Attn: Boat builders

I’ve been kicking around the idea of getting into building wooden-boats for awhile, and I’ve decided that I might as well.

I don’t want to spend a lot on wood until I work out the bugs in my boat-building technique, and today I noticed that one of the lumber yards has some pretty nice, knot-free select pine that compliments my desire for both quality, and blood squozened from stones.

Most of what I’ve been reading seems to lean toward cedar for its rot-resistant properties, but it is more expensive and I’m wondering how much of a difference it will really make after everything is all sealed up with epoxy. So I guess my question is, who else has used pine to build a strip canoe or kayak and what were your results? (aside from it looking like pine)

Any detailing of your previous carpentry experience and type/level of use the constructed craft has been subjected to would be greatly appreciated.

I like that word. I think I’ll use it.

Half the beauty of a wooden boat…
Is it’s light weight if done properly. Cedar is lighter than pine.

Can I come watch?

– Last Updated: Jun-01-07 5:11 PM EST –

I am a good supervisor and love being endlessly entertained. It seems I am close as well.



BTW: If you are serious, why would you put so much time and other expensive resources into a project using a base material most all have deemed too heavy, troublesome, and to have a low resale value ?

I have heard of some people using paulownia which is cheaper and lighter than cedar although not as cheap as pine.

Check Out the KBBB
The Kayak Building Bulletin Board is THE source of info and encouragement for builders - recently there was a thread on the use of pine instead of cedar - several posters OK’d it, and said since it is stronger than cedar, it can simply be ripped thinner to compensate for weight. A building buddy of mine did a 16’ strip canoe using spruce, and while there are lighter boats out there, there isn’t all that much difference in weight.

Pine has been used
by builders, but most prefer cedar.

Here you can get advice from guys that really know how to build.

But I warn you, I do have a tendency to curse at times.

As far as why, well, I’m not going to sell my the first boat I build, so I’m not worried about the monetary value (even if I just end up making a total tub, I’ll just set it ablaze and cast it adrift whilst I clutch my hat to my breast and shed a single tear). And it honestly doesn’t matter to me if it ends up a little heavier than it could be.

I haven’t totally decided on using pine, but I’m just wondering if there is a there is longevity/durability issue that should be considered. For example, if it would cost me a few hundred dollars to only save 10-15 pounds, I’d rather spend my money on something else. However, if spending a few hundred dollars more gets me twice the life and keeps it from say, exploding or some other ‘minor’ issue when I use it, then I say to you sir, “to whom do I make the check out?”

I figure it will take one complete build for me to be comfortable with my competency. Then I’ll have a feel for the process and most likely be comfortable moving on to better things. So if at first I don’t have the procedure down right and I have to rip off some of what I’ve already done, I’ll feel better if it’s cheaper wood.

Using pine…

– Last Updated: Jun-02-07 12:09 AM EST –

Pine is a great wood to use for building a strip built kayak. Its rot or wear resistance is, for the most part, a moot point as the wood is totally encapsulated by fiberglass and epoxy. A kayak made from pine will be a little heavier than one made from cedar, but not by a HUGE amount.

A couple of years ago, I built a Night Heron stripper.....see the link....

I made most of the strips out of white pine, a little bit of the clear pine Lowes sells (spruce I think) and used maybe a half of a cedar board. I used the cedar for some dark accents on the deck and at the sheer line, but the rest was pine because I could buy it cheap. I was pleasantly surprised at the color variations available in the boards I had, and how the epoxy really brought out the color in the strips.

As far as results, I was very pleased. My Night Heron weighs in right at 50 lbs, which is IMHO a good weight for an eighteen foot long kayak. At the same link are pictures of a Greenland style kayak (the Hunter) I'm building out of cedar. It's much lower volume, and I'm using my experience with the Night Heron to build a lighter rolling and touring kayak. Its weight with hatches and outfitting is 36 lbs.

If you're thinking about building a stripper, I would recommend buying the book "The Strip Built Kayak" by Nick Schade. Here is the link....

It is the Bible for anyone wanting to learn how to build a stripper.

