the wire stitches. The resulting DXF file was
sent to a CNC shop to cut out of plywood.
The cockpit is relatively big so there’s no
risk of getting trapped. I made the front deck
high for legroom, and gave it a bit of “V” to
shed water. I left the back deck simple and
flat, extending it up in front of the cockpit
a little to make it easy to add a coaming,
which serves as reinforcement and gives
the kayak a more finished look. With a little
upward sweep at the ends of the sheer to
cut through waves, I had a cute, classy little
kayak that’s made from only 6 panels: the
bottom, 2 identical sides, 2 identical front
deck pieces, and the back deck.
You’ll find detailed instructions and a PDF
of the plans at the project page online,
an overview of the key steps:
The kayak is assembled with copper wire
serving as temporary clamps. Push lengths
of wire through the pre-drilled stitch holes,
then twist them to tighten the pieces into
). Before stitching, I chose
to stain my kayak, followed by a quick
protective coat of epoxy, but this is optional.
To “spot-weld” the panels together, apply
several small dots of cyanoacrylate (CA)
glue between each wire stitch (Figure
followed by a light mist of glue accelerant.
Then remove all the stitches by clipping
them with wire cutters on the inside and
pulling them from the outside. You now have
the 2 basic pieces: the hull and the deck.
To strengthen the hull’s sharp-angled joints,
you’ll use liquid joinery to create a structural
fillet that transitions stresses smoothly
between the panels. To do this, make the
mixture of epoxy resin and wood “flour” —
very fine sawdust — known to boat makers
as “dookie schmutz.” Squeeze a ¼" bead of
schmutz (I use a gallon zip-lock bag with a
corner cut off) into each seam and shape it
with the back of a plastic spoon (Figure
Apply the fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin in
sections, starting with the hull interior and
the deck, and let it cure overnight.
You’ll want to get the fabric as smooth as
possible —I use a dry chip brush to remove
wrinkles — before adding the resin. Once
mixed, the resin starts to cure, so it’s best
to mix small batches and use them quickly.
Spread the resin evenly with a plastic
), and scrape off any
excess into a “grunge cup” receptacle. Use
a brush to smooth any bridges in the cloth.
Properly saturated fiberglass should have
a distinct weave texture with only enough
resin to completely wet the fabric, not leave
it shiny. Too little resin and the layup will lose
strength, too much and it will gain weight.
Next, align the deck on the hull using
strapping tape (Figure
), then attach it
using fiberglass tape and epoxy along the
inside seam. Finally, round over all the
sharp exterior edges using a block plane,
then lay the exterior fiberglass — hull first,
then deck — and let cure (Figure
After installing the raised cockpit coaming
(I describe two methods on the project page
online), I gave the whole kayak a “fill coat” of
epoxy resin. Creating a smooth finish is all
in the prep work: sanding. Start with coarse
60 grit sandpaper to quickly level the epoxy,
without actually sanding into the fiberglass
itself. Then move on to 120 grit, then 220.
With a couple of fill coats I quickly got a nice
surface using a random orbital sander.
PAINT OR VARNISH
Ultraviolet light will eventually break down
epoxy resin, exposing the fiberglass and
ultimately delaminating from the wood.
Prevent this with paint or varnish. I built up 3
coats of varnish with light sandings between.
Chunks of foam were glued in place with
contact cement to make a seat, and more
foam shoved into the ends for flotation. I
also made a quick little Greenland Inuit-
style kayak paddle out of a piece of 2×3.
I found that the kids were sliding sideways
in the seat, which threw off their balance,
so I created a horseshoe-shaped seatback
to keep them centered. I also updated the
coaming design to make the boat easier to
build. Let me know how yours goes!
Get the PDF plans and step-by-step
instructions, and share your build, at
2 Weeks (of Evenings)
» Okoume marine plywood, 4mm, 4'×8'
sheet This is standard thickness, but 3mm
would be lighter and probably strong
enough for a kid’s boat.
» Wood board, 2"×3"×60" to make a
» Epoxy resin
» Copper wire
» Scrap wood
» Cyanoacrylate (CA) glue and accelerant
» Wood flour for the “dookie schmutz”
» Fiberglass cloth, 4oz, 50" wide, about
» Fiberglass cloth tape, 3" wide
» Varnish or paint
» Upholstery foam
» Stain, alcohol based (optional)
» Jigsaw or CNC router (optional)
or send the plans to a CNC shop to cut
them for you
» Wire cutters
» Zip-lock bag, 1gal
» Plastic spoon
» Plastic squeegee
» Chip brush
» Utility knife or scissors
» Disposable cups
» Stirring sticks
» Packing tape, filament style
» Masking tape
» Permanent marker
» Waxed paper
» Block plane
» Sandpaper: 60, 120, and 220 grit
» Random orbital sander
» Dust mask or respirator
» Disposable gloves
» Drill (optional)
» Cotton swabs (optional) for touching
likes to go out on the big
ocean in small boats,
so he started Guillemot
Kayaks, where he designs
wooden boats for DIY boat builders and
makes custom boats for those who don’t
want to do it themselves.
M52_070-1_Kayak_F1.indd 71 6/14/16 1:01 PM