Our Kayaks

Diary: Building the 14-foot Wood and Canvas Kayak Model

Friday June 8, 2001 - Getting Started (Six hours, including filming/photography time)

Saturday, June 9, 2001 - The Ribs and Frame (Six hours, including filming time)

Tuesday, June 12, 2001 - Assembling the Frame (1 hour, including filming time)

Had about one hour free so Luzimar and I dragged the Kayak frame and tools out of the shop and attached the D and E strakes. This requires the following steps:

animated frame
Figure 1. Assembling the Frame (Press F5-Refresh to Restart the Animation)

Saturday, June 16, 2001 - Completed the Frame (6 hours, including filming time)

Monday, June 18, 2001 - Painted the Frame (1 hour)

I sprayed a thick coat of latex-enamel exterior primer on the frame. I use an inexpensive Wagner sprayer. You can do it with a brush, but it is a real pain! I will put on a second coat on Thursday.

Wednesday, June 20, 2001 - Painted the Frame (1 hour)

I sprayed a second coat of latex-enamel exterior primer on the frame.

Friday, June 22, 2001 - Applied the Canvas (5 hours)

For buoyancy, if the kayak fills with water, you should add some flotation modules to the bow and stern. You can purchase them for about $35 a set (you need two sets). Or you can make your own. Simply fill a couple of trash bags with styrofoam peanuts and stuff the bags in the bow and stern. This time around, I purchased a 4' x 8' sheet of foam insulation at Home Depot for $4.00 and we broke it up and stuffed into four trash bags, two bags for the bow, two bags for the stern. You can also purchase closed-cell foam insulation and cut it to fit between the strakes ala Paul Lambert--looks great but it is too much work for my liking.

We installed the canvas in about four hours. Luzimar and I installed the canvas alone for our previous kayak. This time, both Eber and Olesea helped. Eber stretched the canvas, Olesea steadied the kayak frame, and I stapled and glued. All overlapping canvas edges should be glued using Liquid Nails. I started with 6 yards of canvas (60" wide) and had quite a bit left over. When you have finished, you will have attached seven pieces of canvas (the bottom, four top panels, and two cockpit side panels). Here are the steps:

  1. Lay the canvas out on floor/ground and mark a center line for its entire length.
  2. Lay the kayak upside down on a table or a couple of saw horses. If you do not have someone to steady the frame, you must clamp it down.
  3. Lay the canvas over the kayak frame. Center the canvas over the keel, using your marked line as the reference.
  4. With the canvas extending more or less six inches over the bow (and approximately 3 feet over the stern), use one staple to secure the canvas at the bow. Place the staple about midway along the bow curve.
  5. Stretch the canvas tight along the keel and staple it to the stern, about midway along the bow curve.
  6. At this point, you should have only two staples securing the canvas tight across the keel.
  7. Now, begin stapling the canvas to the D and E strakes. Do not staple the canvas to any other strakes. Start on the D strake with the canvas pulled tight, center line centered on the keel, place one staple near the middle of the strake. Place additional staples approximately 10" to the left and right of the middle staple. Move to the other side of the frame and perform the same' procedure, stapling the canvas to the E strake. Move left and right, side to side until you reach the bow and stern.
  8. Cut off the excess canvas extending beyond the stern. You will use this 20" of this material for the two cockpit side pieces.
  9. Carefully cut off the excess canvas (usually two pieces, left and right) at strakes D and E. You will use this canvas for the four top panels.
  10. At the bow and stern, you must slit the canvas to make the neat fold around the bow/stern frame members. Use plenty of liquid nails inside the overlaps. Fold and staple as neatly as possible.
  11. Turn the kayak over to canvas the top. The top is canvased using four panels cut from the two left over pieces cut from strakes D and E. Take one of the two top panel cutoffs and cut it at its center creating two pieces. Repeat with the other cutoff. You should end up with four mirror images of panels that are in the shape of a triangle, more or less.
  12. Canvas one end at a time. We started with the bow. Starting at the leading edge of the bow, staple the finished edge of the narrow end of panel 1 to strake D, leaving a few inches of material extending past the front of the bow. Run a bead of Liquid Nails from the bow towards the center of the boat, along Strake D for about 18". Stretch and staple Panel 1 along Strake D. Run another bead of Liquid Nails and repeat stretching and stapling until you reach the wide end of Panel 1.
  13. Stretch and staple Panel 1 to the center strake, strake C. Staple Panel 1 to the inside of the cockpit, but not to the outside of Rib 2. The fewer visible staples the better. You need to slit Panel 1 at the front corner of the cockpit. Trim the excess canvas. Staple the canvas to the underside of Strakes H and F.
  14. Trim and staple Panel 1 at the bow.
  15. Now attach Panel 2. Run a bead of glue along the strake C. Staple the front finished edge of Panel 2 to strake E. Unlike Panel 1 where we stapled along the D strake until the end of the canvas, you must alternate stapling Panel 2 to Strake E and C. Othewise, you will have a significant wrinkle and soft spot to fix when you reach the cockpit area. Thus, alternate stretching and stapling Panel 2 to the E and C strakes, rolling the material over along the C strake so the unfinished edge is not exposed. Trim excess canvas as you go.
  16. Slit and neatly fold the material at the bow using Liquid Nails to seal all joints.
  17. Repeat the sequence for panels 3 and 4.
  18. From the excess canvas cut from the stern, cut two strips 10" by 60" or so. Attach these strips to the side of cockpit stretching from the underside of the H/F strakes to the D strake. I trim the ends to form a an arch, arching towards the cockpit. These two strips provide a second layer of canvas to protect the sides of the cockpit when you enter the kayak and protect the sides from your paddle shafts. They also cover the joint of Panels 1 and 3 and Panels 2 and 4.
  19. Caulk all seams with a thin bead of Liquid nails.
  20. Wet the canvas with a spray bottle of water and allow to dry, in the sun if possible. The caulk will cure faster in the sun.
animated canvas install
Figure 2. Installing the Canvas (Press F5-Refresh to Restart the Animation)

