Kayaks You Can Build: An Illustrated Guide to Plywood Construction
Kayaks You Can Build: An Illustrated Guide to Plywood Construction
Kayaks You Can Build: An Illustrated Guide to Plywood Construction Kayaks You Can Build: An Illustrated Guide to Plywood Construction

* Book Type:

Not Available Online
Publisher: Firefly Books

Author Statement: Ted Moores and Greg Rössel
Audience: Trade
Specs: 472 step-by-step color photographs, glossary, sources, index
Pages: 256
Trim Size: 11" x 8 3/8" x 7/8"
Language code 1: eng
Publication Date: 20040819
Copyright Year: 2004
Price: Select Below

Kayaks You Can Build: An Illustrated Guide to Plywood Construction

A step-by-illustrated-step guide through the entire construction cycle of building a plywood kayak from a stitch and glue kit. Includes a history of kayaks, choosing a kayak, setting up a work area, tools, tricks, safety and troubleshooting.

The definitive handbook for kayak builders.

Kayaks are growing in popularity as a fun, low-impact way to explore the wilderness or paddle on local waters.

Combining easy-to-follow instructions with 472 color photographs, Kayaks You Can Build takes the reader, step-by-step, through the entire construction cycle of building a plywood kayak.

This simple construction process demands neither special skills nor a woodworking shop.

This book includes:

  • A short history of the kayak
  • How to choose the right kayak for your needs and skill level
  • Setting up your work area and how to build a work table and cradle forms
  • Details of all the necessary tools, materials and supplies
  • Tricks of the trade from ensuring the boat stays twist-free during construction to laying fiberglass cloth the easy way for a great finish
  • Minimizing exposure to toxic fumes and dust
  • How to avoid and correct mistakes.

This book includes day-to-day building journals for the three most popular kayak kits. A typical stitch and glue kayak kit contains pre-cut plywood planks, epoxy and hardware.

Drawing on more than thirty years of boatbuilding and teaching experience, Kayaks You Can Build enables the first-time builder to assemble a kayak with truly professional results.


Ted Moores is the bestselling author of Canoecraft. In 1972, Moores pioneered the woodstrip/epoxy boatbuilding system for canoes and, since then, has promoted the fine art of wooden-canoe and kayak construction.

Greg Rössel builds and repairs small wooden boats and is an instructor at the Wooden Boat School in Maine. Rössel is the author of Building Small Boats.



The dramatic growth in the popularity of kayaks is perhaps not surprising in a world of pricey, obnoxiously loud personal watercraft. As a low-impact way to explore wilderness or to paddle through cottage country, these elegant, easy-to-transport craft are hard to beat.

The availability of kits with precut plywood components has given a growing number of paddlers the freedom to build a strong, lightweight kayak to their specifications and at a reasonable price. The common building methods used are "stitch and glue" or "tack and tape." A typical stitch-and-glue kayak kit contains precut plywood planks, epoxy and hardware. To assemble the hull, holes are drilled along each plank's edge and the plank is temporarily wired, or stitched, to the adjoining plank. The seams are then glued and covered with epoxy and fiberglass cloth. This simple construction process demands neither special skills nor a woodworking shop. All that is necessary is the desire to build it right.

Since its roots can be traced to backyard boatbuilding, it's not surprising that using plywood to build a kayak encourages experimentation and innovation. There are many good ways to use the material, and Kayaks You Can Build is intended to be a resource for all builders, regardless of the method they have chosen to build their boat. Much of the book is dedicated to showing you how to perform each of the construction steps in an efficient and safe manner. The three featured kayaks illustrate the many different possibilities for combining the basic building techniques. Following these instructions will enable you to build a beautiful, professional-quality kayak in your first attempt.

As professional boatbuilders and teachers, we understand the challenges faced by the first-time builder and have tried to address these by demonstrating that professional quality combines a state of mind and a few shortcuts applied in the right places; by introducing simple boatbuilding controls that will make the shape of your craft predictable; by reducing exposure time to epoxy and dust to a minimum by finding the shortest route to the best results; and by exploring enough of the "why" behind what we are doing to make the instructions valuable to anyone building a plywood boat, regardless of the method.

Some independent-minded builders feel restricted by the prosaic constraints of working with a manufacturer's manual. There is always a temptation to skip steps, to do them out of order or to give more tedious tasks a lick and a promise so that you can get to the good parts. This is bad news in boatbuilding because the process is a continuum, with each new piece dependent on the placement and quality of the previous one. We'll tell you the reasons why certain steps are important and which steps in the process can be streamlined.

