Suggested Book to build first SOF

Hey all, can someone please suggest to me the best book out there to walk you through step by step, what you need to build a quality SOF kayak? I hope to use it in rough water paddling on the interior of BC ( by rough I mean wind induced waves on a large lake), also maybe to do some touring on the coast of BC but mostly to teach in, so I am looking for a boat with the closest to these dimensions.

Length 16.5feet to 17.5 feet

Width 18 - 20 inch beam

Rocker Mild rocker

I want to build the boat therefore want the best source for such a thing around

Thanks for the help

James kelly

I’ve gotten the impression
I’ve gotten the impression that the Cunningham book and the Morris book are often recommended together. I too am in early information gathering mode.

The more sources the better
Cunningham, Morris, and Starr being the there more common/easier to find. They have significant variations - which I won’t comment on better/worse/etc.

Benefit to multiple sources is the differences will give you a feel for what matters and get you past formula/recipe/“right way” thinking limits. Having options/understanding is better and easier to adapt as you go and get what you want. Particularly helpful if you have a basic spec in mind (sounds like you do) and don’t need the books guidance on overall size/shape.

It’s a multi-step process, so easily broken into small chunks - each of which presents choices/opportunities.

I used methods from all three, my own interpretations/ideas, and several tips from QajaqUSA (archives are a goldmine - but you could build as fast as you could read all the good stuff there!).

I understand this mixed source approach doesn’t work for everyone and can be confusing to some. If so, pick one and follow it (and improvise adapt more on the next one…).

also Yost

– Last Updated: Apr-12-07 2:59 PM EST –

Many folks use his free plans to build wooden non-folding versions with plywood frames.

A search of the Qajaq forum for "Yost" will get you links to several builder's sites.

Mostly Cunningham
I used the books by Cunningham and Starr, but mostly the Cunningham book for construction steps. Also used quite a bit of info from the forum archives.


'The Aleutian Kayak’
Origins, construction, and the use of the traditional seagoing baidarka… written by Wolfgang Brinck, Ragged Mountain Press/McGraw-Hill, ISBN #0-07-007893-9

Excellent book, detailed photos & instructions.

You won’t believe the cost
Brinck’s book is good, but out of print and goes for $100 to $130 on the used market. I think I’ll list mine on eBay!


Confirm Cunningham and Morris
I used mostly Cunningham. He gives a number of nice workworking tips and how to build jigs to make things easier.

It surprised me that Morris’ book was a clearer read than editor Chris’ book. With a major step in Cunningham, I had to read the section several times and then start on it before things became clear. It always worked out just fine, though. Don’t worry, just jump in!


Currently building
I’m currently building using Cunningham’s book, but, like 'shunka, I’m planning on using a different technique once I’m ready to skin it. I’ve just finished most of the deck and I should be ready to steam and bend the ribs this weekend. If you’d like to follow along with the build, go to:

Use the BYOB label to show only posts that document the build.


Here are a number of sources:

I used Rob Boucher’s video and thought it was great. Check out the above url, and scroll down to Rob’s video. I also looked at all of the standard books as references…and they are fun reading…



Me too

– Last Updated: Apr-15-07 10:23 AM EST –

There were no books on SOF building when I built mine and used Rob's video too. I now have all the books. They all have some differences in a few areas but are all worthwhile. I find that Cunningham's method or measuring and bending ribs is a bit laborious and confusing and there are much easier ways.

Once you dig in and get going, give me an email and I'll walk you through an easier method on sizing and fitting the ribs that many builders use that's not in any book.

As far as a boat to the exact size you would like - the building of SOF's is based on your body size (so many arm spans for this and that etc.) But you can use any of the books to make it to the size you think you would like.