Building from plans


I intend to build a kayak from plans. Two designs are in my mind, the Volkskayak and the Merganser 17 Wide, as I am on the heavy side with my 220 lbs.

As a first time builder with not so much woodworking experience, I need to know the ease of building of these boats (and others) and how well the plans and instructions are done ?

The best place to ask this is…

are these
wood strip or plywood panel construction?

S and G
Stich and glue


Once you get the panels cut, here’s what the process looks like.

Another boat that might work for you, and a very informative site.

The biggest learning curve about boat building is not the wood, but the epoxy. That’s why building a starter boat is recommended.


The trial kit is a good way to get a feel for epoxy without a big investment. This and a few small pieces of 1/8" plywood can teach you a lot.

JEM and Angstrom hit it right on the
money. I’ve built a few boats. All from my own plans or from a book where I had to measure and loft lines. Hugely satisfying. Take your time. If you are using full size plans for panels then you’ve got a head start. Too many tips and hints to list in a response here. I suggest you buy Chris Kulczyki’s books:

The Kayak Shop.

The New Kayak Shop.

Chris started CLC and writes a great how-to book.

I am a huge proponent of the 6 hour canoe too. It was such a great excercise for me to get me started. You can find free plans for a version of it by doing a little searching on the web and build a totally cheap one from ACX ply as a beginners project for $120.00. When your through, you will have a good understanding of the basics and will have a tough little boat to add to the fleet. Then go out and purchase your marine ply and epoxy for the masterpiece!

Good luck!

ACX plywood
I am interested in experimenting with some plywood panel boats and would like to start with cheaper materials. What is ACX plywood. I know that the AC refers to the state of finish on the the front and back surfaces. Also what thicknesses does it come in. Thanks

acx or…

– Last Updated: Jun-04-04 10:27 AM EST –

Any EXTERIOR ply will do. It has the glue that is water resistent. Interior grade does not.

The nicer the grade finish, the less sanding you'll have to do later.

Make your first one a learning experience and fun. Accept you'll make a few errors. Don't sweat making a few "oops's".

Concentrating on the epoxy and filleting is the most important part. Learning the tricks of sanding, fairing, and painting will come much easier.

A good pirogue or simple canoe is the best way to start.

Get her put together, sand her up. Make sure everything is coated with 2 coats of epoxy, then finish her brite (natural wood look) or prime and paint with exterior grade porch paint.

Epoxy exposed directly to sunlight has to have varnish, clear coat, or paint covering it because UV rays break it down.

She may be a little crooked, have areas where you could have sanded better, but it'll be your pride and joy as your first boat.

just glue a few door skins together…

Is exterior grade ply. Similar resins are used in the laminates as marine ply. Comes in most thicknesses, standard and metric. Voids may be prevelant in the layers and that is why it is inferior to marine applications as those voids can have/get moisture trapped in them and cause rot from inside out but if you check around you can usually find sheets/suppliers with good fir ACX. The edges of the sheets will give you some indication. Remember that it is a “rough” or “work” boat when you build from this. Checking (wood grain raising up) can also occur with ACX so you must coat the hull with epoxy or polyester/vinylester resin. Best bet is to put 4 oz. glass cloth over the exterior hull with vinylester (on your rough boat) and epoxy (on your expensive boat) then varnish or paint. Like I said, too much to say or list here.

What do you mean?
To practice seams?

OK for wood epoxy information, but what about lofting etc.

Some plans provider send full templates some not.

What about that part of the job ?

good point

– Last Updated: Jun-05-04 11:31 AM EST –

Some companies provide full size templates, some provide the plywood precut, some provide the plans to draw out your own panels.

I'm not a fan of templates because paper can expand and shrink with humidity changes and it really isn't that hard to draw your own lines, if the designer gave you an easy method. I'm not sure if some comapnies provide the full-size templates on material other than paper.

ok I don't mean to do self-promotion but here's a link to some free touring canoe panels to illustrate my point. Pardon the commercial interuption:

Click on the .pdf files to see how easy it can be. Draw some reference lines, mark some points, then simply connect the dots.

It's a matter of preference. On simpler designs with only a few panels, drawing is the way to go. If you get into some designs with lots of panels, then consider a precut plywood kit.