Fiberglass boat building... Surf Kayaks

Hey, I am interested in learning more about building kayaks, particularly a surf boat. Is this even possible without a bunch of special tools? Anyone ever done this? Websites or books would be great.


Hey Dan
I believe there are a few stitch and glue kits out there. Wood and fiberglass composite, light weight, but plenty strong. I think Nick Schade has one you can build on his website? Where’s sing? He probably knows. These won’t need any special tools, but some of the common hand tools.


Thats what I was looking for…

My Suggestion…

– Last Updated: Feb-04-06 5:05 AM EST –

given that you live down south, that you already have rolling skills, and that you may be short on time, I think the craft to go with would be the woodyski.

I think it is a faster build out, cheaper and more readily available materials and less of a learning curve than working with big chunks of foam. Besides it's hard to beat the sensation of flying on a wave ski on a warm day on a beach break.


building a f/g boat from scratch IS quite an undertaking. I work at the R/D dept. of Confluence and right now we are building a number of proto-type boats for next year and let me tell ya, it’s a PITA.

the s&g method makes more sense.


A neat thing for people to experience I think would be to work with a shaper and test paddle prototypes with varying amounts of foam glued to them and shaped. It’s amazing how little variations in the hull can make big differences on the water. I think the average customer doesn’t realize all the design and testing that goes into their kayak.

It’s a time consuming and costly process. Computers help, but cannot replace that on the water testing and hand tweaking.

between the CAD work we do and the finished product is a whole bunch of nasty, itchy, stinky, time-consuming work. people who think all I do is go paddle boats for fun don’t have half a clue.

Sometimes I have had to cut apart perfectly sound f/g boats and glue 'em back together with gutter repair tape just to make a point. nasty work. then when we get close it’s f/g and bondo and rasps and sandpaper and bondo and…itchy…itchy. =:-0)

CAD and CNC work has made it alot easier but…still gotta hand shape and tweak. good thing we’re not still strip building protos.

btw- we just got a new CNC machine! man it’s fun watching that thing carve a plug!

steve (stuck in SC)

Hallelujah X 3
Just getting ready mentally to dive back into a final fairing, spray, fair again, respray?, (mayby a couple more above), wetsand, buff, release a whole bunch … THEn do molds.

Whoo hoo.

Flatpick and Spray , thing is would you even think to have anyone else do such demanding work on your baby once it gets this far : ) ???

Ditto, Ditto, Ditto…
y’all should be glad there ain’t many DIY folks around. Wouldn’t have nasty job otherwise… :wink:


Actually sing
I would encourage someone like yourself to shape a boat from foam, make a mold, and build your own boat. It’s a lot of work, but you get to apply your own ideas directly to a design that is custom to you and what you like.

The biggest thing I worry about is…
Finishing a boat and then it just plain does not work on the water… I have tried to do stuff the cheap way many times - then it just turns out I spend more money trying to fix things than if I had bought something new! The foam is expensive to! Ya maybe I should try something first like the “woody ski.” Just a surf ski seems a lot more cold… Then again summer is not to far away.


Plan Is For
shaping a foam waveski this spring/summer.

I actually have a pattern made for S$G greenland boat based on my SOF. But, I’m bagging the idea. I just don’t longboat enough these days to warrant the effort.


Got It Kid Up Here Who Is Still

– Last Updated: Feb-06-06 1:29 PM EST –

going out on his waveski. He's tougher than me. ;) I gave up middle of November. But in warmer weather, the waveski just rocks!

Building a surf craft of your own design is NOT the way to go if you haven't ridden one yet. I think the design elements become more accessible after having tried different surf specific crafts.


Very cool…have fun
Yeah, in reality, designing a quality long boat from scratch is very expensive, but you would very much enjoy the process I think.

key is
NOT to finish it. get it close using whatever tape, foam, glue, bondo, etc. to get it to testing. wait till you know she’s sweet before applying ‘finish’.

unfortunantly many of the protos I test in nasty conditions are quite un-safe, seaworthy-wise. I try and stick float bags in but decklines, end toggles, proper bulkheads, even seat/cockpit outfitting is marginal at best. I’ve paddled boats with gutter repair tape holding the hull together! =:-0)

tough work but sumbuddy’s gotta do it. thank goodness for strong team mates and good skills!


On a recent
thread there was chat about what designers paddled what boats. As you say, their usually in some UGLY, marginally put together proto with Lexel smeared everywhere to seal up pin holes etc. Seat is mostly a piece of foam duct taped in place. In fact, most designers I know wouldn’t know what to do with all this fancy adjustable stuff :slight_smile: Happier with minimalism.

funny thing
but I get to lovin’ the protos. I still regularly paddle Tempest hull #1, tho I have done her up royal with a newish seat and hatches! still the same funky thighs, deck fittings and all.

she’s a good-un and is structurally sound. I’m pretty ‘proud’ of her!

kajaksport hatches, oh my.



Similar experiences for sure
I can understand how people want to keep their new 3k dollar kayaks perfect, but to me a beautiful kayak is one that’s beat to hell with patches all over it. Gel-coat is only a temporary situation :slight_smile: