Nick's Blog

Kayak Plans and other Wooden Boat Designs

 Kayak Plans


Guillemot Kayaks has been offering complete plans and instructions for building high performance wooden kayaks since 1993. Each kayak plan includes all the forms drawn out at full size and individually. No copying or lofting is required, just glue the plans to your form material and cut out around the lines. Each plan is printed out as an original to minimize any chance of errors being introduced in the reproduction process.

Skin on Frame Construction

Picture of Aleut Baidarka and Inuit skin on frame kayak

The original kayaks were built by the Inuit and Aleut "Eskimo" peoples of the Arctic. Living above the tree line they did not have access to unlimited supplies of wood. Instead the built boats using a light weight driftwood frame that they covered with skins. Typically these skins were from seals, but whale skin and cariboo skins were sometimes used. Modern Skin on Frame kayaks typically use synthetic fabric such as Nylon or Dacron.

Cove and Bead Strips

A strip built boat is made of small strips of wood so if you were wondering where the name came from, now you know. The method is often called cedar strip, because the wood used is typically cedar. It does not have to be. Any straight grained, light-weight wood can be used. I have used redwood, pine, and mahogany as well as Alaskan cedar, western red cedar, northern white cedar, and atlantic white cedar.


The word "baidarka" is actually a Russian word. It is the diminutive form of "baidar" which means "boat" so "baidarka" means "small boat". In modern use in the United States, it has come to mean a skin on frame kayak of the type made by the Aleut peoples of Alaska. This usage probably stems from George Dyson's excellent book by that name Baidarka.

Great Auk Design Family

The Great Auk family of designs grew out my first efforts to design a kayak. I wanted a boat that would be roomy and stable, could carry a lot of camping gear and move through the water smoothly and easily. Since my initial efforts the family has evolved to fill a wide range of niches, from calm water pond boats to a fast tourer/racer.

Other Boat Designs

Not all my designs fit neatly into one of my families of kayak designs, in fact I also design some boat which aren't kayaks at all! I put the same care and effort into these designs as I have into my families of kayak designs. These designs are the result of months of design work and are boats I have built and tested to be sure they work as I intended.

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