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More on skin & frame kayaks

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by NedL, Jan 20, 2005.

  1. NedL

    NedL Curious about Wooden Canoes

    They aren't seen much today but I guess at one time simple home built skin & frame (canvas covered) kayaks must have been popular father & son projects. Lots of magazines like "Popular Mechanics" used to publish plans & articles for building them. My dad & I built one back in 1974 that I still have, and I now seem to attract the 'remains' of them. About 8 years ago I dragged one home from our local dump that someone thougth they'd try to 'fiberglass' (I think they stapled a bed sheet over the canvas & brushed some resin on top). It had then been left collecting mud, leaves & water for a long time. Needless to say it was pretty ripe inside. I stripped off the remains of the canvas & left it to dry & bake in the sun for a good long time. When I finally got to putting it back together I used an old abandon plywood road construction sign for some new frames (bright reflective orange on one side), and scrap stuff I had laying around for new ribbands. It was canvassed in the middle of our dining room on new years day a couple of years ago. Two coats of $5 a gallon oil base mistint paint & it's as good as new.

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  2. OP

    NedL Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I picked up the remains of a second kayak about a year & a half ago. It had been left long abandon in a starage barn at our local park (the caretaker didn't even know what it was when I asked about it). for the past couple of decades it had been making a great pidgeon & bat roust!
    Fun little things these kayaks! Just watch out for sticks & branches in the water. :)

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  3. bob goeckel

    bob goeckel Wooden Canoe Maniac

    i've been studying up on building a greenland kayak and may start to build it this spring if i can get through swmbo's list first. :D
  4. Dave Wermuth

    Dave Wermuth Who hid my paddle?

    My wife Rox, aka, the Roxinator, tossed out a set of plans for a boat like these. I paid twelve bucks for those plans. When we moved---out they went. I've never forgiven her. It's been 31 years. Bob, I may want to try building one too. If I only had a set of plans.
  5. David Niles

    David Niles Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Hi Bob Goeckel,

    If you want to build a greenland skin kayak, spend some time on the "Qajaq USA" website. There are many Greenland kayak home builders there and they always are giving advice to each other.

  6. David Niles

    David Niles Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Hi Dave Wermuth,

    Finding new plans is cheaper and smarter than finding a new wife (my Paminator is the only thing that brings some order to my cluttered life).

    Such plans are in numerous old copies of books from the 1890's through the 1950's. W.P. "Stevens Canoe and Boatbuilding", published in 1889 and reprinted a number of times, has fantistic plans in the form of 40+ plates that came with the book in a separate package. Hard to fine, especially the plates. I found the book and looked for plates for 2 years. My wife found the plates for me in a antique store. I think Dan Miller has put the book on line and Mystic Seaport reprints the plates. The plans are for carvel and lapstrake wood canoes, mostly sailing, but could be adapted into skin canoes. Another old book on my shelf is "Canoeing, Sailing And Motorboating" by Warren H. Miller, 1911 and reprinted a number of times. Chapter three is "How To Build A Decked Canvas Crusing Canoe" Plan is somewhat sketchy, explanation is good. About five good plans are in an English book on canoeing by Percy Blandford. I just loaned my copy to a friend so I can't give you the title tonight but if you email me I will get the title to you. He wrote a ton of books so you need the exact title. Used copies are around. I also loaned that same friend a copy of a home builder magazine from "Rudder" 1958, which had a very nice canvas canoe/kayak design. Title was something like "20 boats you can build"- email me and I'll get you the exact title. Mystic Seaport library probably has a copy. Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Boys Life, and many similar magazines from the 1950's frequently had canvas canoe/kayak designs. Many of the canvas canoes/kayaks seen in antique shops, tag sales and town dumps are from this home-build era. There were also many commerical builders and still are a number for folding kayaks. You can build a rather minimal and crude frame and cover it with canvas or a number of other materials and be on your way. I would suggest instead that if you are spending the time and money, do a good design. To see how far this skin-on-frame home-built obsession can go, Google "Tom Yost" and see his home-built folding kayak designs. Don't know where you live, but in Sheffield MA, at the Berkshire School there are courses if you want someone to guide you through the process on building a skin canoe. Their site is BSN.NET/BOATBUILDING. I've seen one of their canoes and it is well done (synthetic skin). There are skin kayak courses everywhere if you start looking. Most could help you build a skin canoe.

