Tedious Templating: Bulkhead

Good thing I need to wait for the hatches to come or I might have hurried this.

And I should have started with the stern, since it is so much more accessable and a less complex shape. Then I’d have a lesson-learned before going into the bow. But the bow is where I started.

First I scribed the outside bow shape onto some foam-core poster board, top half and bottom half. When I cut it out, the fit wasn’t too good, so I began taping on little squares of index card to refine it. Then I put the top and bottom outside templates together and traced it (minus 1/8 inch, hull thickness)onto another piece of poster board, and cut that out, to try inside the kayak.

Inside the kayak, the fit was too big on the sides, too little else where. So I marked and cut, marked and cut a second time, and then again I started taping on the little cubes of index cards to the template where it was too little. So, making that outside template didn’t really buy me much progress, since I basically replicated the work inside the kayak.

Then I traced my template onto my foam material. Cutting it out on the band saw was easy and felt like progress. It’s a pretty good fit inside the kayak, but needs to be tapered so it can slide back into final position. The 3" foam is cut with 90 degree edges.

Is it worth it to cut down my template to fit 3" further into the bow? Or should I just eyeball the tapers from the outside and start shaping? The bulkhead will go into the bow at about the end of my reach, so I’m not sure how well I’ll do templating 3" further in.


This should give you the answers . . .

– Last Updated: Aug-25-09 1:59 AM EST –

1. Locate where you want to place your bulkheads, fore and aft, then run tape (vertically "bisecting")around the circumference of the boat where each bulkhead will go.

2. Do the following steps for both templates, fore and aft: Take some wire that you can bend easily-enough to wrap around the boat, yet will keep its shape once bent.

3. Wrap the wire around the boat, lining it up with the pattern made by the tape. Be sure to shape it exactly to the boat, and when you come back around to where you began to run the wire, cut it and tape it together at that point.

4. When you slide the wire "template outline" off the boat, you will have the shape you need for your template, minus the thickness of the kayak skin at that point.

5. Lay the wire template outline over your foam (or other material)and mark it, running your marker around the inside of the wire shape, allowing for skin thickness.

6. Cut out the shape and test-fit it to the inside of the boat, trimming any as needed to get the template positioned properly.

5. Secure and seal the templates to the inside of the boat, using a method appropriate to the materials in the boat and template.

6. Paddle and enjoy.

Check out this link on making a kayak bulkhead template: http://www.paddling.net/message/showThread.html?fid=advice&tid=1026410#1027450

Big chamfer
If you are going to glue the bulkheads in place…

One method that may be suggested is to jam your caulking gun tip between hull and foam and squeeze. This doesn’t work.

The next time I install bulkheads I am going to cut a nice big chamfer on each side - an inch or so.

This will leave only an inch thickness to wedge into the boat, so the taper doesn’t need to be matched at all, the foam will compress.

Then fill in the chamfers with sealant/caulk.

3 inches beyond
FWIW, I did mine by doing a second template, to figure the taper. I did outside templates that came out fairly well. Used a random orbital sander with 50 grit to make final adjustments. The fit was shockingly good by the time it was ready for 5200. Even if you can’t do the second template up front, you might try it in back.

Tapering is easy on a band saw
All you have to do is tilt the table and cut the foam. You should be able to re-cut your bulkhead with a taper in a few minutes.