Tasks Outlined

OK, the Cliff Notes version of the process:

  1. cut full scale sections (forms) out on 1/2″ plywwod or MDO board.
  2. mount these forms on a strongback. form the boat hull & deck with longitudinal wood strips glued to each other.
  3. sand, glass, sand, and varnish. Simple, right?

Well, here are pics of 30 hrs of work (none of which include the fetching of materials):

All paper forms spray mounted on 1/2″ exterior grade plywood scraps left over from the previous SOF kayak builds.

Good quality tools make all the difference. After years of working with cheap jigsaws, I bought a nice one. A Bosch 1591EVSL 120-Volt Barrel Grip. There is a huge difference with better tracking and ease of cutting.

Forms (minus stems) just prior to truing with a belt sander.

My strongback is a 16′ long 2″x5″ box glued and screwed. Other kayak build methods use these dimensions as a spine to string the forms on. The Outer Island does not have the volume in some of the sections to allow that however. Maybe pertinent on a subsequent build. The saw horses are a variant of several I’ve seen out there. Posts are notch to receive the strongback. Notches allow for sling straps to be added to support the hull when is done and flipped.

Forms mounted on strongback with brackets

Don’t assume your floor is level. My garage floor has quite a bit of “wave” to the slab. While I took care to level out the strongback, you rely on a floating centerline strung between 2 sticks at either end of the boat. However, moving the saw horses can throw it all off. I taped reference lines at the base of each sawhorse leg and screwed the strongback after shimming to the horses. When the sanding commences, I’d like the option of taking the hull outside to cut down the dust cleanup. Floor marks should return the boat in the same plane when glassing beins.
Clear plastic packaging tape covers the form edges to prevent the eventual strips from sticking.

All forms and stems here. that’s a Classic Moth beyond.


While nothing here becomes part of the boat, it is nice to see the lines of what she will be. Little mileposts like this help push one on.

I opted to use inner stems. These will stay with the boat. They are shown here shaped with jack plane and ready for strips.

Sawhorse shelves & ledges

I also added shelves and ledges on my sawhorses. Tools and materials can be kept handy this way. Nails on the legs of the horses are good for hanging levels, hammers, glue guns, etc.

Feed stands to table to out feed table beyond.
 Here is my strip cutting manufacturing set up. I tried to save bucks by using “lesser” western red cedar 1xs for the strips, but the added knots caused 1/2 of the strips to break. Those will be used for shorter lengths. I returned with nice clear 16′ WRC. By using a kerf blade, I got 15 1/4″ strips from a 1×6 board. I also cut some Yellow pine and mahogany for accents.
2×10 Out feed table is bolted to the oak 1x fence.


I waxed my table to grease the feed. I’ve read corn meal or talcum powder works too. I could see meal on the out feed, but was concerned in adding slight height on the cut table.

Feed stand

Here Garden stones ballast and prevent the feed stands from capsizing.

Far end of out feed table. Battery is ballast.
First strips of yellow pine

I numbered the strips as they came off the saw. This allows for uniform grain and color set up if I decide to do so. I’m certain it will help in the eventual scarfing of the short strip.

Bundled strips. Note pencilled stripes to keep track of order.

Though not really pictured, I quickly realized I needed to set the strips aside. I used an old portable WorkMate bench and the top back of a chair with spring clamps added to prevent the pieces from sliding off. My thin out feed table allowed for easy placement of the strips.

This table saw has been worth a bundle. I can’t tell you how many projects it has assisted on after 3 houses and who knows how many miles of lumber it has cut. It is a Powermatic Model 63, discontinued, but the company is still out there .. and American. Super quality though some of the parts for this one are no longer available.

Saw set up prior to 1st cut

Clamped finger boards prior to cut.

With the strips cut, I was anxious to know what the color of the finished boat might look like, so I mocked up a few strips  and put a coat of varnish on them. WRC, YP, and mahogany looks great. I’ll play with the proportions on the real deal.

…and I guess it would help to show what I’m aiming at (courtesy of Ross Leidy).

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