John's Cedar Kayak

Page Four: Stripping the Deck, Part 1

(Click photos for a larger image)

Deck Design
Colored strips will fill between these edge strips.Curved accent strips that mimic the flow of water around the boat is the idea I want to create on the deck.  A beautiful boat can also be made from simple geometric strip color patterns, but I want a design that is a little less predictable at first glance.   Nature abhors a straight line.

I sketched several designs on paper, and decided on a pattern similar to one I saw on several boats in internet photos. 

My chosen design has two accent curves, one light (white pine) and one dark (walnut) that cross on the front deck and again on the rear deck.  The lines vary in width and are asymmetric so care must be taken to balance the appearance.

These are the edges of the curves I will build.The accent edge strips were temporarily laid out on the deck, and the positions marked.  Then these strips were removed so I could strip the background first.

Some experienced boat builders advised me that I could either strip the curves or the background first -- either way will work.  I chose to do most of the background first, so there would be less fitting of individual strip ends.

Background Strips
The first background stripsA really good $20 investment!To minimize the number of staple holes, I tried to do most of the stapling on parts that would be cut off.

I'm using a Japanese saw to cut the curves, and it does a really nice job.  The flexible blade always has a few inches of blade into the boat, so it makes smooth curves.

That's an aquarium thermometer on the strongback in the photo on the right.  So far, the lowest temperature in the garage has been about 52 degrees, and that's fine for building.

The boat is taking shape now.Cutting wood strips, like I do for this design, does not alter the boat's strength very much.  Most of the strength in the boat comes from layers of epoxied fiberglass that will cover the entire exterior and interior.  It's called "sandwich core" construction.  

By the way, here's how the keel strip on the bow turned out (photo at right).   The top of the bow still hadn't been trimmed in this picture. 



The Curves
Walnut is a pliable, softer hardwood.
I clamp, tape, scew and wedge each strip into place.Regular 3/4" strips won't bend easily enough to make the curves, even with steaming, so I decided to rip them into 3/8" strips.  

I'm not using bead and cove edges on the accent strips so that small slivers can fit together easily, but I need to be very careful that each strip is the same height as the others and oriented correctly.

Bob checks out the cockpit.My friend Bob stopped by to check out the progress and helped me with a little experiment:  I wanted to find a good mix of dookie to fill in the staple holes and little gaps (yes, there are a few, but they're small). 

We tried a few different formulas of epoxy mixed with wood flour, some with white baking flour to lighten the color.  Sawdust in epoxy for some reason is always darker than the original wood.  We also tried straight water-based wood putty.  

Based on the test results, I will definitely will do some hole-filling with putty before epoxying, but I need to do more testing to consistently color-match the surrounding wood.       

clamps, tape, wedges... whatever...The accents are not bead and cove strips.The Accent Strips
It is a lot of work to bend the pine and walnut strips while keeping the deck surface fair.   

The width of the accents varies, so I sometimes spend more than 1/2 an hour fitting a single sliver of wood.  Now I know why more builders simply choose to vary the color of wood in a normal stripping pattern parallel to the keel line or shear.

I'm a little concerned that this stripping pattern is more difficult than I had planned, but I think it's turning out well.  If I had chosen a simple stripping pattern, I'd be done with the deck by now!

Masking tape works well to hold strips together until the glue dries.  I had been using duct tape, but duck tape is more expensive and sometimes a little gummy.

The cedar will darken quite a bit when epoxied.Each piece of wood must be positioned in a way that still results in a "fair" deck shape.  If I mess up the deck, the worst that can happen is that I tear it off and start it over.  That's a nice thing about building a strip boat. 

Several years ago I built a backyard fence out of cedar, but this is a little more exacting!

The next steps will be to finish stripping the deck, cut the cockpit hole, and then strip a recessed cockpit area, so the combing will be lower.  This will allow me to hold my paddle lower.

Then comes planing the surface, and sanding, sanding, sanding.....

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Created:  December 5, 2002