Christophe, F1 build, La Ruchère, France

Hy, I am starting to build a F1. It will certainly take me a long time and I hope to succeed in filling in this student post. I hope also that my english is not too bad, sorry in advance for the mistakes.

Introduction: I love woodworking and kayaking for a long time. I have started with whitewater kayaking and then I moved to canoeing at the birth of my children, it was the occasion to build a canoe in red cedar woodstrip with Ted Moores book and “La Cannoterie” plans.

Building a traditionnal greenland kayak is an old dream. But what I have read on this topic and the discussion I had with people using it showed me that it was not an easy boat, in particular due to the small size of the coaming. The cape falkon work was then a great discovery. Thank you Brian and your team for what your are doing !!

My goal on this construction is to use the wood produced as close as possible from the workspace. I have the chance to live in a region with a lot of forest, mainly spruce, ash and oak. It is also the occasion to discover a part of woodworking I don’t know: greenwood carpentery.

The building started few months ago by the preparation of the workspace, the jigs and steambox.

On the top of the workspace is the 5 meters long spruce pieces of wood used for the 5/8″ thick cut list.

I have also received all the pieces of the kayak that might be difficult to find here. Thank you Brian for the shipping !

Curved deck beams

Due to the difficulty I have to find large piece of spruce with the good grain orientation and as I don’t have a table saw, I have chosen to paste together small pieces of wood. I have cut this composite board with a jig adapted to my plunge cut saw. The process is long but it finally works.

The spruce plys don’t bend as well as red cedar in the video. Maybe due to the large grain the plys are splitting. Steaming the ply is not working well, the plys are breaking and looks like crips out of the steaming box. A satisfying result is given after 30 min soaking in water. The plys are put in place in the curved deak beam laminating jig and let dry a couple of hours. The plys are then glued and put again on the jig. The result is not very uniform from one beam to the other but it seems to work. I hope it is OK.


I share a summary on the building of the coaming. I go on with the idea to use the wood harvested in the near forest. I have cut a ash tree this winter and tried to split it on several long log quarters. The wood is reduced to the final shape with the axe, the drawknife and the plane. The trees in the mountain have not good straight fibers and lot of knots. Cutting the log to the dimension of the coaming and coaming lip is time consuming but the result seems promising.

The first trial of wood bending is not just bad but literally catastrophic. The coaming logs don’t show a bad bending, it just breaks. The soaking time was certainly too short (half a day) and the use of a kettle on a gas burner not optimal to produce enough vapor. Whatever, the observation is that building the coaming with this provenance of wood is going to be very complicated. And in the same time producing a single coaming log from an ash tree takes a while…

I have decided to adapt the bending strategy to my quality of wood. For the coaming, as the breakage occurs in the tightly curved parts of the log, I have reduced the thickness on these parts of the log. Once the coaming is bent, I complete with another part of wood, Gorilla bonded to have the good thickness.

The plan I have tried is as follows.

I have formed other coamings log from a thin ash tree, soaked the logs more time (two weeks) and use a vapor generator as recommended by Brian (6 minutes). The bending works well with this thickness reduction even if there are still small primer breakages on the lower part of the coaming.

On the following photo we see the upper part of the coaming with the two pieces of wood bonded together.

Unfortunately, I don’t think possible to use this strategy for the nailed coaming lip. I have tried another bending strategy that seems easier. Using notched wood is another way to reduce the thickness and by the way the stress on this thin but thick pieces of wood. A short geometric analysis and the measurement of the thickness of my Japanese saw line (~ 425 µm +/- 50 µm) give me the distance between the notches and the number of notches: 88 notches with 4mm distance on the upper part of the lip, 88 notches with 8mm distance on the lower part of the lip.

I use a simple jig to cut the notch at the good thickness. Bending is good and easy, I feel quieter. This solution is not ideal as it fragilizes the lip but I hope it will be ok with the help of the resin that should consolidate the notches.

The coaming is now finished I can start to work on the gunwales.

1 Comment

  1. Mayeric
    November 18, 2021

    Dear Christophe,
    I have not started yet my construction (probably F1), but we may be from the same region: Isère in France !
    I would appreciate very much if we could get in touch to discuss your current experience with this building…
    You can find me on the french forum ; identity “Mayeric”.
    Hope we can get in touch !


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