Build a canoe

with Brian Jones

3 day workshop

Pull together a team to join experienced boat maker Brian Jones and build your very own 3.6 m marine ply canoe!

In three days your team will have a fully functional (and floating) canoe to launch into a local waterway.

All parts needed to complete the build will be pre-cut and supplied as part of the workshop. The team will then sew them together, glue the seams (joins), fit some gunwales, and sand everything smooth ready for decoration which you can then go on to do post-workshop. 

So round up your family, friends, or fellow students and form a team to build a canoe! Each canoe team needs one adult and up to 6 helpers/students/children.

Cost: $750 per team (includes a 3 day pass and t-shirt for all participants)


  • Saturday April 29, 9am – 4pm 
  • Sunday April 30, 8am – 4pm
  • Monday May 1, 8am – 3pm

Participants are required to attend all 3 days to complete their project.

But book quickly, there’s only space for 7 teams!

Register a cool team name along with your booking too!

About Brian Jones

Brian is a retired teacher who is passionate about building boats and getting out on the water, be it sailing, steaming or paddling. 

After 38 years of Primary Teaching, he began teaching Literacy and Maths part time to various groups including early school leavers, indigenous youth, men’s groups, and carpenter’s apprentices in the local TAFE. 

To make the lessons more hands-on and practical, he started building cardboard model boats. This led to building dinghies and skiffs, and to increasing numbers of plywood canoes which he had designed to be easy to build using stitch and glue construction. 

This has led to constructing more than 170 canoes in various schools and locations in Australia.

Brian has built stitch and glue canoes with students in high schools, TAFE, the National Maritime Museum in Sydney, the Wooden Boat Festivals in Hobart, Rhyll (Phillip Island, Victoria), and Maleny in Queensland.

He loves the tremendous sense of pride and self-worth that building their own craft brings for many students.

Brian has also built boats for himself including canoes and kayaks, sailing dinghies, a seven-metre steamboat, and a 1920s design speedboat! 

His aim is to show as many people as possible how easy and rewarding it is to get afloat in a craft they have built themselves!

How to prepare and things to consider

At the Expo you will be working with various tools and materials that you may be unfamiliar with, so we will make sure that we will be working safely while having a great time.

Workplace, Health & Safety

  • Eye protection – all participants must wear glasses/safety glasses at all times. (Safety glasses are around $5.00 from a hardware store – a lot cheaper than eye damage!) 
  • Footwear – participants must wear closed shoes/boots. Sandals and thongs will not be allowed. 
  • Epoxy sensitivity – Brian has been working with epoxy glues for 30 years with no problems, but if you think it could be a problem for you, please bring some disposable gloves. There will be a box on hand to start with. We won’t be bathing in glue, but everyone is likely to get some on their hands at some stage. There will be vinegar and hand cleaner available which are quite effective at removing glue from hands. 
  • Clothing – Wear old clothes and/or an apron. Epoxy glue is waterproof- it doesn’t wash out of canoes ……. and it certainly won’t wash out of clothes!

What to bring

  1. Each team will need at least one cordless drill with a Phillips Head driver, a 4mm drill bit, and a countersink bit if you have one. Don’t forget the charger and spare battery! Please make sure your battery is charged on arrival – you will be using it in the first hour! 
  2. A pair of sawhorses to support your canoe while working on it. Folding waist height (800/900mm+ high) work stands are even better – no bending over! It’s easy to fabricate stands with some strap hinges and timber from a 900 x 900mm or larger pallet. Try Google Images or Youtube for ideas, or contact Brian on 0403 736 070 if you need a plan or photo.
  3. Pliers for tightening the cable ties
  4. A range of sandpaper sheets – 60, 80 and 120 grit
  5. Several pencils
  6. Any other woodworking hand tools such as clamps, a plane, rasp, hammer, chisel, saw. There will be some planes and rasps to share. (Brian does most of the finishing of his canoes with a small block plane.) If you bring a wood plane, make sure the blade is sharp – ask a friend or the local men’s shed if you need some help sharpening it.
  7. Ear protection if you have sensitive hearing.

Please label and care for everything you bring- there will be a lot of tools on site and anything without a name obviously belongs to the teacher!

Do not buy anything else that you won’t use after the course.

Power Tools  

NO 240v power tools will be allowed on site, tagged or not. If you intend to bring a cordless belt sander or the like, you will need ear, eye and dust protection, and, because of noise, be prepared to work out in the open away from the rest of the canoe builders. Final finishing is best done at home – we are concentrating on getting a canoe assembled, watertight, and ready for launching in 2 ½ days!

Seats & Paddles 

Canoe seats are not included. A plain one-piece plastic chair without legs works well in a canoe because it gives a built-in backrest. If you’re lucky you can pick one up on a Council clean-up. You might also look at a seat from a canoe shop (expensive), eBay from around $40.00, or check out some of the great ideas on Google Images under ‘simple kayak/canoe seats’.

Paddles are not included. Try BCF, your local canoe shop, or make a paddle yourself with a 1.5m broom handle and some 6mm softwood ply or 4mm hardwood ply blades – details/template supplied at the course.

Painting & Decorating

Paint is not included. Take your time at home to sand and varnish or paint your craft.

Getting a 3.6m of canoe home… 

Give it some thought! 

Standard roof racks should be perfectly adequate. Your finished canoe will be approx. 760mm wide by 3.6m long. Please check/fit roof racks before you arrive

One lady at a course Brian ran a few years ago left buying roof racks until after she arrived at the course, only to be told that her car needed custom roof racks to be specially made!

Any problems or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Brian on 0403 736 070.