How I built a 16-feet wooden kayak in my 1-bedroom NYC apartment

I work in technology, where ‘building’ is actually done by engineers. So I often feel the need to create something with my own hands outside of work. For example, I founded a community garden in Edgewater, New Jersey, upcycled my nephew’s unwanted dinosaur toys and sold them on Etsy, and much more!

The project I am especially proud of is building a 16-feet sea kayak in my 1-bedroom apartment in the NYC-metro area.

In the winter of 2014, I attended a boat building class at the Village Community Boathouse where we learned how to repair rowboats. I was so inspired that I decided to make a kayak from scratch using the same method.

As far as I understand, the easiest way to build a kayak is by using the “stitch and glue” method. This method of building boats uses pre-cut plywood panels that are “stitched” together along their joints and then glued. Sounds pretty simple, huh? I thought so too. That day, I moved my bed into the living room and converted my bedroom into a woodworking garage. I also got all of the tools I needed for the project:

  • Stitch and Glue Kayak Plans
  • Epoxy
  • Fiberglass cloth
  • Marine-grade plywood
  • Zippy ties
  • Jigsaw
  • Circular sander
  • Drill
  • Small tools: carpenters square, utility knife, safety glasses, plastic gloves, pliers

 

As soon as my plans arrived I got to work. First, I drew the shapes. Next, I cut them out using the jigsaw (my neighbors didn’t love that part of the project).  Then, I glued the pieces together using the epoxy glue, which I thickened with sawdust.

Glueing the top of the kayak with epoxy and sawdust.

I layered the inside of the kayak with epoxy, covered it with the fiberglass fabric and painted it with epoxy again. Then, I connected the bottom and the top and layered it again with fiberglass.

Matching the top and bottom parts of the stitched kayak.

After 3 months of sleeping in the living room and weeks of sanding and painting, the kayak was finally ready. The result was remarkable.

It looks good, but does it work? Here comes the final test…

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