Fine Strip-Planked Boat Construction
A guide to building small boats with wood strips and epoxy.
- NICK SCHADE —JULY 7–13, August 25–31
Note: This is a six-day course ending Saturday afternoon.
If you want to build a lightweight, rugged, and beautiful small boat, combining thin strips of wood with epoxy and fiberglass will make a cartoppable, low-maintenance, and gorgeous vessel. Nick Schade has been building strip-built boats for over 25 years. He has written two of the standard texts on the subject, Building Strip-Planked Boats and The Strip-Built Sea Kayak, and his efforts have guided thousands of people through building their own boats using the popular strip-planked method.
In this six-day course, students will explore this method of construction while building two very different boat designs created by Nick. In the July course students will build the Nymph pack canoe and the Night Heron sea kayak. In the August course students will build the Mystic River tandem canoe and the microBootlegger recreational kayak. Nymph is a small, extremely lightweight, easy to handle double-paddle canoe. Night Heron is an elegant, high performance sea kayak design that has found a place in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The Mystic River 17’ tandem canoe is a wonderful example of a classic woodstrip canoe with graceful lines and a beautiful recurved stem. The microBootlegger 17 is an open-cockpit tandem kayak with lines reminiscent of a 1920s mahogany runabout. All four of these boats will provide an excellent overview of the strip-planking process.
Students will gain experience in a wide variety of techniques involved in this modern boatbuilding process. Strip-planking small boats uses thin cedar strips reinforced inside and out with fiberglass and epoxy. The finished boat is lightweight, strong, and beautiful. The fiberglass fabric is absolutely transparent and allows the beauty of the wood to shine through. Students will learn how to work with the wood strips and fiberglass fabric and epoxy. With the open canoes we will mount inwales and outwales, breasthooks, thwarts and seats. On the kayaks we will make the deck and hull, join the two together, and make the cockpit, coaming, and hatches.
Day One will have students fairing up the forms, shaping the inner stems, fabricating the kayak coaming and canoe backrest, and getting a start on the planking. Tuesday will have us continuing with planking, installing stems, and working on hatches and gunwales. Before you know it, we will start sanding the hull and deck and applying fiberglass on Wednesday. On Thursday, the kayak and canoe will come off the forms. After fairing the insides of the hulls, carbon-Kevlar hybrid fabric will be laid-up on the interiors. Come Friday, students will start finishing up the canoe while the hull and deck of the kayak are joined together. The class wraps up midday on Saturday with final fiberglass work and completion of details on both boats.
Throughout this course, Nick will take time to discuss the many variations on the strip-building process that students can use on their own boatbuilding projects. After a week of fine craftsmanship and fun, we’ll step back to admire two stunning boats that will raffled off to two lucky students.