Olav’s Flat Deck F1

This is my third skin on frame build. Two west Greenland kayaks, the first one after the book by Christopher Cunningham, second the cape falcon west greenland in the low volume version. The west greenland is a marvelously good looking kayak, and a pleasure to paddle on flat water. And a rolling machine of course.

For all it coolness, it is definitively not a general purpose kayak. With a bit of cross winds following something resembling a straight line is a mayor strugle, and it is not designed with comfort in mind. Now that the greenland kayak out of my system, I want to make a F1. The winter months over here can be pretty depressing, with all the rain, cold and darkness. Therefore a project is a must.

Brian recomended building the new flat deck F1. The lines are more traditional, also the flat front deck gives lots of space for storing the stuff I need, mainly binoculars, map case and a shotgun. Since I am going to use this with a sea sock, a front hatch is wery handy. The flat deck makes that possible. The making of both of these will be described.

The changes to the standard F1 are mostly above the water line:

  • Bow sheer wedges lifting the bow slightly.
  • Deck beams 1 and 2 replaced with ones straight and slightly curved, respectively.
  • The single deck stringer replaced with two in a more traditional greenland layout.
  • A longer and more rounded bow

I am not going to repeat the preparation work. The main departure from the standard is that I am making this boat almost exclusively out of pine, therefore sheer boards and stringers are built according to the light weight version F1. The deck was built like this:

A little explanation might be in order on deck beam 3. Brians advice propping the deck stringers on wedges glued to the beam. I just didn’t dig that, I wanted something more solid. In essence this deck beam fullfill much of the same functions as a masik. Therefore I opted for Chris Cunningham’s design for a laminated masik, which is to laminate a thick beam of lots of thin strips, and then saw away most of it. On the picture it is seen that the beam is composed of white pine and red cedar. The cedar strips was left from my last build, I figured that was a good way to use them.

Another departure from the standard F1 is the addition of a bow stem plate in stead of gluing on wooden blocks. My rationale is that since the bow is somewhat longer than standard, a little more strength wouldn’t hurt and also I need something solid in which to attach a GoPro. But to be frank, the main reason is that I like that kind of wood work.

The deck built, now was time for the steam bending. The rest of the woodwork is pretty straight forwards, but the steam bending is a different story. Things need to be done quickly, with lots of potential for screw-up. It turned out well, only one broken rib, even though the quality of the rib stock was quite variable. All of it was kiln dried ash, some fresh cut, some from my last build, five months ago. The fresh wood is the light coloured on the picture, the darker has been in the tub for five months. The old ones bent like dough.

The foot braces are from Kajak Sport. They had to be supported on wedges.


Now that the steam setup is up and running, it is time to make the front hatch. This is done after the design developed by Anders Thygeson. Installation to come later.


Using the skin supplied – and skinning method developed – by Anders Thygeson required a bit of thought. Pure nylon can pucker in the cold northern environment, so he has found a nylon – polyester blend that works really well. It should be stretched wet, and with some force as well. I found that stretching 20 cm was doable, but then I am using a kind of hoist. See picture.

The fabric from Kajakkspesialisten is on purpose quite narrow and requires sewing in extra pieces, just like they did when skinning with real sealskins. The fabric cut off on the ends is sewn onto the middle section of the kayak. It reduces the amount of scrap fabric considerably.

Now for a little wait. Due to wordwide shipping problems as of late, the goop from skinboats is considerably delayed. Time to make another paddle perhaps.

Painting, rigging and accessories

The Goop having arrived, painting was a breeze. It’s a different world as compared to boat varnish. Goop doesn’t stink and everything can be done in two short days. (Bottom on the first evening, top the next.)

Wow! I didn’t make any pictures of the complete kayak after applying goop, but I did for some details of the rigging. The weather is absolutely awful, so I am not too keen to try her even if she would float. Using the time completing the rigging.

