Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Skin on Frame Kayak: Ripping and Mortising

Before I could do anything else I had to free the gunnels, keel and chines from the Western red cedar 1x10 that was holding them.  I clamped a wooden fence to the base of my circular saw and went to town.

Fence clamped to circular saw for ripping.

Western red cedar for keel, chines, and gunnels.
My 9x16 workshop was more than a little tight for building this boat.  I overflowed into my shopmate's space on evenings and weekends and then carefully snaked the kayak back into my workshop before he returned.  I also worked outside as the weather permitted.

Gunnels, keel, and chines ripped.

Gunnels clamped up to lay out rib mortises.
Before bending the gunnels to shape, I wanted to cut all of the rib and deckbeam mortises.  I didn't have a plunge router to cut the mortises for the ribs so I picked up a little clamp on doweling jig to give me two holes at full depth on either end of the rib mortises.  Chopping out the waste in between and squaring up the ends was easy peazy.  Admittedly, not as easy peazy as a plunge router, but I enjoy quality time with a mortising chisel when I get it.  Most of my work right now is with hickory, sugar maple, and East Indian rosewood.  Working with the soft red cedar was sheer delight.  I see more softwoods in my future.

Jig aligns on center.
Drill two holes, scribe the edges, and chop out the middle.

I jigged up my drill press to cut the angled deck beam mortises.

Deck beam mortising jig.

Mortise layed out.

Three holes drilled.

Waste drilled out.

One final pass and the mortise is complete.
With the forty rib mortises and twelve deckbeam mortises excavated, I was ready to start bending the gunnels to shape.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Skin on Frame Kayak: The Design

Earlier this summer my girlfriend ponied up and bought herself a nice hot pink fiberglass sea kayak, which finally put the screws to me to build the skin on frame boat that I had been dreaming of for the past couple of years.

Skin on frame construction is the way that kayaks were originally built in the arctic waters of their origin.  You make a wooden skeleton that is a framework for a waterproof skin that encloses the boat. Traditionally, the skin was made up of several seal skins that had been sewn together, and then sewn around the boat.  Most modern builders of skin on frame boats opt for ballistic nylon, polyester, or canvas as opposed to seal skin.

I considered building a Greenland style boat, but eventually settled on building an F1 kayak designed by Brian Schulz of Cape Falcon Kayak.  Brian is a paddler and kayak designer/builder on the Oregon coast.  He teaches skin on frame boat building classes and builds kayaks and paddles to order.  He is actually gearing up for an epic round the country kayak class marathon this winter/spring that is probably coming to a city near you.  You can read more about the design, Brian, and skin on frame boats in general here.  Check here to see the current destinations for Brian's traveling kayak workshops.  Inspiring person, inspiring boats.  Here is a picture of Brian paddling one of his F1s out in their natural habitat.

Want one yet?

At 14' long the F1 is short for a sea kayak, but it is playful, fast, and action packed.  Armed with Christopher Cunningham's book for construction techniques, Harvey Golden's drawing of Brian's F1 kayak, and a clear vertical grain 14' cedar 1x10, I took the plunge.