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How to Build a Kayak

Shashank Nakate
Kayaks are small boats used for many different activities like white water rafting, military purposes, and recreation. Here are the instructions on building a strong and sturdy kayak.
Building a kayak at home is far more feasible than purchasing one. It is possible to build strong and sturdy one with the help of different materials. Kayaks can be built from wood and fiberglass. Most of the custom-built ones are made from wood, while fiberglass is used for commercial building.

What is it?

A kayak is a small boat, traditionally used by the native communities of the subarctic region. The Aleut, Eskimo, and Aino communities used this human-powered boat for hunting whales and fishing. 
The boat can accommodate 1-3 people, and needs to be paddled. There is a large variety available today. They are used for military purposes, recreation, and river rafting.

How to Build One

Traditionally, the kayak built by the Inuits of Greenland and the baidarka constructed by the Aleut people, was of the 'skin-on-frame' type. 
These boats were built with the help of driftwood and seal ligament. Whale baleen was also used as an alternative to seal ligaments. Wood remains an integral part of today's kayaks, and seal ligament or whale baleen are not used anymore.
Nowadays, substances like epoxy are used as adhesives, and fiberglass is used as a reinforcement. Fiberglass makes the boat sturdy, reduces its weight, and makes it easy to paddle. Kayaks are built by certain methods like the 'stitch and glue', 'strip built', 'skin on frame', etc. The 'roto molded' and 'fiberglass' methods are more commercial.


Skin on Frame

The skin on frame method, which is also known as the 'wood and canvas' technique, was used by the Inuit and Aleut communities. In this method, the frame is generally built using aluminum and the skin is made of nylon or canvas. In some cases, plywood can also be used instead of aluminum.

Strip Built

The technique is known by different names like the 'wood strip', 'cedar strip', or the 'wood-strip epoxy'. Wood, fiberglass, and epoxy are used to build the boat. The edges of the light wood are glued together to form the basic structure.
The fiberglass and epoxy are then used to cover the boat for a finishing touch. Different patterns of wood can be used for different looks.

Stitch and Glue

The stitch and glue technique is also known as the 'tack and tape' method of construction. In this method, the framework of the boat is prepared from flat panels of plywood. The panels are stitched together with the help of tape, wires, or cable ties.
Fiberglass and epoxy are used to glue the panels permanently. The technique works well with multi-chined and hard-chined designs.
Learning to build your own kayak trailer will help to transport your boat. Carrying a kayak over long distances can become frustrating at times. The trailer will also hold accessories such as paddles, food items, life jackets, etc.
For those who are thinking about building a kayak from fiberglass, creating a mold is the best option. Fiberglass is not only a durable material, but also rust-resistant. Building a kayak rack will help to place the boat properly. It will help to organize space in the house and keep the boat safe and protected.