Welcome to a new build

September 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

Looking back over the blog, I realized that the last build took over two years. Two years! Of course, a lot of things happened over that time (not to mention sheer laziness and a Netflix account).

Happily, I have the bug back and a certain renewed appreciation for wood therapy. And so I invite you into my shop (garage) for my next build — a Resolute 16’6″ kayak, based on plans from the good people at Bear Mountain Boats.

Why a kayak? Well, over the summer I came to realize that I don’t like sitting in canoes and my knees don’t like kneeling. A kayak, on the other hand, is far more comfortable if you ignore the painful clumsiness of an old fart trying to get in and out of the thing.

Why 16’6″? Because that’s just about all the room I have.

At any rate, the plans soon came and I set about cutting out the forms….


…and aligning them.

on strongback2

For this build, I decided to add an accent strip of alternating light and dark triangles. I think it’ll look pretty sharp. The one important thing to remember, if you choose to do something like this, is to make sure the triangles are aligned on each side. You certainly don’t want one side to end on half a light triangle and a third of a dark triangle on the other. Alignment was far more finicky than I expected. But in the end, with a bit of effort and some choice vocabulary, I got it done.

When I’m building the sides, I usually start with butt joints and then transition to bead and cove when the hull starts to curve (with a transitional cove-only strip between). Click here for info on making the strips. Of course, towards the middle of the boat the curve came into play a little prematurely, so I beveled the transitional strip where necessary.

I prefer using bar clamps to keep the strips together. The problem is that with too much pressure, the strips tend to buckle/accordion away from the forms. To combat this, I use C clamps to add some support where the strips meet and bungee cords to keep the strips tight against the forms. Note that I also use pieces of 1/4″ doweling to protect the coves.

clamps stripping

(A note on the last picture: it’s a non-alcoholic beer. I learned early on that you shouldn’t drink and build boats unless you want a WTF moment the next morning).

That’s it for now. If you have any questions or comments, please get in touch.

Starting the football

September 3, 2015 § 3 Comments

For me at least, boat building is often a solitary affair. I suppose it’s no surprise; after all, I wouldn’t want to see me strip either. Strangely. the “stripping” tag always seems to drive traffic to the blog for some reason.

At any rate, I’m at the point now where it’s time to fill the football. Because the last canoe worked out so well, I’m planning on using the same pattern for the kayak — alternating light and dark strips that form a continuous line around the circumference of the football halves. Of course, the kayak is narrower than the canoe so I have less width to play with. Hopefully it works out. The following picture from the last canoe will give you an idea of what I’m talking about.


It’s a cool design and spares me the challenge of stripping half of the football, cutting a straight line and then trying to match the wood color from side to side. That said, it’s a finicky bit of work, but the end result makes it worthwhile.

So here is the football and twinned center strips that run down the length of the hull. At this point, it’s a good idea to measure the distance between the center strips and the edge of the completed hull on both sides to make sure that the space is the same. As well, this is one of the few spots where I use finishing nails to make sure the center strips don’t move as I’m stripping the football. These nails will be removed when the football is finished.


centerNote that the two center strips are not beaded. I used a butt joint, beveled towards the bow and stern to accommodate the shape of the form. The middle of the hull is pretty flat, so no beveling was needed.

Kayak end pour

May 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

The incessant rain notwithstanding, we’re almost into boating season.

There were a few things that I hadn’t done to ready the kayak for its launch, one of which being the end pour. The purpose of the end pour is to reinforce the tips of the kayak, particularly because it is not possible to run the fiberglass tape into the ends, and to cause a visual distraction for anyone driving by.

The end pour is achieved by standing the kayak on end, standing on a ladder, lowering a resin-filled container to the tip, and then overturning the container, thereby depositing the resin into the tip. What follows is the most enjoyable part of the process — enjoying a beverage while the resin hardens.

Here’s the bit of information that I found difficult to find on the internet. I didn’t want overheated, liquid resin to fall on my head on flipping the boat, so I was curious about how long it would take for the resin to harden. Here are the details: I mixed 6 – 8 ounces of MAS epoxy with fast hardener. By the 10-15 minute point, the resulting goo was hot to the touch and after 30 minutes or so, the mixture had hardened. All in all, a perfect period of time to stand around and enjoy a beverage.

Installing a kayak grab loop

April 19, 2011 § 1 Comment

I realize that all of my posts to date have been related to canoes, but the fact is that my neglected kayak needed some finishing touches. One of these is the installation of grab loops at the bow and stern.

To prepare the boat for the grab loops, I fashioned a couple of inserts that consist of a length of 7/8″ dowel into which a hole is drilled lengthwise. I might have gone for a slimmer dowel, but I wanted the fudge-factor given that I was free-handing it.

Then I drilled a 7/8″ hole cross-wise at the bow and stern, close to where I remembered the internal stems to be. There’s something unnerving about drilling holes  in an almost-finished kayak, but it had to be done.

When the holes were drilled, I applied thickened epoxy to the dowel sections and inserted them into the holes. I then used thickened epoxy to fill any gaps and left it alone for a day or two.

When the epoxy had dried, I did that thing that seems to comprise at least 50% of any boat-building activity — sanding.

And here is the insert after being varnished.

When I do the end-pour, the insert will be encased in epoxy, which will give the ends of the kayak a great deal of strength.

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