Our kayaks are built using Fuselage Construction techniques. This is a simple and fairly easy way to turn flat shapes into three dimensional objects and has been used to build boats and aircraft for many years. Fuselage building allows for a high level of control over the shape and dimensions or our kayaks, especially when combined with computer designed parts and CNC router cutting. Below is a general sequence of build steps.
Working from the design offsets the Cross Sections and other parts to be cut are laid out on the computer.
Long pieces of Western Red Cedar are attached to the Cross Sections, held with zip ties and the long sexy curves appear. Minor adjustments are made as needed.
Before we can continue we need a well proportioned Coaming with many many holes for stitching. There are lots of options for size, shape and material. We prefer steam bent wood custom fitted to you and your boat.
Once the computer design and layout work is finished the files are sent to the CNC Router for precision cutting.
The zip ties are replaced with lashings, bow and stern pieces are fitted and some wooden pegs are added. There is no structural glue or metal fasteners in our kayaks.
The frame is removed from the Strongback, wrapped with Ballistic Nylon and stitched. It isn't difficult but it takes time and attention to detail. We stitch from the centre to the ends and then around the coaming
Deck lines can now be added and there are a couple options to choose. Leather with bone toggles work great for a traditional look, while modern materials like AmSteel are a great alternative.
The Cross Sections are then attached to a thin rigid table called a Strongback at predetermined intervals.
Next the seat, bungee cords, knee braces, foot pegs, etc are added. It's also a good time to get in and see how it fits while making changes is still fairly easy.
When the stitching is done (back and forth, end to end and twice around the coaming) any wrinkles or slack spots can be steamed out leaving a tight skin. This is the first time the Kayak looks like a Kayak. Exciting.
The last and best step is to get out there and use it. You will find these Kayaks being much lighter then store bought are so easy to carry and wonderful to paddle you'll be kayaking more then ever.
It is an important safety consideration to note that Skin On Frame Kayaks don't have bulkheads. No bulkheads means if you flood the kayak there is a lot of room for water to flood in which will take a long time to pump out and potentially make the kayak unstable for re-entry. This is easily avoided by using floatation bags. When inflated the bags fill up the space so water can't, adding stability to a flooded boat and making pump out much faster. We highly recommend the combination float bags from The Skin Boat School, which not only fill the space but provide a dry storage space for touring. A simple line running inside from the bow and stern to the cockpit makes it fast and easy to pull them in and out.