Building a Cedar Strip Kayak II

Building a Cedar Strip Kayak II


The Baidarka, or Aleutian, kayak originates from the Aleutian islands and due to the limited supplies of lumber, only the frames are made out of wood while the rest of the kayak is made out of skins. The wood often came from drift wood. The word Baidarka is actually Russian, meaning small boat, but is still used in reference to native kayaks. Baidarka Kayaks have a distinctive bifurcated bow.

The version I am building is a Laughing Loon Mystic Start, which is a cedar strip version. This kayak is a 17’ kayak with 11 stations.


I began by reading about and collecting the tools and supplies that I would need for the build from September 12th to the 14th. On September 15th, I setup my new table saw and milled my first strip. To be honest, I was scared to death of my table saw but I had been given hints on how to use it and some safety tips. I am lucky I didn’t hurt myself or mess up my milling.

After milling was all finished, I worked on the strong back and making molds until the 28th of September. Learning how to set up the stations and fair them was challenging because it was the first time I had done something like this.  In addition, I was only able to work on the kayak part-time while working and moving into our house.


Between September 27th and November 10th I was able to get the tail and bow done. Work slowed immensely because I was in school, learning stuff. Luckily, I learned a lot of things that have been useful building the kayak. Carving the rabbet and finalizing my setup of the stations became much easier because of class.

After finishing the bow and tail, I was able to start stripping. I have been doing so since November 10th until now (December 12th).


Here are some things that I have learned:

  1. Your job is to make the strips fit together, so take your time. That’s the only thing you gotta do. Take your time and make stuff fit.
  2. Doing something by hand is often faster than setting up a power tool.
  3. If it looks bad do it over; you will be happier with it.
  4. Keep tons of clamps around. Clamps are amazing! Learn how to clamp in all different directions.
  5. Hot glue can be a clamp and it comes off cedar super easy.

There are many other things I learned that can not be expressed easily in words, such as how to hold the low angle block plane to get the bevel on the strips just right. As I continue on, I imagine the learning opportunities will keep on coming.

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