Building a Skin-on-Frame Kayak - Part 3

Read Part 1 and Part 2. Day 3: Feb 4th, 2012

Our first task of the day was to continue working on shaping the gunwales – the foundation of the kayak. We now needed to have the tips of the gunwales meet flat together, and one way of accomplishing this task is by using a technique known as kerf cutting. Kerf cutting is accomplished by standing at the end of the kayak and resting a saw on the line where the two gunwales come together. Cutting carefully at the point where the gunwales meet removes an equal amount of wood with each pass of the saw; enabling the gunwales to eventually meet flat together.

This process can be slightly frustrating as the gunwales meet at a compound angle and can pinch the saw blade as you attempt to cut along the join. After twenty minutes or so we had the tips of the gunwales meeting flat together and ready to move on to our next task.

We were now ready to drill and peg the gunwales together at both ends of the kayak. Without the use of nails or screws to fasten the gunwales together we instead drilled three holes along the bottom tips of the gunwales and fastened three trunnels (commonly known as “tree nails”) into the three holes. Trunnels are simply ¼ inch dowels used in the place of nails to hold the ends of the gunwales together.

With the gunwales properly secured, we took a step back and had a look at the side profile of the kayak in order to determine if the gunwales continued to maintain a long sweeping curve. In the process of shaping the gunwales it is common to have a hump develop near the end of the gunwales. This occurs as a result of adjusting the gunwales to increase the sheer of the kayak. Sure enough a very subtle hump was noticeable about 20” from the tip of the bow. Using a plane we removed the excess wood and re-established the desired long sweeping curve from the end of the stern to the tip of the bow. With the gunwales dressed and ready to go we can proceed next week on building the flat deck beams.

Read Part 4.