Free Kayak and Canoe PlansFree Kayak Plans

Free Kayak Plan: MacMillan Kayak

Free plans for the MacMillan Greenland kayak.

I finished this kayak on Thanksgiving, a harvest festival celebrated in the United States. Tradition says that the original celebration occurred in the early 1600s and celebrated the European settlers surviving their first year with the help of the natives. It’s a grand story that didn’t turn out that great for the natives. Here I am 400 years later, digitizing kayaks that someone used for hunting and the survival of family. Something that they were probably thankful for.

Free plans for the MacMillan Greenland kayak.Now, we use these kayaks for recreation. Perhaps this kayak plan exemplifies that use. Rear Admiral MacMillan, an explorer, collected the MacMillan kayak at some point between 1908 and 1954. He was on an expedition to the Arctic, and, like many expeditions, they had scientific and discovery goals. Even though not stated, expeditions often have recreational goals, and I believe that the Rear Admiral probably took expeditions seeking out fun, recreation and adventure in addition to the other more serious reasons. Most contemporary kayak expeditions start with a recreational aspect and might add discovery or science. Those shared goals, which are similar to the goals of the past, link us to prior expeditions because we’re seeking out similar experiences. Perhaps, we’re linked to MacMillan’s Arctic expeditions. I’m thankful that MacMillan brought this kayak back. I just hope that whoever he took it from was compensated. It’s a graceful boat that begs for a builder. Will it be you? The MacMillan kayak appears in Mark Starr’s Building a Greenland Kayak.


Length: 17 feet 3/8 inch
Width: 19-5/8 inches


MacMillan kayak free plans

Kayak and Canoe Building Books

If you want to build this boat, you’ll need instructions. These three books are the best.

For more, check out my canoe and kayak building books review.


Get the Drawing Package

The drawing package includes the full-sized study plan and each station and stem drawn separately on a PDF that prints full sized on ARCH D size paper (nestings). You can cut these out and glue them to plywood to cut full-sized forms. A pdf of the electronic drawing package. is available for this kayak. You can print the file on 24- by 36-inch paper on your own.

Free Kayak Plans Downloads

The free cedar canoe plans come as a pdf (free Adobe Reader required to view) that you can print off at photocopy stores.


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  • Beautiful looking boat Bryan! Are you planning this boat as a strip boat or as a skin on? I am a guide and instructor out in Vancouver, BC. Been dreaming of owning my own kayak for some years and while my job allows me to get a pretty good deal they are never that good. Sooo, I have recently been dreaming of building my own boat. That is how I found your website! The lines on the McMillan, while very traditional, are reflected in the other boats I like to paddle (NDK romany, N. Shore Shorline, Valley Avocet, etc.). Your strip built Siskiwit bay and iglidorssuit are great boats! Cheers to you. Thanks for the insperation, when I get some space and time, I will work on selecting a design and going with it!

    • Hi, Paul. Thanks. I’m not planning to build this boat, but it was on the shortlist before I built the Iggy. It’s part of my Free Winter Canoe and Kayak Plan Project. I’m trying to post a new set of plans each Friday this winter until April 1. Building a kayak is pretty rewarding. I really enjoy the process. The next boat I’m going to build is a refined version of the Siskiwit Bay that increases rocker, changes the sides a bit to allow for steeper edging, reduces overall volume by about 1 cubic foot and makes the mid-section slightly more boxy and a bit flatter aft of the cockpit for surfing. I’m shooting for something as playful as my Romany, that edges like my Explorer with a little more efficiency than both. You can see the drawings of the latest version on PaddlingLight’s Facebook page. Good luck on your build and let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you out.

  • That sounds exciting! Why is it that I never see any pictures of wood boats playing in rough conditions? I suppose the answer is simple that people who build them are often not the same people that paddlie in those kinds of circumstances.
    I would love to teach and play in a wood boat. It just seems to be a great way to show people that they are not just for show but can stand up to the kind of wear and tear that I might subject of any my gear too.
    If, pardon me, when I get around to building I will send somem puctures of the boat out surfing!

  • I’ve seen a few wood boats in the surf and have taken mine into surf. There are a few pictures of Nick Schade surfing in his wood boats. And a few of Brian Schulz surfing skin-on-frames. There are a bunch more out there, but most of the photos posted show boats being built and launched. I’d love to see any pictures of a boat you built, especially if it’s in the surf.

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