That said, you will make mistakes. The trick is to keep those miscues to a minimum and ensure that any repairs are top quality. Unfortunately, few stock manuals have the space to help novices correct mistakes or, better yet, avoid them. Well, mistakes do happen and we document some common ones, how they were remedied and how they could have been avoided in the first place.

The techniques and tools suggested in this book are tried and true and a great place to start, but they are not the only way. A big part of boatbuilding is problem-solving, invention, borrowing technology from one application and using it in another, and utilizing the tools and solutions you are familiar with. So sharpen up that block plane and you'll be out on the water before you know it.



A Short History of the Kayak

  • The Pioneers of Recreational Kayaking
  • The Folding Kayak
  • Plywood and Strip-Planking
  • A Bit on Bytes

Choosing the Right Kayak

  • Where Will You Paddle?
  • Consider Your Skill Level
  • Design Considerations

Setting Up the Workshop

  • Working Like a Professional
  • Think Lazy
  • Ruminations on a Good Worktable
  • Building a Worktable

Tools, Materials and Supplies

  • Plywood: Join the Marines
  • Plan Sheets
  • Measuring and Setup Tools
  • Cutting and Shaping Tools
  • Fastenings and Fastening Tools
  • Epoxy and Fiberglassing Materials
  • Epoxy Thinners and Solvents
  • Fiberglass Cloth
  • Epoxy Tools
  • Sanding Tools and Materials
  • Finishing Tools and Materials
  • Safety and Cleaning Supplies and Other Necessities

Twelve steps to a Kayak

Plywood Boat-Building Techniques

  • Joining the Plank Components
  • Lining up the Components
  • Working with Epoxy
  • Clamping
  • Butt Joints
  • Glass Butt Blocks
  • Plywood Butt Blocks
  • Scarf Joints
  • Scarf Joints in Wide Panels
  • Scarfing Sheer Clamps and Guards

Assembling the Hull and Deck

  • Drilling Suture Holes
  • Making Wire Sutures
  • Wiring Panels
  • Tacking Planks with Filler
  • Filling Wire Holes
  • Fillets
  • Fillet and Tape
  • The End Pour

Fiberglassing the Outside and Inside

  • Preparing the Surface
  • Positioning the Fiberglass Cloth on the Outside
  • The First Coat of Epoxy
  • The Squeegee Is Your Friend
  • Reinforcing the Stem
  • The Second Coat of Epoxy
  • The Third Coat of Epoxy
  • Sealing Plywood with Epoxy
  • Fiberglassing Inside of Hull


  • Machine Sanding
  • Hand Sanding

Installing Trim

  • Building a Safe Kayak
  • Bulkheads
  • Cockpit Coaming
  • Hatches
  • Steam-Bent Outer Stems
  • Guard

Fitting Out

  • Seat
  • Foot Pegs
  • Hip Braces
  • Rudder
  • Deck Rigging
  • Nonskid Area


  • Super Sealer
  • Varnishing and Painting
  • Adding Color with Aniline Dyes

A Kayak Builder's Journal

The Coho

  • Day 1: Get Organized
  • Days 2-4: Join Plank Components
  • Day 5: Assemble Hull
  • Days 6-7: Glue Plank Seams
  • Days 8-11: Glass Outside of Hull
  • Days 12-13: Assemble Deck Panels
  • Days 14-16: Seal Underside of Deck
  • Days 17-19: Glass Inside of Hull
  • Days 20-21: Join Hull and Deck
  • Days 22-24: Glass the Deck
  • Days 25-29: Trim the Deck
  • Days 30-37: Varnish or Paint and Install Fittings

The Mill Creek

  • Day 1: Get Organized
  • Days 2-4: Join Plank Components
  • Day 5: Assemble Hull
  • Days 6-9: Join Planks
  • Days 10-11: Glass Inside of Hull
  • Days 12-13: Complete Interior
  • Days 14-18: Glass Outside of Hull
  • Days 19-21: Install Bulkheads, Knees and Carlins
  • Days 22-26: Install and Glass Deck
  • Days 27-30: Install Trim
  • Days 31-36: Varnish or Paint, Install Fittings

The Enterprise

  • Day 1: Get Organized
  • Days 2-3: Join Plank Components
  • Day 4: Set Up Forms
  • Days 5-7: Assemble Hull
  • Day 8: Glass Outside of Hull
  • Days 9-11: Plank the Deck
  • Days 12-14: Glass the Deck
  • Days 15-16: Glass Inside of Hull
  • Days 17-22: Complete Deck
  • Days 23-28: Varnish


Author Events   Firefly Books Fall 2021 Catalog PDF