Inspired by André’s and Cecilia’s builds of two Cape Falcon Kayaks (a LPB and a F1) two years ago, we just couldn’t resist the temptation to build three more. The winters in Sweden are dark, so what could be better to keep the spirits up than spending time together, indulging in the crafting of these beautiful boats? We decided to build three more F1s.
We have a plan 🙂 ….
The overall aim is to build the kayaks mainly one weekend-day every fortnight during the dark season (autumn to spring), and then enjoy them when spring arrives:
August: Order/buy all material for the kayaks.
September: Cut all wooden material.
October: Build the jig to the plunge router mortiser, do the mortising; build and form the deck beams and opt at forming the gunwales.
November: Build the decks and start building the rest of the frames.
December: Bend and attach the ribs, and build most of the remaining parts of the frames, including the keels and the stringers.
January: Finish the frames and build the paddles.
February: Sew the skins, colour and coat the kayaks.
March-April: “Test & Fest” = Swedish for “Test & Party” 🙂
All material ordered (kits etc. from Cape Falcon Kayaks, the wooden material from Cederträ väst AB and the skins and coating from Skinboats.org) and starts arriving… 🙂
And a small addition to André’s well-equipped workshop equipment: digital calipers with rapid converting between inches and centimeters:)
PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) on, and we sawed all wooden material for the three kayaks, using André’s table saw a warm Swedish autumn Saturday. Great to get started!
The excitement and expectations were palpable, and jokes and smiles added to the joyous atmosphere. We double-checked the converted measures from inches to centimetres several times, checked the dimensions on the pieces we sawed and marked. This, since all three kayaks are being tailored to match the users, with slightly different dimensions in each F1. We started sawing the longer pieces, with the material for the gunwales, stingers, keels and paddles, followed by the shorter parts, including the secondary stringers and foredeck stringers.
By the time we sawed the 45 (15 for each kayak) 4 mm wide deck beams (which will be laminated and curved soon) it felt as we were working on a production line with smooth collaboration and an easy work-flow. It took us about three hours to saw all material: In total 180 meters of sawing with mm precision! No wonder lunch was welcome, as was a forest-bathing and mushroom-harvesting tour in the nearby Stolpaskogen forest afterwards, including the delicious Boletus Edulis mushrooms, as seen in the photo. This at the time when the trees just start to dress up in their red and yellow autumn dresses!
This month the plan is to build a jig for mortising the gunwales for the aft deck beams, do all mortising and form the deck beams. In addition we opt at forming the gunwales.
We started by doing the mortising for one kayak at the time. This enabled us to use a ready mortised gunwale as a “check” to a large extent, when measuring and marking all places for mortising on the other kayaks.
We used the plunge router for mortising the front deck beams and the ribs for the lower part of the kayak frame. I found this physically rather heavy, so I was happy André made most of the mortising also for my kayak. Also, nice to place the gunwales parallel to each other and imagine the ribs forming the gist of lower part of the frame… 🙂 Work in progress…
André came up with an easy-to-use jig for mortising the gunwales for the aft deck beams at a 25 degree angle. Using this jig we drilled holes to form the “mortising holes” instead of using the plunge router and were quite happy with the result.
Mortising perpendicularly with the plunge router and at 25 degrees angle with the drill.
Having finished all mortising, we checked the correct lengths of the gunwales for each kayak. I shortened my gunwales to tailor them for my kayak’s size. At this stage we also shaped the bow (front) and stern (rear) ends of the gunwales using a Japan saw. And we took care of the sawdust for later – the red cedar has a very pleasant scent and is becoming increasingly popular to buy for home scent-styling…
Laminating and curving the front deck beams: Forming the curved deck beams was both easy and hard: It was easy and took little time to glue and laminate the beams five layers, but to bend them so they fit the jig … Mon Dieu! Maybe spending time body-building would help … Anyways, collaboration is a good thing, also in cases like this 🙂 !
