Building Things Projects

Building 16 ft sea kayak

Because I work in technology, where ‘building’ is actually done by engineers, I often feel the need to create something with my own hands outside of work. In the past, I satisfied this need by building a community garden in Edgewater, NJ, upcycling my nephew’s unwanted dinosaur toys and selling them on Etsy. But the project I am especially proud of is building a 16-feet sea kayak in my 1-bedroom apartment in the NYC-metro area. Here’s the story of how I did it.

Research

In the winter of 2014, I attended one boat building class at Village Community Boathouse where I learned how to repair rowboats. I was so inspired that the same day, I made a decision to build a kayak from scratch, using the same method.

I did some research and quickly learned that the easiest way to build a kayak is by using the ‘stitch and glue’ method. This method of building boats uses pre-cut plywood panels that are “stitched” together along their joints and then glued. It sounded simple so I immediately moved my bed into the living room and converted my bedroom into a woodworking garage. Next, I went to Home Depot and got all of the tools I needed for the project:

  • Stitch and Glue Kayak Plans
  • Epoxy
  • Fiberglass cloth
  • Marine-grade plywood
  • Zippy ties
  • Jigsaw
  • Circular sander
  • Drill
  • Small tools: carpenters square, utility knife, safety glasses, plastic gloves, pliers

Implementation

As soon as my plans and tools arrived, I got to work. I first drew the shapes, and then I cut them out using the jigsaw (at this stage I immediately I got a few noise complaints from neighbors).  Once cut, I glued the pieces together using the epoxy glue, which I thickened with sawdust.

Gluing the top of the kayak with epoxy and sawdust.

Next, I layered the inside of the kayak with epoxy, covered it with the fiberglass fabric and painted it with epoxy again. Then, I connected the bottom and the top and layered it again with fiberglass.

Matching the top and bottom parts of the stitched kayak.

Results

The project took me 3 months. That’s 3 weeks of sleeping in the living room, sanding and painting (over and over) but when it was all done, I couldn’t believe the result.  Be the judge yourself:

 

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