Saturday, December 12, 2015

Stripping The Hull

The most fun part of the build:watching the strips take on the curve of the forms, and a "boat-like" appearance.
I noticed that this kayak has a harder chine where the bottom meets the sides, so I used two 3/8" strips at that point. The usual mess of glue drips, steps between strips, and Occasional Brute Force. I did some heat bending at the stern, but it was easier than the Expedition Sport's. 
End pieces, using the usual barrage of clamps, tape, staples, heat bending, etc.
I think that the last time I used an internal strongback,  I inadvertently ground the strips down too far, through the masking tape, exposing the form to glue drips. This time, I tried another skinny strip of tape to try to keep the glue out. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Starting to Strip

Milling the strips went routinely, except that I'd almost forgotten how "physical" and dusty the job is. Again, I ended up with strips 3/16" thick, and decided on a 5/8" width this time. I hope that the smaller strips will be easier to twist into place.
I built the "cross trees" and "outriggers" the same way as the last time, except that I bolted the short boards into the platform, and left the long boards loose. 
The first little cheater strips are in place. I finally figured  out to make the second ones shorter than the first, reducing the number of cheaters needed.

Friday, November 6, 2015


After doing it both ways, and realizing the ups and downs of each, I have to conclude that its generally easier to get things aligned when using an Internal Strongback-especially the bow & stern sections.
I had to do a little pulling & tweaking on the spine in order to get the centerline on the forms to line up to the string, but it seems to have come out well. I adjusted the bow & stern sections using shims, and held them in place with glue blocks.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Starting In Earnest

It seems strange, how much I "forgot" about building between last year and this year. I tried building an I-beam twice, using dimension lumber, before giving up on finding boards with no twist or warp. I finally went for this "composite" stuff:
It weighs tons, but it appears to be dimensionally stable. I'm doing an internal strongback again, this time, and after doing it both ways, I think that this technique better insures "straightness". 
The "spine". The Strongback Jinx  was in-I made the first one 1/2" too small! This is poplar ply. I found that the forms fit a little too tightly, so I actually ran the whole beam through the surface planer. It was a a little bit too much to handle, so I widened the holes in the forms instead.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Skeg Plans

I decided to build a skeg & housing from scratch. This gives me something to work on & get psyched for the build. I want to complete as much of this as possible before glassing the hull interior, so I won't get hung up in a lengthy process while the hull wants to shrink & distort.
50-page building manual, and lots of small plywood parts, all of which have to be epoxied, and many fiberglassed. I had to order some rather expensive stainless steel parts. 
Nicks plans call for building a closed box, making a hole in the hull, putting the box through the hull, then trimming to the hull. I'm going to shape the box to the hull interior, and make a slot for just the skeg.
I could not get a feel for what has to be done just by reading the manual. I had to get my hands on the work, following the instructions, before I "got it".
After cutting the bottom of of the box, I tested the skeg blade for fit. I broke the hinge. I glued it back together, then broke it again. I decided to duplicate the blade in Lexan:
It was pretty easy to trace from the wood, and I don't have to worry about waterproofing. After some adjustments, it fits fine.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

New Things

For various reasons, I decided to donate Outer Island II to a nonprofit organization.
I was in a stressed-out condition for most of the time I was working on it, and it was not my best work.  I somehow managed to feel rushed & driven while working on it, instead of relaxing & having fun. In the end, I just didn't like it.
That being said, I'm using my trusty Outer Island I many times this summer, as usual repeating my favorite trips. 
However, that does not mean that I'm not going to build another kayak! I'm still looking for a smaller "go-to" boat. I looked at Vaclav's Cape Ann Storm LT as a possibility. At 16', even the designer recommends the use of a skeg. I posted a question on the Guillemot message board, and got the usual flurry of responses, and it got me psyched up for another build.
Sometimes, I start a build with a detail, like the carrying handles. This time I ordered Nick Schade's (50 page!) plans for a home made skeg box. 
I guess this qualifies as The Start Of A Build, so here we go! Its only September, I can take my time this time.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


