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Thread: Wooden kayak design books

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
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    Wooden kayak design books

    Iíve developed a curiosity into wooden kayaks and would like to find a book to goes through design considerations and construction techniques. Iíve enjoyed watching a bunch of YouTube videos on the subject and can probably spot a good design vs a bad one, but the engineer in me really wants to know why and how to do this from scratch.

    Does anybody have a good book they can recommend on designing and building wooden kayaks?

    Thanks,
    Ben

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Fairbanks AK
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    Are you leaning towards strip built or stitch and glue?

    For strip built I find the Bear Mountain canoe book to be most accessible to someone who has never built a boat before.

    For stitch and glue I lean towards Dynamite Payson, but there are a host of folks in close second place, Chesapeake Light Craft for instance. If your fillets and plywood are good it won't really matter.

    You want a fillet ball or balls either way, I store mine in a mason jar of acetone. Just various metal balls of various radii tapped for a threaded bolt or rod.

  3. #3
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    Scott, thanks for the advice - I will look into them.

    If I had to pick, Iím more interested in strip built or skin on frame, but really Iím curious about the design principles behind a kayak. Aka, calculating drag, design features (where to put hip supports, calculate speed potential, etc). Iím an engineer by trade, so understanding some of the theoretical aspects always interests me.

  4. #4
    Hello Ben,

    So I have a couple of suggestions. For Building: About a month ago, I put all of our videos up on YouTube and one series is building wood strip kayaks it is about an 8 hour playlist but it will cover the entire process from start to finish as well as tandem versus solo kayak builds. I hope it helps and am happy to answer questions if you have them. (even if you design your own). Here is the link to the playlist

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...TLPTqWCMtMFdnP

    As for understanding and designing. We could talk for hours on this, however if you are an engineer, I would suggest you download a very old piece of software called kayakfoundry. Start using it, it is pretty intuitive and very flexible. I have used it to start designs that I then finish in a traditional CAD program because it is like using a modeling software to get you started quickly before you really need to start crunching numbers.

    Let me say this before you get started. Designing a kayak is like getting your clothing from a fine haberdashery. Most people go for one of two reasons. First, because they can and second because they have some particular need that cannot be found off the shelf.

    There has been much discussion in books and on the net about forces, gravity, momentum and so on, however the reality is that these numbers when talking about something as small as a kayak will vary greatly just on a persons body type, weight, height and so on.

    That said, you are right, there are good and bad designs but more importantly, there are appropriate and inappropriate designs. As an extreme example, a Pirogue style kayak may seem ridiculous to someone looking to skirt the shores of Penobscot Bay in Maine, but I have used one in the bayous of LA and can tell you they are completely functional in flat shallow water where a sea kayak would be highly ineffective.

    So when designing I try to consider who will be using the boat and for what reason and where. I lean towards comfortable designs that may be a bit slower, but are easy to get in and out of, paddle with little effort and are stable enough to lean back and close your eyes in the afternoon sun.

    I hope that helps. Above all else, enjoy the jouney
    Jackbat

  5. #5
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    Jan 2016
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    Seattle, WA
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    Jack,

    Awesome response and exactly the Ďhintí I was looking for. I have seen videos of people running some CAD software that was clearly designed for small boats/kayaks but didnít know what it was. Thatís the rabbit hole I needed to go down..... now I just need to get windows on my Mac to run this old stuff .

    I will watch your videos. Right now Iím binging on Nich Schadeís series on building the uBootlegger Sport - he has a ton of great information. Looks like I need to get familiar with fiberglass as itís a major component to this.

    I should say, if Iím going to build one of these Iím going to do a proven design - but iíd also like to know why that proven design works.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Grefe View Post
    I’ve developed a curiosity into wooden kayaks and would like to find a book to goes through design considerations and construction techniques. I’ve enjoyed watching a bunch of YouTube videos on the subject and can probably spot a good design vs a bad one, but the engineer in me really wants to know why and how to do this from scratch.

    Does anybody have a good book they can recommend on designing and building wooden kayaks?

    Thanks,
    Ben
    Pretty late in responding to this, but I would just look for basic naval architecture textbooks for the design aspect of it. I'm a naval architect by trade, also in the Seattle area. The same principles apply to kayaks as any other displacement hull. I'd recommend Zubaly's Applied Naval Architecture. Probably the best intro book out there.

    https://www.amazon.com/Applied-Naval.../dp/0870334751 Looks like a used copy is $25 or so.

    If you want to get into more nitty gritty details, then it's hard to pass up Principles of Naval Architecture by Edward Lewis (three books in the series, part two would be the most beneficial as an addendum to Applied Naval Architecture above). Looks like there's some pdf links in a google search if you are so inclined as they are expensive to purchase at ~$100 each book.

    Speed potential is mostly dependent on length on waterline. This goes for every hull out there, kayak/tugboat/containership/etc. Hull speed is = 1.34 * square root (length on waterline). Once you start going faster than hull speed, you have to climb over the bow wave that you are creating, which increases the drag (and therefore power required) significantly.


    The reality for something like a Kayak is that it's mostly going to be designed on intuition and experience rather than calculations. Plan designers go off of their experience more often and there's a lot of dead reckoning where they know that if they modify a proven design by stretching frames/narrowing beam/adding hard chine/etc. will give them a different result. The same goes for larger boats that I work on, though it's usually backed up by lots of calculations after that. A kayak is easy enough to put together a test hull and see how it works instead of doing it all on a computer.
    Last edited by Jeffrey Martel; 11-15-2020 at 11:43 PM.

  7. #7
    Kayaks have a very specific history that is incredibly interesting (and successful). The traditional design and construction techniques are very intelligent, and in my opinion a better place to approach this project than CAD programs and textbooks.

    This is the book you want:
    Building the Greenland Kayak : A Manual for Its Construction and Use by Christopher Cunningham

    If you're looking for modern plans and comprehensive video tutorials check out https://www.capefalconkayaks.com/
    I built his F1 from a lofted drawing I found on the internet (with techniques from Cunningham's book), but now he has plans and tutorials that seem to be well organized and presented.

    Best of luck. Building a kayak is so much fun and people gravitate to these boats when you're out on the water.

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