Arenal Kayaks Boatshop

Boat construction is considered by many to be the ultimate test of carpentry skills. Also a test of patience as many hours of work sometimes spanning years are required to construct a seaworthy craft.

Cutting Strips

A fair amount of preparation is necessary to get started on cutting strips. Guides and supports will make cutting much safer, more reliable, and less work so first some infeed and outfeed supports for the table saw. After that some featherboards to hold the piece tight to the fence on the router table.

We'll be working with mainly 3 vara (99") or less boards initially but there may be pieces up to 4 varas (132") in length. I expect the setup for a 3 vara board will work just as well on longer pieces.

The photos on the left (click for a larger image) show my outfeed and router tables. Not terribly fancy but it does the job. Decided against an infeed table since it would be in the way most of the time and after cutting a couple batches of strips it didn't seem necessary. Also didn't try to attach any featherboards for ripping strips. What I've been doing is using a small block in my left hand to keep pressure against the fence and feeding with my right hand. Of course I made a push handle to grab the end of the board for the final feed over the blade. All in all, the process is working out fairly well except my hand gets tired of pushing against the fence after about 3 boards (30 strips).

Glued up 2 feather boards from scraps and attached them to the router table. Keeps the strip against the cove&bead bit without jumping around. Makes it easy to use the next strip to push the previous one through. Setup is not to hard so even though I've now done 3 different batches, each batch is coming out pretty close to the others.

The material being used for the hull is a local wood called laurel. This is a soft wood and is lightweight. I have no idea how it compares to red cedar which is the material of choice for north american builders but we'll see. The main consideration is weight which means a softer wood. Laurel, while soft also appears to be quite strong so will add strength to the boat as well.

With color variation from almost black to white, there should be plenty of opportunity to create some interesting patterns in the boat. Depending on how the strips look, I'll attempt to make most of the hull from darker wood from the sheerline to the waterline where I'll put a strip of white to highlight that feature. After that it'll depend on my stock of remaining strips but I'm thinking that most of the bottom will be the lighter color.

The deck strips have not been chosen yet. Thinking this is where I'll use some of the hardwoods that I have in stock to really dress it up. Right now my choices are ron ron, cinicero, guapinole, and ispevel. But I'll also want to use these hardwoods sparingly to keep the final weight of the boat to a minimum. According to the book, the 17' Great Auk is supposed to come in at around 45lbs which is almost 10lbs lighter than our 11' sit on top plastic rentals. So, we'll have to wait and see what transpires for a deck design.