Our kayak builds

Discussion in 'Boat and Accessory Building' started by darrenandcolleen1, Feb 13, 2016.

  1. darrenandcolleen1

    darrenandcolleen1 New Member

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    It started at a yearly cross country ski trip when a group of friends decided to build kayaks. Over the past few years we met out at buddie's shop to build cedar strip kayaks from scratch. If you plan on trying this, here are some thoughts. We used Guillemot designs, Nick Shades videos and book were indispensable. Most of us are NOT handymen or wood workers, however we had one friend who had built a double years ago and is very skilled with wood (our mentor). Approx $1800 in material per boat and 300-500 hrs per boat. It is a great hobby for a bunch of guys, we generally met Friday nights for 3 -4 hrs and once or twice more per week as time provided. We were known as the Friday Night Strip Club, while our wives were named the Friday Night Widows. It was not uncommon to be out there for a full day during the week by yourself with tunes blasting, cold beer in hand with peanuts being the snack of choice. Some of the most important tools were the beer fridge, wood stove and mouse trap. We usually had 3 kayaks going at a time, with us all helping each other out, helped keep motivation going and ideas flying. You might only get one strip on but are able to help out the other guys with there needs as well leading to a shared understanding and some great team work. This leads to some issues, for example one guy might be ready to start glassing while the guy beside him is sanding like a banshee. Making the designs was an evolution with idea after idea, drawings on paper, pics on internet etc, leaving the poor builder walking in circles and losing sleep as to what to design to choose. And the design continued to evolve with each strip. It was not uncommon to have guests out to make sure the man cave had not turned into a real strip club and ooh and ahh over our work (or drink beer). We are currently paddling 4 of the kayaks, 17ft, 2-19fts and a 21 double with 3 more 19s currently in various stages of the build. I built the 17 after it is a great day paddler but will most likely build a 19 for bigger trips. Here are some highlights.
     
  2. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Thanks for the info and pics.
    Those are interesting builds with a lot of detail in the deck stripping patterns. Clear finishing can be quite unforgiving of small mistakes, so my hat is off to you folks if these were your first boats.
    (I paint my boats; you can draw your own conclusions! :D )
    Readers thinking of a building project shouldn't get too discouraged by this number: it seems a bit on the high side to me!
    That explains the 300-500 hours! :D
    Sounds like you guys had a lot of fun with your projects. :big_thumb
     
  3. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    Sounds and looks like a lot of fun was had. Great kayaks you guys made.
     
  4. darrenandcolleen1

    darrenandcolleen1 New Member

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    Yes, these were our first boats, the tips and tricks we learned from one boat to the next was definitely a bonus. We began stapling, then moved to a brad nailer and have even moved away from nailing/stapling so we didnt have the holes. Using primarily glue but in some circumstances epoxy to hold planks in place. Also cutting hardwood planks in 1/2 or 1/4 to help with bending them helped, although we did break a lot. I would say we definitely went overboard with our attention to detail. We had very few gaps between any planks. If we over planed or sanded we would make a new strip for optimal fit. After finishing I know I could have saved many hours by not being so picky, however the final product was worth the extra detail and hours. None of us had planned on painting our boats so al lot of time was spent making sure the symmetry was spot on. Hence the long hours. One of the biggest challenges was with the double. We split it and left the deck outside during the summer for 1 night while we glassed the hull. The next day moisture from the ground had warped the beautiful birch work in front of the cockpit so bad we had to tear it out and rebuild it. We did find after pulling the boats apart the hull and deck would begin to fan out. Our fix to this was to glass a strip all around the inside of the hull. This worked great when putting the 2 sides back together, as you would put the deck over the hull strip and use ratcheting straps to bring the sides together. Worked great. Another tip predrill all your deck rigging holes before you put the 2 halves together. It is then easy to fill and drill out. If you are making more than one or two boats think about making molds for your cockpit and hatches another big time saver.
     
  5. Pawistik

    Pawistik Paddler

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    Seems about right to me.

    Great looking kayaks. I love the seat, hope it's comfy.

    I've built a Guillemot as well.

