Thursday, September 17, 2009

How Are Wooden Kayaks Made?

I am frequently asked how wooden kayaks are made. It is a simple process, time consuming but simple. So here we go – in a nutshell.

I’m going to discuss how strip built boats are built. As the name suggests, you start with ¾” wide, ¼” thick cedar strips. Cedar is used because it is light weight and flexible.

Start by setting up a strong back and the kayak forms. The easiest way to explain those is the strong back is the spine, and the forms are the ribs. Setting them up carefully will ensure that you kayak will have smooth lines.

It is time to start striping your boat. Start with a full length strip; lay it carefully along where the hull and deck will meet.and staple it to the forms. Now lay a strip on the opposite side of the boat. From here you apply a strip on one side then the other. The strips are glued together with yellow glue, and stapled in place. This goes on until the entire hull is striped.

Next you strip the hull. The important thing to remember is that the strips between the hull and deck are not glued together at this point. The deck is filled in just like the hull with some adjustments for the cockpit.

Once the strips are all laid and the glue is dry, it’s time to smooth out your boat. The first step is to remove all the staples (yep, all of them). Next you can plane, file and sand the exterior of the boat smooth. Split the boat and smooth the interior as well. Now using fiberglass cloth and resin, coat the exterior of both halves and when that is dry and smooth, repeat on the interior.

Now the two halves are brought together with 2” fiberglass tape, inside and out. After multiple coats of resin the boat is sanded smooth and then covered with multiple coats of spar varnish. The final step is taking your boat to the nearest body of water, sliding in and going for the first of many paddles. I supposed I should mention that while this abbreviated how to, took a few paragraphs, plan on spending 200 plus hours, or five plus months into the creation of your boat.

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