I’ve started the F1 project mid-July 2020. One month earlier I didn’t even know the existence of the skin-on-frame kayaks. I like to build things out of wood. I build instruments (acoustic guitars, weissenborns) among others.
It’s been a while since I had in mind to build a kayak. As soon as I saw Brian’s preps videos I knew this was for me. Light (one man portable), easy to build (with the videos) and to fix, durable, and can be reskinned in a couple of years, so just perfect..
It took me some time to build the kayak with few hours her eand there. I think I’ve finished the kayak at mid-October. Luckily, here in Québec, last autumn offered us pretty amazing warm/sunny days. So I was fortunate to use the kayak at several occasion..
In few words, I love this kayak. It’s light (29 pounds finished), fast, very confortable and I feel very secure inside. I’ll build a second one for my son soon…
With the F1 I don’t need another kayak but… when I see the shape of the West and more especially the East Greenland kayak, I just find them absolutelty gorgeous. So, maybe one day…
My living room is the only place I can store the F1 inside my house. Storage will become an issue if I want to build a second one and later an West or East greenland one…
Now, let’s see the build itself….
I’ve made few researchs about the wood according to its strength, weight and rot resitance. This website shows a short and sweet list of wood comparaison :
As a result, I’ve been using : PINE for the frame, WHITE OAK (not green) and ASH.
I had the feeling that I could waste the wood if I had made some mistakes for my first build. It appears pine is very slightly heavier than western red cedar but has more strength on another hand. I’ve searched for long straight and light 8 foot long boards locally. I took a long time for choosing the right boards.
About the ribs, I decided to use kiln dried white oak. I was lucky to find a couple of straight and perfectly quatersawn ones.
Here are sample of the wood used (8 foot long pine boards and the left and white oak)
I took my time to do the preparation.
As I said, I’ve scarf joined the pine boards. It’s something I wanted to try for the gunwales. It was quite easy going, using a jig I had already build couple of years ago for neck guitar builds. I’ve improved the jig, adding 3 holes so as to insert the clamps inside. The angle is variable so I had to find the proper one. If I remember correctly the length of the join is about 10 inches long which was long enough to provide enough strengh and durability.
The white oak I have found was not green. I didn’ have so much time to look for some greens so I decided to use kiln dried white oad and build the coaming without steam bend it. I’ve cut a couple of wood sample with 1/64 thickness increments so as to compare their flexibility. As you can see on the following picture, 1/16th thick material bend without any problem even if not soaked in water or being green woods.
So I’ve build the coaming using a couple of 1/16th thick pieces I have cut with my table saw then fine tuned the thickness with the drum sander.
As a result, I’m very satisfied. The process was longer : 4 days total, gluing layers by layer, one at a time. But in reality, most of the time was the curing time and you have plenty of time doing other stuff during this. It was easy to get the right shape and more espacially in the middle of the coaming since you control everything in the process.
Brian’s method is by far the most efficient. No doubt about it. But I wanted to try another method without steam bending which I’m not a big fan in general.
Bending the ribs
I didn’t really know what to except for this step. I think I’ve chosen well the white oak wood. Even if it wasn’t green, I was able to bend some pieces (without being soaked) as shown in picture below.
I let the wood soak in water with detergent for a couple of days and then proceced with the steam bend. I didn’t have many spare (2 in total.. yep, I know) but I broke only… 2. So I was lucky here.
I have to say that using a leather belt was an absolute must for ALL the ribs and not only the fist ones. It has limited the risk of breaking the wood during the bending. I didn’t used the belt for the broken 2 and it made a crucial difference.
Building the frame was straight forward with Brian’s instructions/videos.
Attach the two stringers on the stem side was very challenging. I don’t know if it was normal or not but I had to force a lot and give some pression to get them close to the stem. Maybe it was because I’ve used pine.
This step has been much easier that I would have thought. Time consumming.. a whole day if I remember correctly. I tried to strech the skin as much as possible.
I didn’t take any picture about the coating process. It’s something I didn’t like doing. It’s been messy and stressfull. Maybe it’s because I’ve done it in my living room but it was the worst step for me. But it’s done ! 🙂
January 6, 2023
I am planning to building an F1 in the Montreal West Island. Are you happy still with the pine frame ? Did you have all the scarf joints in the same area of the kayak or did you stagger them along the length of the boat? Seems to be hard and very expensive to find western red cedar around here.
Thanks for any insights,
January 11, 2023
for the gunwales I’ve done the scarf joins at almost the middle I think. For the other parts, I’m not really sure. But if you do it the same for both side for each part (for the symetry) you’ll be fine (same grain wood direction, same location of the scarf joins and so on..). And of course, try to adjust the angle so as to get as much contact surface to join/glue the two pieces together. The longest the strongest.
Pine is just fine. It’s only a little heavier but you can have it a little thinner since it’s denser. In the meantime I’ve built another F1 and also an east greenland kayak. But for those I’ve used red cedar. I’ve got my wood at Home Depot, Reno or Rona… I’ve spent some time to check perfect pieces of wood. It’s amost impossible to find perfect/clear-very-long boards but you can find very good 8 foot long boards (or even sometimes 10 foot if you get lucky), either in 4×4, 2×4 or 2×6 and so on. So I’ve scarf joined all the parts for my 3 kayaks and it’S all good.
Last point, I recommend to you gorilla glue (and more espacially for hte red cedar). You’ll get an even more stronger join.
if you have more questions don’t hesitate.