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KAYAKS & CANOES

Hand-crafted wood canoes and kayaks, fully customized for each client.

One of the things we love most about wood is that no two pieces of wood are identical, even if the wood is harvested from the same tree. This means that each canoe and kayak we create is truly unique. Every piece of wood that goes into the construction of our kayaks and canoes is carefully hand-selected and strategically placed to achieve the perfect balance of beauty and function that makes our boats a pleasure to look at and a joy to paddle.

Though we have a few ‘standard’ designs, we work closely with our clients to create a canoe or kayak that reflects their unique personality and taste. (And whenever possible, we personally deliver each craft to its new owner – there’s nothing like handing over a canoe or kayak we’ve spent weeks or months building and seeing it hit the water for the first time.)

Our specialty is to work with our clients to customize a canoe or kayak that will be unique to our clients’ personality and taste.  We take our time and work with our clients to develop the design from concept to completion and, where practical to do so, we personally deliver each craft to its owner.

Our process

Because every piece of wood we use has been carefully chosen, we’re able to avoid scarf joins (unless they are required to achieve an overall custom design).

While some makers of strip canoes and kayaks use staples in the construction process to hold strips to the forms as each strip is added, we don’t do this. It often leaves unsightly holes in the hull and deck that are difficult to disguise and – in our opinion – they distract from the natural beauty of the wood.

We’ve developed a staple-less construction process that is more time-consuming, but it leaves a smooth, consistent finish with close, consistent joints. This gives our crafts a much more professional-looking finish that allows the richness of the wood to really shine through.

Our wood

The majority of the wood used in our basic design is No.1 Western Red Cedar. Cedar has a rich, varied coloration and has a great strength-to-weight ratio, which makes it ideal for strip canoe and kayak construction.

We use other woods as accent and feature strips, depending on the design and desired effect. We’ve found that Sapele, Mahogany, Walnut, Basswood, Maple are good choices – but we enjoy working with our clients to come up with unique wood and design combinations.

Would you like to know more?

We’ve included some of our most recent models in our portfolio section, but we’re always refining and updating our designs and process – and of course every craft we make is fully customized for its new owner. We’d love to speak with you – don’t hesitate to get in touch (and we’re still old-fashioned enough to appreciate a phone call).

Commonly-asked questions about First Mountain boats

How long does it take to make one?

Usually about 4 months, depending on the complexity of the design.

What kinds of wood do you use?

Mostly, Western Red Cedar for the body of the boats. Other woods such as walnut, maple, mahogany and others are used in the designs and inlays for different effects. We occasionally use some exotics such as sapele and purple heart. We don’t use stains – we seek to bring out the natural color of the wood. Each strip is only 1/4″ thick with a bead and cove feature that makes them lock together.

Can I use the boats in the river?

Our canoes and kayaks are best suited for lakes and deep-water streams. Like any boats they will scratch, but they’re fairly rugged since they’re covered with fiberglass and epoxy inside and out, as well as with several coats of marine-grade varnish. However, they’re not intended for whitewater kayaking and canoeing.

Can I hang them up as decoration? They seem too pretty to put in the water.

We love to see our boats actually in the water, but many of our clients use them as decoration instead. We’ll work with you to design a suitable rack for wall hanging.

How much do they cost?

That really depends on the boat. Each one is unique and the cost can vary greatly depending upon the complexity of the design. Please don’t be embarrassed to ask – you might be pleasantly surprised!