Off to the traditional lake for a tryout:
And of course, the traditional Trophy Shot:

I was actually surprised at how very similar the handling is to my first Outer Island. It may cruise a little faster-it was easy to maintain at 4 mph, and sprinted to about 5. The stability is almost identical to O.I. #1, which was slightly surprising, because I  built it to the design length this time, and I expected it to handle just like Jay's, with the stiff tracking and solid secondary stability. It must be a Mystery Of Kayak Building-how two people can build to the same specs, and build two different kayaks.


Went fairly easily & routinely. The hatches, grab handles, and deck rigging were done almost exactly as the last two builds, with one difference: I made a simple loop on the foredeck for my GPS.
I carved the foam seat as usual. I found it interesting that the side brace foam pads had to be of a different shape and position than I expected, and that the foot braces had to be  extended to the third-to-last adjustment point.
Also, I confirmed that it is the cockpit size, more than the cockpit height, that allows butt-first entry into the kayak.

Thursday, June 4, 2015


I decided to finish the boat with automotive clear coat paint instead of varnish. I liked the idea of doing all the coats in the same day, instead of a week. I hung it up, because I was afraid to rest the kayak down on new coats of paint. I went through five cans of clearcoat, using about one can per coat. The coats seemed rather thinner than I wanted them to be, but I avoided runs & drips. I hope the coating is thick enough to be sanded & polished out.
Wet-sanding an 18' kayak goes much better when done in the backyard. I sanded with 500 and 1200 paper, then used the R.O.S. with a foam pad-rubbing compound, then polishing compound. It looks more like a semi-gloss finish at this point.
After a whole lotta sanding & buffing, I decided that I didn't like the look that I was getting. I used the wax remover, sanded one more time with #1000, and went for varnish.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Cockpit Coaming

I decided to go for a molded fiberglass coaming. The plans for the Cape Ann came with appropriately-sized strips of mini cel foam. Glassing the deck went well, and I cut the opening to the size of my old templates. After trying a few things, I found some thin, junky plywood for the mold:
This was easier than it might look. I trimmed it down to the height of the foam pieces, and taped the foam down.
Next time, I may figure out a way to bevel the piece of foam & eliminate the gap caused by the curvy parts of the deck. It seemed like a big gap to be bridged only by tape. 
I covered the whole thing with shrink wrap.

The layers of fiberglass. I started with 6 oz. glass-the bias-cutting thing really does help it work around curves. After four layers of 6 oz, and two of 4 oz, I thought I had built it up quite a bit.
After much scraping, grinding, fill coating, and sanding, I trimmed the edge, and tested the fit of my spray skirt. It fit just fine, and the whole thing released pretty easily from the shrink wrap. I gave it a coat of epoxy primer, and several coats of black paint. It was easy to bond it to the deck with dookie.
After some laborious trimming & sanding, I decided that it looked too "sinister" or something, and repainted it my favorite Jolly Green:
As I mentioned above, I thought I had built up quite a bit of thickness, but this came out to about 1/16". It seems strong enough.
The side & knee braces went routinely & well.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Closing The Clam

This was the toughest one yet. "Everyone" says to put the forms back in the hull while it sits after glassing, but I guess you have to do it immediately, which I didn't. The hull & deck mismatched by as much as one inch in places. My Home Made Aluminum Tool wouldn't even stretch it out enough.
I ended up putting spreader sticks across most of the hull. Tape wouldn't hold the two halves together, so I "tack welded" with epoxy. I tied strings to the sticks, so I could pull them out after the epoxy set. It worked!
I used 9 oz. tape to put the halves together, making the usual mess.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Footbrace Stud Kit

Instead of drilling through the hull, I decided to go for these glued-in studs.
Kit from CLC includes some fiberglass tape. Vinyl tape protects the threads. I put them in before joining the hull & deck. It was all easier than I thought it would be. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Glassing The Hull

