Building a Skin-on-Frame Kayak - Part 9

Today we began by selecting a piece of straight grained red oak suitable to serve as our keel stringer (aka keelson) and proceeded to plane all faces smooth and round the edges. We needed to determine whether the chosen piece of wood had any curves in it as it is important to work with the natural curves of the selected piece in order for it to be oriented in the same direction as the curve of the bottom of the boat (moving slightly up toward the bow and stern). Luckily the piece of wood that we had chosen was ideal for use as a keel stringer.

In order to install the keel stringer to both the bow and stern stem pieces a temporary braces was needed in order to maintain the keel stringer in its proper place. After building the temporary brace out of some scrap wood lying around the shop, we clamped the brace to the masik and laid the keel stinger into the notch of the temporary brace and clamped it to both the bow and stern stem pieces. Evaluating the desired position of the keel stringer was accomplished predominantly by “eye.”  Content with the proportions and lines of the kayak we proceeded to establish a skeg by adjusting the keel stinger just ahead of the stern stem piece. The adjustment of the keel stringer was accomplished by tying a loop of heavy cord (or a Velcro strap in our case) around the keel stringer and the second deck beam from the stern.

By gradually tightening the cord and bending the keel stinger down inwards a skeg was established which ultimately drags in the water and provides directional stability for the paddler. To establish the skeg, the keel stringer only needed to be bent slightly, perhaps an inch or so to achieve the desired effect.  Next we proceeded to shape the stem pieces at both the bow and stern to accommodate the keel stringer which was eventually doweled and lashed into place.

Next week we begin working on shaping the ribs… Stay tuned.