    Cheers,
    Bryan
     
  6. Roy222

    Roy222 Paddler

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    I agree that 300 to 500 hours is a good estimate for a high quality amateur build. If you build with staples then 300 hours might be possible. If you build without staples the build time increases lot. The more design you add to the stripping the more time.
    The next to last process is finishing the glass with a protective coat. You can brush on a coat of spar varnish and call it done. You could apply 5 or 6 coats of water based urethane and then sand, rub out, and wheel the surface to show quality.
    As a novice builder it is easy to fall into a craftsmanship trap. Every little extra craftsmanship you add snowballs as you build. You say to yourself, " I already did all this work, I can't take a short cut now" . You then dig in and increase the difficulty many times. It just happens, the more you do, the more and more you do. I got caught in this trap when I added fiberglass lips to protect the hatch seals from abrasion during loading and unloading. These lips are nice but unnecessary and probably cost me 2 weeks build time. (a lot of time waiting on epoxy to set)

    If you were to buy a complete Kayak build kit and keep it simple, 250 hours might be possible.
    I am just guessing of coarse, who on this board has built at kit boat?


    Roy
     
  7. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Built a couple sng Pygmy kits. I got away with maybe 150 to 200 hours each. I think Pygmy estimates something nearer to 100 hours.
     
  8. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    I built a Pygmy Arctic Tern 14 years ago and it went quite quickly, but it wasn't my first S&G build and I had a lot of experience with epoxy. It was a simple build as the owner wanted to use float bags IIRC, so no bulkheads or hatches.
    With those it could have taken me 100 hours, perhaps.
    Doesn't Pygmy run a 5-day course where the boats are finished and ready for varnish at the end?
    Bjorn Thomasson estimates 100-150 hours to build a strip kayak - but he uses staples and some time-saving methods and few Euro builders choose the complex stripping patterns. I'd agree with that estimate, though things like scratch-building skegs can take a lot of time.
    Anyway, for most builders, getting it done in a hurry isn't the point.
    A lot of clear-finished strip-built boats are real 'works of art' with a LOT of care taken in stripping patterns and finish quality...and that all takes time.
     
  9. Pawistik

    Pawistik Paddler

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    Sort of. I added a bow of Alaskan Yellow Cedar to my deck with a nice swoop and I think it actually saved me time. On the hull, I found finely fitting the strips together at the end of the strips very time consuming and finnicky. By doing the deck the way I did, I only had to worry about one end at a time making it simple. Then I trimmed off the strips to match my chosen shape, and the other strips were basically but-jointed to the bow strips.

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    Of course if you add back in the hours I spent trying to decide upon a design.... :shock:

    Cheers,
    Bryan
     
  10. Mac50L

    Mac50L Paddler

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    I quote 100 hours for S&G and suspect a bit less if experienced. Alternative timing is 3 months of 2 - 3 hours per night, 5(?) nights of the week.
     
  11. Roy222

    Roy222 Paddler

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    I think Pygmy kits are pre cut stitch & glue. The more panels, the more time is required.
    Even if you loft, cut, and drill your own panels, 100 hours build time is possible with a 6 panel boat.
    The more care you take with the application of thickened epoxy in 100+ feet of panel joints, the faster the build will go. Sealing the plywood show surface on the edges of the joints with epoxy before adding the thickened epoxy will save a lot of clean up time and protect the thin layer of plywood from sand paper . You can save a lot of time by simply leaving the copper wire in place, on the inside mash the wire down, cover with thickened epoxy. After the thickened epoxy has cured clip the copper wires off flush to the outside plywood surface.
    This method saves filling over 400 small holes, and the 400 copper dots will look great.

    Roy
     
  12. Seasider

    Seasider Paddler

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    Beautiful boats, especially considering they are your first build.

    I hope you don't take this the wrong way but have you considered making your next project a piece of art? Something that would fit nicely above the fireplace or on a wall.

    A scaled down version(if necessary), using the exotic hardwoods would be an amazing project and could be proudly displayed in the house.

    Although I will never get around to building something like this I know where it would go if I did.

    Thanks for the report and hope to see more of your next project!