Basic Steps to Constructing a Sit-on-Top Kayak

I am in the process of building a sit-on-top kayak from a kit made by Bedard Yacht Design. I will be adding to this post each of the steps in the process as I go along.

1. Laying out and gluing the panels

The panels for the hull come in 7′ lengths to make the shipping easier. The first step in constructing the kayak is to lay out the panels that will form the hull of the vessel, and glue each of them together with epoxy.

2. Stitch and Glue Panels Together

After coating all the panels with 2 layers of epoxy, it’s time to “stitch and glue” the panels together. This entails drilling small holes every 6″ along the edges of each of the panels, inserting thin wires through the holes, and twisting the wires to bring the panels together.

3. Wire the Next Set of Panels Together

Now, the hull of the kayak is starting to take shape. The panels, made of Okoume marine plywood, are very flexible and easily conform to the shape of the finished product.

4. Secure the Temporary Frames to the Hull

Once all of the panels are stitched into place, the next step is to secure temporary frames to the outside of the hull. These frames ensure the hull takes the proper shape when you glue them into place. You can also see the twisted wires on some of the panel edges here.

Next, using a dental syringe, epoxy is inserted into all of the panel seams. You now have a solid hull to work with.

5. Tape the Panel Seams

For additional strength in the hull, all of the panel seams are covered with 4 oz. fiberglass cloth tape and a layer of epoxy.

6. Dry Fit the Bulkheads

The bulkheads provide the base for the deck boards to lay on.  After all of these pieces have been coated with 2 layers of epoxy, they are fitted into the hull, first as a dry fit to confirm placement, then epoxied to the hull in the final configuration.



7. Construct Hatch Cover and Hatch Cover Lip

There is one hatch cover on this particular kayak. The cover has a thin strip of marine plywood that has to be epoxied onto the cover. Then, a “lip” is epoxied onto the underside of the deck surrounding the hatch cover opening. Once these are in place and cured, a strip of foam insulation is glued onto the lip to provide the hatch cover with a water-tight seal.

8. Epoxy Deck Onto Hull

After the bulkheads are epoxied into place, it’s time to glue the deck onto the hull. The deck consists of three flat panels glued together on a flat surface, similar to the way the hull panels were constructed. The deck is then covered in 4 oz. fiberglass cloth and 3 coats of epoxy for strength. Once these panels have cured, the deck is dry-fit into place on top of the hull, and then epoxied into place.


9. Install Soles and Coaming

Next, the soles (the main parts of the deck), and the coamings (side handles) are positioned into place and epoxied.

10. Attach Hardware to Deck

The final step is to install the deck hardware which consists of a seat, bungee cords for securing equipment, waterproof kit bags, and hatch cover straps. Then, it’s time to go paddling!