How to Build a Wood Kayak

How to Build a Wood Kayak
A wooden kayak is not simply a vessel of utility; it is also a work of art. You choose the type of wood, the varnish applied, the pattern of the strips and finish. No one else on the water will have a craft identical to yours, and your boat will bring you the constant satisfaction of knowing it's your own creation. With proper care, your wooden kayak will be just as beautiful 20 years down the road as it is the day you complete it, making these pieces family heirlooms as well. Building a kayak may seem a daunting task to a novice, but if you take the time and care, you can create a beautiful vessel even on your first attempt.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Pencil
  • Large paper
  • Plywood
  • Power saws
  • Staple gun
  • Wood glue
  • Planer
  • Sander
  • Fiberglass
  • Epoxy
  • Varnish
Step 1
Create the forms. Draw out the forms using a pencil on large paper, then cut and glue the paper onto the plywood. Cut the forms from plywood using power saws, then string them together on a strongback. Each form is a cross section of the boat's hull, and the boat will be built around the forms.
Step 2
Attach wood strips around the forms, gluing them edge to edge and using staples to hold them in place. Refer to your plans for your particular kayak model for the exact size and pattern of strips. Pull the staples once the glue has dried.
Step 3
Plane and sand the outside of the hull and deck with the strips still on the forms. Smooth out all edges and blemishes. Repeat this process until the wood is smooth and seamless.
Step 4
Lay fiberglass over the outside and cover with epoxy. Fiberglass comes in sheets and is flexible like a cloth; however, the epoxy will cause the glass to cure and harden, creating a protective shell for the wood of your boat. Allow the epoxy to cure overnight.
Step 5
Remove the hull and deck from the forms, and repeat steps three and four for the inside of the boat.
Step 6
Glue the deck and hull together.
Step 7
Sand the hull and apply a coat of varnish. Repeat this step several times. You want at least three coats of varnish, but often times, people will apply more. This is a matter of personal preference to get the finish you want on your boat.

Article Written By Christopher Williams

Christopher Williams has spent over 11 years working in the information technology, health care and outdoor recreation fields. He has over seven years of technical and educational writing experience, and has brought strong skills and passion to the Demand Studios team in articles for eHow and Trails in 2009.

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