Build a Wooden Kayak, Part 4 [Video]

build a wood kayak

Here we bring you the final installment of Jason Eke’s video series on how to build your own wooden kayak.

Don’t miss Parts 1-3:

In Part 4 here, we cover videos 16-20, the final steps where Jason shows us how to complete your Chesapeake Light Craft Shearwater 17 hybrid kayak:

Video 16: Install the Kayak Hatches

This step is completely optional. If you’d like extra storage and ventilation, then hatches are very handy. But it’s a bit scary to start cutting into your beautifully-finished deck! It takes care and precision, and you won’t get a second chance.

First, grab the pre-cut hatch sills that came with your Chesapeake Light Craft kit.

Remove the tabs, then cut the openings in the deck, using the hatch sills as your guide. Use a jig saw to cut carefully along the lines you’ve drawn as your pattern. Sand the inside edge of the opening.

Laminate the sills with thickened epoxy and place inside the hatches, clamping them to dry and let them cure overnight.

Video 17: Prepare for the Final Coat of Epoxy

This video covers several small tasks you’ll need to do before applying the final coat of epoxy. Here are the basic steps:

  • Attach the hatch rim, which will help with water tightness for the hatches.
  • Prepare the hip braces for the cockpit.
  • Seal the inside of the bulkheads with epoxy to make them watertight.
  • Install the hip braces. Jason suggests you place the kayak on the grass or other padded surface and sit inside it so you’ll know best where to place them.
  • Final sanding of the hull of any high spots and imperfections.

Video 18: The Final Coat of Epoxy

Be sure you’ve done all you can to have a smooth hull. The effort you’ve put in before now will pay off. You can always do small touch ups later, too, if needed.

This epoxy will cover the entire kayak. Jason uses a roller to apply it, along with a small brush to access the places the roller can’t reach. Start on one end and work your way to the other.

Your goal is a nice smooth coat with the fabric completely filled with epoxy. You may have to do another coat yet before varnishing.

Video 19: Varnish the Kayak

The varnishing process will take several days. First, take a day to sand the entire boat, starting with 150-grit paper, then 220-grit, and finish off with hand sanding on areas where you don’t want to use the orbital sander. Wait overnight to let the dust settle.

The next day, clean everything up—the kayak itself as well as the area around the kayak. Let the dust settle, then use a damp cloth to go over the kayak to wipe off any dust still remaining.

Jason suggests to always varnish dry-to-wet so you don’t create marks on the hull. Jason uses a foam roller to apply the varnish and keeps a sponge brush handy to tip off any drips or smaller areas.

He starts with the deck, lets it dry for 24 hours, then wet sands it. He does five coats of varnish, starting each day with a wet sand. Then repeat the process with the hull.

Video 20: The Final Steps

The final steps of your wooden kayak involves:

  • Attaching the hatch gaskets to the hatch doors.
  • Installing the hatch toggles. You can either use the ones Chesapeake sends with its kit, or make your own, as Jason does.
  • Attaching optional deck lines—both for safety and convenience.
  • Installing the back brace and seat.

A note about the seat: Chesapeake sends a pre-cut foam seat along with their kit. Eventually you’ll glue it in place, but Jason likes to use double-sided tape for a temporary placement first. That way he’ll have a chance to use it a few times and make sure it’s right where he wants it before he glues it in permanently.

Chesapeake also sends foot pegs that you can install if you’d like to. Again, try them in different positions before gluing them down.

Thanks for watching this 4-part video series with Jason! You can learn more about him and Trailguide Pictures at:, YouTube, and Facebook.

Contact our friendly Customer Service team with your paddle questions today: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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