The North Star on its berth, here supported while sanding
This is the Norton, designed by Björn Thomasson of Sweden - Note the berth and 3 last stations.
When making a Baidarka type kayak the front and tail pieces are built first and joined with the rest of the stations on the berth - and then stripping - makes the ends meet!
Note the nice usage of contrasting strips and the beautiful cockpit below that Søren has built to his own design!
Søren has designed a very nice "organiser of strips" which form part of the building berth - please see photos below - Should you want to learn more then please contact us
Above and belowe you see the deck and hull of a Guillemot kayak designed by Nick Shade - the parts are ready to be sanded and glassed. Note the handsome cockpit coaming made from alternating strips.
Søren's newest design seen from the side
The way I assemble the deck and hull is by having the initial strips on both hull and deck bevelled at a 40 degree angle (which is made before you begin) - The photo shows that the masking tape is run on the outside edge to catch epoxy from the inside seam - which is a 5 cm wide glass band running the entire length of the kayak - When dry - a similar seam is added to the outside, but note that when making the inside seam the kayak must be supported on its side.
As this can be rather cumbersome to explain - please contact me to discuss in detail. P.S.J@profibermail.dk
Unfortunately, the idea to this web-site came only after we had built several kayaks - and therefor we are not able to take you through a complete workflow - following the same kayak - however, we do hope that we may still give you an impression of the processes involved, by showing samples of what we have made so far. - So please do not regard this as an unabridged version, rather a teaser on which to follow up on by yourself - after all stripping is about teasing isn't it!
There are many beautiful and proven designs to be found on the internet and on builders' forums, but perhaps you would like to work from a design of your own?
Søren who works a lot on designs, may be able to help you make a kayak suited to you personally, where you will have to go on some kind of a compromise if you choose an existing design - advantages and disadvantages can be said about either choice - below you see Søren's latest conception:
Whether you chose an existing design or your own - first we will need a berth on which to build - This can be as simple as two vertical planks spread in the middle and joining at both ends, and supported by a couple of saw-horses - or you may build a plywood box construction, fairly the length of your kayak, or you may even use an iron bar or PVC tube - as long as the spine on which you intend to build is not twisting, but straight!
For details please refer to the book "Kayak Craft" by Ted Moores.
With the socalled Stitch n' Glue proces, however, you may be able to do without the berth, as the planks are cut in shape and thus give the hull its form when assembled - so for those who want to be on the water in a hurry, there is a lot to be said for this process which is much quicker.
Here we must also mention the Hybrid kayak, i.e. a plywood hull, but with a deck made by strips - to combine the quicker building method of Stitch n' Glue with the fancier strip building for the deck - and in some sense you are thus able to get the best of both techniques.
Finally, you may be keen to make a very traditional craft, and therefore the socalled "Skin on frame" technique must rightfully, be mentioned also.
Here a frame or skeleton for the boat is made and this is subsequently covered by skin, canvas or even new and modern fabrics - to create a craft that resembles very much the traditional Greenland or Eskimo kayaks.
No matter which kind of building technique you choose, we will gladly share with you some of our ideas and experiences - and point you to some good sources for materials and ideas.
We generally prefer to make our strips from wood that we search out at the local lumber yard, in order to get fairly straight planks without too many knots. We prefer local pine or cedar planks and preferably at the same lenght as the kayak we are building - although the strips can be scarfed if you cannot obtain full length planks.
For trim, stem and stern pieces we will most often use ash or mahogany - but other woods can be used - please note details on some of the included photos -
For ripping the strips we use a table saw - and recommend that you use this or a band saw in order to get fair strips - A hand-held saw can be used if you use a batten to run the saw along - but the result will mostly be more "raw" than when using a fine-tooth table saw.
The planks we try to use are generally, 125 - 150 mm wide with a thickness of approx. 21 mm - a width we find ideal for most designs.
One may rightfully, point out that the wider the strips the quicker the building will be - yet around curves and at the ends of the kayak or canoe - width is not really an advantage! - We recommend the stitch and glue process if you want to build the hull quickly.
After ripping the strips we add cove and bead to the sides of approx. 25% of the strips so we have these where the hull curves the most - The cove and bead technique ensures a tight connection between the strips - but is generally not necessary all around. An idea we can recommend is to make a couple of small test panels - stripping them and applying the glass to test and get familiar with how it works. The panels can later be used for watertight bulkheads in connection with the storage holds in front and back of the cockpit.
In case you are a bit hesitant about the above ripping process, we will be happy to give you a quote on the strips required for your project - based on today's prices at the lumber-yard.
Glassing & Assembly
After the hull and deck have been glued and stapled to the forms - you need to remove the staples or brads and sand the surfaces back to a a nice and smooth touch - and before glassing we generally give the wood a layer of epoxy to saturate the wood - However, there are varied opinions on whether this is necessary.
From experience we have found that we avoid the gassing - creating bubbles from the wood - if we put on a layer of epoxy first - and it is a good idea to glass at falling temperatures rather than rising temperatures.
On the insides the finish does not have to be as well as on the outside - although you must be aware that even small difference in hight of the strips may create traps for air underneath the cloth - and they can be a pain to get rid of - so a finish nearly as perfect as on the outside is to be recommended!
When both sides of the hull and deck have been glassed you may see that the the cloth will need a coat more to fill the weave. - This done you are ready to assemble.
On our kayaks we enforce the area under the cockpit and around the cockpit as well as the stem and stern with an extra layer of cloth - which can be applied while the first layer is still wet or within twenty-four hours of the first layer - (Please check your supplier of epoxy on this to be sure!)
When assembling the deck and hull we tape up the entire kayak to have good fit - run a lenght of tape all the way from stem to stern and place the kayak on its side - Inside we use a glass tape which does not fray on the sides and epoxy this in to cover the joint between the deck and hull - Mind you this is an operation that calls for long arms and a craning neck - The tape on the outside seem prevents the resin from seeping through to the outside.
Having done both the inside seams - you are ready to add the seam on the outside - and whereas the inside seam does not need to be sanded - the outside seams should be sanded into the surrounding deck and side to become invisible. Here we use ordinary bias cut glass cloth - since we here want to be able to sand the edges - Scraps from glassing the hull and deck will generally be ample to cover these areas.
When you are happy about the seams then the entire hull and deck must be sanded to an opaque white and uniform color - and then a modern polyuretane varnish is what we prefer - this has in the UV inhibitors that are not present in the epoxy resins - It should be noted that you must apply 4 - 5 coats in order to get a good protection and unlike other one component marine varnishes - polyuretane varnish is a long time building the lustre that you most probably are looking for. On a good warm day you may be able to apply two coats without the sanding in between - Please see the producer's recommendations on the can.
Below you see a hull being prepared for glassing!
Notice how the wood changes appearance when glassed and varnished at your right!
For details please refer to Kanotboken by Björn Thomasson, Sweden or
Top view of small canoe berth - the same is seen to the left from the side
The berth before the station blocks and stations are affixed - note the lines indicating the positions - and some of the stations
This berth is for a Guillemot by Nick Shade - presently, being built by a friend. This will become a very nice kayak!
Note how the cove and bead strips fit into each other and follow the form of the station.
Above you see a cross section of the cove n' bead strips.
The hull and deck are trial fit together with masking tape to make sure that they mate.
Søren 's latest design!
Here you see the inwales being installed on a Redbird canoe -
And a job well done!
Ready for the first Paddle!