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Free Canoe Plans and Free Kayak Plans Project Summary

Siskiwit LV sea kayak design

In September 2010, I decided to draw and release a free canoe plan or a free kayak plan each week for the entire winter. I planned the project to end on April 1st, 2011. My goal was to produce between 24 and 26 total plans based on historic designs found in Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America and Mark Starr’s Building a Greenland Kayak. A few of the models came from other sources. In all, I drew and released 25 plans.

Things I Learned

On a project of this magnitude, about 100+ hours of computer time, I’m bound to learn something, and I did. Basically, I learned to quickly model boats using DELFTship Pro, and how to efficiently turn them into a printable plan using CAD. I’m not sure I learned the most efficient or correct practices in both programs, because I essentially self-taught from tutorials. DELFTship was easier for me, because I’ve used it for years — since when it was called FREEship. I have a background in rudimentary CAD and drafting, so I was able to translate that to the project and increase my abilities.

Where I Sort-of Failed

Early on, I wanted to export my DELFTship models back into FREEship to calculate cross curves of stability. Although, I had a basic understanding of stability, I didn’t really understand it. After starting this project, via research and some email conversation, I have a better grasp of righting arms, etc… I wanted to release stability charts with each plan, but that was too much extra work for the project. I may add the graphs in the future as I now have a spreadsheet that a fellow boat designer made to convert the numbers from FREEship into a Sea-Kayaker-Magazine-style stability chart.

What I’m Happiest About

I’m really proud of the skills that I gained and the later models that I made. The baidarka-style kayaks have unusual bows that I had difficulty modeling. For the first one, I spent over an hour on the bow alone. Eventually, I got it right and on my second baidarka, I knocked out a drawing that I’m really proud of. I’m also pretty happy about finishing a few models that were requested by other canoe and kayak builders. Adding 25 free plans that any wooden strip builder could start building today to the world makes me feel pretty good.

The Reward

During the project, I asked for donations, and while I did get a few, I expected that I’d get many more — maybe in the future. That sounds like a reward, but what I really want to see is more of these canoes and kayaks getting built, especially the canoes (because the QajaqUSA member seem to build many historic skin-on-frame kayaks).

Where From Here

In the future, I plan on adding more free plans to the website. I’d like to eventually finish every boat in Bark and Skin. But, in the short-term, I’m taking a break from free plans to work on finishing up my first commercial plan. My Siskiwit Bay design turned out really well, but I wanted a more playful kayak with slightly less volume, so I designed one. It’s ready to go. When I release the plans, I’ll offer two different decks and a good set of drawings for builders. Look for it in the next couple of weeks. The image above is the preview of the final design. It’s pretty exciting, and I don’t think there’s anything like it on the cedar-strip plan market. It’s kind of like a mix between a NDK Romany and Explorer. Something like a Tiderace Xcite or a Rockpool Alaw Bach.

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Free Canoe and Kayak Plans

With this many plans on the website, I decided it was too hard to find them all, so I added a new page as a placeholder for all the plans. From now on when I add a plan, I’ll add it to the Canoe and Kayak Plans page. You can see all the plans from the project there.

Thanks for following along and I hope that you’ve enjoyed the project.


  • Nice job Bryan. I am a professional naval architect and I can say that the work you did is top notch.


  • As, in my opinion, plastic SIT-ON-TOP kayaks are too heavy is there any possibilty that you could design a stitch and glue plywood version – say 12′ – 13′ long ?

  • Hi, Doug,

    I could design one, but it’d have to be a custom project with custom costs. My next personal design is going to be a fast tandem touring kayak. Drop me an email if you’re interested in pursuing a custom design.

  • Olá Bryan!
    Parabéns pelo projeto. Maravilhoso.

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