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Herald Journal | DC Enterprise-Dispatch | Delano Herald Journal
From a dream to the water
Jan. 10, 2020


DELANO, MN – Zac Kurtz, of Delano, made his aspirations reality Oct. 14, 2019, when he completed building a strip canoe.

Using a table saw, router, palm sander, and many clamps, he put in 200 to 250 man-hours over a two-year span, and approximately $1,200 into this 15-foot western red cedar project that seats two people.

Inspiration increased for this woodworker as he viewed YouTube videos and read Canoecraft, a book referred to as the canoe bible.

He also invested in plans from the internet, and materials, such as epoxy and fiberglass, which helps the wood float.

Kurtz built a 15-foot canoe instead of a 16-foot one, as the plans instructed, since he could only locally buy wood 16 feet long. Approximately $700 of the project budget was spent on wood alone.

He was appreciative of his girlfriend, Bree Hollingshead, for putting up with him building the canoe in their basement. Many joked about how the canoe would be stuck down there after it was finished, but the project made it out of the house.

The most time-consuming part of the canoe’s creation was letting the glue dry. As a result, Kurtz didn’t work on it during the summer.

Slightly intimidated by the fiberglass and epoxy, Kurtz related how he had already put 80 woodworking hours in before he got one shot to apply to these materials.

The fiberglass would go from white to clear with lots of possibilities of things going wrong and no way to fix it. Consequently, he was grateful for the assistance of his father with the fiberglass work.

From a personal perspective, Kurtz is pleased that he was able to teach himself how to build the canoe. It took several readings of the Canoecraft book and building extra equipment, such as his own canoe stands, but this personal challenge resulted in a do-it-yourself (DIY) project that separates him from others on the water.

With the canoe complete, the carpenter-by-trade said the best part of the project is looking at it and reliving the memories associated with it.

The canoe is now displayed at the home of his parents, Tim and Kris Kurtz.

The canoe does float. Kurtz took it out for an afternoon on Lake Rebecca last fall. However, it will probably be limited to occasional use, to allow him to pass it down to his children.

For aspiring woodworkers, Kurtz believes any daunting project can be done, as long as things are taken step-by-step. He did significant research before and during his project, and encourages others to the same.

One of the biggest obstacles he faced was finding other people working on similar projects.

He hopes people will not hesitate to start their own projects, or reach out to him with questions.

For his next project, he wants to build a wooden boat with a motor. Kurtz wouldn’t mind making another canoe, but the first one will probably be the only one – kept for its sentimental value.

For more information, contact Zac on his Instagram account, out_of_this_wood.

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