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Building a Perfect Kayak: Part 9

part9glassed

With the fiberglassing finished on the bottom of the kayak, I flipped the kayak over and started in at the Layback Lounge. If you recall from the now many previous chapters of this building log, I needed to do a cockpit recess to get the back coaming height down to a level that would allow layback rolls. Although not as low as many Greenland kayaks, nor as long as some low volume kayaks, I wanted to get the lip down to about 8 to 8.5″. To do this, I had to make a huge recess in the kayak. Designing the kayak for a recess like this allows a good amount of storage in the day hatch area as well as the main rear compartment because you can have a higher rear deck (Wish this would have been my plan), and would get the coaming down. The main problem with doing this was that I had to cut into the strong back significantly to achieve the level of recess I was looking for. So, first, I glassed the hull to get rigidity, and then I went at the strong back with a jigsaw and handsaw. Eventually, the strong back was cut.

The strongback is still in one piece.
The strongback is still in one piece.
The strongback is cut. I guess I won't be using this one again.  It wasn't the best anyway.
The strongback is cut. I guess I won't be using this one again. It wasn't the best anyway.

Layback Lounge (TM Pending)

After cutting, the strong back, I started to lay in strips running perpendicular to the main strips of the kayak. These ran from each side opening to the other side and created a flat surface to cut the cockpit out of. I used short strips with the occasional long strip to try and keep everything level. Then I ran out of strips of pine, and had to cut new pine out of a 2″ x 4″. So, the pine at the back of the lounge is different than the front of the lounge, and, because I needed full strips behind the cockpit cutout, the lounge actually looked better where the full strips were used. Where the short strips were used, they ended up slightly wavy. These required too much work to plane and level out, so I ended up ripping all the short strips out of the Layback Lounge and started over using just long strips. This made it look much better than just the short strips, and if you do one of these use the long strips. It’s also much easier to get everything looking good.

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And with these four pictures the Layback Lounge is finished.
And with these four pictures the Layback Lounge is finished.

Eliminating the Pinch

If you remember, before I built the deck I had the great idea of adding pinch to the front of the kayak. After I got the deck striped out, I didn’t like the pinch anymore, so I had to come up with a way to remove the pinch. This was much harder than it would seem, but, at least, I had built the deck in a way that could cover up this mistake. On my deck, I ran all strips parallel with the keel line, except for the strip at the sheer. These strips ran along the sheer and the others butted into this strip. So, to put the deck back to how it should have been, I just removed this strip and laid it on top of the other strips until I had a nice fair curve that followed the sheer except 1.5 inches out from the sheer. I drew this line on the parallel strips, and then preceded to saw, chisel, and plane this new gap out. I filled the gap with two strips. So, now instead of one strip on each side following the sheer, I have two. On the rear deck I still have just one, but the cool thing is that you really won’t know unless you look real close, because the Layback Lounge divides the kayak into two. It’s amazing how many mistakes you can fix when you’re building a boat. Nothing like some tools, your bare hands, and a thinking cap on your head.

Sanding, and Blah Blah

Of course, the next step is to plane and sand the deck, precoat with epoxy, fiberglass, etc… This all works the same as glassing did with the hull. I found that I was able to get enough glass out of 60″ cloth to do the outside and inside of the deck. This is saving money.

Wax Paper

I should note that I’ve been glassing with both the hull and the deck on the forms. I’ve done it this way to try and keep some shape and rigidity to the kayak. To keep the two from sticking together and glass bonding to both surfaces, I’ve stuffed wax paper in between the hull and the deck. This has worked nicely.

Fiberglass and the Inside of the Deck

Surform used to smooth the inside. A very quick and easy way to get this job done.
Surform used to smooth the inside. A very quick and easy way to get this job done.

The next step in my build was to glass the deck. So, I moved the hull to the side for the moment and got to work on the deck. The first step is to block plane the inside of the deck. Opps. We hit a snag here. The block plane doesn’t work very well on concave surfaces. Many builders have actually made a curved block plane, some builders use paint scrapers curved and sharpened, and I’ve always wondered how well the curved draw knife that coopers use when smoothing the inside of their cedar buckets would works, but I use something different. I use a surform. It’s not the most beautiful or elegant tool, but it gets the job finished quickly. You have to be careful using this tool, because it can take a ton of wood off quickly, and you may find that you’ll take off all the wood. After this, it’s sanding time. I use the random orbit sander as much as I can, but a round cylinder that you can attach sandpaper to works nicely also. Start with a very coarse grit, like 60, and go to 120-grit if you want. Since, this is the inside of the kayak, I only go to 80, and it still looks fine. Then it’s time to glass the inside of the hull. Read the last episode if you want to learn more about glassing. Note: Inside the hull, you don’t have to do fill coats. Since it won’t be varnished, fill coats are just extra weight inside. Just make sure that your wet-out coat is good so you don’t have any pinholes. I add some extra glass behind the cockpit and in front of the cockpit. These are two areas that will receive the most stress on the deck: Behind the cockpit because of getting into and out of the kayak, and for paddle float rescues, and in front of the cockpit because the need for extra strength there while performing kayak over kayak rescues.

