DIY Canoe Bookcase Idea

Have you ever thought about using a canoe to decorate the inside of your house? I’ve seen a lot of decorating ideas with canoe paddles but an actual canoe is a little trickier. I love the look of canoes hanging upside down from the ceiling with lights attached. However, I’m not so fond of the room it takes up to do that. An easier idea is to turn a canoe into a bookcase or two.

If you have ever shopped around for a canoe bookcase, you know how expensive they are.  Most of them range in price between $800 and $2,000 or more. That gets a little spendy for a decor piece. Luckily though, if you want a bookcase that looks like a canoe, there are other ways of acquiring one. We have a rustic cabin on a fishing lake and I wanted to have a canoe bookcase really really bad.  Not only do I love the look of them but I absolutely love to read and there is no other better place than at our cabin.  Since our cabin is small, the shape of a canoe bookcase is also perfect for a tight corner.

Since we weren’t going to spend two grand on a bookcase, we thought about making one.  My husband has often thought about making his own cedar strip canoe.  However, this looks to be quite time-consuming and after building the cabin that’s the last thing he wanted to do right away.

Step One: Find A Canoe

Our only sensible option was to find an old canoe and start from there.  We began our search on Craig’s List.  It’s amazing what you can find for sale but you have to be quick.  We missed out on some deals unfortunately but ended up finding a canoe project for sale.  This was a canoe that a college student had been building for a class.  He was selling it as is.  The inside was not finished, it was just the outer shell of the canoe.  Perfect!  We snagged that up for $50.

I love the shape of it and it was made from sturdy plywood with a cedar trim around the outside edge.  Now all we had to do was finish it off!

How We Transformed A Canoe Into A Canoe Bookcase

Here is what we added:

  • trim around the inside edge – we used a whitewashed pine piece of trim to match our wall battens
  • pine board – to cut accent piece at the top
  • cedar strips – for shelves
  • honey pine stain with varnish
  • Sawzall – to cut the canoe in half (we made two)
  • wood glue
  • finish nails and air nailer

First, we cut the canoe in half with the Sawzall.  We now had the shells for two bookcases —–cha-ching!  There was a natural interior trim structure where the cut was made creating a base for one of the bookcases.  Since the other bookcase was going behind a sofa, we didn’t build a base.  It was plenty sturdy.

Next, we attached the interior white trim pieces with wood glue and finish nails.  We used clamps to hold the trim in place while nailing.  The pine trim piece was cut to fit over the trim and pointed opening at the top.  This was attached with finish nails.

The shelving was made by running two 2″ wide lengths of wood parallel to each other wherever we wanted a shelf.  We then nailed a pine board into the two side pieces to make a shelf.

All that was left was to stain the whole thing inside and out.  I used a stain and varnish mix in honey pine.  I could hardly wait for it to dry before I added the books.

canoe bookcase

Now you can see how it fits in with the rest of the cabin decor.  The nice thing about making or modifying your own canoe bookshelf is that you can customize it to fit in with your decor.

Two Canoe Bookcases In One

When you make a canoe out of a bookcase, you actually can get two. Since you have to cut the canoe in half, you better plan on making another one. You could even make one for yourself and then sell the other half.  Maybe you could even make money on the deal.  Check out Craigs List, garage and estate sales, and eBay.  This would also work with an old rowboat.

See how we also made an outdoor shower out of a canoe.

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Creating rustic styling on a budget by giving new life to old things and using the beauty that is already found in nature. Read more about me.
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