Baidarka Replica

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Project by tyvekboy posted 02-25-2010 09:33 PM 13473 views 11 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Feb 26, 2010

If you saw the Tyvek canoe I made previously, I hope you like this one. After using the canoe, I wanted to make a boat that would go faster so I did some research and decided that a replica of a Baidarka, an Aleutian sea kayak, would be fun to make.

I started with a image of a drawing of a Baiarka that was dimensioned in metrics. I redrew it with imperial measurements and started building it in 2006.

Since this was going to be a replica, I tried to construct this kayak like the eskimos would have. Except for the bow pieces, and the scarf joints used to get 17 feet long pieces for the 8 chines, no glue was used. All the pieces were lashed together with artificial sinew purchased from Tandy Leather. Artificial sinew is a waxed coated nylon string similar to dental floss on steroids.

Except for the 43 ribs and the cockpit ring, pine was used for all the pieces. The pine was standard 2 X 4’s ripped, knots eliminated, and joined with a 8:1 scarf joints. The ribs were cut from 1/2 inch baltic birch plywood. Each rib being a little different size. The cockpit ring was made from 1/8 inch strips of various laminated hardwoods glued to shape around a form.

After all the pieces were made, they were given 4 coats of spar varnish. Then all the pieces were fitted and lashed together. In the photo taken from the inside of the Baidarka, you’ll notice all the lashings. In a real Baidarka, floorboards don’t extend as far as mine do. I made them extra long in the event that I take this on an extended trip and want to store bags inside it. The extended boards will allow stuff to slide in and out easier.

When the framework was completed, I started laminating the framework with strips of Tyvek Homewrap that were about as wide as the distance from my hand to my elbow.

The first layer was attached to the framework with contact cement with the printing on the Tyvek facing out. The next 2 layers were attached with contact cement with the printing facing inward.

The tyvek was applied from either end of the Baidarka working towards the center where the cockpit hole was located. Each piece was anchored from the keel area and then pulled as tight as possible outward working around towards the top of the Baidarka. Each subsequent section overlapped the previous section by about 2 inches.

Some of you may be wondering how I did it without the pieces sticking where I didn’t want them to stick. The technique used was to put a scrap piece of Tyvek with no glue on it between the pieces that had contact cement on them. When the piece was positioned correctly, the unglued sheet was pulled out and the two glued pieces were stuck together by applying hand pressure. And now you know why the strips are no longer than the distance from my hand to my elbow.

After all the Tyvek was applied, the Baidarka was trimmed out with bungies on the top to hold extra paddles and other equipment.

The greenland style paddles were made from laminated spruce, walnut, cherry and maple. Note how the power face of the paddle has a ridge and the other side of the paddle doesn’t have a ridge. This was done so that when it is used, the ridge directed the water in such a way that prevented paddle flutter.

This effort took about 1 year of spare time.

The result was a replica Baidarka 16 feet 8 inches long, 22 inches wide weighing a total of 38 pounds.

If you are a scuba diver you will recognize that the above picture was taken at Morrison Springs, FL which is 45 minutes from Destin, FL.

I also made a sea sock out of Tyvek which you can see in the above picture. I sit in it and it is attached to the cockpit ring. If I ever ever loose my balance and roll over, the kayak will not fill with water. The water will only fill the sea sock. BTW I did try to roll it upright in a swimming pool before the maiden voyage and was not successful. So far I have not had to bail out of the Baidarka on a lake.

I also made a spray skirt out of Tyvek. It attaches to the cockpit ring and goes up my chest. It keeps water from getting into the cockpit area.

The Baidarka is faster than the canoe but is very tippy. It is like riding a bicycle on water. You’ve got to keep your balance. It tracks very straight without a rudder. I can’t fish from it. I can’t even turn around to look what’s behind me unless I want to tip over and get wet. It is good for exercising and cruising. However, I’ve found out that 2 hours is all that my poor rear end can take before a rest.

This is a photo of the maiden voyage on Lake Alatoona, GA.


By the way, Tyvek is not only good for insulating a house and building boats. I used it to rebuild the fabric area of an umbrella. I’ve made a grill cover from it (still in testing stage—been in use for one year). I also use it for dust covers for all my big power tools. Just cut your patterns out and glue them together with contact cement. No sewing required. —- I do not work for Dupont and they don’t want to know that I make boats with their product.

Hope you all enjoyed the description and the pictures and I welcome any and all comments.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

19 comments so far

View Paul2274's profile


330 posts in 4087 days

#1 posted 02-25-2010 10:05 PM

[Jawdrop] Love this…. I’ve got to buy me some house wrap!

