Building a kayak: Preparations
Before beginning, there are a few important things
to sort out.
Firstly – how much time do I have available
and how long will the building take?
of boat & Building method
The two things need to be combined in the decision making process.
Important aspects to sonsider regarding the type of boat are: intended
use, the paddler’s weight and size, preferences ... The building
method depends to a certain degree upon the design of the chosen
boat, as well as upon one’s own abilities.
Here a few keywords:
Driving properties depending on the hull shape: in cross section
U-shaped, V-shaped, hard chined;
in longitudinal section straight or with a rocker (‘banana-like’).
Rudder, skeg or neither
This is followed by literature research and gathering
of information, as well as the design or purchase of a construction
- workshed size (esp. length of the room)
- well-aired and heated (2-component products require at least 10°C
- close by, to make the most of every available minute
what is needed
what is already at hand
what can be borrowed
what has to be bought
Tools, as required for building a hybrid (hull plywood
& deck strip):
– a professional circular saw with a long guide (to cut the
strips), a simple slitting saw and a coping saw, perhaps a Stichsäge
with a timber blade (for sawing the plywood panels)
– Plane with fine-adjustment of the blade, and an exchangable
blade, alternatively/additionally an electric plane with a functional
mechanism to adjust the blade
rasp and file (straight and curved), sanding paper and sanding block,
Bandschleifer (to bevel the plywood and to smooth the cut panels)
For working with fibre glass and epoxy – fine scale (sticking
to the exact ratio of the components is immensly important), disposable
gloves, plenty of brushes, respiratory protection, glad wrap, small
pots and containers (party glasses)....
Other bits ’n pieces– chisel, pocket knife, small drill,
huge amount of screw clamps of all sizes, perhpas tacker - and plenty
of nibbles and munchies.
the material & cost calculation
- Timber & glue
- Epoxy- & glass fibre products
- Small bits & disposable items (brush, sanding paper,
tape, glad wrap, gloves etc.)
- local specialist shops, hardware stores, sailing outfitter,
- Internet: online-shops, auctions
- Second hand & recycling shops
Comparing prices is well worth the effort, perhaps
you can get together a few boat builders and buy in bulk
The plywood I used for the hull is Okoume, water-proof
glued. The sheets, 4 mm thick, are 2.50 x 1.22 m (3.05 m2).
Here I'd like to add that the use of tropical timber
encourages the destruction of the unique rain forest -> link
the Rain forest
For strip building, in general, western red
zedar is used, at least in the USA & Canada, as well
as by professional kit set builders (-> Literature).
But I was seeking a local timber with properties similar to those
of zedar (check timber properties). Though it was a difficult choice
to make, I took ash, because it is very strong.
It has a higher density than zedar or pine and shaping it is exhausting.
On the other hand, one gets a rough-wearing boat.
At a saw mill I chose a rough hewn board in tree width
to cut the strips from, for the deck.
Short overview of my
incurred cost (Winter 2005/2006):
|Plywood-sheets 4 mm x 2.50 m x 1.22 m
|Ash board, 26 mm x 20 cm x 3.5 m
other timber: Pine-squares 14 x 14 mm
Pine-strips 5 x 15 mm
timber & plywood for bulkheads, skeg &
fibre cloth, 163 g/m2, 1 m wide
110 g/m2, 1 m wide
|fibre glass band, 5 mm wide
|Epoxid resin (2-components)
||2 kg + 0.8 kg
|Hatches & -rings (20 & 24 cm diameter)
|| 2 x each
|Primer & Varnish (2-components)
|| 1 x each
|ca. 450 Euro
should be set up, even thoguh it'll be changed umpteen
times - useful it is nevertheless.
(6) To practice:
build an eski-paddle!
Why? It's good practice in woodworking skills and
for the usage of the tools. And, the success is great for yoru confidence
- Links to build a paddle.
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