I did a rather crappy job on the hull interior, earning myself a lot of extra work.
It seems that, after building four kayaks, and having the same problems each time, I finally had a revelation about saturating the glass. I had usually been using too much epoxy in one place at a time, and letting it saturate too long. The fiberglass wants to float off the wood, of course unevenly, causing ripples. This time, I let it saturate a minimal length of time, and removed the excess thoroughly and immediately. I maintained a "wet edge', as with painting. Voila! Only one or two small ripples! The fill coats went well-nearly filled the weave on the second coat, in some areas.

Sunday, April 5, 2015


Having separated the two halves, the remaining forms came out easily. Smoothing the interior was just as much "fun" as usual.

Tools: the small Surform rasp was pretty useful.  I also used a scraper made from an old saw. At the top is a surform rasp mounted on a bit of minicel foam.
I also resorted to filler on the resultant thin spots, and dealt with the internal stems by filleting the corners.
Glassing didn't go easily. The glass seemed to really want to pucker & lift off the wood. I tried the "saturation coat" that some builders use, but it mainly seemed a waste of epoxy. However, I think I'm finally learning what causes this-too much epoxy and too long a saturation time. The glass wants to float up to the top of a deep coating of epoxy,  unevenly, of course.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


I considered raising the deck 1", similar to the first O.I, but changed my mind. I found it a pain to extend the forms, and I really think that larger cockpit size, not the raised height,  that made my O.I's cockpit more comfortable than the "design" cockpit.
This plan also made it much easier to make the drop to the stern deck. I didn't need to heat-bend the strips. I hope it works.
I also took a chance with the position of the forms, by moving the first stern deck form  forward a little. This also  eased the "drop" between the foredeck and stern deck. The boat is the design length, yet somehow it looks fatter than my 17' O.I. Not quite sure why.

But: Huzzah! For once, I managed to cut enough strips for the entire boat at once. I even had leftovers.
And, of course, the Obligatory Whiskey Plank Photo. I did  this at 7:00 A.M, and skipped the shot. 
I did the arrow-shaped center line, and another stripe of basswood, otherwise, its all red cedar. Once I get into the technique of stripping, I seem to forget about fancy design plans.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Other Side

I thought that the I-beam arrangement used for building the hull was too high off the floor, and it seemed even higher with the boat turned over, so I removed the beam, and went to the "summer" arrangement of saw horses and straps. Some of the forms fell out when I turned it over ( I removed too many staples), but they were easy enough to relocate.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Filling The Bottom

I used/remembered all the usual techniques for getting the strips in place-clamps, angle brackets, tape, wedges, etc. I decided on a "plain" bottom, no waterline accent strip or other fanciness. My  worktable is higher than the last time, making the boat seem oddly "short & fat", and of course, everything looks crooked, depending on which angle I look from.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Stripping The Hull

During the weather-induced solitary confinement of The Big Blizzard, I had the opportunity to put quite a few strips down. 

Of course, I stressed about the alignment of the forms, and moved a couple, but I also realized that every kayak I built in this small basement looked crooked while I was building it.
I used only one "cheater" strip, in the bow. I found that the bow & stern curves were not too extreme to deal with, and in a way, were actually helpful-more twisting & clamping, but less beveling of the strips at the bow & stern.
None of the boards I worked with are full length. I have to scarf two strips together to make a full-length strip. I actually find this easier than handling a bunch of 19' strips.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Strongback & Stripping

As stated earlier, I firmly decided on a Ladderback, after building the cape on an internal. The last time I used a Ladder, I had used a very straight & level 2 x 6. This time, I used a 2 x 4. It was not absolutely straight, and the whole arrangement isn't quite level. I figured that as long as everything was plumb & level to the the stringline, it would be O.K-but it looked bad when set up!
When I actually started stripping, it looked normal. I used only two cheater strips in the stern (so far) and none in the bow.