Building Kayaks for the Grandkids #1: Kayak Build: Getting Started

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Blog entry by English posted 07-23-2017 11:58 AM 1510 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Building Kayaks for the Grandkids series Part 2: Installing The plywood and Fiberglass »

This winter I started a new project for my Grand Children. I started building a Kayak for each of them. For my Grandson who loves to fish, I built a 12’ kayak. For my Grand Daughter I built a two person 15’ kayak. I started with plans from Spira The plans for the 12’ kayak is free. The Huntington Harbor.

I purchased the plans for my Grand Daughters kayak. It is called the Wilamette River.

I want these to last a life time so I used the good quality materials. For the frames I used clear Douglas Fir. DF is more durable with respect to rot than the other softwoods and is much lighter than oak and mahogany. Kayaks need to be as light as possible. To get started I needed to build strongback jig for each kayak.

For the 12’ kayak.

For the 15’ Kayak.

The frames are built out of clear Douglas Fir.

Then the frames are placed on the strongback per the plans, The frames have to be notched to let the keelson, chine log and shear clamp fit in the frame. Notice on the frame the notch was pre-cut square to the frame. I have marked the actual angle the chine log will need to attach to the frame.

You can see the angle needed from the test fitting of the chine log.

I trimmed the angles to get the chine log and shear clamps to fit into the frame to maintain the lines of the boat.

The keelson, and chine log are installed. All of the Douglas Fir boards are from 8’ stock. The keelson, chine log, and shear clamp are the full length of the kayak. These were scarfed together to make the 13’ and 16’ boards needed.

Next the shear clamp is installed.

The same process is followed for the other kayak with the number of frames being the only difference.

All of the frame joints are screwed with stainless steel #8×1 1/2” deck screws and glued with PL Premium. The screw holes had to be pre-drilled and counter sunk to keep this straight grain Douglass Fir from splitting.

The frames are then faired. The frame edges have to be planed to match the angle that the chine log and shear clamp have as they pass a frame. Each joint is planed and sanded so that the plywood will fit flat to the frame.

-- John, Suffolk Virgina

3 comments so far

View Redoak49's profile


4346 posts in 2592 days

#1 posted 07-23-2017 01:15 PM

Very interesting and will be watching.

View CaptainSkully's profile


1612 posts in 4162 days

#2 posted 07-23-2017 04:30 PM

Love me some boatbuilding blogs! I’ve built Chesapeake Light Craft’s Eastport Pram, a little sailing dinghy that is slightly shorter than a sheet of plywood.

Next is either a Passagemaker, the 12’ version of the Eastport Pram, a NanoShip from the same company or Dudley Dix’s Oppikat, which is basically a cedar strip version of a Hobie Wave.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View BB1's profile


1562 posts in 1452 days

#3 posted 07-23-2017 06:44 PM

How wonderful to build these for your grandchildren. Looking forward to seeing these progress.

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