Re: [baidarka] New Member with questions

Subject: Re: [baidarka] New Member with questions
From: Peter Chopelas (
Date: Tue May 18 2004 - 13:43:30 EDT

> "Building a Skin-On-Frame Boat". I have some questions about
> especially lashing.


I looked over your pages, and it works looks pretty typical. You will find
as many ways to lash the hull as there are builders, there is no "correct"
way to do it, other than what holds together acceptably. The lashing will
usually fail from long term abrasion, not unraveling. There is a theory
that the natives actually lashed loosely to make the hull more flexible and
reduce the wear at the joints, though most modern builders do it just like
you have with good results (we do not really use our kayaks as often or
severely as the natives did anyway). If you are concerned about unraveling
the knots you can either glue them or double tie the ends and leave some
short length, or before you cut them off, tuck it through the lashing to
secure it. I have found that when you finish the wood, several good coats
of finish over the lashings also help secure the knots, and protect it some
from abrasion.

The only concern I would have over your method is the use of the scarfed
gunwales. These provide all of the strength and stiffness to the hull, and
having scarfs within about 2 feet either side of the cockpit (the highest
stressed part of the gunwales) seems a bit risky. I just do not trust glued
joints that well and would personally avoid scarfs in this area. You may
have different experience with this, but I always try to find salvage lumber
long enough to create one piece gunwales. Since the center third is the
highest stressed area, this is especially critical that there be no defects
in this part of the gunwale. Scarfs on the chines and other stringers are
okay since the loads are much lower and they are not structurally critical
(a failed stringer will not cause the hull to buckle). You may still be
okay since I have noticed that Morris instructs you to use much heavier
lumber ( and larger hulls too), than many experienced SOF builders will use
on their kayaks. So I think Morris is being more conservative than
necessary on hull strength.

I was amused by your attempt to build a $40 boat. I have done this several
times with skin on frame kayaks. The first one I used all salvaged lumber
that I recut on a table saw (I did not require any scarfs), I used left over
wood finish and used oil based house paint I had laying around (I think I
bought them at a garage sale for 50 cents each per gallon can) for the
fabric sealant. The most expensive part was the fabric, about $25 since I
wanted a one piece skin (I understand others have actually sewn together
large scarps they got somewhere, but I wanted a one piece skin). I spent
less than $10 on shock cord, some small plastic cleats and stainless screws
to mount the deck rigging, though I could have made and mounted the deck
rigging from salvaged supplies. I estimate it cost about $35 in materials to
build. Most of my SOF cost much less than $100 to build buying the fabric,
stringer lumber and skin sealant (only to save time). I thought it would be
kind of fun to see if I can build a kayak with all salvaged materials for
little or no cost (kind of like the way native builders did, all using
"found" materials!).

Keep us up to date.

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