a kayak: Deck
Now let’s change over to stripping
Some basics about the
The strips should, depending on the type of timber used,
be about 5 mm thick and 15 mm wide. They should be flexible
about both longitudinal axes, in such a way that they can
comply to the desired shaped of the deck.
is very tough timber, but also rather stubborn. Accordingly,
ash strips need to be thin and narrow. In comparison, pine
or fir is easier to work with, but it breaks more easily.
Pine strips can thus be a bit thicker, just try out some timbers.
and about strip-building
The strips are glued to each other with water proof
white glue, and subsequently covered with fibre cloth and
epoxy resin. For the deck, the strips are assembled starting
on the outside working inwards. The first pair of strips sits
on top of the hull’s side. The succession of strips
is alternating starbord-port. This way, the strips join at
bow and aft in a kind of ‘zip’, see picture.
For variations of the pattern, see further
Now it’s time to get started
wood strips & plane
Once upon the time there was a plank of ash....
With a circular saw, the plank is cut along a guide into
strips. On the right-hand picture the traces left by the saw
blade are clearly visible. They are planed off afterwards.
Unfortunately, it turned out that my strips of 26 by
6 mm were too stiff. Thus, with lots of patience and visual
judgement they were halved to about 12 mm width and thinned
with an electrical plane down to about 4 mm. Finally the strips
were well pliable – and I had a huge pile of saw dust.
you can lay your hands on a milling cutter, you can add tongue
and grooves to your strips, see picture above. The concave-convex
interlocking eases the shaping of the deck curvature.Alternatively,
the edges of the strips need to be bevelled accordingly.
construction aids inside the hull
With tape or cable ties, the construction aids are securely
fixed within the hull resting in the cradles. It is over these
aids the strips are placed and thus the deck shaped.
To avoid the strips getting glued to the aids, cover these
with tape or glad wrap.
If you want to staple the strips to the aids, use proper
wood for the aids. The staples don’t have a good hold
in particle board.
Strips are commonly 1.5 to 2 m long only. At least for the
first few pairs the strips should be lengthened to the required
total length beforehand. Later on, the strips can be bevelled
and glued during the process of laying them (clamp firmly).
first pair of strips
Prior to starting - tape the hull plywood to avoid deck and
hull becoming inseparable (glue drips).The first strip is
placed onto the upper hull edge and stapled to the plywood.
The strip may project a bit over the hull’s outside,
as well as stern and bow. It is planed off later.
The second strip butts against the first strip at bow and
stern, where it is fitted at an angle, see picture.
Glue and staple.Make sure the curvature of the first pair
alternatingly left and right. Each successive strip is held
next to the previous one. If you are working without tongue
and groove, you need to plane a slight slant in the edge to
make the new strip follow the arching of the deck. At bow
and stern adjust the length and butt angle. When everything
fits, glue thinnly to the neighbour strip.
most strips are somewhat mischievous and won’t stay
put, they need to be coaxed in place. To do this, either use
a stapler or adhesive
tape to fix it to the adjacent strip and the construction
aids.The first method has the drawback that you need to remove
all the staples afterwards and they leave lots of tiny holes.
The second methods takes some practice, and not all tapes
stick well to timber.
For very stubborn strips at e.g. tighter curvatures, use
clamps. The time until the glue sets gives you a well-deserved
Variations and pattern
For the middle part of the deck, for instance, the strips
can be laid parallel.
Here, wide stiff strips can be used.Also, you can use differently
coloured timber and create pattern with these.
Once you got the hang of it, you’ll see plenty of possibilities.
To save strips, the area of the cockpit opening can remain
unstripped. With a cardboard template of the cockpit area
take care you aren’t laying the strips too short.
Before glassing, the cockpit opening is cut properly.
Plane outside deck & sand
more unevenly the strips are cut and/or laid (see picture),
the more work there is to do now.
First, remove all (!!) staples. With a sharp plane level
the surface. Bevel endings like this example should be plugged
up. Remove white glue beads. Finally, sandpaper the surface.
Take care: don’t work the deck too thin – this
is directed mostly to electric plane users.
The next step: dust and wipe the deck with copious amount
of water (to let the timber fibres swell and thus close little
gaps), wait until dry. Spread a fibre cloth (110 g/m2) over
the deck with the fibres aligned oblique across the deck.
This allows better shaping of the cloth. Cut out roughly (left
picture). Soak with epoxy resin (right picture the freshly
glassed deck). Watch out for drips running down the hull or
worse the cloth sticking to it.
After curing of the resin, the cockpit recess is cut. The
cut out cloth can still be used for small patches.
Separate deck from hull
After curing of the resin, the deck can be taken off the
hull carefully. The deck is still very delicate and flexible.
To avoid ‘deflating’ of the decks arch, better
set it into appropriate holdings.
Plane inner side & sand
In analogy to the outside, plane and sand. But due to the
concave curvature the planing is more tricky. Use a plane
with a narrow blade (or don’t be too fussy).
Glass inside of the deck
Proceeds as described for the outside.
In some areas, which will be exposed to more strain, the
fibre cloth should be doubled up (use up left over and smaller
- behind the cockpit coaming (needs to support paddlers weight
climbing in & out of the boat)
- in the areas the hatches will be set in
- around the cockpit and the forward arch up to the front
bulkhead (in general lots of strain and little support otherwise)
Deck is finished!!
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