Skinning a Skin on Frame

Is there a best time to put the skin on the frame that helps to get the skin as tight as possible?

Does weather conditions , humidity play a roll, or time of day?

I’ll be using 12oz nylon.


do the stitching in cold temperature
I’m about to skin my second boat in 12oz. nylon. Nylon is at its saggiest or most expanded state when it’s cold. I did my first one in the winter, and it was easy to have a cold shop. The completed skin hardly sagged at all in cold conditions. This time around, I don’t know if I can get the shop cool enough to be as effective. I later noticed a recommendation to stitch nylon when wet. That doesn’t sound fun to me, so I’m not going to do it, again.

Yes and no
Not really. Nylon absorbs water and then relaxes. The only way to get it to a relaxed state is totally wet it down.

I have decided the best advice is sew it on wet. And I have decided that means soaking wet, not just spraying it with bottle. I sprayed the last one and it looks much better most of the time. But it still relaxes and if you leave it outside in a really humid weather or a rain it still relaxes. On the next one I will soak it for an hour and keep it totally soaked while I sew. But I bet it will still relax some but maybe not be so noticeable.

I have never tried it because I am not a fan of the look, but if you do the zig-zag stitching you can tension the skin, Let it relax and then retension it. There is nothing wrong with it, I just don’t care for the look of it.

FWIW, I am really close to switching to Polyester for all my boats unless I just really the nylon on a boat that might see a lot of hard use.

Ceconite coverings
I have never built a boat nor do I intend to. I have always wondred why no one uses ceconite, an aircraft covering. After stitching and/or gluing, it heat shrinks into place.

Pull the zig-zag stitches as you go…

– Last Updated: May-16-10 12:08 PM EST –

...then rub the holes afterward and you can get rid of much of the evidence. All you have to do is clamp the zig-zag stitches with hemostats as you sew, gradually unthreading one stitch at a time.

I don't understand why people leave the stitches in, as they serve no purpose once the skin is sewn and I agree with you that it's not an attractive look.

Another alternative is to use a sewing method that really pulls the skin tight. I've used Bill Lowe's method on four boat skins and it does a good job of stretching both Nylon and polyester fabrics.

The problem with Ceconite…
…is that the heaviest weight available is half the weight of the lightest skin fabric typically used for kayaks. It’s simply not durable enough on its own. I’ve heard of people glassing over a Ceconite skin, but that adds extra complexity and makes the finished boat heavier than if a heavier skin fabric was used. It’s probably more durable, though.

121 psi breaking strength
That’s not strong enough ? 276 psi bursting strength ?

bursting strength doesn’t count
Resisting abrasion is more critical.

Yes, skin in the cold
Just reskinned a SOF outside on a cold morning in VT after doing it the first time in my nice warm apt. I think the frame contracts and expands with the temp. My nice tight looking skin got all puckered when I left it in the garage. I do worry though that something horrible will happen when it gets very warm: torn skin or bent frame.


I put West System 105/207 over my last
SOF. It has 9.8 oz nylon and two and a half coats of epoxy. With a lighter weight cloth this might be a good combo. So far my boat is holding up well. Bill

I wondering why I never thought of just taking them out after wards? I have good results with 12 oz nylon and pulling it tight with the center stitches. Recently used some 7 oz nylon on a couple of boats and the weave was looser and developed bad pull holes (by my standards) trying to pull it tight with the center seam.

I love the boat but not so much the nylon. I am pretty sure I am going to reskin with polyester. The more I use nylon the more I like polyester. Plus the fact so many finishes that are acceptable I am thinking it is really underrated.

what does 1/2 coat mean ?

I’m the one that does the aircraft Dacron (not Ceconite, too expensive) with the fiberglass cover. Yes it adds an extra step in covering, but as an example the last boat we built in a class I taught, was a Yost Sea Tour 15 and weighed in after it was rigged and painted at 26 lbs. Not exactly heavy and this was built by students that had never built a boat before, it can be lighter than that.

Bill H.

12 oz nylon is a great fabric . It is barely affected by temperature and humidity variations than lighter weight nylon fabric . After it is sewn up , I use a regular windex type spray bottle to spray the kayak with water and go over it with an iron , enough to make the water sizzle dry. Worked like a charm for me on several kayaks.

When you stretch the fabric lengthwise you sew a pocket in one end then you hook that onto the bow or stern , whichever is up to you , I sew the bow pocket first , then you go to the stern, pull it just a little 2 inches tight is all you need any tighter and there is a chance of distorting the kayak.

My guess would be…
…two on the deck and three on the hull, or two full coats on the hull and a third from chine-to-chine.

That may sound like a lot…
…but it isn’t and as EdZep said, abrasion is the larger issue. Ceconite was created for aircraft wings, which don’t see anywhere near the abrasion that a kayak skin does.