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Nick's Blog


Making Little Boats out of Big Boats

Scaling kayak designs

"Can I make a 10' kayak from a 17' kayak by decreasing the form spacing." or similar, is one of my more commonly received questions. The reason for asking may be that the questioner only has a 12' long work shop, or they don't want to put a longer kayak on their Mini Cooper or they just don't want a long boat.

Paddling My First Kayak

Paddling the Original Great Auk

During my vacation a few weeks ago I took some time to get my first kayak out of the basement storage at my parents place in Maine and took it for a paddle. It was interesting to see that some of the things I still do, appeared on my first efforts.

The Process of Building a Wooden Kayak

Like any project, you can build a kayak quickly, or you can take pains with every step. While I am a big advocate of working quickly so you can get the kayak finished and start paddling, when I build custom boats for clients, I work with a bit more patience. This video shows some of the steps I took to make a bespoke kayak for a client. Many of the steps shown here are the hard way to do things. 

Smoothing the interior of a strip planked boat with a scraper and sandpaper

Smoothing the interior of a strip built boat is always a challenge. A random orbital sander usually doesn't fit the curved surface well and risks digging horseshoe shaped divots in the wood. What I find works well for me is a really sharp paint scraper shaped to match the surface, and hand sanding with very rough sandpaper.

Fitting a Cockpit Recesss

 There are a variety of ways to install a recess around a cockpit. Some people like to install the recess first and then fit the strips to the existing shape. I have found it is more efficient and the results are better if I strip the deck first and then cut a hole to accept the recess.

Milling the Cove and Bead on a Router Table

How to Set Up a Router Table to cut Cove and Bead Cedar Strips

Cut the Bead First

I like to cut the bead first because it will not get dinged up with any rough handling. The cove is more delicate due to the narrow edges. By cutting the bead first there will be fewer opportunities for damage between milling the cove and assembling the strip on your boat.

6 mile is 2 minutes in the Mystery Racing Kayak

While the weather is warm enough, I try to get out for a morning work out in some boat. Here I am in my Mystery racing kayak. This was about a week ago. Now the river is starting to ice over.

Noank Pulling Boat Preview Video

A 2 minute preview

I've been putting my new design extensive sea trials as I work on finalizing the builder's instruction manual. I'm really pleased with how the boat is performing, it has very nice glide, decent initial stability and great secondary stability, handles waves gracefully and seems quite fast. I ended up adding a small skeg (as I expected) that allows the boat to track very nicely while maintaining good maneuverability.