For those who enjoy both boating and building things, building a kayak can be a very rewarding experience. Some people will swear that they enjoy something more if they created it themselves. And those who enjoy spending time on the water in recreational boats say it is a great way to relax, exercise and get fresh air. Add these two things together, and you get building a kayak. There are many things to consider when you are thinking about building a kayak. Your skills as a craftsperson will make a lot of decisions for you; if you have experience working with wood, you will most likely build a wooden kayak, while someone who has worked with plastics and fiberglass will likely opt for a composite kayak. Besides wood and fiberglass, canvas or nylon can be stretched over a wooden frame and finished with epoxy. Many kayaks are polyethylene, but because of the process used in making this type of kayak it is a strictly commercial product.
For those building a kayak at home, a plan will be needed. There are a number of different plans for building a kayak, each with different advantages and materials. You can choose a traditional kayak plan, ‘skin on frame.’ The skin will be nylon or canvas, which this plan calls for stretching over a wooden frame. This type of kayak plan is popular because the materials are easy to find and the kayak will be lightweight and durable. Two other kayak plans use wood as a building material. Strip built kayaks are formed of thin strips of wood glued together, then finished with epoxy. Similarly, stitch and glue (also called tack and tape) kayaks are built of plywood cut into shapes, glued together, and epoxied. Again, these materials are easily found and assembled, and builders have some freedom in shaping their kayak. Also, those building a kayak can create a unique design using different shades of wood and uniquely shaped pieces. Fiberglass kayaks are harder to make at home because they require a mold, which can be time consuming to make. Building any kind of a kayak will be a challenge, but something many people will enjoy doing.