Building a kayak is less a matter of money and more one of time. The biggest payoff is that there’s no route to fine boat ownership that is more satisfying and more economical than paddling a kayak you built yourself.
Workspace For Building
To start, you’ll need a workroom: a basement, garage or carport, or even a spare bedroom. Measure your workspace room: you’ll need an area at least six feet longer and six feet wider than the kayak you plan to build. Next you’ll need to check that you can get your kayak out of the workshop after you’ve built it. This sounds obvious, but it also happens to be a common (and painful) mistake- the proud builder whose kayak becomes a piece of furniture because it won’t fit through the hall.
So be sure to measure your doors and windows to check whether they’re large enough — and widely-angled enough —for you to get the kayak out. Likewise check corners or hallways for sufficient pivot and swing room, especially if you build in a basement or a corner.
What Type Of Kayak?
The next decision is the type of kayak you want to build.
There are two main choices: strip- built, the more labor-intensive method, and stitch and glue, the more straightforward method and cheaper by about $400.
There are fundamental differences between the two, yet both yield durable, lovely, lightweight boats.
Strip-built kayaks require fastening long and narrow, tight-grained cedar strips, about ¾” by ¾” square and 4’ to 12’ long, to a set of frames attached to a long length of wood called a strongback.
The results are always beautiful. Typically, a strip-builder will use red and white cedar; by placing contrasting strips against one another other, he or she creates intricate shadings and patterns limited only by the builder’s eye and sense of design.
Then after covering the kayak in fiberglass and cutting the boat in half, lengthwise, to remove the frames, a strip-built is done. A strip-built kayak is a fairly involved project that costs about $1,500 plus the cost of a few tools — a sander, a saw or two, a good block plane and a sharpening stone.