I built my Night Heron after reading the book and with some help from the good folks at the Kayak Building Bulletin Board, which has been recommended by vk1nf and trmoraine.

Experience...I've been messing around with wood all my life, making shelves or doing minor repairs around the house, but building the Night Heron was my first real building project.

Good Luck if you decide to proceed with yours!!


Thank you.

beveled edge or bead and cove?
If you’re going to build with a beveled edge instead of bead and cove, then you can rip the strip yourself if you have a table saw. Very easy to set up a jig so you rip the strips consistently.

If you do want bead and cove and won’t be making them yourself, Noah’s Marine has about the best deal I’ve seen on cedar bead and cove strips.

Weight will depend on the size of your boat too. If you’re making a small solo canoe, then the difference in weight between cedar and pine will decrease.

lower cost epoxy
RAKA is good, not the cheapest but I don’t see a practical difference with MAS or Systems 3 which cost a bit more. For some folks on the edge of epoxy sensitivity the brand of epoxy makes a difference.

Make then for the soul and be rewarded.

– Last Updated: Jun-02-07 11:27 AM EST –

Make them to sell for a profit and be broke.

The strip builder was asked. "What would you do if you won a million dollars?"
His reply was, "I would continue to build boats until I went broke."



Pine works
I have built a canoe of pine that weighed less than what the same boat weighed in cedar. I believe that the final weight of a strip built canoe, especially a smaller one is affected by. 1)The choice and size of wood used for trim (wales, decks, thwarts etc.) 2)The skill of the builder in applying resin (less resin = less weight) 3)The density of the wood used for strips (assuming a specific gravity of .4 or less)

So I guess that I agree with others that the weight difference between pine and cedar are not that significant. The density of the same species of wood can vary tree to tree. If I am selecting boards to be milled into strips I look for clear, straight-grained stock first then consider its density. I have gone as far as taking a scale into my supplier’s stock room to calculate density differences between boards.

Boat building authors have stated that cedar is easer to bend and twist at the stems, this may be but I find that pliability is more a factor of choosing the right grain structure. I should state that my boat building is always done stapleless, a technique where one uses wedges, clamps, bungee cords, or whatever is necessary to hold each strip in place one at a time. A slow go but worth it in the end, IMO.

When it comes to the fairing or shaping of the hull I felt that pine worked a little easer than cedar. I do most of this process with planes and scrapers as opposed to sanding. If you’re a random orbit kind of guy as your moniker suggest and like to sand you might fair better with the softer cedar.

Based on my personal experience I would not dissuade someone from using pine to build a stripper. Much can be done to jazz up the rather bland appearance of this light colored wood. A dark colored feature strip just below sheer-line looks really sharp. My next boat will be a mix of basswood and butternut. The beauty of a wooden boat comes from the builder’s attention to detail.

Pine for strip built hulls
There’s different types of pine! So. yellow pine is impregnated with resins and weighs a ton. A hull made from it would be very heavy. White pine is much lighter but not even close to being structurally as strong. White pine tends to split much more easily.

I choose Cedar because of weight, but if using pine, I’d investigate the differnet types before making a commitment.


Building Kayaks
Ive built seven cedar strip and one stitch and glue. I much prefer cedar strip for beauty and the technique allows me more options and freedom to be creative and artistic. Dont be intimidated, its simpler than it looks. I started by reading nick shades book cedar strip kayak it is very helpful. I dont do cove and bead, but just surform or wrasp strips where necessary. Hard chined boats hardly need sure-forming. I can do all carpentry on a boat in about two weeks. I put arrows what ever on my kayaks by building aprox 2 foot by3 inch designs and instaling them on the deck. Put newspaper down glue pieces how you like a mosiac or whatever staple then dry remove paper staples sand then install on deck and sides. E mail godskayakman@yahoo I got cool pics of some kayaks i made.I use western red cedar on hull and pine, redwood,alaska yellow,whatever. Cedar keeps the weight down, as its light but using a little heavier woods does not make it much heavier. KNOTS are beautiful on the kayak. Strength comes from incapsulating the wood (core) between the fiberglass. Ive kayaked these strip built from Olympia wa. to JUneau alaska in 40 days (went solo) so you can see they are very seaworthy. Find old wood and recycle as itif not punky can be the most beautiful. Just make sure knots are solid or fairly solid. Hope this helped you. Peace…Godskayakman