View Les Hastings's profile

Les Hastings

1306 posts in 4748 days

#2 posted 02-26-2010 12:43 AM

Grear work Alex! Thanks for the post and welcome to Lumberjocks!

-- Les, Wichita, Ks. (I'd rather be covered in saw dust!)

View BigBard's profile


114 posts in 4389 days

#3 posted 02-26-2010 02:55 AM

If it gets punctured will you just patch over the hole, or will it need a whole new layer?

-- Carolina Panther fan!

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1288 posts in 4712 days

#4 posted 02-26-2010 04:19 AM

Very good work. Did you get some plans for this kayak Or design it from photos and other info?

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View whitedog's profile


652 posts in 4432 days

#5 posted 02-26-2010 05:00 AM

That thing looks fast… looks like you could pull a water skier with it. :o)

Nice build.

-- Paul , Calfornia

View ND2ELK's profile


13494 posts in 4749 days

#6 posted 02-26-2010 06:36 AM

Very impressive boat. Excellent craftsmanship on it. Thanks for posting.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View Jimthecarver's profile


1124 posts in 4760 days

#7 posted 02-26-2010 04:27 PM

I have a roll of this material and it seems to be great for many applications. Very cool idea and your craft is amazing.
Thanks for sharing

-- Can't never could do anything, to try is to advance.

View tyvekboy's profile


2093 posts in 3988 days

#8 posted 02-27-2010 02:00 AM

Thanks to everyone for the comments on the BAIDARKA REPLICA.

Now to answer the Questions:

BIGBARD: The nice thing about TYVEK as a boat skin is that it takes about 5 minutes to patch it. I once ran into some oyster shells with my Tyvek Canoe while paddling in the marsh on Hilton Head Island, SC. Two layers of the skin got “injured” so didn’t take on water. I should carry duct tape with me but I don’t. Anyway when I got back to dry land, I dried it off, put some contact cement to reglue the layers that had come off and then put a patch over that. Maybe it took 10 minutes. No messing with fiberglass.

JOHN ORMSBY: The following link takes you to the image that I worked from to redraw my plans for the BAIDARKA. If you look closely at the PDF you’ll see the source is the LOWE MUSEUM, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY.

I will try to post some pictures of my Tyvek tool covers, the umbrella, and grill cover. I am thinking of making a kite with it when I run out of things to do … LOL.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View tyvekboy's profile


2093 posts in 3988 days

#9 posted 02-27-2010 07:12 PM

Just found another source of building plans/information for any of you that might want to build a Baidarka.

I also used this as a reference to build my Baidarka. Hope this helps.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View mcoyfrog's profile


4757 posts in 4569 days

#10 posted 08-10-2010 08:46 PM


-- Wood and Glass they kick (well you know) Have a great day - Dug

View sb194's profile


197 posts in 3993 days

#11 posted 04-22-2012 01:18 PM

Very impressed. Great job.

View indplswoodworking's profile


325 posts in 3268 days

#12 posted 06-30-2014 03:21 PM

Very nice job! How many hours to fab something like this? I picked up it took you one year.


View tyvekboy's profile


2093 posts in 3988 days

#13 posted 06-30-2014 08:51 PM

indplswoodworking—I never kept track of the hours I spent on this project. I had a full time job at the time and worked on it a few hours every day for about 10 months. Let’s guess about 400 hours of work? When you’re building something like this, it’s pure fun and you really don’t count the hours. You just admire the work done as you complete each step of the way.

I think I spent about a month redrawing the parts just using the image that i downloaded.

Building the frame was the most tedious part since all 73 pieces had to be lashed together. Also, making little pieces for the stringers 17 feet long was a challenge. Making the 43 individual ribs, each one different from the previous was also a challenge. I don’t know how I would have done it without my computer.

Applying the skin was the next challenge after building the frame work.

Thanks for leaving a comment.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View wanark's profile


1 post in 2390 days

#14 posted 07-11-2014 09:04 PM

nice work :) it looks amazing!

i’m also making my first kayak frames but still haven’t found anything to cover the frames.

The tyvek has to be coated before go paddling or is it totally waterproof?

thanks for posting this work ;)

View tyvekboy's profile


2093 posts in 3988 days

#15 posted 07-11-2014 09:17 PM


Remember I used 3 layers of Tyvek. I used contact cement to stick the first layer (words facing out) to the frame and laminated the next 2 layers to the 1st layer (words facing towards 1st layer).

Will all the laminations and the contact cement, NO coating is required. Just put it in the water and GO!

This couldnʻt be easier and lighter. Also, this method makes repairing holes easy. So far I havenʻt had to patch any holes caused by debris in the water or rocks. ... Oh … I did have to re-glue 2 layers back on the canoe when I ran into some oyster shells.

Hope this explanation helps.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

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