drop-in sail rig, and also downloaded the free paddle plans. I can start on those before my bed project is finished. Also we have a couple of plastic kayaks they might be used on. I have not yet purchased the canoe plans. Does your comment above imply that the drop-in rig may be a little too much for the Eureka, and I would be better off with the Quick Canoe? Or was that referring to my day dreaming about batwing rigs? I am wrestling with the practicality of the QC vs. the… Read more »
Jim Brown (Jim B in TN)
Jim Brown (Jim B in TN)


I guess desire won out over practicality. I have downloaded from Duckworks the plans for Eureka, the Drop-in Sail Rig, plus the free paddle design. Now to finish that Murphy Bed project so I can get started.

Jim B in TN


Could I use Douglas Fir plywood 3/8″ ?

also do I need a table saw or a Router for this canoe?

Charlie Borton

Hi Michael,
I am considering building the Eureka canoe. It sounds like a nice boat and possible to do for someone who has never built a boat before. I am concerned with the weight capacity of this canoe. I weigh around 270 and my wife weighs 220. Is this canoe capable of handling our weight? If not, is there another design that could? And for a first time builder, are there any considerations I should contemplate in the spirit of being realistic before I take on this project?


The euraka is the same design as the Murray Isle Musk Duck in Tasmania Australia. I paddled one 700kms doen the river murray, fantastic in flat water not so good when it gets rough. Perhaps go a slightly larger keel for tracking


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Angela Shupe

Hi Michael,

My family just moved to Southland, NZ from the states (leaving our canoe behind:-( ). My husband is looking at possibly building one of your Eureka canoes. We live by some major rivers and would love to canoe them, but are wondering how the Eureka handles in fast water (great trout rivers), and how durable they are as some areas are rather shallow and quite rocky at times.


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