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Need advice, am taking a break from my victory and perusing a scratch build I want to tackle.


The Hokulea a double outrigger canoe that was built in the 70s and navigated the globe.


You Aussies and Kiwis should remember it made several stops in your areas


My problem do I use basswood blocks and carve the hulls.


Or basswood sheets that can be steamed and bent to form the outside hulls.  


Any help will be appreciated just in planning stage boat will fall into the 24" range.


See attached


thanks John



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The original double hull canoes were carved from huge Koa wood logs.  I believe the Hokule'a was actually built using plywood and fiberglass.  However to build an authentic Hawaiian canoe the hulls should be carved.  That said if you are going to paint the hulls it would be simpler to build using frames and strips and no one would know the difference.

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I have a block of basswood 2x2x10 and will play with it, having basic carving tools and and no chisels will see how it goes(also no carving skills). If it seems overwhelming will go the frame route, will be easier. I think that your right on with frames and strips.


That being said your right they were carved out of Koa wood logs and to be faithful to the original builders probably should be carved from block. Hows that for being decisive! 

Will see what others suggest and go with the overwhelming to carve or not to carve.


Thanks grsjax appreciate your input.

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I have built several models of warships boats with carved hulls. I am presently building a 1:32 model of a Royal Navy longboat. All of these models require the hulls to be thinned out on the inside until the hull becomes a hollow shell. Many years ago, I began building carved hulls by carving two half models to be joined after carving. This has several advantages.


1. There is always a defined centerline


2. As carving proceeds each half hull can be laid on a flat surface representing the keel plane for checking with templates resulting in a very accurate hull.


3. It is much easier to hollow out two half hulls than one full one.


4. With some pre-planning the keel can be sandwiched between the two hull halves.


For my last couple of models, I have been making three sub assemblies, two halves and a keel and incorporating as much work as possible in each before joining them together.



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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi John, I also have an interest in one day building a scale Maori canoe or Waka. From my whakapapa or family history on my mothers side which is traced back hundreds of years in recorded tribal history, they came to New Zealand in double hulled canoes. When they arrived they split the hulls into two single canoes. They were advanced stone age boat builders, navigators and farmers. Of interest to me also is that they must have had contact with South America because the word for the Maori sweet potato that they brought with them to NZ is Kumara, which it is also called in South America where it must have originated from.


Looking at the hulls of the Maori canoes they are made from lashing strips of adzed wood together to make up the wale which are lashed to the hull. The hull is a dug out carved from one tree. It appears to be similar to the method the Egyptions used to construct their vessels. Considering some Maori words also appear in Sanskrit then I wouldn't be surprised if the Polynesian method of boat building, navigation and farming could trace it's roots from the late stone age/early bronze age culture and people.


Here is a link to a page I just found with photos of what appear to be traditionally made and carved waka.




I don't have time to research all this at the moment but will follow this to see what you find and end up building. Best of luck with this venture.

Edited by dashicat
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You come from a proud people and have an interesting background, I come from peasant farmers who migrated from Yugoslavia. :huh:


It's a shame what happened to the Maori when Europeans began to settle the area. Same thing with our native Americans. Genocide alive and well. Now just a historical note. Better stop I'll get dinged for not staying on the subject. Checked the link you sent grand canoes fantastic carvings.


I am about 3/4th away from finishing  my Victory, and will start the canoe while still on that build. It should be interesting the only thing I have ever carved was a turkey. At first I waffled  between wide basswood sheets or stock strips over frames.


To stay true to the builders I'll go with solid wood 2X4 stock by 26 to 36 inches. I bought a cheap set of chisels, I was leaning to basswood but anything over 24 inches gets pricey. I'm going to get both pine and fir to see which one may be the easiest to carve unless someone has a better suggestion. It ought to be interesting.


Thank you for the reply and the link.



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Thanks for the heads up. Would like to plan a trip for that. Born in Wareham Mass, raised in Groton Conn. before moving south.


Had visited Mystic Seaport as a kid several times would be a nice trip and i would enjoy seeing my old stomping grounds as a child. (if any are left been a loooong time.


Thanks again for the heads up.

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