construction, along with the development
of epoxy and modern mahogany marine
plywood, has revolutionized and
revitalized wooden boat building.
This method of building is not only
stronger, lighter, and faster than
traditional wooden boat building, but it
also takes far less skill. With
stitch-and-glue construction, no
strongbacks, forms, or temporary frames
are required to build the boats. Here's
how a CLC stitch-and-glue kayak is
assembled. Of course each model is a
little different, but you'll get the
Begin with an inventory of your
computer-cut kit and group all
the related parts.
Parts longer than 8 feet - the
standard size of a plywood sheet
- are assembled using scarf
joints. Scarf joints, bonded
with epoxy, are like a weld;
they are stronger than the
Longitudinal stringers are glued
to the side panels to provide
stiffness, and later, an
attachment point for the deck.
Side panels are stitched with
copper wire at the bow and stern
and a stick is inserted to
spread the panels to the correct
The bottom panels are fastened
to the side panels with stitches
made from short lengths of
Here, the bottom panels have
been completely stitched to the
side panels, in a matter of a
few hours, creating the finished
With the bottom stitched on, the
hull is righted and bulkheads
set in place. The bulkheads help
stiffen the hull and create
Now, the "glue" part
of stitch-and-glue construction:
the hull seams are joined using
an epoxy "fillet" with
fibreglass tape for additional
When the epoxy has cured on the
interior, the hull is flipped
once again and the copper wire
snipped off. The seams are
sanded smooth and filled
A tough sheathing of fibreglass
cloth is applied to the exterior
and bonded to the hull with
The sheer clamps, with the
stringers glued on (step 3), are
planed to accept the deck panels
using a template provided with
Decks are prepared for
installation by applying a coat
of epoxy to their undersides.
The deck is installed in two
operations, first the stern,
then the bow. The deck is
fastened down with bronze nails
while the glue dries.
The cockpit is laminated onto
the deck in three layers, using
epoxy and lots of c-clamps.
The finished cockpit increases
the deck's strength and creates
a flange for a spray skirt.
While the cockpit is curing, the
hatch covers are assembled.
Hatch openings are cut in the
deck and reinforced.
Hull assembly is complete when
the deck has been sanded and
fibreglassed. Time to varnish!
This is one of the longest steps
in the process; sanding and
finishing can be expected to
take about half of the total
time of the project.
When varnishing is complete the
cockpit is fitted out with a
seat, hip braces, and back band,
all included in the kit.
Foot braces, included in the
kit, complete the fit-out.
You can spend as much time finishing as
you want. At minimum, you'll need a coat
or three or varnish or paint to protect
the epoxy from the sun's rays. You
control the finish quality - when you're
ready, go paddling!
few tools are required to build a stitch
and glue boat. Here's a list and a
Tools you must have:
measure - This is the most often
used tool in your shop. Get a good
quality 8m tape.
line or chalk line.
handsaw - We like the Japanese style
saws that cut on the pull stroke. A
small back saw, dovetail saw or
other small saw will also work.
plane - Any plane must be kept very
sharp to work well. In fact, the
sharpness of the iron is much more
important than the type of plane you
use. An inexpensive plane is okay.
and bits - You could use an old
eggbeater type drill or even a bit
and brace, but these newfangled
cordless drills are pretty neat. On
the other hand, if you want to
economize, you can get a lot better
drill for the money if you buy the
plug-in type. Buy an extra drill bit
of the size needed for drilling tie
cutters - These are for cutting the
wire or electrical ties. The
diagonal cutter type are by far the
knife - A regular utility knife.
hammer - 12 oz. or 16 oz.
mask or respirator for sanding and
glasses - please wear them.
- You'll need at least 15 clamps, 30
is better. Get at least a few spring
clamps that can be used with one
hand. Rub soap, wax, or grease on
clamp threads so epoxy won't stick
to them. You can make your own
clamps from PVC drain pipe (see the
shop tips section).
These are nice to have if you are not
starting from a kit.
saw - This is one tool for which it
really pays to buy the best. Most
boat builders seem to prefer Bosch
saws, but we use Porter Cable sabre
saws and really like them.
square - The standard 60cm
roofing square will do.
gun - An Arrow T-50 is the standard.
sander - The random orbital type are
the most versatile. We've had the
best luck with Bosch and Porter
Cable sanders. The Makita quarter
sheet sander is a bit slower than
the random orbital type, but it's
inexpensive and seems to last
forever. A big 17cm grinder is
also nice to have, but it takes a
lot of skill to use one without
destroying the boat.
saw - They are nice to have if
you're building from scratch. You
probably use a neighbour's saw or
have the lumber ripped at the lumber
yard, but try to talk your spouse
into letting you buy one anyway.
- don't buy cheap chisels.
- These are like a giant drafting
compass and are handy for laying out
radii when building from scratch.
(80, 220, and 400 grit).
foam brushes - the type with wooden,
not plastic, handles.
bristle brushes - also called chip
foam rollers - these must be the
short nap yellow type that are also
used for applying lacquer. Never use
the black foam rollers.
metering pumps or measuring cups -
metering pumps are included in our
sticks - Tongue depressors
gloves - It's far more economical to
buy a box of 100.