A collective ‘WTF’ rang through the office at Rapid Media after this video made it’s rounds.
From the canoe being fired at by a shotgun, to a heart dropping (literally) toss off a cliff, our questions only multiplied.
Why, on any earth would a high school counsellor and self taught woodworker destroy a canoe that took up six months of his life?
The brief description at the beginning was barely enough for us to interpret from, so just short of demanding an explanation from Adam Koekkoek himself, we reached out using his Youtube channel, A Guy Doing Stuff, to wring his neck.
Ahem, we mean pick his brain.
In this Q&A we implored Koekkoek to elaborate on his dark period, where the hellish idea spawned from, and was that really a golf club that flew apart on impact?
Full Disclaimer here: This video will bring back your 90’s nail biting habit, expose white knuckles, and induce swear words that would make your classless uncle blush.
But, don’t let that stop you from hearing Adam out.
Q&A with Adam Koekkoek, AKA, A Guy Doing Stuff
1. In the beginning of the video, you mentioned your were going through dark times, can you elaborate on this?
We would have to go back to why I started building it in the first place. I’m a high school counsellor in Oregon. In 2015, a student at the school I was working at committed suicide, and my grandpa had recently passed away.
I needed something to do to keep myself from getting burnt out, so I started building a canoe with some tools I had inherited from my grandpa. It takes about six months to build a cedar strip canoe so it was a perfect long-term engaging process that gave me daily relief.
2. The question everyone wants to ask, why did you destroy it?
It was an emotional thing to finish the canoe and think back about how building it had helped me. I never had any interest in paddling and I really just wanted to build another one so I could make YouTube videos documenting the entire process.
I started doing everything I could to sell it, [the canoe] ebay, craigslist, I took it to a big outdoors and boat show. Everyone thought it was beautiful, but I couldn’t find anyone that wanted to spend even the cost of materials for it.
One day, the idea to destroy it just kind of popped into my head. Everybody that liked the canoe could contribute a little bit of money so that I could build the next one for my YouTube channel, A Guy Doing Stuff. Once I came up with the idea it just seemed right. It was the perfect way to bring closure to a really terrible time in my life, and raise enough money to build another one to film instructional videos for others.
3. With your latest canoe build nearly finished, you clearly raised enough funds, how did you sell the idea?
It was interesting trying to sell the #ripcanoe idea. Most of my closest friends and family thought I had gone nuts, acquaintances had mixed reactions, and there were some strangers that let me know how extremely unhappy they were online.
One thing that has made it click for a lot of people is when I bring up sand mandalas. Tibetan Buddhist’s spend weeks making elaborate sand art only to ceremonially wash it away when they are finished. That comparison is a stretch at best though.
4. What were your thoughts as you first swung the hammer into your homemade canoe?
I’m not super comfortable talking on camera, so as soon as I got through the entry monologue, I knew I could relax, everything would fall into place, and I could enjoy the thrill of the destruction. The swing of the sledge hammer felt like a big symbolic middle finger to all the hard stuff I had gone through while building, my inability to sell the boat, and the stress of fundraising and preparing for the destruction. It felt really, really good.
5. At 1:20 was that a golf club breaking off the canoe?
Hah! Good eye! The head broke off on the first swing and almost hit one of the videographers.
6. How much money did you make towards your new canoe?
It costs about $1500 to make one. That was my goal. As soon as I hit the goal I disabled the GoFundMe account. It didn’t really feel like something I should be profiting from.
7. What compelled you to build another canoe? Aside from this one being destroyed.
I fell in love with the building process. I had done a lot of woodworking in the past but canoe building was by far the most engaging project. There were parts of the process that I was unfamiliar with though; bending the wood, applying a fibreglass/epoxy seal, weaving the cane seats.
I found myself wishing for millennial attention-span friendly instructional videos for some of the parts. That spawned the idea of starting my own YouTube channel, A Guy Doing Stuff, and making a series of fast paced videos of the entire process.
8. Did you have a sense of pride with how resilient your canoe really was?
I had heard tales of canoes flying off cars on the road and being structurally fine so I thought this would be a good time to test that. The strength is in the fibreglass/epoxy seal you apply on the outside and inside of the hull. It’s flexible, so hull collisions tend to be absorbed and bounced off rather than puncturing.
One of the most fun moments was when I was getting ready to throw it off of the cliff. A few of the people that were helping told me, “we’re going to have to stop after this because it’s going to get smashed to pieces.”
I tossed it off, it bounced down- and we kept going.
9. What would you tell others who think wooden boats need to be babied?
Hah, um… watch #ripcanoe? Structurally they’re extremely strong. Some people like taking very good care of nice things and that’s great.
You have to re-varnish a wooden canoe every couple years regardless of whether it gets scratched so I don’t worry too much about bumps and scuffs.
10. What would you say to people thinking about building their own canoe?
If you’re looking for an engaging long term woodworking project I’d say do it! It’s not as hard as it looks. It definitely helps having some woodworking experience but there are a lot of people that have built cedar strip canoes with little to no prior experience.
More important than woodworking knowledge are problem-solving skills, an ability to learn as you go, and the stubbornness it takes to not quit a multi-month project.
I am finishing up the video series for my second canoe right now. If you’re seriously considering building, my instructional videos should give you an idea of what you’re in for.
11. Okay, the real question is, just how fun was swinging in the canoe? And did you feel safe with the life jacket on?
Honestly, not as fun as I thought it would be. I was picturing myself going inverted or something but I just kind of swung back and forth.
Riding behind the 4-wheeler was much more fun.
12. The explosion at the end, without sounding too much like therapists, how did that make you feel?
Surprisingly, it wasn’t really a time of in-depth self reflection for me. The bro in me was like “Badass! That was a huge explosion!” but then, instantly, the pragmatist in me said, “Glad no one got hurt today. Let’s clean up, get the footage uploaded and start editing the video.”
13. If you could say anything to those who doubt your decision, what would you tell them?
If you’ve watched the video and read the article up to this point and are still unhappy about #ripcanoe, there’s probably nothing I could say that would change your opinion of me.
14. What tools would you use next time?
To build or to destroy? Probably somehow a flame thrower either way.
15. If you were to go back in time, would you do it again?
16. So, what is next for A Guy Doing Stuff’s Youtube Channel?
I am done with canoe building for a while now. I am getting ready to start my first acoustic guitar. I’m going to build one to learn how to do it then build another with youtube videos (just like the canoes but without destroying anything).
Ideally I'd like to develop an online presence and be the guy that makes instructional video series for difficult-but-doable woodworking projects.
To follow along with Adam's less destructive, more productive videos, you can find him on Youtube here: A Guy Doing Stuff