Glassing the Inside of the Hull

I wanted to get this done on the same day that I glassed the inside of the deck, but I hit a snag. I didn’t have enough epoxy to do it, so I had to order more. That’s a $30 mistake plus shipping, because RAKA gives you a $30 price break when ordering a 3-gallon kit vs. a 1.5-gallon kit. Anyway, it’s in the mail.

Cockpit Coaming Cutout

Phew. I went through those steps quickly. Then again how much can you say about glassing the boat that hasn’t already been said… Then again, how much can you say about cutting out the cockpit? Well, a lot. I had my brother, a graphic designer, design me a cutout based on Necky’s Chatham opening, and he did. This printed out on six pieces of paper that I could just tape together. It worked great. I cut out the opening with a jigsaw, and then went to work adding vertical strips all the way around the cutout to make the riser part of the coaming. When fiberglassing this lip, I used a bead of thickened epoxy to smooth the transition from the deck to the coaming riser. It doesn’t look that great, but after the lip is built, it should hide this unsightly bead of gunk. I think for the next kayak, I’ll route a nice wooden bead.

The cockpit template to a string line and taped to the hull.
The cockpit template aligned to a string line and taped to the hull.

The cockpit opening has been cutout here. I used a jigsaw.
The cockpit opening has been cutout here. I used a jigsaw.


On the left, the riser strips glued in place around the cockpit opening. On the right, right click and Save As if you want to use this template on your own kayak.  If you want a higher quality image, email me.  This should work out just fine though.
On the left, the riser strips glued in place around the cockpit opening. On the right, right click and Save As if you want to use this template on your own kayak. If you want a higher quality image, email me. This should work out just fine though.

FREE!ship

At this point, I want to take a break in the build and let the readers know about a new boat design program that I stumbled upon when an old friend sent a link. It’s called FREE!ship. After a weekend of playing with the program, I have to say that I’m very impressed. It’s easy to use, and if you’ve used HULLS, it shouldn’t take you too long to get used to this program. If you remember way back in the first and second episode of this kayak build, I wanted to find a computer program that I could use to import my HULLS design of this kayak to round the chines and give me section forms for the build. Well, here it is. Too bad that I found it too late. After comparing my hand drawn lines to the ones outputted from this program, I didn’t do too bad. This program when used in conjunction with HULLS is a real winner. I still haven’t mastered starting a design in it, but it shouldn’t take too long. And Version 2, which is being developed right now, looks have some much needed extra hydrostatic data, two new ways to enter offsets (sweet!!!!!), and a better (maybe?) way to control the points that develop the hull. The points will be on the hull. Also, it sounds like there may be a database of free designs developed on FREE!ship’s website. When this happens, I’ll contribute some of mine, as well as, some boats I’m working on from old designs. One thing that I’ve noticed is that the displacement is off by about 39 pounds in HULLS vs. FREE!ship. It will be interesting to see which is correct. At 4.8 inches, HULLS gives 275 pounds, and FREE!ship gives 236 pounds.

Anyway, the weekend is again upon me, and looks to be nice. The fall colors are at their peak, and I could be working on the kayak, but my hatches haven’t arrived yet (suppose to ship on last Tuesday,) and I haven’t got my next kit of epoxy yet (I ordered it too late.) So, the kayak waits …

2 comments

  • why dont the lofting diagrams have a 1 inch square background grid that way the plans can be copied free and without file conversions paper work and on infiniteium you say they all say its free but my imprression every one is in it for as much as they can pay pal or hack your system

  • Hi Paul, thanks for the comments. I don’t use 1″ square background grids, because I don’t personally care for them. If it’s something you’re interested in putting the work into, please, email me, and we can get you the required files. I’ll then post them on the site. Many other people have found my drawings to not be exactly what they wanted, so they did the same and now more drawing types are available. The drawings for this kayak are available in pdf format, which can be printed at most photocopy stores.

    I guess I don’t understand the second part of your question. Could you clarify?

    If not, I’ll guess at it. The drawings are available for free download from this website. You can find the Siskiwit Bay drawings here: http://www.paddlinglight.com/articles/free-siskiwit-bay-kayak-plans-for-backyard-builders/

    Any donation you make goes to help pay for this website and help pay for the prototypes. I appreciate the donations. If you don’t want to donate to help pay for this website, my time and hard work, and for the cost of prototyping these kayaks, you don’t have to. The drawings are still available for free.

    If you build a kayak from these drawings, whether or not you choose to donate, I’m still interested in getting pictures and hearing about how it goes. This site is a hobby site for me and I’m more concerned about people enjoying canoeing and kayaking than I am about making money from this website.

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