wood strip vs. plastic or glass

i saw a wood strip kayak and feel in love with its beauty, but how does it compare with the more modern kayaks? funtion is my priorty but gosh it was beautiful!!! a beginer named robert

No experience with kayaks, but I’ve used a nice 17.5 ft cedar strip/glass canoe a friend built. Compared favorably to high end glass or kevlars (except for weight of course). A well built stripper is a beauty. Takes more time and talent than I currently have though.

Wood strip

– Last Updated: Apr-23-07 4:31 PM EST –

Don't think of it as a "wooden boat" -- think of it as a "wood-core composite". The wood is covered with glass cloth and epoxy on both sides, so it's as watertight as any other kayak and there's not a lot of maintainance. A well-made "stripper" will be very light and stiff compared to many off-the-shelf fiberglass boats. The range of designs is limited only by your imagination.

For more information:






Also check out stitch and glue boats
Easier and faster to build than woodstrip, but like woodstrip, light, strong and beautiful:



Chesapeake Light Craft and a few others also have stitch and glue/wood strip hybrids. The deck is wood strip, the hull stitch and glue panels. Goes together faster than the full woodstrip.

I haven’t built a stripper (yet) but found the process of building an S&G (from kit) fun and rewarding. I have no meaningful woodworking experience but didn’t have any trouble with the S & G.

Wood strip compares very favourably
From my understanding, many new modern design boats start their lives as wood strip boats. The design is built as a strip built prototype that is tuned and faired to the desired shape and then a mold is made from the wood strip built boat so that the “modern” materials can be used to create “cheaper” replicas for the mass market.

Really it is just that modern materials lend themselves to many time saving production techniques than the one off wood construction.

Angstrom cites all the usual suspects for researching different designers offerings in wood strip kayak plans. Add to this Ross Leidy’s kayak foundry freeware and you can design your own…


My 18 foot by 18 inch version of Guillemot’s Mystery weighs in at 27 pounds and is plenty fast, not very stable. You can build a slower, shorter, more stable, more rockered, higher volume, more robust etc etc boat that meets all your specifications and accepted trade offs. Or build a longer faster tippier model if you choose.

Cost is another advantage as long as you don’t value your own time (the build is as much part of the pleasure of making your own boat as paddling the end result). I probably spent less than $700 total on the above referenced project and I love all the compliments it receives. If I added 200 hours at say $20 an hour, not as good a deal, but a minimum of $5,000 for someone else to build you a stripper is realistic.

Have fun exploring all your options.


Starting as a stripper first
I know the Outer Island started as a strip design. Are there any other examples?


some things you can only do in wood


it’s modern
wood/epoxy/glass composite is modern compared to skin on frame.

A wood kayak and glass kayak will weigh similar amounts for similar level of durability.

If you want a super light glass boat it’ll be delicate, if you want a super light wood boat it’ll be delicate.

If you want a durable wood boat it’ll be a similar weight as a glass boat of equivalent outfitting if you eliminate the gel coat.

Last couple of years
A cedar strip Kayak has won the mens over 50 touring class.

Two top notch racers
Hexsledge and Canunut race wood strippers and they are constantly winning and beating the other boats.

Hexsledge’s boat is the most beautiful one that I have ever seen on the water.



More maintenance
As far as function, strip built kayaks are stiffer than both plastic and glass. Usually lighter. There are many hull designs by various builders/designers to suit any paddlers desires.

However, they will take more maintenance. They scratch easier and will show the scratches whereas a white glass hull will not. Gelcoat is harder than the Epoxy. Most glass boat users rinse off therir boats and that’s the extent of their maintenance for a lifetime. Most strip boat owners will sand and varnish their boats once a year or less but it will ocassionally have to be done. This entire procedure shouldn’t take more than a few hours total.

The stripper will bruise easier than glass. And sometimes that will have to be fixed. However they can take quite a beating and don’t underestimate the toughness because of their beauty.

There isn’t a fiberglass kayak made that can compare to the beauty of a nicely built stripper if that means anything to you. But there is a price tag for that.

Compare very favorably
Cedar strip canoes and kayaks comapre very favorably perforamnce and weight wise. The only reason you do not see more of them on the market is that they are labor intensive to build. The cost would be higher than a composite or plastic boat produced from a mold for a manufacturer making multple boats. The good news is they are fun and failry easy to build.

Another consideration…
They draw crowds of admirers wherever you go which can slow you down a bit, answering questions, etc. :wink:

I think the best-looking stripper we’ve built so far is Jay Babina’s Outer Island. Thanks again, Jay.

So, you fell in love with a stripper.
Where did you see the kayak? Was it this past weekend at the East Coast Canoe and Kayak Festival?

I built and paddle a Cape Ann Expedition by One Ocean Kayaks and I love it. I also built a Redfish Parr for my 5 y/o boy. They do take a significant amount of time and effort to build, but if you pay attention to details, you will end up with beautiful boat. My next one will be either an Outer Island or a One Ocean Kayaks Storm.

They are much tougher than they look. I sometimes think that I take too many precautions to protect my boat, but if I spent the money for a high end composite kayak, I’d take just as much care to protect it.

If you want a stripper, but don’t think you can put in the time to build it yourself, I can build one for you. I’m in Florida as well.


Easy maintenance,

– Last Updated: Apr-24-07 11:55 AM EST –

I've found that maintenance is easy on my strip built,, for scratches,, just a little sanding and varnish. The boats construction is stiffer than my carbon/kevlar boats and at 31 pounds (1/8 inch strips for deck, 3/16th for hull) for a 20 foot boat it feels very lively on the water.

I'm located in SE Florida, you are welcome to try it out if near me.

As Jackl (thx Jack) mentioned,, the boat almost looks too pretty to put in the water, no fireplace down here to hang it over though.