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Strip Built

Thin strips of wood covered with fiberglass

Sanding the Hull

If you are careful gluing up your strips, the sanding can go quite quickly. My process here was:

Table of Contents

  • Part 1 The Background
    • 1 Introduction
      • The Strip-Building Method
      • What You Need to Build a Boat
      • Three Strip-Building Projects
    • 2 Materials
      • Wood
      • Resin
      • Reinforcing Fabrics
      • Glues
      • Tape
      • Waxed Paper
      • Paint and Varnish
    • 3 Tools
      • Hand Tools
      • Power Tools
      • Safety Equipment
    • 4 Lofting
      • Offset Tables
      • Cutting Forms
      • A

Building Strip-Planked Boats

Building Strip-Planked Boats

Building Strip-Planked Boats

"With Complete Plans and Instructions for a Dinghy, a Canoe and a Kayak You Can Build"

By Nick Schade
Published by International Marine, a division of McGraw-Hill


A cute little wooden dinghy


A minimalist cedar strip pack canoe for light paddlers


A modern take on a double paddle canoe

How much wood do I need to build the boat?

A stitch and glue boat will typically use three or four sheets of 4mm Occume marine plywood. With careful cutting you may be able to be more efficient.


For a strip-built kayak a good rule of thumb is 2 board feet of western red cedar or other softwood for each foot of boat length. A board foot is a volume of wood 12" long x 12" wide by a nominal 1" thickness. Most wood you will buy is planed down to 3/4" thick or even 11/16" for some cedar and redwood.

Why "Strip-Built"?

One of the biggest benefits to building a small boat with narrow strips is how accessible it is. While it looks intimidating, taking a bundle of small strips and wrapping them around a set of forms really is a matter of patience and not one of specialized skills. The tool requirement is minimal and the technique is very tolerant of mistakes. If you fail to make perfect joints between strips, the epoxy and fiberglass will fill them in and seal the mistakes.

If you are looking for a way to mass-produce wooden boats, strip-building is probably not the best choice. It is a time consuming method. More traditional methods of boat building tend to be quicker when performed by experience craftsmen, but that speed and ability to build a usable boat is largely dependent on the skill of the builder. The strength and water-tight integrity of the finished traditionally-built vessel is a result of the ability of the builder to make tight and sound joints. This takes skill and practice.

Outline of How to Build a Strip-Built Kayak

Here is a step-by-step overview of the process of building a strip kayak as described in my book. The bulleted links are to videos showing the process. While building a kayak may at first appear to be a big task, it can easily be broken down into a series of small manageable tasks. None of these steps are beyond the capability of the average person who has ever wielded modest hand tools.

What do you mean by "Strip-Built"?

"Strip-Building" is the art of bending many, small, thin strips of wood around forms to create a boat shape. The wood is covered with fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin then removed from the forms and the inside is fiberglassed. This method allows a lot of design freedom because just about any shape may be produced. The results are very strong and stiff because of the composite construction with wood surrounded by fiberglass and sealed in epoxy. By varying the thickness of the wood and the amount of fiberglass applied the boat can be supremely light or extremely tough.

The fiberglass cloth be

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