Operation Kayak Construction (in which we take on a woodworking project of monumental proportions)

If you’ve been following me on Instagram (@annie88b) over the last few months, you may have caught wind of our latest DIY project.

Kenny and I decided that we wanted kayaks…and that we wanted to build them ourselves.

kayak 1

This project idea did not come entirely out of left field. Dad’s built kayaks before, and when we found out that he was going to teach a class of 6th grade boys from our church how to make them, we wanted in. I schmoozed and cajoled and outright begged, and somehow, it worked! Dad agreed to help Kenny and I build our own kayaks.

So we dove in and did our homework, deciding on the Chesapeake 17LT plan. We purchased 4 sheets of marine-grade plywood (and at $60 a pop, you’d better believe we measured two, three, or four times before we cut those suckers!).

kayaks 2

The first cuts we made were basically long strips of wood (in very precise widths). From there, we had to glue the strips together the long way, so that they’d begin to form the length of the kayaks. The kayaks will end up being about 17′ long.

kayak 3

We joined them together by creating scarf joints and gluing them together with an epoxy and fiberglass mixture. In the picture below, Kenny is sanding off the excess glue so that the joint is barely noticeable. You can just see the joints on the pieces to the left if you squint real hard.

kayak 4

Once we’d glued the lengths together, it was time to more precisely cut the boards (since before they were just the most basic shapes). And then, the fun part–the actual formation of the kayaks! We took the four long pieces of the bottom of the kayak (we haven’t even begun the tops of the kayaks yet) and began to stitch them together with small copper wires. The wires act sort of like twist-ties, holding it all together in a non-permanent manner.

kayak 5

And this is how the kayaks are today. We’ll eventually glue the pieces together and clip the copper wires so they are flush with the wood. The two lengthwise pieces of wood in the picture above are not attached at all and are just being used to keep the kayak from closing in on itself until we get the top on.

The top will be another whole story entirely! We’ve got big plans to make them out of wood strips instead of whole pieces of wood, so it may take us a while. But we figure if we’re only going to do this once in our lives, we may as well go all out, huh? Either that or we’re crazy.


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