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Boat Building Techniques


Information about boat building techniques

Building the Night Heron Videos

I'm building a Night Heron kayak using cove and bead western red cedar. I'm taking some video as I go. I hope you find the following helpful.

Stripping the deck of the Night Heron kayak using Cove and Bead cedar strips

Sheer Strips

Like the hull, I used strips taped to the bottom of a bench plane to make consistent width strips with the bead removed. These strips were then beveled to create a tight joint with the sheer strips on the hull. At the ends the sheer strips need to be tapered to meet each other at a nice point.

Building the Petrel Sea Kayak Videos

In 2010 I started making a strip-built Petrel sea kayak using cedar strips, fiberglass and Carbon-Kevlar Cloth. I documented much of the process on video and below are the short videos I produced showing many of the building techniques incorporated. The above video provides a quick overview, follow the links below for more detailed looks at the individual steps.

Strip Planked Boat Material and Weight Calculator

Anyone building a strip-built boat from scratch eventually has to decide how much wood they need. At the same time they may be curious as to how much the boat is going to weigh. While it is not immediately obvious that these two questions are related, they both depend on the surface are of the boat. Every square foot of the surface needs to be covered with wood and every bit of wood weighs something.

Refiberglassing my Petrel

My Petrel has been my primary boat for a long time. It has been through some serious abuse over the years. Not only has it been dragged up beaches and bumped into the occasional submerged log, I've also crushed in the side playing in rock gardens, I've stored it outside all summer in the sun with no cover, and kept it outside, uncovered all winter, I've also left it on the roof of my car while running errands around town. After all this abuse it was looking a little shabby.

Overview of making a kayak

I put together this 5 minute video to provide a broad overview of the strip-building process. My other videos go into a lot more detail, but if you want to see a quick synopsis of the whole project, this should help you out.

Installing Cheek Plates in the Kayak Cockpit

While many people mount these hip-braces or as I call them "cheek plates" so they extend from the deck and are attached to the hull at the bottom as well. I prefer to just have them attached to the deck. In this way I don't get a hard spot in the hull that might cause cracks as the boat flexes. I prefer to just cantilever them straight down and glass them in with a good fillet on each side.

Feed-Through Kayak Deck Fittings

I've got mixed feelings about deck lines. All those pieces of string running around the deck mess up the beauty of the wood, but if you should end up swimming next to the boat for some reason, having something to grab onto may save your life. I am even more ambivalent about hatch hold-down systems. Again, most systems mess up the lines of the boat, yet hatches are really useful for carrying gear.

Picture Books...

I put together a couple small photo books showing an overview of the building process for my Nymph canoe and Petrel kayak. I orginally made these to bring to shows to help explain to people how I make my boats. I got a fair number of requests from people who wanted a copy of the books, so I've put the books up on Lulu.