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Greenland Forum

SOF Newbie Builder Questions
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Good morning, great questions. Having created more than a dozen skin on frame kayaks,  hopefully I can help you find some answers. I've not personally created the kayak you are building but have created boats ranging from little 12 foott 19 pound rec kayaks to 18 foot racing kayaks to kayaks intended for off shore deep water expeditions. I've also produced multiple near replica Greenland kayaks.

I personally use the 8 Oz Xtra Tough nylon from Corey Freeman and the Skin Boat School. Also, I acid dye the fabric for color and I use the 2 part polyurethane from the Skin Boat School also. Using this system I have not experienced wrinkling that you're questioning.

I've not painted the skin so I have zero experience to offer for your paint question. My gut feeling is that the paint will eventually crack due to the boat flexing.

Douglas fir is prone to rot because of its hydroscopic properties. If you choose to use it I would recommend using Tung oil to seal the wood. Be liberal with this coating and keep your boat clean and dry and it should be fine. I've personally used everything from cedar to poplar and ultimately the wood you choose needs to be sized accordingly and sealed against moisture. An example of this is, if the stringers are designed to be red cedar but you want to use poplar, you need to take into consideration the fact that Poplar is 18% stronger and 19% heavier than red cedar for a given size. Which ultimately means that you can reduce the size of the Stringer by 18% and create a piece that is structurally just as strong. Of course if you do so you're going to run into other issues like not having enough clearance between the skin and the ribs or other structure. Also in this example, you'd want to seal the wood against rot, hence using the tung oil that I mentioned earlier. I personally use this real life example, including using poplar from trees that I've harvested myself, ran through the sawmill and continued Milling once I get the wood back to my own personal shop. Ultimately with correct structural designs, I've been able to use Poplar for gunnels that are 0.410 thick with 0.250 mortises for the ribs. Precision like this requires attention to grain and detail, which you obviously have an eye for from your observations of your local hardwood dealer. Basically what I'm trying to say is use caution before you go redesigning something to use a different wood, but if you use the skills that you have and grow your skills it's possible to use other wood species. With that said, my recommendation is to go to your local Menards which being in New York state I believe they have near you, go back and sort through all of the construction grade red cedar. Personally I find really good luck by looking in the 2-in by 8-in X 16 ft long or similar pieces that they have in their barn out back. Often I will have to look through 50 or more boards to find a single board with the grain that I'm looking for and may possibly only be able to use 50% of that board due knot placement. I've used this method multiple times to create lightweight red cedar stringers and gunnels. Including an entire Greenland kayak made out of Menards sourced red cedar, which I have also personally taken Whitewater kayaking on the Yough river at Ohiopyle, which is the way wrong boat for this but sometimes doing something stupid is the best way to push the limits and find the breaking point, which I did not find on this 25 pound kayak. My point is that it's possible to build a lightweight, strong and durable kayak with attention to the grain and detail. 

Since I do not use screws in my boats I'll refrain from commenting on them. I do use a dab of Gorilla glue where I use pegs and have had good results. 

Good luck with your build and happy paddling, 

Kymberly Byers 

As a new member, I have loads of questions regarding skin on frame construction.


I am building the PBK-22 15' Open Double Kayak as designed by Percy Blandford. I am building it per his Book Canoes and Canoeing. I have the frames cut out and finish sanded of marine 3/8" plywood. The open frames have been doubled using epoxie 24 hour cure and have turned out beautifully. Living in Northern New York State, I plan to purchase and cut the stringers and start building this spring.


1 - I have 1-1/4" #6 and #8 brass screws and was planning on using 24 hour epoxie as the bonding agent. Should I be using something else that is less rigid upon curing?


2 - I was planning on using 12 oz. ballistic nylon, but have been reading a lot about the hygroscopic nature of nylon to cause wrinkling of the skin. Would I minimize this if the inside of the kayak was also coated with 2 part urethane?


3 - Regarding the stringers... My local hardwoods supplier in Lake George, N.Y., has cedar that has absolutely horrible 45 degree grain and cedar isn't all that strong. While light, I can see all kinds of issues and scarf repairs using that material. However, The Douglas Fir is beautiful. Nice straight grain and very strong, although a little heavier than cedar. At $6.50 a foot, would I be better off using clear pine from our local lumber supplier?


4 - Anyone painting over the 2 part urethane? I want to have an opaque color rather than the semi transparent look of a non-painted SOF. Any recommendations here of a material that will stand up to intermittent water use without peeling or cracking?


Thank you for your patience. I would appreciate any comments you may have. Sincerely...Tom

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