Building a stich and glue Kayak.

More notes on building a kayak

Started building kayak fall 1998, Really got started, May 24, 1999, after letting the pieces sit on the workbench all winter, with only the layout lines and offsets drawn on the workbench.

These comments are mostly additional information or clarification of the instructions that come with the kit. In general I found the instructions good, if a bit terse at times. Also, I talked to someone building an "arctic tern" and the instructions refer to pieces that are on the Coho but not the Arctic Tern.

Learned early on to protect the workbench with wax paper, otherwise, you inevitably get a drip that glues the kayak pieces to the workbench.

For initial glue up of strips. The pygmy has butt joints covered on both sides with 4 oz tape to get each strip to full length. Use a staple gun to tack the strips to the workbench, it holds pretty well, and the holes are smaller than the ones you will drill for when you wire the boat together. Get all the pieces laid out, then go around and paint the joint, being generous with the epoxy right at the joint, set the fiberglass tape into the epoxy, go to the next joint, then go back and see how well each piece of fiberglass tape has absorbed the epoxy, and coat the top side.

I had a few piece where the fiberglass tape pealed off with the mylar cover strip, Either I was stripping the mylar cover piece too soon, or not getting enough epoxy between the wood and fiberglass strip.

I found a "sureform" rasp to be really helpful for removing excess epoxy and cleaning up. There is a small one, with a slightly curved plate, about 2 inches square that helps clean up the inside curves. There is also one with a flat plate. This is especially helpful on green epoxy that clogs sandpaper. It has a harder time getting a bit on large flat surfaces, but if your are not careful, you can gouge your work.

Once the strips are glued on both sides, they do pretty well, they flop all other the place as you move them, but did not come unglued.

It helps to pre form a lot of wire staples in advance, for the hull, you go through a lot of wire staples, especially with the Coho and the 4 panels per side.

Getting the extreme bow and stern frames wired into into place was a real pain. I got the longest pair of needle nose pliers I could find to work the wires from each side of the frame out through the holes drilled in the hull.

It was a real rush, rolling the wired hull over for the first time and seeing the lines, even with all the wires sticking out. Fit of pieces was excellent, very little tweaking required to line up the hull. Mostly I went around and made sure that the but edges lined up well, and that I didn't have any sections where one panel was trying to overlap another. The smoother these transitions, the less sanding, and the better the fiberglass cloth would drape.

For using the syringe to fill the seams between each panel, less is better. Better to do several thin beads of epoxy than try to do it in one or two runs and then deal with sanding out all the drips. Biggest gap was probably 2-3 mm wide, most were a lot less, it was mostly just a matter of filling in the slight v groove.

This is about when you transition from workbench top to saw horses, if you think of it in advance, trace out the angles of the larger bow and stern frames and notch a 2x4 to put on top of the saw-horse, it helps keep the boat stable while working the inside of the hull.

Sand, sand, and more sanding. I used the sureform rasp to get all the high spots of the drips, then switched to a palm sander. Expect to go through a lot of the sandpaper, since the epoxy really clogs the sandpaper fast.

Get the thinest foam roller you can find. I got 9 inch foam rollers and cut them into either 2 or 3 smaller rollers. Better to lay down thinner coats most of the time, though you do want to really saturate the fiberglass cloth. The trick about using the brush to clear air bubbles and having the piece start warm and be cooling while the epoxy cures really does seem to help.

The sureform rasp comes in handy trimming the drips that form on the shear line edge. Getting the glass to lay flat over the bow and stern is really a pain, still working on that one.

One of these "detail" sanders can really help on the inside sanding where a palm sander is too big. It can get expensive or a hassle, though the way the sandpaper gets clogged.

It probably is about 60-80 hours construction time, but its going to be spread out some while you let epoxy cure. Ideally do an epoxy set up each morning and evening, with the occasional busy day sanding, wiring the pieces together or things like that.

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More notes on building a kayak

last updated 7/8/1999
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