We were quite happy with the end result, both of the deck beams
and of the gunwales for the three kayaks 🙂
And talking about kayaks… When an autumn day is warm and sunny in Stockholm, especially when it is already mid-October, what is the most alluring thing to do…?
With plus four degrees Celsius and rainfall outside, we gathered in the warm garage to continue the tripple F1 build. Today’s aim was to shape and even all wooden material for the kayak frames:
- Saw the stingers to correct lengths and plane them to the desired shape where the edges cross sections have a triangular shape and then transform into a rectangular shape, 32 inches in (that is, towards the centre of the stingers).
- Round the right angles of the keels, the stringers, the secondary stringers and the gunwales
- Sandpaper the rough surfaces so they become smooth enough
- Plane and sandpaper the curved, laminated, front deck beams (3 for each kayak).
- We built four supports and nailed them on the long working plank, and then used two block planes, a bench plane and an electrical power planer to shape the stringers, with tool choice after individual taste. It took quite a while to plane each stringer into the desired form. For me this felt almost like a meditation and I indulged the rather quiet and focused work with the block plane, stroke after stroke, where each long stroke created a new corkscrew-formed and pleasantly fragrant, cedar-tree sliver. It took us approximately two and a half hours to form the stringers for all three kayaks, and a coffee/tea break was welcome and appreciated.
Working on the stringers and curved deck beams.
2. The next step was to round the right angles, to make them less sharp on all long wooden kayak-frame pieces. To secure smooth and high quality work, we clamped a long support beam on the working plank, so we could push the piece we were working on towards this “stop”. For rounding the right angles we used either the bench plane or one of the block planes. I preferred working with the Stanley block plane (1-12-020) – I appreciate its size and light weight and a, from an ergonomics point of view, good design (except that the support for the index finger is placed a bit too far from the support for the palm to suit my relatively small hands). After a while we got into a smooth work-flow, rounding in total, 84 lengths (2 gunwales, 2 stringers, 2 secondary stringers and 1 keel on all four “longitudinally running right angles” for each kayak, that is 7*3*4 lengths). As we did two rounds on every surface, this resulted in 168 “walks with the planer” back and forth.
3. We sandpapered all rough surfaces either by hand or by using an electrical orbital sander. Working together when using the orbital sander made the work safer and likely of better quality, since we helped each other to press the pieces towards the working plank. Also here we came into a routine that felt smooth and rapid. It felt almost like a cartoon series: material lifted up and placed in the right position by two of us, who then also pressed the pieces towards the working plank, at times playing hand-drums, while one of us danced across the piece with the orbital sander and then took a break while the others took care of the ready-made pieces, and as in a ballet danced to the supply-place (the floor J) and picked up another pair. All this while indulging the fragrance of the cedar-tree sandpapered dust (and maybe to a less extent the, if any, running noses or odd coughs due to the sawdust).
4. During the curing of the lamination process of the curved front deck beams, the Gorilla glue really had expanded, as if trying to escape and then been caught before succeeding. We started by cutting off the gist of the superfluous glue with a Mora chisel knife (Bragging now: this is one of the products, which has been spread worldwide, that I have been the project leader of, and the only one that fits into a handbag). Thereafter we used hand driven planes, the power planer and sand paper to craft three curved front deck beams for each kayak, each with a nice finish (however, adjusting them to fit in the gunwales’ mortised holes is in the plan for next month, when we build the deck-frame).
The curved laminated front deck beams.
When all this was done, we checked that all pieces were marked with the builder’s initial to secure that we choose the right pieces for each tailored kayak, and taped the longer pieces together into bundles for each kayak. We tidied the workshop, again also collecting the sawdust and the wooden slivers from the hand planing. Today’s four tasks took us approximately five hours. Now we’re ready to go, to start building the kayak frames, starting with the gunwales and deck beams. The picture shows two kayaks on the shelves, and the all wooden material for three more ready to go (for each kayak bundled together separately with blue tape).
