Search for Skin on Frame Kayak kits any you will find a few places selling various parts and pieces that function as a getting started point but full all inclusive kits with detailed instructions aren’t to be found so we decided to fill that gap. With the exception of wood finish, some tape and glue our kits contain everything you need to make a fully functional ready to paddle beautiful skin kayak.
When Made Kayaks began we exclusively made one off custom kayaks which gave us the opportunity to experiment and learn much about traditional construction techniques and kayak design. Then we moved on to hosting building workshops where we learned what elements of building people were most unconfident about. At the same time we were also running a computer design and CNC Router business working on many high precision and intricate projects. Eventually the two naturally grew into what we do now; creating the most complete and easiest to assemble SOF kayak kits you can buy anywhere.
We’ve innovated many assembly techniques along the way and all of them started as a problem solving exercise. Some of the problems were simply “how do we break it down small enough to ship?” but most of the things we thought up were specifically designed to make your experience building our kits simple and fast. Below is a list of some of our kit innovations that you won’t find anywhere else and a brief explanation of why we made it this way. They can all be seen in higher detail on the Instructions page.
We provide the Strongback.
The strongback holds the cross sections in place to create the correct sexy shape when the stringers are attached. When I began to write the instructions on how to make one with cutting 2x4s, measuring, keep it square etc it quickly became complicated. To save myself the hassle of trying to explain it I decided to design and provide one with the kits. It also works as a table when you flip the kayak over to skin the hull.
Keel, Stems, Deck profiles are plywood.
Most often on a SOF kayak a wooden stringer would be used to connect separate bow and stern pieces and then seperate deck beams attached to those. By cutting it out of plywood we have very precise control of the rocker and shape of the ends. By removing the constant tension of cedar bent around the cross sections there is no worry of the rocker losing shape over time. It is also vasty simpler to assemble.
All the parts interlock.
Using plywood instead of the usual cedar allowed us to add many types of interlocking joints. Being able to basicly snap the parts together is one of the reasons the frame can be assembled so quickly. The tolerances are tight which keep the shape of the kayak exact and most parts only go together one way so you have to work extra hard to make a mistake. The interlocking joints also allow for some give mimicking the flexible lashing found on traditional kayaks.
Locking Plates strengthen the Keel.
To ensure the plywood keel doesn’t flex sideways locking plates have been designed that not only strengthen the keel but wedge in tightly to hold the cross sections in place. Once again allowing for a slight amount of give at the connection points which is key to the overall durability of the frame. Stainless screws are provided to hold this plate and others in place but none of the screws actually hold connection points together because that would create a rigid connection point.
Keyhole Cockpit Coamings.
You don’t often see keyhole coamings on a skin kayaks as more traditional construction techniques make it difficult. We’ve designed a 3 piece coaming that interlocks into the frame providing strength to the overall frame and the ability to add the knee braces that make it a “keyhole”. Straps are used to transfer the knee’s energy down to the main frame for strength and the skin is sandwiched between the coaming layers when the urethane is wet creating a watertight seal. These coamings make entry easier for some than traditional ocean coamings and provide excellent knee bracing points for all your paddling tricks.
Foot Brace mounting brackets.
A simple thing that makes attaching foot braces a simple thing. Easily attached between the stringers and movable to work with almost any type of foot brace they allow you to fine tune the forward/back position and height of your foot brace to be exactly where you need them. Connecting them between both stringers creates better energy transfer from you feet to the frame and extra strength overall.
Nylon Straps to hold the Stringers.
Traditionally the stringers would be lashed to the cross sections creating a strong and slightly flexible connection but lashing the many connection points on a frame is very time intensive. To achieve the same benefits of lashing in a couple hours instead of a couple days we’ve come up with the solution of using nylon straps. Easy to install and flexible they work with grooves cut into the cross sections to be simple and strong. If you love lashing (like we do) you can opt out of using the straps, get yourself some artificial sinew and tie them all together. All the straps, screws and washers are included.
Integrated Seat Pan and Floorboards.
More often the not we found that adding the floorboards and seat came as an afterthought once the frame and sometimes the kayak was finished. Our seat pan and floorboards are integrated into the design to be simple and elegant. They slide and lock into place and are easily removable if needed. We make the top coaming ring from the same marine grade mahogany plywood so they all match to give your kayak that final polished look.
We admit there isn’t anything innovative about providing instructions, everyone does it but you would be hard pressed to find any as detailed as the ones for our kits. We create each kayak frame as a 3D model in order to provide clean clear illustrations. We also test each set of instructions with new builders who provide feedback to help make the whole experience as simple as possible. We provide our instructions on-line so you can read through them before buying and know what you are getting into and we don’t hesitate to update them should a better approach be found.