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Build a Kayak
Welcome to our Kayaking Web pages. Although we are rank novices at it, we enjoy paddling around the local lakes and dream of kayaking in more exotic locations with more exotic kayaks. This site provides information about how to build your own skin on frame, wood & canvas kayak, including free plans and offers for purchased plans.
These Web pages provide information about building wood and canvas, skin-on-frame kayaks. I have built several of the wood and canvas kayaks discussed on these pages using plans from my good friend Leo Monsen. The plans are easy follow and the kayaks are relatively easy to build, given you have access to basic woodworking tools. The kayak shown on this page can be built in less that 30 hours. Leo and I built my first kayak over one weekend! The cost, assuming you are buying all of the required materials, is approximately $150.00 to $180.00. Of course the costs vary significanly depending on what you have on hand and the region in which you live. For instance, in Chicago, we pay a premium of good wood. Here is a breakdown of the most costly items:
I have read several books about kayak building, have reviewed many web sites pertaining to the subject and have come to the conclusion that this particular model, for the money and effort, is hard to beat for anyone who wants a recreational kayak. If you want an abuse-proof, white-water, hard hull kayak, look elsewhere. But for recreational paddling around a lake or calm river/stream, these kayaks work very well.
The kayaks made from the M-Plans plans can be built in either a 12-foot or 14-foot model. Both have a 27 inch beam. For short kayaks, they have a relatively large volume. They are surprisingly stable and are suitable for a wide range of body types. The 12-foot model easily handles kayaker up to 200 lbs. I have used this model at 240 lbs with no trouble at all. The 14-foot model supports additional weight.
Here are a few thumbnails of the latest 12' model we built. Click on the thumbnails to display a larger view. Click here to view our 14-footer construction photos.
Click here to see pictures Leo Monsen, Richard Frye, and others have sent me.
If you would like to purchase plans for the 12' & 14' model of the kayaks you see on these pages, Email Us! The plans include instructions and full size templates for both of the 12' and 14' models.
If you want totally free plans, check out these scanned images from various Home Mechanix articles regarding the King Canvasback wood and canvas kayak. It is very similar, probably the Father, of the wood & canvas kayak I describe on these web pages. The Set 1 scanned images come to us thanks to a kind reader whose name I unfortunately and ashamedly forget! In full or regular size, the images are clear. They may appear unreadable in your browser however. Just open them, right-click on them, and print them. They'll look fine. Set 2 is a more detailed set of scans and are easier to read than Set 1 at the expense of larger file sizes--thus longer download times. I am not familiar with the third set of plans.
King Canvasback Scan Set 1
Canvasback Scan Set 2
Another Canvas Kayak Plan Set
Check out these pages for construction notes and material lists.
On June 15, 2001, I begun construction of a 14' kayak. This diary provides a day-by-day report of the activity. I am videotaping and photographing the major steps of the construction. Hopefully the video will turn out this time and I can get it out to those of you expressing interest in it. I have to say, video taping and constructing at the same time is very difficult. You really need a video crew, scripts, workshop assistants, etc. Oh well!
I receive tons of questions regarding Hull and Deck material. I prefer canvas because it is easy to obtain, easy to install, and relatively cheap. Click here to view additional information regarding skin materials.
I have received lots of questions regarding paddles, Greenland paddles in particular. The plans include instructions and templates for building a simple paddle. Here is a list of links and three related articles that I have gathered from the web and put into PDF format that describe paddle-making:
Click here to read through the most Frequently Asked Questions and our attempt at answering them. Please do not hesitate to email us with any questions you might have or clarification of the FAQs.