The wooden material sorted and ready to go, and guarded by the already built dark brown LPB and the Aztec golden F1.
To clean the airways from all the sawdust a short mushroom harvesting tour in the Stolpaskogen forest, was lovely. In the rainfall from dark skies, with very little light seeping through the foliage, the air was fresh. Although it was pretty dark in the forest, the delicious Hydnum Repandum (“Blek Taggsvamp” in Swedish) shone like bright spots in the moss and grass, as if calling: ”Look, I’m here, please pick me” – and became a nice contribution to the Saturday night dinner.
This month the plan is to build the decks and start building the rest of the frames on the three kayaks. We build one deck at a time. Jojo’s first, then mine (Linda’s) and thereafter Angela’s. Watching Brian’s very pedagogic videos was a great way to prepare for the builds.
Based on the great instructions in Brian’s videos, using a handful of André’s tools Jojo’s deck was formed today. More details on the deck builds in the next blog post – Next week.
Some of the tools used for building the first F1 kayak’s deck.
Today we opted at building Linda’s (my) deck. With hands-on work and support from Cecilia and Markus, and some advice and jokes from André and Jojo we started by placing the gunwales on the saw horses and the putting the forms and straps in place. After pushing the deck downwards in the middle to make the forms “slide into place” even better, we checked and adjusted the measures according to the Kayak plan.
Forming the form with forms and straps 🙂
The next step was to secure that the two gunwales become attached to each other in a solid way at the bow (front) and the stern (back) ends, which is a ”must ” for a stable kayak deck and the base for the rest of the kayak build. Kerfing the ends together felt a bit scary, especially when I noticed that when I used a hand saw the first couple of ”goes”, this led to a quite uneven result. Therefore I was especially happy to have Cecilia and Markus on board, who were an asset in arriving at an even and symmetric result. We ended up using a hand saw on the bow end (which felt as more ”authentic” way to do this, but took more time) and the jig saw in the stern end (which was rapid and also led to a good result).
Kerfing the ends of the gunwales.
After checking for symmetry, we drilled holes through the gunwales at the bow and stern end and lashed (sewed) them together. We re-did this once on both ends, since we initially lashed the first end too loosely and the second end too tightly.
Checking for symmetry and lashing the ends together.
After checking for symmetry, we drilled additional holes through the gunwales at the bow and stern end and secured them with dowels. We were happy with this result also and some cheering could be heard in the vicinity.
Working on securing and stabilizing the ends of the gunwales.
After this little celebration we placed all deck beams in their right locations and marked them with deck beam number, direction on the deck and where the tenon should be made. And then we just started tailoring (measuring, marking, sawing, chiseling and checking (and cheering at times)) each tenon of each deck beam to fit each mortised hole in the gunwales.
Tailoring the deck beams.
Once this was the case, we just put them in place. To secure the deck beams to the gunwales, we first marked and drilled holes for securing each tenon to the gunwales at each ”junction” vertically seen from the upper side of the gunwales and in the middle of each tenon and then secured them by dowels. Thereafter we drilled holes from the deck beams through the gunwales at approximately a 45 degree angle and secured these ”junctions” with another dowel at each junction. By now we were running at high speed – oneof us drilling, getting support regarding the drilling angle from another, while the third put the dowels in place with the help of a hammer or a wooden sledge hammer. The last thing to do was to cut all the dowels with a Japanese saw and, voliá: we had the second kayaks deck built after about six hours in the garage 🙂
Enjoying spending time together and working towards reaching today’s goal.
For sure, one of us was very happy (and a bit proud too)…
Today’s extra was celebrating this special Saturday and the mission accomplished with a dinner with good friends at ”The Ice Bar”.
Celebration at The Ice Bar.
All three decks ready 🙂
Today we prepared the bows and sterns stems and the ribs.
We cut the bow and stern stems to the correct lengths and angles, marked them, and then planed the ends of the gunwales to get an even surface to attach the stems on. We marked the stems to fit each gunwale, then jig-sawed the stems and checked their fit and thereafter stored them for later assembly.
