How to make a Kayak ?

What is a Kayak?

We have been talking about various types of ships, lifeboats and other marine vessels such as research ships, hovercrafts and formula 1 boats, but the marine world isn’t all about huge marine diesel engines but also consist of relatively simple and small objects such as kayaks. In this article you will not only learn about kayaks but also how to make a kayak for yourself.

A kayak, also known as canoe, is a small boat which is pointed at both ends and is driven with the help of paddles. It is generally a single sitter boat which has a fully covered deck and a small place at the center for the paddler. The cockpit or the paddler’s place is covered by a spray deck. A spray deck is kind of a cockpit cover which is used to prevent water from entering the cockpit area when the coat is being propelled.

-Greenland kayak seal hunter 2006

Kayak is known to be an ancient boat. Hunters and Eskimos are supposed to be using kayak since the pre-historic times for hunting and transportation purposes. Modern kayaks have many purposes. Some are used for recreational activities such as fishing, photography or just for the sake of paddling. Some are used for surfing the waves of the ocean and some for racing purposes.Kayaks are also used by the military.

2seal hunter

How to make a kayak?

Making a kayak in your garage can be a wonderful and an interesting experience, provided you are ready to invest the time and efforts that are required. No doubt a home made kayak will cost you only a fraction of the factory built model but it will require a considerable amount of hard work.

There are two main methods of building a kayak at home. They are:

  1. Strip-Built method
  2. Stitch and Glue method

Though both the methods are different, the end product is almost the same.

In a Strip Built method, long and narrow Wooden strips are bent and joined around an already made outline structure.In a Stitch and Glue method, long plywood boards are cut and joined together with the help of glue or adhesive. Though the end product of both the methods is almost same, the boat made by Strip Built method is curvy and aesthetically more appealing. The boat made by stitch and glue method has a few hard and uneven edges. Also, it is easier and faster to make a boat by using stitch and glue method. Described below is the stitch and glue method to build a kayak.

Before that, let’s have a look as to what all things you will need in making a kayak.

Preparation- Things you will need

You will need some basic hand tools to cut the wood. The main tools and material that you will need is enumerated below.

  • Table saw or jig saw
  • Power drill
  • A set of wood files
  • A sander for sanding the wood
  • Paint brushes
  • Reflective tape
  • Plywood or wooden strips ( You can get a ready made wooden kit and plan in stores)
  • Fiber-glass
  • Resin
  • Wires

Think about the space where you will build the boat. Always select a spare room or a garage as the process might take a longer time and relocating the stuff every now and then is not advisable. Also choose a very well ventilated and lighted room as lots of wooden dust will be generated due to sanding and cutting. It might take around a month to make a kayak, depending on the amount of time spent per day.

Process- The stich and Glue Method

A step by step method is given below

  1. Take several pieces of 4×8 plywood sheets and join them with the help of adhesive.
    kayak making
  2. Draw the parts of the kayak in actual dimension on the sheet
  3. Now precisely cut the parts using table saw or jig saw
  4. When the parts are cut, make numerous holes at the periphery of each part.
  5. Now start off with making the hull first by taking the hull parts together and joining them with the help of fiber-glass and sealing them with resin
  6. Assemble the whole hull structure by passing wires in the holes made at the periphery
  7. Follow the same procedure for the deck
  8. Join the deck and the hull in the same way as described above
  9. Once the whole structure is joined together,remove the wires by pulling or just by sanding them
  10. Once the structure is assembled, apply fiber glass on the outside.
    making kayak2
  11. Sand the exterior for smoothness if required
  12. Paint the boat on the exterior (water resistant)
  13. Test the kayak

kayak making3
stitch and glue


The complete book of Sea Kayaking

by D.C Hutchinson