pirogue building ideas


Well-Known Member
After building several UJ pirogues I thought I'd post a couple of things that I have found helpful.

When the sides are attached to the stems....and the ribs are just "stuck" in, perhaps clamped in rough locations......I fit and install the gunwales, these help to "fair" the sides. Then I add another set of gunwale-stock sort of wood , but this time about an inch from the chine, and screwed in with drywall screws every so often from the inside. ( No glue )

These REALLY help to fair the sides even further, making it really easy to put the ribs where they belong. Then, I fasten and glue them, with the hull right side up.

Then I flip it over and work on the lower edge of the sides with the belt sander. It doesn't take much to make a uniform place for the bottom to land and sit.

I then drop the bottom on, scoot it around till it is centred and the scarf comes out where I want it, roughly pencil the outlline and cut it off with the jig-saw.

Now the fun part......slip it back in place, lift up one end, and run run a bead of Gorilla Glue, lower the bottom into place and use more drywall screws through the overhang, into the gunwale material strips you put on the same for the other 1/2 of the boat.

Wait about 6 hours, pull all the extra screws, and the bottom will be glued down, nice and fiar, ready to trim back and fillet the inside corner. This saves finding a dozen cement blocks, or extra toolboxes....or buckets of water, whatever, to hold the bottom down.

I'm sure there are better to hear 'em. (sorry for the typos...I'm not much of a secretary)

cheers, Piper


Well-Known Member
Jul 22, 2006
Denham Springs, LA
Never built a UJ pirogue, but use a couple of plywwod jigs to shape the sides while attaching the stems. The jigs are trapezoid shaped with the angles matching the desired side flare and can be moved vertically up and down to match the desired bottom width. Just don't put them where they'll intefere with rib placement. I find ribs go in better with the boat upside down so you're not nailing up. When ribs are installed, knock the jigs out.

Don't know about UJ directions for attaching the bottom but I sure don't like the idea of making holes then having to filll them up. Do you have a bottom chine? If so why not attach it to the sides before attaching the bottom?


Well-Known Member

The only holes to fill are the 10-12 of them in the sides, near the bottom where they are covered with tape on the inside and are the size of a drywall screw..... The most holes are in the overhang of the bottom that is scrap and cut off later.

that trapazoid form idea is good if you are building a bunch of pirogues, for a one-of-a-kind builder it is just one more thing to build then put in the garage, thinking he might need it again....

Keep on paddling. Piper


Well-Known Member
Aug 25, 2003
Central , Florida
I attach the sides to the bow and stern pieces using some epoxy and three of four screws to each side to hold it while the epoxy dries, then attach the ribs doing them the same way. Usually two screws for each side of the rib works really good .

Next step is to attach the outside railing with epoxy to give some support and strength to the boat. Without the railing attached if you try to pick it up the sides will buckle and you stand a good chance of breaking a rib.

When the railing is dried then I mark and cut out the bottom leaving about an inch and a half sticking out all the way around the boat.

I start with the center rib ..... with the boat turned over and attach the bottom to that rib with a screw, then moving to the other two ribs and doing the same.
Next step is the end pieces which are trimmed so they fit flush and then fastened with a single screw to them. The boat is flipped over to make sure everything is OK.
If it is, then the boat is flipped back over and a second screw is placed in each rib section on the opposite side from the screw which is there. All the screws are loosen but not all the way. The boat is flipped over so it is sitting the way it should be.

I take a syringe, fill it with epoxy and run a bead under the bow, stern pieces and all along the underside of the ribs where the bottom will meet them. Turn the boat over and screw down the screws so they are snug. Flip the boat back over and run a bead of epoxy all the way along the junction of the sides, ribs, and the bottom. Left over epoxy is then painted along the seams to saturate the wood for later filleting.

When everything has dried then I filet the seams, let it cure, Using a small hand saw I remove the excess wood which is sticking out from the sides and then sand the junction smooth, slightly rounding it off.
Remove all the screws and fill the small holes with some epoxy and wood flour.
It is ready to be epoxy saturated and then glassed. :D