Frequently Asked Questions
Am I capable of building a kayak?
You do not have to be a trained carpenter or boat builder to be able to build a boat using the stitch-and-glue method. No special prior knowledge or skills are required; anyone is capable of building a classy, sturdy and functional boat using this technique. If you enjoy craftsmanship and are already somewhat skilled at it, that is of course still an advantage.
Much more important than having sound previous knowledge is that you do not put yourself under time pressure and that you have the necessary stamina for certain work steps - e.g. sanding. If you have respect for a work step, you can first watch it in the video documentation and additionally read about the necessary knowledge in the detailed printed construction manual. If you have any questions, you can of course contact us.
How big does my workshop need to be?
As a rule of thumb, minimum workspace size = boat size + minimum distance of 1m around the boat. So for a 5m long and 60cm wide kayak, the minimum workspace is 7m x 2.60m. Of course, you can also align your boat building space diagonally in your workshop.
You do not need a professional workshop. You can also build your boat in a garage or under a carport. An enclosed space with heating and water supply is of course much more comfortable. There, the boat is protected from insects, pollen and extreme temperature fluctuations. Epoxy resin is best processed at room temperature.
What workshop equipment will I need?
The construction project can be carried out with relatively few electrical and hand tools, most of which can be found in any well-equipped DIY workshop:
A sander (preferably a random orbital sander), a cutter (= carpet knife), a hammer, screw clamps, plastic spring clamps, a hand plane, possibly a Japanese saw, a chalk line, a cordless drill as well as drills and bits, a pair of combination pliers, wire cutting pliers, a pair of scissors, a screwdriver or a pencil (as a spacer), a tape measure, a squeegee, two sawhorses, tie-down straps, a jigsaw, a folding rule, a carpenter's square, a sanding block, a thin wooden or plastic strip.
Keep safety considerations in mind as well: Some operations require hearing protection, rubber gloves, safety glasses or a respirator.
Do I really need to use boatbuilding plywood?
Well, you don't have to, of course. But you can save yourself a lot of trouble if you do. For example, in boatbuilding plywood, the two outer veneer layers are relatively thick. In contrast, the paper-thin face plies of a hardware store plywood are quickly sanded through - revealing the center ply. In low-quality plywood, the three veneer layers are usually only glued together in spots, whereas in boat-building plywood they are glued together over the entire surface. This high quality means that marine plywood is significantly more expensive than low-grade plywood - and quite rightly so.
How long does it take to build a kayak?
Despite fairly simple construction, you will have to invest a few weekends. You can expect about 100 hours net when you build your first kayak. You will also not be able to work non-stop, because some work steps require waiting times, for example when epoxy resin or varnish have to cure.
What total costs should I expect?
If you use high-quality material (i.e., boat-building plywood instead of low-quality plywood), you can expect to pay about 1,000 to 1,100 euros for our longest model (Mono Stray 52), depending on where you buy it. This includes all building materials (plywood, softwood slats, glass fabric, glass tape, epoxy resin, hardener, fillers, varnish), equipment components (seat, backstrap, footrests, deck fittings, carrying handles, seals), consumables in your workshop, and shipping costs for your various orders. Compared to a comparably extensive complete kit, you save about 250 to 500 euros. If you buy such a hand-built kayak, you will have to spend at least 2,500 euros.
Why don't you offer real size building plans?
Have you ever tried to transfer a line cleanly onto a plate along a thin paper stencil? The resulting line is usually not very nice. In addition, the stencil paper can expand or shrink depending on humidity and temperature. For 5-meter hull planks, these fluctuations can amount to plus/minus 3 to 4 cm in extreme cases.
We therefore favor the transfer of dimensions from the plan to the plywood sheets using the loft method, which is common in boatbuilding. In this process, nails are first driven into the panels at measuring points specified by the plan. Then a thin wooden strip is clamped to the nails. "Lofting" means connecting the measuring points to form a line with a harmonic curve, which is drawn along this wooden strip. This method is, of course, more laborious than using full-surface paper templates, but it is also much more accurate in the result. Since the hull planks will be joined together later, the course of the line is crucial because otherwise the planks will not fit together properly.
Do you also offer kayak kits?
In the meantime, we no longer manufacture kayak kits. The clear majority of our customers want to get the building material themselves. We still have some kits of the Mono Stray 52 model in stock - if you are interested, please contact us!
What is the intended use of the boats?
