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building my first kayak - any advice?

First off, let me say that this board is awesome! Secondly, please note that I have never paddled anything before, but I have wanted to for a long time.

I am an amateur woodworker, and I would like to build my own kayak. I have three limitations to this endeavor: cost, time, and size. I really need to keep the total cost under $150-200 (lower, if possible). I am a busy law student, so I don't have endless time to devote to this project. I live in a small apartment and we have a small car, so I really want a small boat (just for one person) - probably about 10' or so.

With all that said, I have not found a plan that I think fits my needs well. I think I want to do skin-on-frame, since it seems a bit easier and less costly than other methods. This little boat (Li'l Beauty) seems sort-of what I am wanting to do. However, I would like it to be only 10'.

Thus, I think The Escape from JEM might be more up my alley. I like the specialized keel to help with tracking, but I don't think stich-and-glue is the right building method for me.

I am thinking about trying to combine these two plans into something of my making. What do you guys think? Really, I would like to shorten the Li'l Beauty to 10' and change the bottom plywood sheet into something that mimics the design of The Escape, to help with tracking.

Please let me know your thoughts on all of this. Am I crazy to embark on this? Is it possible to build a decent kayak within the parameters I set out above?

Thanks in advance for all of your thoughts,
Flusche

PS: I would be paddling in mostly protected waters like small lakes, calm rivers, etc.
 

oldsparkey

Well-Known Member
Aug 25, 2003
10,261
90
77
Central , Florida
www.southernpaddler.com
You asked ..... "Am I crazy to embark on this " You are asking the wrong group of folks that question ... all of us are nuttier then the Mad Hatter when it comes to building boats or just normally nut's. :D

You stated that you have some wood working skills, when a person asks me about building a boat and if I think they could do it my reply is simple. Have you ever built a model airplane or anything from wood?

Building a boat is NOT Rocket science it is a pleasure, fun with some thinking and working with your hands.
Only you know what type, style and shape of a boat you want and this is what makes it more fun, you can create it yourself so it becomes a part of you and your personality.
All we can do is to try our best to direct you down the right path in the construction progress so you will have the boat that you want.

When you decide on that then it is a wide open road and full steam ahead or should I say a wide open waterway and full paddling ahead.

I have never made a skin on frame boat so I have no idea about the process, I have made plenty of stick and glue along with a stripper (The Boat, Not a Gal, I know how Lawyers think and twist things around)

The worst job you are going to have is deciding on what you want to make for your fun on the water, after that it becomes real easy, just put part A with part B and before you know it you have a boat.

Chuck.
By the way flusche welcome to the nut house and I hope you pass the Bar exam on the 1st try , after you make your kayak and get to enjoy it. :D
 

Kayak Jack

Well-Known Member
Aug 26, 2003
13,800
136
83
Okemos / East Lansing Michigan
Flusche,

Short answer here; others will fill in more. Generalities:

1. A builder can do almost anything he wants with a boat.

2. Changing a design is more difficult than it looks. The geometry of a piece that curves through more than one axes is more complicated than it looks. (Kinda like women.) Even a piece that curve through only one axis is deceiving.

3. We have a skin-on-stick expert on the forum, and I hope he weighs in here to bail me out.

4. Talk and ask a lot of questions before you decide.
 

oldsparkey

Well-Known Member
Aug 25, 2003
10,261
90
77
Central , Florida
www.southernpaddler.com
As Jack told you .....

The two guys who could really help you are Matt with JEM Watercraft http://jemwatercraft.com/ , stitch and glue kayaks and nobucks http://www.blackdogkayaks.com/ with the skin on kayaks. Both are members on here with us and I am sure they will be asking some questions and then giving you a good answer so you can decide which way to go.

Either way you would have a darn goog kayak. :D

Chuck.
 

islandpiper

Well-Known Member
go to it

First, go to your local Chinese Buffet and get an empty bucket like their soy sauce comes in, rinse it out and then go out to the money tree and pick a nice crop of $5's and $10's......

Setting a goal with the expense limits you have set will be a challenge. Know the old story about the Boeing 747, halfway across the Atlantic? Captain comes on the speaker and tells the passengers that they are flying at 45,000 feet, exactly halfway between NY and London, in an airplane built of over 5-million individual electrical and mechanical parts, EACH SUPPLIED BY THE LOWEST BIDDER.

Save up, put some money into it and you may not have to swim home.

Glad to have you here. Looking forward to hearing your progress.

Cheers, Piper
 

skiabq

Active Member
May 6, 2006
33
0
Albuquerque
I am just curious, why the 10' limitation? Is it a storage, transportation or finished weight issue? How much total weight will be in the boat when you are paddling? Keep in mind that the shorter the boat is, the less efficient (slower) it will be and it won't track as nicely as something with more length to it. I am not trying to talk you in to a bigger boat, just give you a little information to help you decide. I have a very small 12'x29" canoe that weighs in at 35lbs. It carries 200lbs comfortably and it has had a little over 250lbs in it a couple of times, but it is pushing it. It is VERY small, my next one will be 14'. I also have a 16', tank of a canoe, that I was talked in to building by a few guys that said you can't ever have too big of a canoe. It doesn't get used very much because it is so heavy.