Prepping the stems for the bow and stern.
Then we numbered the gunwales 20 mortised holes on one side from the bow to the stern, each one with the rib-number and then noted the “extra” length be added or subtracted to each specific rib according to the kayak plan. We had bought the ribs from Cape Falcon Kayaks and were happy that they had high moisture and therefore were quite easy to bend. That was promising for the “assembly day” to come in two weeks! We placed 20 ribs on each deck and checked their quality – removing ribs that had small “defects”, like small branch-patterns. After that. we used the measuring sticks we had prepared to mark the correct length of each rib and the cut them to that length with a Japanese saw.
After a coffee break we continued with “slimming” the edges of the ribs, so they would fit into the mortised holes. We used the table saw and, when needed, did some fine adjustment with a knife until each ribs sides fitted well into the holes in the gunwales – 40 holes in each kayak.
Trimming the edges of the ribs to fit the holes in the gunwales.
Once we were happy with the fit, we block-planed the edges on all four sides of each rib and then used sand paper to get a smooth finish.
Finishing the ribs.
We checked the fit one extra time, maybe mostly to indulge in the result of this work-shift in the workshop 🙂 .
Thereafter we detached all ribs again and taped each kayaks ribs in a bundle. We also taped the extra ribs in a bundle and put all ribs back into the plastic bag to keep their moisture, (the “extras” in case we need some extra once we form and attach them into the gunwales in two weeks from now.)
Prepping the stems and the ribs took us approximately four hours, including tiding up. So, there was still daylight, and time for a walk in the nearby forest, indulging in all its beauty, including the rainfall.
Our plan was to do as much as possible on the frames this month, starting with bending and attaching the ribs. We worked on one kayak at a time.
We had bought the ribs from Brian, so now we steamed them for approximately 7 minutes each, bent, attached them to the Gunwales and formed them into the shapes recommended by Brian. We did this in a sequence with a one-minute work cycle (20 ribs for one kayak). Thereafter we pegged some of the ribs, and started working on finishing the bow and stern stems and lashing them to the frame.
Working on the stems.
After a coffee break, we continued working with the keel, the stringers and the secondary stingers. We finished their shapes and attached them to the frame (after control-measuring the heights and distances a number of times), mainly by lashing them with an artificial sinew. We glued the secondary stringers on Jojo’s and my kayak, while we pegged them to the gunwales on Angela’s.
Lashing work on the keel (left) and glued and clamped secondary stringers (right).
We also tailored and glued the top ends at the bow and stern, reinforced the keel and added the beams behind the cockpit coaming.
Working on the kayak top ends (left) and the beams behind the cockpit (right).
This took us about five hours per kayak.
Next, we shaped the forward deck stringer, mortised a pocket for it on the deck beams just in front of the “cockpit” and lashed it to the deck. Here we added a socket to one of the deck breams to secure good contact between the deck beams and the forward deck stringer. We finished off shaping the top bow and stern ends of the kayak, using the Japanese saw, the block plane and sand paper. Our next step was to measure where the foot brace tracks should be positioned. We did this, sitting in the kayak. Once this was done, we drilled holes and fastened the foot brace tracks with a few screws. We also drilled holes for the deck lines.
Attaching the foot brace tracks.
When all this was done, we cleaned the frame, making sure it became smooth, using the block plane and sandpaper. I was startled how beautiful the frame started to look. Thereafter mainly one step remained: to oil the frame. We used Danish oil, and needed about 0.7 decilitre per kayak. Thus, we now had accomplished the mission: to finish the frames before the end of this year.
Oiling the kayak frame.
These steps also took about 5 hours per kayak. Once all this was done, just one thing remained:
Admiring the result and wishing everybody well for the new year with seasons greetings from our home town, Stockholm 🙂
Admiring the result in “The Boat House”.
Best wishes to everybody for 2021 from our hometown.