Due to the length and the V-shaped hull, the boats are predestined for long and fatigue-free trips in calmer waters. The storage space of the boats is generously dimensioned, so that luggage can also be taken along for tours lasting several days. They are unsuitable for white-water trips, where a round bottom and a shorter boat would be a prerequisite for high maneuverability.
Are the boats resilient?
The stability of the boats comes from the composite of the individual materials. The term composite boat would therefore also be more accurate than the term wooden boat. The composite of plywood with glass fibers as reinforcing fabric creates a strong and rigid material. Since glass fabric is not visible due to its transparency, many paddlers do not even know that the boats are coated with it. In terms of material behavior, no disadvantages can be discerned compared to plastic boats (e.g. made of polyethylene).
How can the pleasant handling be explained?
The hull shape, the paddler's seating position and the weight of the boat have the greatest influence on the handling characteristics. The hull shape designed on the computer is optimized in terms of flow technology, taking into account other specifications (sufficient space for the paddler and payload). The calculation of the optimal seating position takes into account the position of the boat's center of gravity as well as a theoretically assumed distribution of the luggage. The weight is kept as low as possible without compromising on the static properties of the boats.
Why are extremely light wooden kayaks occasionally found on the market?
This weight saving is only possible if laminate or varnish layers are saved. Each layer of fiberglass fabric - applied with epoxy resin - has a certain weight. If, for example, the deck is not laminated with fiberglass fabric, or if layers of paint are saved, this may not be immediately apparent on the new boat. But at the latest when you have a dent in the deck or the plywood becomes visible in scratches in the hull, you will be annoyed about this weight saving.
Here is a calculation example: We recommend using okoumé plywood, which is already quite light. In our longest 1-person kayak (5.18 m), about 6 square meters of boatbuilding plywood are installed. With a density of approx. 475 kg per cubic meter, this already adds up to more than 12 kg. In addition, there are the epoxy, glass and varnish layers (here one calculates with about 800 g per square meter), as well as fillets and the complete finishing (seat, back strap, footrests, straps, deck lines, carrying handles). So the weight automatically adds up to about 20-21 kg for this relatively long boat.
Can the wood change color after some time?
Wood surfaces exposed to sunlight may darken or fade because the UV component of the radiation triggers photochemical reactions on the wood surface. For this reason, we recommend coating the decks of the boats with epoxy resin and high-quality transparent yacht varnish, which are mixed with UV absorbers. These minimize possible discoloration of the wood. The original wood color tone may still change slightly, although some suppliers do not like to admit this.
This is especially the case with small sport boats, on which typically only a few coats of varnish are applied. In contrast, for example, yacht decks on which 10 to 20 or even more coats of paint are applied show almost no change in color. However, since slight discoloration always affects the entire boat equally, the overall aesthetic appearance of a wooden boat is not devalued
Can wooden kayaks rot?
The penetration of moisture into the wood is a prerequisite for the settlement of wood-destroying or wood-discoloring fungi. However, all plywood parts and wooden strips of the kayaks are sealed with epoxy resin, and in addition, the entire boat is coated on the outside with fiberglass fabric as well as several layers of clear or colored varnish. Therefore, rotting is actually impossible.
However, if a collision or a sharp object causes a deep crack that penetrates into the fiberglass fabric, this area should be repaired locally, i.e. a small piece of fiberglass fabric should be reapplied or at least the area should be repainted. However, this is not a specific disadvantage of wooden kayaks; patching is also occasionally necessary on plastic kayaks.
Is special care required for the boats?
The boats are similarly robust as plastic kayaks, so in principle no maintenance is required at all. However, if the boats are used intensively for many years and, for example, are repeatedly pulled over stony shores, scratches will naturally appear in the hull's paint.
Since the plywood is protected by fiberglass fabric, several layers of epoxy resin and varnish, it is quite unlikely that a scratch will ever penetrate the wood. So these scratches are more cosmetic. Nevertheless, it is of course up to you whether you sand the hull again lightly and apply a new coat of varnish. The effort for this work step is manageable, and your boat will look like new again afterwards!
How should kayaks be stored?
The kayaks should be stored in a dry place. Usually kayaks are stored in boathouses, garages or under the roof overhang on trestles or lie on padded brackets screwed into the wall. Suspension from the workshop or garage ceiling is also possible, of course.
What kayak equipment should I choose?