    Hope this post takes the heat off your good wife (she has to be good to put up with someone who holds a grudge for 31 years).

  7. bob goeckel

    bob goeckel Wooden Canoe Maniac

    dave, ve don neeed no stinking plans!!!!! actually we don't! i've got 2 good books on the greenland kayak and how to build it. if you want to get together to do it let me know. do you think you and loren would be interested in a new eastern mich. chapter? i've got a few others interested. tell rox brenda wants the chair back now! lol :eek:
    thanks david i've got that website on my favorites
  8. OP

    NedL Curious about Wooden Canoes

    They really are simple to build & you don't need much in the way of plans. You only need a bunch of 5/8" x 3/4" parting strip for the ribbands, some flat stuff for stems & frames (fir, pine, plywood, etc.), fastenings, canvas (the most expensive part), a staple gun w/ S.S. staples, & oil based exterior paint. If you do want plans there are some up on Ebay now for a little 12 footer, just search under "canvas Kayak". OR, you could just print them & go for it.

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  9. aamapes

    aamapes Skin-on-Frame Builder

    SOF Building Books

    For SOF kayaks, do check out the QajaqUSA site at They have a great site, with lots of building and technique info, even movie clips of rolls and other manuvers, and audio clips on how to pronounce the Greenlandic terms.

    There are several great books out on SOF building:

    I used Chris Cunningham's Building the Greenland Kayak and came out with a great boat! Also check out Mark Starr's Building a Greenland Kayak - he works at Mystic Seaport and hosts their Artic Boats Weekend in September. Robert Morris' Building Skin-on-Frame Boats covers a host of different traditional kayaks, along with canoes and small sailing craft - it's a good one.

    My latest boat is an Aleutian Baidarka, built using Wolfgang Brinck's The Aleutian Kayak - this one is out of print, and they want over $150 for a used copy, if you can believe it!! Morris covers the baidarka, if that's your interest.

    Cheers, Alan

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  10. yelnif

    yelnif another little project

    SOF kayak building

    All the SOF kayaks I have built so far were measured/fit to the intended paddler using antramorphilogical (sic) measurements. you know -the bodies own dimensions; fingertip to fingertip with arms extended, elbow to closed hand, a fist/fistmel,etc. I used wh.oak for gunwales,fir for stems, cedar for keel and either willow shoots or steam bent white oak for ribs/ canvas skin and never had to use an american rule (or metric-figured someone would ask :D ) and ended up with a surprisingly stable craft.- they all feel twitchy to me as compared to canoes. they take @ 3 week ends to assemble after i get all my materials rounded up- then two plus weeks for the urethane/paint to dry and with a paddle your on the water but do be careful of sharp objects in the boat as well as in the water- :D thats a campfire story for sure- :D :mad: later lee.^.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2005
  11. yelnif

    yelnif another little project


    i can't seem to get this figured out -i get the browser to accept the pictures
    but when i go to upload- it says 'can not find server- lee.^. :confused:
    tried again- now it says the page can not be displayed :mad: :confused: :eek: :(
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2005
  12. bob goeckel

    bob goeckel Wooden Canoe Maniac

    i have the same type of problem fairly often just switching webpages, i call my computer the "sit and spin". usually have to shut down and restart. no one has been able to locate the problem. sometimes running ad aware and norton help for awhile. :confused:
  13. Valeskca

    Valeskca New Member

    skin on frame

    I ran into this guy's blog about skin on frame boats. It is not canoe specific but it is well worth the read.
  14. JClearwater

    JClearwater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Museum of Natural History

    It's a little off topic but a number of years ago I got a storeroom tour of the canoes and SOF kayaks at the Museum in NYC. They have a bunch of mostly dugout & bark canoes and SOF kayaks that were collected on the various expedititions around the world. Only a fraction of what they got is on display. The MNH is the largest museum of its type in the world and the amount of stuff they have stashed away is truly amazing. At the time I had a friend who worked there affording me access.

    Jim C.

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