Our Kayaks

Wood and Canvas Kayak FAQs

  1. When will the Kayak-building video be available?

    As of July 2001, we have taped the video and are editing it. Hopefully it should be available by August 2001. The video is not professionally done, but does provide a good documentary of the building process.

  2. Do the plans supply instructions?

    Yes, the instructions are pretty good. Combined with the web site instructions, anyone should be able to build the kayak. The most common problem for first timers is that they have a difficult time pre-visualizing what the various pieces will look like, for example attaching a stringer (strake), or miter a stringer end...This is why I think the video will be of help since builders won't be guessing about that kind of stuff.

  3. I understand there are different types of Canvas, such as #10 and duck canvas no. 10. Which canvas do you buy? I think some canvas has a tighter weave then others.

    I believe Leo uses standard #10 canvas. My supplier happens to sell #10 cotton duck. The duck seems to be a tighter weave, but seems to have a rougher surface. I used #10 canvas on our most recent 12-footer and #10 cotton duck on our 14-footer. The surface of the 12-footer is much smoother. Does it really matter? Probably not. A good supplier will be able to tell you the weight of the canvas per yard. I presume, the heavier the canvas, the stronger it will be and the information will give you an idea of the overall weight of the boat.

  4. Do you use a staple gun like Senco or will a hand-held stapler work just fine?

    I have made 3 kayaks with a cheap manual staple gun, a Taiwan copy of the popular Arrow model. But it is virtually impossible for one person to both stretch the canvas and do a good job stapling with a manual gun. I purchased an electric staple gun at Sam's Club and it worked flawlessly building the 14-footer. On the negative side it is not 100% compatible with Arrow staples which are the most widely available at home centers. Consequently, I suggest that one purchase an arrow electric hand gun or a pneumatic gun that is 100% compatible with Arrow staples.

  5. What tools are needed to build these kayaks?

    I suggest the following tools:

  6. Do you use galvanized staples and what size?

    You should use stainless steel staples. Home Depot carries Arrow brand stainless steel staples. However, I use standard staples ($2.50 vs $8.00). Use 3/8" or 1/2" staples.

  7. I'm always curious how a person gets involved in making kayaks and I was wondering how long you have been doing this and how many you have made?

    I am an avid woodworker and have wanted to build a strip wood canoe for many years. I was teaching a class many years ago and one of my students (Leo Monsen) said that he built wooden kayaks. We hooked up over one weekend (Friday, Sat, Sunday [I normally do not work on Sunday]) and we built one of his kayaks. He did not have his plans with him, so we did it pretty much from his memory. It was a blast to build. We (family and I) took it out to a local lake and fell in love with recreational kayaking. Plus, everytime we take it out, we get tons of comments, even from seasoned kayakers, about how great they look and function. I have built four of these kayaks. Anyone who enjoys a little woodworking and outdoor paddling would really enjoy building this kayak.

  8. If while building the kayak I have some questions will it be alright to E-Mail you? I don't want to be to bothersome.

    Absolutely! Feel free to email me!

  9. I haven't used Liquid Nails and I was amazed that you use it for caulking and for holding the canvas toghether. This must be amazing stuff.

    It is not used to hold the canvas together, that's what the staples are for. The liquid nails provides two functions:

    1. Glue/Sealer when attaching the stringers to the ribs.
    2. Sealer for all canvas-on-canvas seams. The stuff dries very hard and acts kinda like the pitch the indians used on their bark canoes. It is a bit messy but it is waterproof and does a great job of sealing.

  10. How much does the 12 and 14 foot each weigh?

    I am really not sure, probably about 45 pounds. The canvas runs about 1 lb per yard. The wood is about 25 pounds. The two gallons of paint probably adds another 10 pounds (hard to tell with evaporation). A gallon of paint is about 10 lbs and standard exterior housepaint has 40-50% solids.

  11. How big are the cockpits of each?

    The plans call for a cockpit opening of about 40 inches for the 12-footer and 48" for the 14-footer. However, on the 14-footer I moved ribs 2 and 4 closer together, to create an opening of 39". Ribs 2 and 4 have an opening large enough to put your legs through (my preference). However, some kayakers sit in the cockpit with their legs bent. The narrowest point of the cockpit is at the floor which is approximately 15" at ribs 2 and 4 and 16" at rib 3. The opening is approximately 19" wide.

