Kayak riding is the greatest holiday activity of all time. People either have to buy or borrow kayaks to enjoy water trips. Each high-quality model may cost from $600 to $3000 based on the type. However, many of us can’t afford the expenses. So, a better alternative is making kayaks on our own. Although it seems complicated, we can customize our crafts apart from cutting down the cost. In this article, we are going to discuss how to build a kayak. Without further ado, let’s jump in:
How to Build a Kayak
Step 1: Create the thin plywood sheets
Buy commercial plywood that comes in your desired length. Sheets longer than 9 feet will give you maximum convenience. Since most of them measure four by eight feet, you can’t prepare the lower panel using just one sheet. The solution is cutting two short pieces and combining their ends. Upper panels typically require three parts. Overall, you have to form ten small pieces for the hull. Keep the sheets on a smooth surface. Draw the needed shapes using a pencil or marker. Guide a flexible hand saw following the lines and cut all the shapes. Japanese hand saws are our top favorite. The saw should include only sharp teeth to prevent splintering. If you don’t have a saw, you can use a craft knife instead. Feel free to raise the sheets by positioning them on a log. It will make the cutting process way more manageable. The beginners usually cut slightly oversized panels and resize them later.
Step 2: Assemble the panels
Join pieces so that you will be left with only four hull panels. An easy yet efficient method is gluing two or more components together with the help of a square butt plate. However, scarf joints are comparatively better. You have to make angular cuts (15° to 30°) so that two ends can be glued seamlessly. We must use rulers, markers, t-square, sharp saw, and clamps to prepare the defined cuts. Make sure to seal the joints properly. Apply an adequate amount of waterproof epoxy and let it dry. Avoid quick-drying epoxies and cheap PVA glue. They usually weaken after coming in contact with water. Chop off the oversize segments if there are any. In this way, you will get four nicely shaped hull panels. Sort corresponding pieces correctly in pairs. Clamp them to ensure a secure position and reduce to your desired size. Now, design in wales inside the boat using some wood strips. It will assist you in adding the deck.
Step 3: Drill multiple Holes
Holes generally sit in three major places- both bottom panel’s sides, the lower edge of the side panels, and the middle part of kayaks’ front deck panel. A kayaker should create holes each 3 to 10 inches along both sides of the bottom. He can increase or decrease the distance as per need. More holes are necessary for curved areas and stiff wood panels. The hole’s diameter should not be too big. 1/16-inch is the ideal size for a hole. Drill matching holes in other regions.
Step 4: Stitch the seams
This phase requires certain precautions, such as putting on gloves. Roughen every section where you are about to tape. It can be quickly done by rubbing abrasive paper there. Position a pair of bottom wood pieces face to face. Then, tie them using several wires. Copper wires are the most reliable options of all. You can also obtain good results from super-thin metal wires that feature a plastic layer. A lot of professionals prefer the use of monofilament fishing line for the majority of stitches.
Related: How Long Does Fishing Line Last
Collect almost 3-inches long wire segments. Push one or more wire pieces through the holes. Bend them over and tighten their grip to ensure a stable construction. Twist them with your fingers. These actions will tighten your wires. Get rid of the additional part of the wire. A wire cutter will do it within seconds. Check the sides, top hull, and bottom. If the wood panels do not remain in the right place, tighten up the wires using a piler. Be careful because over-tightening may lead to significant wood damage.
Step 5: Tape the seams
Bring out your glass fiber tapes, polyester resin, and the application tools. You can use epoxy resin too, but the polyester versions provide a better finishing on wood. This step needs almost half a liter of resin. Apply an even coating using a paintbrush. Wait until it sets. Clean out the extra layer properly from the seams’ outer areas. After taping them, you will get a water-resistant and robust hull. Tapping additional wood panels inside the hull will make it even stronger.
Step 6: Prepare the deck
First of all, build front and back bulkheads, which are vertical walls within the kayak’s hull. Set them into the right places. Secondly, make at least four deck beams from plain wood sheets. Group them in two pairs. Both pairs will act as the front and rear cockpit support. Place them with the help of glue, pin, and screws. Don’t use brass screws as they are sensitive to water. Stainless steel models are the best option for this task. Remember to spare an oval hole as the cockpit. If you want a thicker deck, cut more wood panels and glue them on the previous figure to increase its thickness. Add cockpit foaming, seat, seat belt, backrest, etc.
Step 7: Perform sheathing
It is a process of adding a protective or supporting structure. Nothing can be a better sheathing material than fiberglass when it comes to watercraft. You can perform fiberglassing inside and outside of the mainframe, deck, and hull. It is okay to skip these parts. Still, we emphasize sheathing the lower hull if possible. It will provide excellent protection against impact and abrasion. Target the particular places which are more likely to be damaged by rocks, hills. Build fiberglass layers in these regions. It may add 5 to 6 kilos of weight to your kayak. You can cover all surfaces with epoxy resin too. It will increase the kayak weight by 10 kilos.