YPRC Kayak Build 2021

A year after the COVID pandemic forced us to hold off on our building class, we are back again to resume.

This year we have 7 builders, making 3 F1s, 3 LPBs, and one West Greenland kayak. 

We are lucky to have a very good lumberyard in White Plains NY that carries clear red cedar in long and wide planks. Together with some wood left over from our last class we have enough for all the stringers. I need to pick up a little more for the deckbeam laminations next week.

Our first class went well, ripping up all the cedar for gunnels, keels and chines. 

Our F1 builders were able to lay out their gunnels too. 

We will be meeting Tuesdays Thursdays and Saturdays each week.

Nazaria and Griffin and a pile of stringers


We had gotten all the F1 frames marked out, so Jon worked with Tom, Carolyn and Laurie to cut rib and deckbeams mortices. We bought a second plunge router so we hade one dedicated to straight and one dedicated to angled cuts. Makes it way easier not to have to change bases. 

While they did that Catherine, Griffin and I marked out our gunnels. 

At the same time we were cutting 26in lengths of the cedar for the deckbeams. 

I built a new set of laminating forms for the different sizes of beams. We are having warm weather so there is no issue about the glue working. Last year at this time I was taking the clamped beams home to keep them warm. 

Jon sets coaming spacing


We got more work done on marking out gunnels, cutting rib and deck beam mortices.

Some of our deck beam laminations weren’t good. I used spring clamps and really don’t like them. More clamping pressure works best. But we are limited to a finite number of c-clamps. Will just keep laminating until we get enough good beams.

Friday morning ripped up a bunch more 26in pieces of cedar, and in the afternoon glued up a bunch more.

Deck beams in progress


Continued do glue up beams. One more round and we should have enough with a few extras. We have some oak that we will use for the straight beams. Maybe a little heavy, but strong.

Finished cutting mortices on all but 1 boat. Had the F1 builders set up the decks, and did kerf cuts, and lashings. Pegs to go in Tuesday.

The LPB’s and West Greenland will get decks set up next week.

A little bit of catching up…

Time to lay out all the rib mortices and deck beam locations.

Using a tape measure

We also were in full production mode with the curved deck beams:

Like to use a lot of clamps!

Now we can use the capture forms and spreaders set the decks up:

Now that we had all our curved deckbeams and stock for straight beams, it was time to learn how to do a tenon using Brian’s measuring system. We have a bagful of special sticks, and japanese pull saws. I try to mae sure we all clamp our waork down well when we saw and use the chisels. We built a nice rolling table, really has come in handy!

A few sessions, we all had our beams made. It’s a great time when you slot them in, and the deck takes shape. Then it’s pegging them in.

We had one major issue–one of the boats fell off the stands and cracked the gunnel. We have some nice cedar but it has runout in some boards, so this was a problem! Fortunately we have some Titebond III glue always on hand, so I glued the crack back, and sistered up the inside of the gunnel. It now is the strongest part of the boat!

Glue on the crack, also pieces of thin stock reinforcing it from the inside.

With all the decks finished, it’s time to focus on ribs. We thought we had a line on some oak locally, but nothing panned out. Jon found a guy on Craig’s List up in Connecticut that looked promising. Lower Westchester County is not really a center of the logging industry. He stopped at the guy’s yard on the way back from a trip to Vermont, and got some really nice fresh (the tree was in the ground a few days before!) boards, loaded them onto his car and we got to work ripping them down. Since they were 8ft long, we also could get pieces for the coamings. We ripped for a few hours, into the dark. Fortunately the park where we have our shop has some bright lights so we worked after sunset.

Jon and I at the table saw
Big pile of sawdust!

Before the builders showed up, we did a few test ribs to see if the wood was any good. First rib was steamed for 4 minutes, bent well. We tried 6 and 8 minutes, all good! Stuff is perfect.

If we did’t get good ribs from this batch of ash, I was prepared to order a bunch from Josh Swan out in Oregon. He was great to work with, and had no problem with our not placing the order with him.

