What are wood strip kayaks like?

Pure idle curiosity here: I keep seeing various pretty wood strip kayaks for sale on Craigslist, by people who have built them themselves. I was wondering what they’re like to paddle and maintain, and what sorts of purposes they’re most suited for. Thanks.

They aren’t really wood. They have a core of wood sandwiched between glass and epoxy.
They are rigid as opposed to a plastic boat, just like FG and CF boats.
There are many styles meant for different activities. Check out Chesapeake Light Craft.
Maintenance is like any composite boat. You don’t want to break through the resin layers to the cloth because water will damage it.
If you don’t beat them up, an annual light sanding and a refresh on the paint or clear coat layer should be all you need.
I have built 2.0

Caveat: mine were stitch and glue, not strip built but they are maintained the same way

Thanks. So then they handle comparably to any fiberglass or Kevlar boat of similar dimensions? Can one tell much difference or is it just looks?

They are just as good a performer as any other boat built to the same specs. I don’t know about the weight of a strip built, but I do know a stitch and glue can be near half the weight of a similar plastic kayak, and about 2/3 the weight of a fiberglass.

Yes you need to do some maintenance if a ding goes through the fiberglass as wet wood will rot or discolor at the very least if you don’t dry it out and apply epoxy. Epoxy breaks down in sunlight’s UV, so paint or varnish for UV protection is needed to be maintained.

I constantly get comments about how good my S&G kayak looks, and a strip built is a real looker.

How they handle depends on the hull dimensions and shape as for a boat constructed from any other material. No generalization can be made.

Upkeep will depend on how they are finished. Some people will paint the hulls and bright finish (varnish or polyurethane) the decks, and others will bright finish the entire boat. Depending on how often and hard you use the boat, you may need to refresh the boat finish every year, or you may be able to go several years.

Be careful if you are considering wooden strip or stitch and glue boats constructed by others. While it is true that wooden boats can be made considerably lighter than polyethylene ones of similar size, and somewhat lighter than fiberglass boats, it does not always work out that way. First-timers tend to “overbuild” wooden boats, using fiberglass cloth that is heavier than necessary and often way too much resin. I have seen wooden canoes and kayaks that were considerably heavier than fiberglass composite boats of similar dimensions.

Performance depends on the design and the skill of the builder.
This is the one I have always lusted after…

All very interesting, thank you.

They are still kayaks so hull shape determines their basic performance characteristics, They can be lighter or heavier depending on the skill of the builder. Just have to maintain them similarly to any other wood boat.

@grayhawk said:
Performance depends on the design and the skill of the builder.
This is the one I have always lusted after…

Me too!

A occasional canoe paddling partner of mine has made her own woodstrip kayak and has just returned from paddling it in the Yukon River Quest race ( 440 miles). She finished first place, winning a substantial cash prize in the ladies division kayak class, and second place overall against all other solo kayaks. She also does very well in the Adirondack 90 mile race each year. It’s a good boat.


Distracting…you have to get used to people commenting on your boat. They often stop and ask questions at the ramp when you are trying to get in or out.

This summer at Linville Falls Caverns while we were waiting for our tour time three guys came by and asked about the boat on the truck.

Good thing I asked here then — I won’t have to bother people at the ramp!

Most people who build theirs love to talk about them. Especially if you complement the boat.

wood kayaks & canoes, strip or plywood S&G do tend to be attractive nuisances. Designs can be pretty much what you want when stripping. Sheet designs (plywood) tend to be a bit more restrictive. You can even design your own stripper: http://www.blueheronkayaks.com/kayak/index.html

The software hasn’t been updated in 9 years but it still works (at least on Win 7)

@string said:
Most people who build theirs love to talk about them. Especially if you complement the boat.

Depends upon how old the boat and how many questions.

If someone comes up to you and asks about the boat and what it was like to build it and you don’t want to talk about it, just say “I don’t know. I just stole it yesterday.”

At one outing I set my brand new shiney CD kevlar Caribou on the beach and then went and got my older Arctic Tern for my guest to use and set it near it. Guess which boat the crowd gathered around.

There is nothing quite like paddling a boat that you have built…

I was paddling with a friend who had an Arctic Tern. I was in a PBW Rapidfire. By now you know who got the complements.