  12. Have you fished out of them?


  13. How do they handle?

    The kayaks have good initial stability due to their wide flat bottom. The 12-footer turns better than the 14-footer, but neither turn particularly well. They both track extremely and surprisingly well. I have never tried to roll these kayaks and doubt it would roll and doubt very seriously that you could right it. Like any kayak, both models will rock, generally to the gunwale chine.

  14. How much are the plans and video?

    Leo charges $12.00 for the plans which includes shipping within the Continental U.S. The video is not yet available. Simply email me for Leo's address information.

  15. Have you ever had any serious tears while out kayaking?

    No, but I believe Leo has. Most canvas kayakers fix tears on-site using a good quality duct tape and using canvas and an adhesive at home. If you plan to spend a day or two kayaking, it is a good idea to take your favorite patch material just in case. I paddle with great care and do not run the boats up onto shore. Quite frankly, a tree limb or sharp rock could puncture the hull. If you want a tough kayak or kayak that will stand up to all kinds of abuse, buy a plastic kayak ($400-$1200) or build either a Stitch & Glue ($500-$1000) Kayak or a Wood Strip Kayak ($400-$1000). However, for the price, you can't beat Leo's wood and canvas kayaks for recreational kayaking. There provide a great, economical introduction to kayaking. Chances are, if you build one and really get into kayaking, you'll buy or build a more robust boat after a season or two.

  16. How often do you repaint the boat?

    I discarded my first kayak after 3-4 years without ever recoating it. A thin layer of paint each spring is probably a good idea. One author suggests that you apply a light coat each year, sanding beforehand to improve the smoothness of the finish. Generally, you can go several years (3 to 5) without repainting. To repaint, I suggest you sand the surface smooth and apply one or two light coats.

  17. Did you have much of a problem cutting the mitered-ends on the stringers (strakes)?

    No, but I have had some experience and use a very good handsaw. The video shows (as best I could) how to cut the stringers. The key is to layout the correct angle, which is pretty much done by eye. Take your time, visualize the miter and how the stringer will lay against the bow/stern, and you should have little problem.

  18. How can I order a set of plans and at what cost?

    Email me for Leo's address. The plans are $12.00 and the video is also $12.00. Both prices include shipping within the Continental U.S. Leo is not setup to accept PayPal or Credit Cards. Simply mail him a check or money order.

  19. What is the turn around time to get the plans?

    Leo is not in business, at least as far as kayaks go. This is something he does more for fun. However, Leo generally mails the plans the day he receives the order.

  20. Do you offer different models, like two seaters or kids models?

    No. You can size the kayaks a bit to fit your needs. An adult and small child will fit in either kayak model.

  21. Do the plans include full size templates?

    Yes, the plans provide full size templates for the ribs and the bow/stern. The remaining pieces (stringers and keel) really do not need full size plans. The plans do not include templates for the canvas, as it is pretty much trimmed to fit.

  22. Have you ever built these kayaks using fiberglass and epoxy instead of canvas and paint?

    No. I don't think laying fiberglass over a frame is a good idea. I have often toyed with the idea of using a finished 12-footer or 14-footer as a mold for a fiberglass boat. Frankly, if I would prefer a Stitch & Glue wood/fiberglass composite kayak rather than a straight fiberglass boat.

  23. Do the plans include both the 12-foot and 14-foot models?

    Yes. Actually, the ribs, bow, and stern (and thus their templates) are identical for both models. The two differences are the length of the keel and the location of the ribs along the keel. For our 14-footer, I used the longer keel length, but positioned the ribs almost identically to the 12-foot model (I did not want the 48" cockpit). The keel sizes are: ......

  24. Have you tried or ever considered nylon covering for the hull?

    No. Nylon is more durable and in some ways is easier to apply and may even be cheaper, believe it or not. Check out my treatment of this at Alternative Hull and Deck Materials.

  25. Do you have plans for building Greenland-style Paddles?

    No. The plans include instructions and templates for a simple paddle. Here is a list of links and three related articles that I have gathered from the web and put into PDF format:

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