Saturday, June 23 through Monday June 25, 2001 - Painted the Hull/Deck (3 hours)

Thursday, June 28, 2001 - The Floor (1/2 hour)

Friday, June 29, 2001 - The Backrests (2 hours)

Eber and I sewed backrests for both kayaks. We simply rolled up the closed-cell foam tightly (4 layers thick) and covered it with canvas. We sewed the canvas by hand. I screwed two strips of double-sided velcro to the inside of Rib 4 to hold the backrest in place. Also, we attached nylon webbing to the bow and stern for handles. I used finish washers (the cupped washers) to protect the nylon and give it a "finished" look. I used the same washers for the velcro as well. Next week I will add several nylon strap tabs along the F strakes to attach several stretch cargo cords. In regards to the backrest/seat-back, the plans call for a plywood seat-back that you fasten to the floor (seat). In my opinion, the plywood seat-back is uncomfortable. Thus, we made the seatrest/cushions and attached them to Rib 4. It provides plenty of support and is far more comfortable than the plywood.

Saturday, June 30, 2001 - The Maiden Voyage (6 hours)

Luzimar, Eber, Olesea, and I took the 12-footer and the 14-footer (its maiden voyage) to a local lake and had a great time. I like the 14-footer much more than the 12-footer. The 12-footer turns quicker, but the 14-footer is more stable for my overweight high-center of gravity body. I was on the lake for about 4 hours and put the kayak through its paces, so to speak. Next week we'll add some more padding to the seat, fine-tune the back rest, add a spray skirt (mostly to protect my white legs from the sun), and add some web tabs for cargo straps.

July 4 - July 7

More fun in the sun. We took the kayaks to Busse Woods and had a great time. I added a sun-skirt to prevent my legs from getting sunburned.

The 14-footer is the blue kayak.
Luzimar in the 12-footer.
Jack in the 14-footer.
Jack in the 14-footer.

Diary: Expenditures

The following list shows the cost of each item I purchased for the 14-Foot kayak. A few items are not listed, such as drywall screws and wood glue because I already had them.

Component Cost
1 x 12 x 14' Clear Poplar $53.00
1 x 12 x 12' #2 Pine $15.00
1/4 x 3/4 x 12' Bead Molding (3 pieces) $10.00
#10 Canvas, 6 yards x 60" wide $36.00 + $12.00 shipping
Behr Exterior Primer $16.00
Glidden Exterior Paint $18.00
Liquid Nails (3 tubes) $8.00
Styrofoam Insulation (4' x 8' sheet) $4.00
Camping Closed-Cell Ground Pad $5.00
Staples $3.00
Total $180.00

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