More building info for you
It was cool to read all the ideas and techniques from every one. On staple holes, its a matter of preference were all unique in our taste. I myself dont give a rats ass asat ten feet away you can hardly see them and often I think they Add beauty they can give a birds eye apperance. I enjoy the opportunity to be creative and artistic, but for me getting the boat made and on the water is #1purpose. Also on building combing I came up with a killer way to build very beautiful. Its not laminating ash or laminating plywood or such. Kind of a take off of nick schades way in his book. Just make another layer of two inch strip pieces around twice more on outside of combing up high enough off the deck to fit sprayskirt. Important make sure kayak forms are aligned straight tip to tip… You dont want a tweeked bow or stern. I dont use a fairing board I just use an orbital as the kayak should already be pretty fair. Just use your eye. What looks good. Dont be to long in one spot (divits) and worse it burns the wood and looks crappy. When you start fiberglassing research well about it as trial and error is costly. My motto with epoxy Less is Best. I squeege 6 ounce after coating with resin (clear coat) and filling all holes with epoxy mixed with collodial silica for clearness. Make sure amine blush is removed. I use just soap and water, then water, acetone works but spendy and its a kinda toxic yucky thing. I use it to remove packaging tape residue from entire kayak after you do inner seems that hook deck and hull together. Take your time finding the design you want as you will be putting much effort and time into it. With each kayak you build your skills and knowledge will increase. Flood fiberglass with as thin of coats as possible using eigth inch foam roller then squeege with foam piece to get it looking clear. Later after resin cures spar varnish for u v protection. Sometimes the sun makes the epoxy pretty believe it or not. You can littly sand and put a coat on of epoxy if with use you get scratches. I put graphite powder in my epoxy for the bottom of boat. Use masking tape to make a boarder wwhereever you want. Carbon fiber tape 2 inches down sides of rail makes it the bomb and stiffens it for a little extra speed. For forms get on the internet and investigate different designers just search engine strip buit kayak plans or something. I like Redfish Kayaks they are really nice looking. The only thing I dont share is my kayak form plans as I give a good friend of mine (Blazing Aspen Kayaks) the credit. So it protects his hard work. I think he has a web site. I like making kayaks that are rudderless asthat means your rocker keel and such are at awesome dynamics for all around sea kayaking. Also I dont like hatches as they are a weak spot. Just shove your stuff in dry bags on trips…Anyway Ive blabbed enough…good luck fellow paddler and May God bless you…

Your choice
It’s really up to you.

"Pine is fine, but cedar is sweeter. "

Maybe combine the woods, Pine for the hull and cedar for an accent strip.

To save weight rip the strips 3/16.

US Composites has the least expensive epoxy but IS subject to amnine blush.

I recommend their medium hardner.

Pine will work
Pine will work fine, but it’s really not that much cheaper the cedar, and the cost of the wood is really not that substantial a portion of the entire boat anyway, I really don’t think pine will save you much money in the big picture.

Go redwood…
I did a mix and match, cedar on the hull and redwood on the deck. I like the redwood for the uniformity of color and grain. Cedar may be a tad lighter but most people’s weight issue is epoxy management and not wood species.

Using 4oz s-glass my 18 fooer came in sub 30 pounds, I had some great experience from building s&g boats as far as epoxy management goes but have to give strip building the edge for creative flexibility.

Price wise maybe pine will save you fifty bucks vs cedar or redwood. After 200 hours of build time that’s 25c per hour. Folks pay an extra $1,000 to get a carbon lay-up vs fiberglass to save five pounds. A wood core, glassed boat will be 30% or less of the cost and probably 70% of the weight, a sense of accomplishment and many enjoyable hours spent. My 2 cents is you should spend the extra $'s on premium materials, you’ll only kick yourself later for using the cheap stuff after you invested three to six months of your life into building a boat that saved you a couple of three hours pay at your day job, time you’d have rather spent building a boat anyway.