The front keel protector is made of aluminium rib I have had lying around, taken from the cover of a discarded baby pram. Don’t listen to the minimalists advocating throwing out everything you don’t use!

The sea sock is made from a kit supplied by Kajakkspesialisten. The fabric is heavy, waterproofed canvas. Due to its stiffness, it keeps the shape. Wet exit in open ocean without a sea sock is simply not an option. The kit is not on offer in the webshop, but contact him directly and he’ll help you.

Hatch cover is made of the same material.

Deck straps are nice, braided cotton cord from guess who. Toggles are in teak from an old door frame.

The back band is 3mm thick ABS covered with the cussion from a bag. Since the sea sock needs to be removable, I am using thumb nuts from the bin. Stainless steel vagon bolts doesn’t fall out when the nuts are removed.


Finally the rain is letting up. Using the opportunity to getting a night for myself. Sunny day, although windy. 10 m/s in exposed areas, which are hard to avoid as I am kayaking around islets. Getting a bit of surf on the wind waves. Kayak performs well, although everything feels sluggish. I guess it is a combination of the weather and not having done any kayaking of note for months.

Fair-weather update

Winter is turning into spring and the wind is easing. Took her out for a 25 km trip. Without waves and cargo, any sign of sluggishness has evaporated. Regrettably, I didn’t find my gps-watch so weren’t able to track speed.


  1. Tibor
    January 30, 2022

    Nice work Olav!

    I made similar roll closure hatches last summer. You won’t regret installing them! Didn’t know anyone else had made them but they are easy to make and work really well, even for some rolling. Did some blogging about the kayak here if you care to take a look. It’s a crazy building idea: https://rugd.se/kayak/started-a-new-build/

    All the best,

  2. Mayeric
    January 31, 2022

    Great to have a post on this ‘flat deck’ F1 that looks gorgious (I like the lower volume hulls) ! From your other postings on the western greenland kayak build, it seem we have the same size/weight : Which size of F1 is it ? Any on-water feedback on this built, in particulat about the width of the boat with respect to paddeling ergonomics (somewhat wider that your greenlands) 😉

  3. Olav
    February 8, 2022

    Thanks for the comments, both!

    Tibor: Good work if you figured out that hatch solution yourself. I am basically copying the design developed by Anders Thygeson at kajakkspesialisten.no, but with a more solid lip. Compared to a lot of the solutions, I think it looks good. Especially with the spray cover in the same material. I am using both made by Brooks. This time I’ll make them myself.

    Mayeric: I am building the 150 lbs boat. At 64 kg, 169 cm that should be about right. I am also concerned about the width. I was very tempted to make it a thad narrower, but I don’t want to be a know-better guy, and am following the instructions to the letter.

  4. Mayeric
    March 17, 2022

    It is a real beauty ! Congratulation ! I love this design and there is quite a chance this “flat deck” F1 will be my first construction. Also very interested by the use of the Kajakkspesialisten fabric that seems much easier to source in europe that the Skinboat one. A bit of a surprise however that it is not wide enough for the kayak and that you need to patch-it up… Could it be because the kayak is wider that typical greeland-type kayak ?

    1. Olav
      March 17, 2022

      I’d highly recommend the fabric from Kajakkspesialisten. He can sell you wider fabric, but the reason he choose to cut it narrow is for the reduction of waste. The price will be slightly less as well. If building this kayak or a standard F1, mail him and specify that it is for an F1. Then he’ll cut you a shorter length. 5m is enough.

      Personally I think the extra seam gives a bit of special flair. A basic principle of product design is that what cannot be hidden must be enhanced. The seams make it obvious that it is not a industrially made kayak.

      As for coating, the goop from skinboats is excellent and quick to apply, but transport from the States is at least two months. My other kayak is coated with inexpensive boat varnish, as described in the videos from kajakkspesialisten. It works well, but a minimum of four layers are needed, and with drying time, coating might take more than a week.


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