It depends on how and how often you use your kayak, how much you want to invest, and what you like visually. In the case of a wooden kayak, which is primarily characterized by its aesthetics, visual aspects naturally also play a role. Whether you prefer lashing straps or invisible fastening of the stowage compartment lids, for example, is a matter of taste. Both systems are functional and safe.
How do I transport a kayak?
Usually kayaks are transported on the roof of the car, where two kayaks can fit side by side. If there are more than two kayaks, a special trailer is often used. If your kayak is stored in a boathouse by default, you may need a small boat trolley to pull the kayak behind you, depending on the distance to the inlet. You can also take such a trolley with you on your paddling trip; sometimes it is necessary to transfer the boat, for example, to get from one lake to the next or to avoid obstacles (such as weirs). You can either fold the boat trolley and transport it in one of the boat's storage compartments or attach it to the deck.
What should be considered when transporting the kayaks on the roof of the car?
First of all, to be on the safe side, you should find out what roof load your vehicle is approved for. However, with most cars it is no problem to transport two kayaks on the roof. You can transport the kayaks either upright or lying flat. There are many systems available on the market for both options (either complete systems, or ones where you mount transport brackets or trays on your roof rack). We recommend the flat version; this way you don't have to lift the kayaks higher than absolutely necessary. It also makes your vehicle less susceptible to crosswinds.
When positioning the boat on the roof, make sure that the front tip of the boat does not protrude over the front bumper (imagine you are looking at the car from above). Towards the rear, the boat may protrude a maximum of 1.50 m beyond the rear bumper (whereby you must signal the end of the boat from a protrusion of one meter, for example, with a red flag). This, however, is valid in Germany. Please check the regulations in your country.
For fastening, use lashing straps. Often the manufacturers of roof transport systems offer these directly. In any case, the straps must be tightened so that the boats cannot come off the roof even during a braking maneuver. Often, the bow and stern are additionally secured to the front and rear bumper with ropes.
You should close the cockpit of the boat while driving with a hatch cover. Such covers are available in neoprene, for example, and keep out both rain and wind. The noise while driving is also greatly reduced.
What other accessories might be useful when paddling?
The choice of double paddle depends on the paddler and the purpose of use. For water hiking, endurance is critical, and a small paddle blade would be advisable. Although this involves more paddle strokes, the use is much more energy-saving than with a wide paddle blade. The weight of the paddle is also noticeable on tours lasting several hours. When paddling in pairs, it is recommended that the slightly less fit paddler use a lighter paddle so that fatigue sets in for both paddlers at about the same time. The length of the paddle depends on the size of the paddler and the width of the boat. You should seek comprehensive advice from your local dealer.
A spraydeck ensures that no splashing water or water dripping from the paddle ends up in the cockpit, so the paddler does not have to sit in a puddle. Spray covers are made of water-repellent elastic materials and are slipped over the edge of the cockpit. So it's important to consider the size of the cockpit and the paddler when choosing the size of the spraydeck. Make sure that the spraydeck's handle loop is always within easy reach during the paddling trip. By the way, spray covers are available not only for single kayaks, but also for two-person kayaks with a large cockpit (although these are usually ridden without a spray cover).
Of course, the life jacket is important; buoyancy and size depend on the paddler. Other possible accessories include a throw bag and tow line. Also a signal foghorn (or a whistle) should be on board to be able to make yourself noticed e.g. by motorboats or ships. A first aid kit is also useful. If water does get into the cockpit (e.g. when getting out after capsizing), a hand-operated bilge pump (or at least a sponge) can be helpful.
Water shoes are handy when getting in and out of the water; they can significantly reduce the risk of cutting your feet. A paddling jacket can keep you warm and dry. In general, the same applies to the topic of safety: Get competent advice on this.
For waterproof packing of provisions, clothing, valuables, etc., there are a variety of bags, pouches and cans that can be placed in the storage compartments or in the cockpit or attached to the deck.
A useful utensil is the paddle line, which can be used to attach the paddle to the deck. This is extremely convenient when getting in and out of the boat; you can simply float the paddle in the water without it floating away. A paddle line is not expensive; you can easily make one yourself.
Some paddlers have problems with limbs "fallen asleep" due to restricted blood circulation; proper padding can help. Therefore, many paddlers try to make their cockpit a little more comfortable. For this purpose, there are aids (mostly foams; it is important that they are closed-cell) that are glued into the kayak and are supposed to cushion heels, knees, thighs or hips. You can also cut a cheap camping mat for this purpose, for example (camping mats are usually made of closed-cell foam). A gel cushion placed on the seat can also help.