BTW, welcome to the addiction!
 
Thanks to everyone for the useful advice and ideas.

From what you guys have said, perhaps my 10' limitation is not going to work. The reason behind it was storage & transportation. I figured 10' would be easier to work with than a longer boat. However, if I keep the weight down, I could probably go with 12' and still be good.

As for the weight in the boat, it will probably be around 200 lbs. I don't plan on doing anything that requires gear, so it will likely be just myself + a few odds and ends I might want for a short trip out on the lake.

And now, let me show my total ignorance and say that I am not sure about displacement. I understand that the boat supports itself by displacing water, but I have no idea how to calculate how much displacement I need (as asked by JEM).

Once again, you guys have been incredibly helpful. I really appreciate you taking the time to guide a newbie through this process.

Andrew
 

gpratt

Member
Jan 29, 2004
17
0
St. Cloud, FL
Matt

Here's your chance to design a 2 part boat that can be bolted or clapped together at a bulk head. Could do a nested piroque or canoe, 2 part yak or ?.
 

JEM

Well-Known Member
flusche said:
Thanks to everyone for the useful advice and ideas.

From what you guys have said, perhaps my 10' limitation is not going to work. The reason behind it was storage & transportation. I figured 10' would be easier to work with than a longer boat. However, if I keep the weight down, I could probably go with 12' and still be good.

As for the weight in the boat, it will probably be around 200 lbs. I don't plan on doing anything that requires gear, so it will likely be just myself + a few odds and ends I might want for a short trip out on the lake.

And now, let me show my total ignorance and say that I am not sure about displacement. I understand that the boat supports itself by displacing water, but I have no idea how to calculate how much displacement I need (as asked by JEM).


Andrew
You already answered the question. I should have said "How much weight do you want to carry on board?"
 

Kayak Jack

Well-Known Member
Aug 26, 2003
13,800
136
83
Okemos / East Lansing Michigan
See, Flusche, Matt likes to throw around them nautical-type terms from time to time. "Displacement" instead of weight (not mass, weight). "Painter" instead of just, "Hey! Throw me that rope!"

Lets him feel like one of the gang, ya know. Sometimes, we let him carry or paddles down to the dock, and pay him a quarter just to do it. If ya don't pay him, he won't give back the cork to stick in the holes he drills into our boats. Feisty little buggar!
 

nobucks

Well-Known Member
Sorry it took me so long to reply. I've been working non-stop all last week on a tandem for a charity run, and now I'm in Wyoming. :shock:

Skin on Frame for under $200 is very doable.

You can find inexpensive plans over at Jack Loganbill's website

Our 12 Foot can carry a 200 pound person, but it floats very close to the gunwales and is a little unsteady with that much weight in it, as it's only 24 inches wide. But, it also only weighs 28 pounds. For more stability and capacity, you can go up to the 14 Foot. However, there you get back into your storage problem.

The 12 foot that I posted pics of a while back is 12 feet long and 28 inches wide. That's very stable although my 235 pounds is at the upper end of its capacity. But, again, it's very easy to carry, as it only weighs 30 pounds. That one is a one off of the Canvasback. We oversized the frames and built it at the prescribed 12 foot length.

If you shorten the length, you'd need to make the kayak wider to carry more weight. Likewise, if you make it narrower, you need to lengthen the boat to carry the same weight.

There are also free plans out there for folding kayaks on Tom Yost's site, www.yostwerks.com. That would eliminate the storage problem, although the expense goes up a little bit, as Tom's plans call for an aluminum frame.

If you want to do the upsized Canvasback that I did, I could probably hook you up with some router patterns relatively cheap. After you cut the frames out of plywood, rip your stringers and basically follow the free Canvasback plan. Or, maybe we could work out an inexpensive kit.

You can contact me at joel@blackdogkayaks.com if you want to work something out or if you want more info on doing it yourself.

Thanks for helping, Joel. You're a prince. Jack
 
Thanks a ton for all the helpful posts on this. Due to your inspiration and help, I am putting the final coat of paint on my King Canvasback frame. My canvas should arrive tomorrow, so it will be skinning time. I went ahead with the 12' version from Jack Loganbill's page (the scanned plans, set 2). I'll be sure to post when I'm finished with pictures and final cost, etc.

Thanks again,
Andrew
 

nobucks

Well-Known Member
The 12 Foot plans on the Loganbill site are for the Canvasback, the 14 foot plans are the King Canvasback. I think he may have the PDF labeled incorrectly. I'm glad you found your way over to his site on your own.
I've built the 12 foot Canvasback according to plan as well, and, like I said above, it should float a 200 pound person with no problem, other than that the initial stability is a little low and you won't have much freeboard.

Whoever's advice you took or didn't take, we still want to see pics.
8)