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.


  1. Chair maker, tool maker and now boat wright. You are developing quite the resume'. Very enjoyable posts, thanks for sharing.

  2. I stumbled upon your blog yesterday. It has been a great read. I look forward to seeing the construction of the F1.