How to Build a Kayak: Part 2

In our last episode of Building a Kayak we chose our kit from Chesapeake Light Craft, unpacked our components, and started some Stitch and Glue construction on the side panels. Join me here in Part 2 to check in on our puzzle joints and get started on the sheer clamps! Mistakes will be made as we figure out how to build a kayak!

The First Problem

The first issue to tackle this week is a puzzle joint that arrived broken. However this should be easily fixable by just gluing in the puzzle joint as normal and popping in the broken piece.

A broken piece of puzzle joint wood

Moving on!

No matter, first we’ll get to work on today’s primary project, the sheer clamps. First, what is the sheer clamp?  It’s a longitudinal piece to which the deck and side panels are clamped to make the hull-deck joint.  As the name would imply, it’s position is at the sheer line of the boat. Due to shipping via USPS we’ll need to first get them attached so they are the full length of the boat. This is done through a scarf joint.

The scarf joint should yield a barely visible glue line and lend strength to the sheer clamps once dried. However we shall see how it goes!

Lining up the scarf joint and it looks good. We will mix some epoxy to glue together and clamp into position like so:

Fixing our puzzle joint

Now we can return to our broken puzzle joint and see about getting the panels glued together. Here is what it looked like once glued into position and dried:

Looks good! It looked even better once it had been sanded smooth, you can’t even tell there had been an issue!

We’ll let the scarf joints dry for now but join me next time as I start to get them glued to the side panels and begin the Stitch and Glue construction!

What projects are you working on these days?

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How to Build a Kayak

When you combine working from home with a midwest winter you end up sitting (or laying) down a lot. While there are a lot of winter activities to keep oneself busy, unfortunately none of them are for me. Ice fishing, snowmobiling, skiing, and snowboarding – they are all too cold for me.

So I’ve been in search of a winter activity, a winter project, to keep myself busy and I’ve settled on building a kayak! I really have no idea what I’m doing so rather than starting from scratch – I’ll be building a kit from Chesapeake Light Craft. I have long admired their boat kits and despite feeling a bit clueless, I’m excited to undertake the challenge.

build your own kayak convention booth

Kit Selection

CLC Boats have a number of intriguing kits including canoes, sailboats, and even a teardrop camper! My dad has been working on a Chesapeake 17 but I’ve settled on the lightweight version, the Chesapeake 17LT. This kayak combines good looks with functionality while not appearing to be too difficult to build! For my first adventure with boat construction this kit seems like the best fit.

beautiful wooden kayak beached on the rocks

A Chesapeake 17LT

Unpacking the components

As a dad, it is now customary to start any project with a proper beer and building a kayak over winter calls for something fun. In this case, an English dark ale from Goose Island. Toffee with hints of dark bread, caramel, and rye. But I digress, we have a boat to build!

a project beer

Our Chesapeake 17LT has arrived in two packages – one primarily with the wood components and the other containing the epoxy mixes and wood flour.

components arrived in the mail

unpacking a large box of components

Next we start to get organized and confirm all the pieces we need have arrived safely. The beer is gone and it is time to start consulting the instruction manual. If you want to follow along on the process there is a great video on YouTube that I’ll be referencing as I go as well!

assembling the kit components

Stitch and Glue Construction

The method of construction we are using for this kayak kit is called stitch and glue. Essentially, the stitch and glue is a simple boat building method which uses plywood panels temporarily stitched together, typically with wire or zip-ties, and glued together permanently with epoxy resin. This type of construction eliminates much of the need for frames or ribs. The plywood side panels only come in 8ft sheets so we need to do some gluing together as a first step. Thankfully these puzzle joints make connecting them quite easy and I think they will look quite nice when finished!

two panels connect by a puzzle joint

Next we mix up some epoxy resin and hardener in a 2:1 ratio and add a splash of some silica powder to help give it a bit of thickness and ensure a strong joint.

a glued puzzle joint

And here are three sections glued together on my trusty sawhorses that will surely see quite a bit of work in the near future.

three panels glued together

Join me next time when we will tackle the sheer clamps, some scarf joints, and review how our puzzle joints turned out!



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