Build Your Own Wooden Kayak, Part 3 [Video]

Here’s Part 3 of Jason Eke’s video series on how to build your own wooden kayak…

build your own wooden kayak

If you missed Parts 1 and 2, you’ll find them here:

This is Part 3 which covers videos 11-15: how to build your own Chesapeake Light Craft Shearwater 17 hybrid kayak. Let’s dig in…

Video 11: Fiberglass the Underside of the Deck

At this point the top of the deck has already been fiberglassed. Now it’s time for the underside:

  • Lay out the fabric from one end to the other. Take your time to carefully smooth the fiberglass to remove all wrinkles.
  • Use sharp scissors to trim off the excess, leaving an inch or two overhanging both sides. The extra weight will help hold the cloth down.
  • Jason adds a second layer of fiberglass in the cockpit where he’ll be sitting.
  • Apply the epoxy, starting in the center and working your way out.

While you wait for the fiberglass to cure, go ahead and remove the plastic and forms from inside the hull.

Video 12: Join the Deck to the Hull

Once the fiberglass has cured overnight, take a sharp contractor’s knife and cut away the excess fabric, being careful not to cut the wood. Then place the hull on your main workspace:

  • Mix and spread thickened epoxy on the edges of the hull and bulkheads, in prep for laying the deck on top.
  • When placing the deck, start on one end and lay it down, centered. This step is easier with two people! Run your fingers along the outer edges to help align the two pieces.
  • Jason uses masking tape, rope and canoe straps to wrap around the kayak to tighten the two halves together.
  • Let the epoxy cure overnight.

Video 13: Fair the Kayak Deck

Use a sharp block plane to take off any high points, ridges and extra glue. Long strokes will give you a better finish. Remember, the deck is only 1/4 inch thick, so only take off the high points.

Next, trim the overhanging edges of the deck with the plane until they match the contour of the hull.

Finally, use an orbital sander to smooth off the entire deck. Start with coarser grit sandpaper, then go over it again with a finer grit paper. You’ll round the edges of the kayak as you sand to prepare for the final layer of fiberglass. Finish it off with hand sanding in the direction of the grain to remove any swirl marks.

Video 14: Apply the Fiberglass and Epoxy on the Finished Deck

Before you start this section, be sure and clean your work area and kayak thoroughly to remove all dust and dirt.

Use the same steps to lay out the fiberglass fabric on one end and roll it out to the other end. Smooth away all the wrinkles to prepare for the epoxy. Overhang the deck by a couple inches so that once the epoxy is cured, the edges will be sealed completely.

As always, prepare your epoxy mixture carefully, then apply it starting on one end. Do your best to keep a uniform layer of epoxy throughout the whole deck. A squeegee will help you with that, too. This first coat will glue the fabric down to the deck.

Don’t skimp on safety measures that include having good ventilation in your workspace, using gloves and being careful not to breathe in too many of the fumes.

Video 15: Build the Kayak Coaming

The coaming creates the edge of the cockpit. These pieces come with your kit, and are made of the same marine-grade hardwood as the hull, okume.

  • Cut away the fiberglass from the cockpit using a sharp contractor’s knife.
  • Prepare the coaming pieces for installation and mark where the edges will join together. Use clamps to dry fit the pieces to see how it’ll all fit together.
  • Jason applies masking tape and plastic to protect the deck finish.
  • Apply thickened epoxy to the edges of the deck, lay the coaming and clamp it down.
  • Use your finger to remove any extra epoxy while it’s still wet.

After the epoxy has cured overnight, remove the clamps. Use a wood rasp and orbital sander to smooth and shape the coaming, and to smooth the inner surface. Jason uses a router, then, to round off the upper inside edge.

Next, apply a layer of fiberglass and epoxy to the top and inner edge of the coaming.

Stay tuned for the final five videos in the series in Part 4, coming next month.

Email or call our Wisconsin-based Customer Service team today with your questions about canoe and kayak paddles: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

More for you…