Build Your Own Wooden Kayak, Part 2 [Video]

Jason Eke of Trailguide Pictures walks us through the process of building your own stitch-and-glue wooden kayak in this second part of the 4-part series…

Jason Eke, Trailguide Pictures, kayak building

Chesapeake Light Craft’s DIY kit for their Shearwater 17 hybrid kayak is what boat Jason builds in this 20-part series. If you haven’t seen Part 1, you can watch that here. In Part 2 we cover Videos 6-10. Each video is between six and sixteen minutes long:

Video 6: Fiberglass the Inner Hull

First you’ll apply an epoxy fillet down all the seams of the inner hull. This will add stability as well as fill in any gaps where the stitches went through. A fillet is a peanut butter-like mixture of epoxy and wood flour.

  • Apply the thickened epoxy using a Zip-lock bag, then smooth it out with a squeegee.
  • Apply the fiberglass cloth in the cockpit while the fillet is still pliable. This will give you a chemical bond between the materials.
  • Cut lengths of fiberglass tape to cover the interior fillets.
  • Brush mixed epoxy onto the tape until it’s thoroughly wetted and clear. Do the same in the cockpit. Use a squeegee to remove excess epoxy.

Video 7: Fiberglass the Outer Hull

The outer hull will receive three layers of fiberglass and epoxy. Jason does this by laying out all three layers of fiberglass and then applying the epoxy. Have someone help you apply the epoxy and it’ll go a lot faster!

  • Smooth out the fiberglass with your hands to get rid of any wrinkles, then trim off the extra material. The second layer of cloth will cover only the bottom panels. The third layer is going over the sharp ends of the hull for extra protection.
  • Once the cloth is in place, saturate the cloth with epoxy.
  • To get a chemical bond with the next coat of epoxy, apply it before the first coat is fully cured.
  • Use an orbital sander to sand off any high spots to give it a smooth surface. Wear a face respirator to keep the fine dust out of your eyes, nose and mouth, and even hooded coveralls to keep the dust off your hair and clothing.

Video 8: The Cedar Strip Deck, Part 1

This is the longest of the videos at a little over 16 minutes. You’ll mark off the center points on each form then start tacking the cedar strips in place with finishing nails. Jason starts with the outside and leaves a bit of overhang on these first strips. He’ll plane the excess away later.

It’s very important at this first stage of applying the cedar strips that you don’t rush. Be sure they’re even now and everything afterwards will go smoother and look nicer.

Video 9: The Cedar Strip Deck, Part 2

Video 9 continues where Video 8 left off. With two strips on each side done, Jason continues laying out his strips to finish the deck of the Shearwater 17, including around the cockpit apron.

Jason uses a basic carpenter’s wood glue to glue the strips together. There’s no need to use a marine-grade glue at this stage. Don’t use too much as you’ll need to remove any excess later.

In this video, Jason lays his strips down without using staples or finishing nails as much as possible. Don’t get hung up on using them or not, though…especially if you need a few staples on some hard spots. He uses a wide masking tape to help hold the strips together until the glue dries.

Video 10: Prepare to Fiberglass the Deck

There are several steps to this stage:

  • Remove any finishing nails you’ve used to tack pieces in place. Pull them straight out, being careful your hammer doesn’t dent the wood strips.
  • Use masking tape to cover any gaps between the strips.
  • If you want to, use wood glue and a toothpick to fill in nail holes.

Carefully lift the deck off the hull of the kayak and move the hull out of the way of your work surface. Use epoxy to fill in any gaps and let it cure overnight so you can sand it smooth. The underside of the deck doesn’t need to be picture-perfect, just smooth enough to hold the fiberglass cloth flat and smooth.

OK, that’s all for this time. Videos 11-15 coming soon!

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