Skin-on-frame building classes/workshops?

Anyone know of any classes or workshops on building skin-on-frame kayaks, located on the east coast?

I have been reading about skin on frame boats and I think it would be really cool to learn to build one. I don’t think I could do it on my own as i have no woodworking experience. From my google searches it appears that several years ago there used to be a bunch of options to take a class or week-long workshop, but first of all the covid situation seems to have ended all that, plus all of them appeared to be on the west coast anyway.

CLC hasn’t got a SOF class yet. Nick Schade form Guillemont Kayaks has the beginings of a SOF boat he built that he thinks will one day turn into a class and drawings. Both take a while to develop when you have other projects going.

Take a look at his videos on the skin-on-frame Micro Bootlegger on his web site or you tube.

SOF …micro bootlegger…Making the Skin-on-Frame Kayak - Build Overview - YouTube

of course The OP said “east coast”… I think Cape Falcon Kayaks is west coast but here is his web site. …good videos though…

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CLC looked promising until I discovered that among their many boatbuilding options, SOF isn’t one of them.

Cape Falcon Kayaks I think is based on the west coast, but it looks like they are not doing actual classes at all now. They just have videos that you have to pay for.

Oh well

Cape Falcon used to conduct an east coast class most years, but has suspended all classes over the last couple of years due to health issues. That’s a shame, it was an enjoyable experience.

where on the east coast? I’m hoping to build a skin boat “someday…”

It was a while ago - there were at least of couple of builds at the Greenland festival (TRAQS) that is held regularly on the Delmarva peninsula and one in the Catskills. I think the Wooden Boat School in Maine has done them previously, but I don’t see a skin-boat build on the current schedule.

An inquiry at or the Guillemot boat building forum might give you some info.

Though I’m a dedicated canoeist and live quite a distance from where a kayak would be really useful, I occasionally find myself getting a little envious of folks who paddle the really big waters. So I toyed with the idea of building one a while back. I don’t even have a garage to build in though, and doing the build in the living room seemed something less than a good idea - but I did find this - perhaps it would be enough to see you through…

Seems doable enough and is quite a thorough book. Good luck in your quest!

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Thanks PJC. I am definitely tempted to order that book and try it.

If you have space (basement or garage), DIY is entirely possible following the advice of books. I built my first SOF following Robert Morris’ book. I built a second using additional input from Cunningham’s book.

Both took about 2-3 months from beginning to end, taking up evening and weekend hours when I was in the mood to work on the projects. (I wanted the building to be fun and relaxing distraction and NOT a JOB). Of course, my approach meant that I am willing to have my “building space” (the basement) cluttered for whole duration of the project.

Given wood supply issues, I suspect the cost in the and money to secure good grain wood may be most daunting aspect since it impacts the building process.


Oh, that was directed at @narrby who also wants to build a boat. But those places you mentioned are great finds, thanks!

I’m in Rhode Island.

I have an empty basement that would be perfect work space. I don’t know anything about the price or availability of wood though… I’ll have to look into that.

If working with flammable products like some epoxies and adhesives you need good ventilation. Beware if working near sources of ignition such as furnaces, washers, dyers, and water heaters. Even purely electrical appliances can create a spark.

Epoxies and adhesives were not involved in the building processes recommended by Morris and Cunningham. Needed a 3-4’ long wood steamer to shape the ribs and coaming (self-made with PVC pipe and steaming machine for removing wallpaper or cleaning). The SOF frame is held together by lashing and wooden pegs.

After skinning the frame, the skin does need a several coating of polyurethane (or varnish). At this point, the skinned boat can set up outside on horses to receive the waterproofing.


Thanks for confirming what I thought … that it wouldn’t involve any volatile or flammable materials until the last step of coating the skin, which I figured would be done outside.

There are still good sources for the tools and materials for skin boats. like Spirit Line. There have also been some companies that were selling bundles of pre-cut wood to use for the frames (at the moment I have lost track of those links.)

Don’t know if KudzuCraft is still in business:

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Thanks @willowleaf, good info to have.

Looks like they don’t hold classes anymore: “Hilary Russell, the designer/builder at RUSSELL BOATS, was formerly the primary instructor at the BERKSHIRE BOAT BUILDING SCHOOL. Although he does not lead classes these days…”

Although it looks like this guy from Berkshire Boat Building helped with a SOF kayak building workshop in Kingston NY which just took place last week!