How Many Cedar Strips Will I Need?

The world of small boats is replete with handsome designs for boats meant to be skinned in thin cedar planking.  There are the lovely kayaks and canoes by Nick Schade and Guillemot, and a thousand others besides, plus strip-planked decks for plywood kayaks.  Using our custom milling machinery, we've sent out many lineal miles of beautiful, clear "bead and cove" cedar strips. 

We get many calls and emails asking:  How do I know how many strips to order for my design?  Here's a simple calculation that works with CLC's 1/4" x 3/4" strips.

Read on for a full explanation:

We start with 3/4" material, then add the "bead and cove" feature that makes strip-planking so easy.  Shown here in cross-section, the EFFECTIVE coverage of each strip amounts to 5/8".

We'll call the overall length in inches of the canoe or kayak "A".  Next we'll need the girth of the boat in inches at the point of maximum beam, which we'll call "B".  

If you have full-sized plans in front of you or a mold already built, just stretch a flexible measuring tape from rail to rail as shown and that's the girth. 

In a strip-planked kayak, the girth measurement would be a tape stretched the whole way round the kayak, hull AND deck.  

If you're working from scaled plans, you can "walk off" the girth measurement using a pair of dividers set to one inch at scale.

Here's the calc.  Obviously what this spits out is the number of strips you'd need if you were planking a cylinder shape with a circumference equal to "B"---not the exact surface area.  (For that you need calculus, or software.)  But you're going to need extra, so that you have better color selection, and in case you make a mistake.  On the average canoe or kayak, the formula yields about 20% extra depending on the hull shape.  Tested and refined over hundreds and hundreds of kits, this seems to work for everybody.  You can always goose the number higher if you want a larger reserve than 20%.  

The "18" number is our multiplier that yields about the correct amount of extra material.  If you order cedar strips from us, you can always be specific about the color scheme you're looking for in your strip design.  We'll do our absolute best to match what we have in the shop to your intended color scheme.  It changes weekly---wood coloration varies with every tree so the strip colors will be darker one week and lighter the next.  It's what makes every boat absolutely unique!

Here's a huge collection of videos following a strip-planked kayak from start to finish.