How to Make Kayak Foot Braces

How to Make Kayak Foot Braces
Properly adjusted kayak foot braces help increase the power of your paddle strokes and your control over the boat. Foot braces also increase cockpit comfort. Most commercial kayaks ship with built-in adjustable foot braces, but these usually provide minimal contact for your feet. You can easily make kayak foot braces out of closed cell foam. Closed cell foam provides a larger surface for your feet and a custom fit for more power and control.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Paper Pencil Scissors Tape measure Closed cell foam Spray adhesive Handsaw Utility knife 80-grit sandpaper Dap Weldwood contact cement
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Closed cell foam
  • Spray adhesive
  • Handsaw
  • Utility knife
  • 80-grit sandpaper
  • Dap Weldwood contact cement
Step 1
Make a tracing of your kayak's forward bulkhead. Use a large piece of paper and pencil to trace the bulkhead. Cut out the tracing and set aside.
Step 2
Sit in the kayak in a proper diamond position with your knees and thighs contacting your knee braces and your back against the back band. Sit upright. Your feet should be at 90 degrees from your calves. Have a friend measure the distance between the bulkhead and your feet. This is the thickness of the foam you'll need to purchase.
Step 3
Make a tracing of the cross section of the kayak at the distance your friend measured. Cut this out and set aside.
Step 4
Center the first tracing on one side of the closed cell foam you purchased and center the second tracing on the other side. Attach the tracings using spray adhesive, and then using a handsaw cut about one-half inch outside the lines of the tracing. Run the saw at an angle to make a wedge shape running from the forward tracing to the further back tracing.
Step 5
Test-fit the foam. To make a perfect fit, trim the foam using a utility knife and 80-grit sandpaper.
Step 6
Coat the surface of the foam foot braces with two layers of contact cement. Coat the bulkhead with one coat. Once the contact cement is ready (follow the directions on the can), glue the foam to the bulkhead.
Step 7
Sit in the kayak to test the fit. Fine-tune the length of your new foot braces by sanding or by adding thin layers of closed cell foam.

Tips & Warnings

 
Be accurate in your tracing. A perfect fit will reduce the volume of your kayak's cockpit, making draining the kayak after a wet exit easier. Make a hole in the center top of the new foot braces to hold the end of your bilge pump. Use a plastic or foam clamp near the cockpit coaming to hold the other end. Contact cement bonds instantly, so make sure you line everything up perfectly before touching the treated surfaces. Some kayakers like a slight toe forward angle to their foot braces. If you want a toe forward angle, cut a slight angle into the foot surface of the foam before installing the foot brace into your kayak.
 
Be accurate in your tracing. A perfect fit will reduce the volume of your kayak's cockpit, making draining the kayak after a wet exit easier.
 
Make a hole in the center top of the new foot braces to hold the end of your bilge pump. Use a plastic or foam clamp near the cockpit coaming to hold the other end.
 
Contact cement bonds instantly, so make sure you line everything up perfectly before touching the treated surfaces.
 
Some kayakers like a slight toe forward angle to their foot braces. If you want a toe forward angle, cut a slight angle into the foot surface of the foam before installing the foot brace into your kayak.
 
Apply contact cement in a well-ventilated area.

Article Written By Bryan Hansel

Bryan Hansel is a freelance photographer and kayaking guide who began writing in 1993. His outdoors articles appear on various websites. Hansel holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and religion from the University of Iowa.

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