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John's Cedar Kayak

Page Three: Stripping the Hull

(Click photos for a larger image)

At least it looks symetric!Stripping the Hull
Covering the forms with strips of wood was exciting, because of the visible progress with each strip.  The boat takes shape very quickly.  

Each strip is attached to the prior one by running glue into the cove of the prior strip, then laying the bead of the new strip tightly into the joint.  The new strips are held in place with a combination of clamps, duct tape and staples.    

My original plan was to do the stripping completely "stapleless" so there wouldn't be a bunch of little holes in each strip, but I abandoned that plan when a few strips wouldn't conform tightly to the other strips without it.   My current plan is "semi-stapleless", so I have about 1/4 of the staples normally in a stapled boat. 

The staple holes aren't visible from more than a few feet away, and really don't make a difference until someone gets close and asks "hey, what are all those little holes?".  There are a few other things with this boat that also look better from more than 5 feet away, but those are my secrets.

Stripping the bottomA downside of staples is that they're sharp.  I stapled into my finger while holding two strips together, and have just a few little blood stains on the boat.

I'm using the lighter color cedar strips for the bottom, and saving the darker ones for the deck.  Still haven't decided on a deck pattern, but I'm partial towards curves that would complement the flow of water around the boat.

The kid in this photo is from down the street and spent a half hour riding his bike in and out of garage, asking a hundred questions.  He only ran over some strips once.  

Fairing the Hull

Hull stripped!After completing the stripping of the hull, I chose to clean it up with a plane and rough sandpaper, rather than flip the forms over and strip the deck right away.

I wanted to clean up the hull to get a break from stripping, and my thinking was that if I do some now, then I may not get so tired of it later on.  

Fairing board"Fairing" means getting the curves of the boat smooth.  I used a block plane and a fairing board.  A fairing board is a piece of thin plywood with rough sandpaper glued to it and two handles.  I made my fairing board 4.5" by 22", so a standard 9" by 11"sheet of sandpaper is cut in two and glued to the board with spray contact cement. 

Hull finger jointsDuring the fairing I found a few strips that were a little thinner than the rest, and I now regret using them.   Adjacent strips need to be the same height to properly fair the boat, and now I find the fairing will be more work than I had thought.  

The thinner strips were defects caused when ripping the wood and having the board come away from the saw fence.  It may just be 1/16" of an inch, but that's a lot of wood to take off from surrounding strips!

The upside is that I'm really glad to be doing this fairing now, so I will be more careful about strip thickness when I'm stripping the much more visible deck. 
(Post-building comment:  I am really glad that I rough-faired the hull before working on the deck.  It broke up the building process into smaller tasks, and allowed me to learn more before moving on to the deck.) 

Stem Strips
A piece of hardwood running down the keel line at the bow and stern protects the boat from collisions with hard objects.  They also help to clean up the ends of the strips that sometimes look a little ragged.  Stem strips are optional, though.  The strips are glued to a stem inside, too.A gallon of honey makes a good weight!

I ripped a piece of ash into 3/16" slices and used one strip at the bow and three on the stern.  Ash bends well without breaking.  I steamed the wood strips in my "steamer" that can be seen in the photo upper right.  It consists of a tea kettle on a hot plate stove, and a piece of flexible metal clothes dryer vent hosing.  It works well, but the wood only remains flexible for about one minute before it cools off too much. 

The hull has really nice lines!I glued the stem strips with epoxy, which takes over a day to cure due to the lower temperature in the garage.  It's still curing now, so I'm writing this instead of shaping the stem strips.  

After the stem strips are shaped, I will turn the boat over and lay out a few patterns of strips on the deck to help decide on a design.  

This keel strip should help tracking on the water, too.Okay, here's the stern keel, all done:
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Created:  December 1, 2002