One thing I have been concerned about is keeping our supply chain going. In years past I followed the “just-in-time” system, so I would not order anything until we needed it. But with all the disruption to the trucking industry, I am getting all my supplies in now. Just received the 2-part urethane from Corey Freeman, have 150 feet of nylon skin coming from George Dyson. I have been buying skin from him for a long time, always good stuff. Brian supplied footpegs, and I will be ordering some back bands from Chesapeake Light Craft, since Brian has had issues sourcing the ones he used to sell. All I need to pick up now is rope for deck lines, bungee and webbing. Good to go!

Next up, Steaming Sunday!

By my count, we had enough rib stock milled for all 7 boats, but that really didn’t take into account any breakage. So while the steamboat was heating up, I ripped up a 30in section or 2×8 ash. Got 17 more ribs. If that isn’t enough we have a bunch more. Once we are good with ribs, we will use the rest of longer pieces to make as many coamings as we can. We have been using the same length coaming fo all our boats makes it easier.

Our first boat to rib was Carolyn’s F1. She finished prepping the ribs as the steam came up. Jon was helping with the steaming as I was ripping etc.

Carolyn using Jon’s bending jig.

We used Jon’s jog to get a good bend on the middle ribs which are a bit flatter. It works great. We did 6 minutes per rib, and can fit about 8 ribs in the steamer. Every 2 minutes we pull one out, and put in a new rib.

Fitting the rib…
Pressing down to get the right shape.

After we did the first F1, we did Laurie’ and Tom’s. Jon did hand-on direction. We had some breakage with both boats, but just recut new ribs.

Laurie on the steam box
Tom fitting a rib

Tonight night we started getting ribs into our 3 LPBs!

Jon was not able to be at the shop tonight so I led the effort. Tom met me at 3pm. I brought down a gallon of hot water for the steam box. I just live a few blocks from the shop. The ambient temperature in the shop was pretty cold, so having hot water gets the steam up pretty quickly.

Our timing system is an iPad with the stopwatch going. We use a legal pad with a column for rib#, time in and time to take out.

Timing set up

Tom handled the timing, pulling ribs that were ready and dropping in new ones. We had them in order on top of the steam box.

My first rib, #1, was not a great bend with a little breakage. Moved on, pulling a rib every two minutes, We had a hot box so left them in for 6 minutes. Ribs 2-4 bent ok, and as we moved on to the flatter ribs they came out very nicely. I remade a new #1 which worked out ok.

We have been using a metal c-clamp with wood cauls to protect the mortices. Worked great, no split gunnels when we use this.

Rib protection!

Nazaria showed up 20 minutes after I finished, so steamer was nice and hot. We can get two boats done with a gallon of water. We have an electric kettle to warm up water so it stays hot and we don’t lose time if we have to replenish.

Rib bending perfection!

We had a little splitting on a few ribs, so got out the titebond and glued them up. I keep the glue at home, so it is warm.

Clamps on rib splits

This weekend we will start on keels and chines for a few boats, Several of our builders are out of town for Thanksgiving. No problem, we are on a good schedule. If it’s not too cold a winter we should be able to get the frames done by the New Year. Then we usually take January-February off, and finish up with the skinning and coating when it gets relatively warmer. Shop is not heated all that well…

We had two sessions this weekend. Saturday we got Catharine’s LPB and Griffin’s West Greenland ribbed. We spent a little more time getting the shapes of the ribs right as we transitioned from the sharp wee at the bow to a rounder profile and then to a flattish shape in the middle. We used a batten to check that the transition was fair.

Sunday we looked at all the boats and made sure the ribs shapes were good. Redid a few, definitely made an improvement.

Now on to setting in the keels, and installing the bow and stern stems. This is mine, after getting the keep inlace and lashed:

Stems went on easily. Now to get the chines on. I work by myself during the day, since we have 6 builders and a limited amount room in the shop.


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I have been running the Yonkers Paddling and Rowing Club's boat building program since 1998. We originally had a nice heated shop paid for by a grant from the City of Yonkers, but have moved up to Kennedy Marina, a City park located on the Hudson Ever with great views of the Palisades. This is our first season building the F1.

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