The making of Cottonwood Joe, the dugout canoe

Picking out a canoe that works best for you and your budget can be difficult.

Designing and building your own canoe might seem out of the question, but not for Chris Haller. He decided to take on the task of building his own dugout canoe last summer.

Haller, 31, lives in Richmond Heights, Mo., and works at K&K Supply as a small engine mechanic.

“I have one brother and one sister, and although we are not triplets, we were all born on the same day, different years,” said Haller. 

Haller grew up an outdoorsman because of his father, who was also an outdoorsman, and credits him for his love of the outdoors.

“I enjoy fishing, camping, canoeing, and shooting guns,” said Haller.

Last summer is when Haller came up with the idea to build his own canoe.

“I bought a polyethylene canoe and I absolutely hated it. I started searching for another one and came across a dugout canoe for sale, and thought I could do that,” said Haller.

Haller began his journey by putting ads on Craigslist and various Facebook groups looking for a log to start his canoe. 

“It only took about two weeks for someone to respond and I went to check it out. A couple days later I had a tow truck deliver a cottonwood tree log to my house,” said Haller.

The log was 14 feet long, 29 inches wide, and weighed about 3,000-4,000 pounds to begin with.

“It was a little smaller than I wanted but I figured I could make it work,” said Haller.

Haller acquired the log from Josh Bingman, and explains that Bingman gave him the log because he cut it down and it was just sitting in his yard.

“I started working on it under my porch but once it started getting cold, I put it on my trailer and moved it into the garage,” said Haller.

The work on the log began in September 2016 and Haller said he works on it a couple of days a week after work, and also on the weekends.

Haller has hopes to have the dugout canoe completed by April.

“I mainly used an axe and curved head adze to dig out the inside, and the only power tools I used were a chainsaw, and handheld power planer and a power sander,” said Haller.
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