In the fall of 2020, I found my youngest son (11 at the time) screwing pieces of plywood together to make a boat. I asked him if it was just to ‘play’ being in a boat and he replied “no, I want to take it in the ocean”
I managed to convince him that maybe we should build boats from a kit and then I started researching – I looked at stitch and glue designs (CLC and others), ruled out cedar strip and then happened across Cape Falcon Kayaks and fell in love with the F1.
Fast-forward 3 years where nothing happened.
I got my son reengaged with the idea of building kayaks (or was it the other way around?), but first we needed sawhorses (yes, I could have bought sawhorses but where’s the fun in that?)
My shop is always kind of a mess… here we are.
WIth the sawhorses out of the way, it was time to get wood. I called around at a couple places in the bay area that had clear WRC and my eyes watered a bit – the wood was going to be pricier than I had planned – apparently Trump’s tariff on Canadian wood was still having an effect. We live in Half Moon Bay and there are redwoods everywhere here so I decided to look into using redwood.
We sorted through a lot of 1×3 trim and found some usable wood but not nearly what I had hoped for. In the end, we got usable redwood for gunwales and 1°/2° stringers but I special ordered clear doug fir for the keel and foredeck stringers and clear cedar for the greenland paddles and the stems. I had a couple pieces of cedar lying around that I was able to get 4 flat deck beams out of and used a mixture of doug fir and redwood for the other deck beams – but that’s jumping ahead a bit…
I made the jigs we needed:
and we moved on to gunwale layout.
I had decided to orient the finished face of the redwood 1x3s to the inside of the kayak so the rounded edge wouldn’t interfere with any joinery but neglected to notice that the orientation during layout is not the final orientation of the gunwales. Brian makes a note of arranging the gunwales for layout so that any pre-existing bows are set up with the tips bowing away from each other )( which surprised me a bit because that seemed counter to what I expected for the final flex of the gunwales () but I figured maybe there was a reason like long-term stress or ???
Now having gone through this stage of the building and seeing that the inside/outside of the gunwales is reversed between layout and construction, it makes perfect sense but because we didn’t do the layout that way, the finished faces of the 1x3s are now on the outside of the gunwales… I don’t think it will be the end of the world.
While not strictly necessary, I used a mortise gauge to mark out where the mortise should be so I would notice if the jig had shifted. Then I cut all of the rib mortises with my plunge router (I hate routers – there is no faster way to ruin work than to use a router…) and as the astute observer may notice, continued one of the rib mortises as a nice little groove… what’s that saying?
Anyone can make a mistake – it takes an artist to hide it...
I think the repair came out ok.
I was also positive that I had plunged all of the rib mortises to full depth but just to be sure I went through every one with the test stick. Naturally, I was wrong and there was one that hadn’t been fully plunged – glad I checked.
The tip of one of the gunwales also split so I glued and clamped that and then moved on to the deck beam mortises.
I selected wood for the deck beams (curved and straight) and was doing a test cut for thickness when my tablesaw motor died. It took about a week to get that sorted out but now it’s back and better than ever.
I used doug fir for deck beams 1 and 4 to allow for the catamaran/sailing option, redwood for deck beam 2, 4 strips of redwood and 2 of doug fir for deck beam 3 and cedar from a scrap I had lying around for deck beams 5 and 6.
WIth the deck beams done it was time to move on to actually setting up the gunwales and getting a hint of the final shape (exciting!!!)
We set the capture and spreader forms and I sighted straight through the flat deck beam mortises in the back – it’s a nice little check to make sure you didn’t screw up the orientation of the gunwales (if you can see through to the opposite mortise, you’re good). Then we kerfed, lashed and pegged the ends (after checking for symmetry).
We’ve finished installing the deck beams for both of the kayaks. I ended up having to use a clamp to get both of the middle deck beams to seat in their mortises and I probably should have trimmed the tenon a bit more but I was very careful with the clamp and there was no cracking.
Most of the stem work is done though we definitely have a little cleanup work to do on the mounting face of the gunwales – that alignment was surprisingly different than expected with the gunwale tips…
Cedar plates were installed for drain plugs – they’re far from a perfect fit but they’re solid.
Hoping to get to steaming the ribs soon…