Paddlingsfabriken can offer custom kayak designs, courses and coaching, as well as source building material and build the kayak for you. If you are lacking the proper space to build, let us know, we might be able to find an appropriate space for you.

Jöns at Paddlingsfabriken has designed and built close to ten woodcomposite kayaks of varying designs. The construction techinques used have been stitch & glue as well as strip built hulls. The main focus has been on experimenting with form and function. Less with ornaments and layouts of colored strips.

It is with great interest that I've seen greenland style rolling. I have done many of the various rolling excersizes like forward ending and backwards ending rolling. All my rolling can still be improved by repetition to become even more effortless. To me the two key elements to butterfly, balance brace, shotgun roll, forward bracing, tradional backwards sweep roll etc. has been a low volume boat and a greenland paddle. I realised what huge impact the boat type made as I was asked to repair a leaking Tahe Greenlander some years ago. It felt like cheating compared to rolling with other sea kayaks. The very low volume made it easy to stay torso afloat while seated in the boat. A fairly high volume paddle helped towards experimenting on the balance brace too.

Dubside signing

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Signed kayak

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I am at the stage where a balance brace in my self built Fragrance wood strip kayak is a routine with any paddle. But I am still missing all the handrolls. I don't think they are far away. Perhaps if I had regular access to a swiming pool then....  but I've learnt all my rolling on the open water during summertime. A neprene tuilik has also helped - giving me more water time without getting cold. But still a barrier exists - no hand roll.

Perhaps Fragrance is not low enough, or the cockpit too narrow? 

Skin on Frame? To perfect my knowledge and skills of kayaking I decided to build a tradional style kayak. Using the Christopher Cunningham book for referece It took me about three weeks to finnish my first frame, choose the fabric and "skin" the frame. What came out was a nice looking boat. Slightly more tippy than wished for, and with more volume. About 10 cm of freeboard is not bad at all, but it is too much for a so called rolling machine. Chines should have been more apart and the ribs bent more sharply. On bending there is a limit for the wood. Skill is needed to choose the wood, prepare and steam it right. The size of this, my first skin on frame kayak is based on hip width, finger measures, arm spans and fist measures.

Florecent white is an impressive fabric colour. Light adds to the impression, such a contrast to the rest of the fiberglass and plastic boats at Hanko Sea Kayak Gathering last weekend (16.-18.8.2013). I hope others were inspired to build one themselves. Most of my three weeks of calendar building time was spent reading and understanding Christophers building instructions, and finding the proper way to use the tools, and sizing for masik, pegs and mortizes.

Jöns with a brand new skin on frame kayak

To make the kayak more durable I will add some coating to it that will likely take away some of the florecence in the colour. In addition to ultimately withstand ice it should have no problem with abrasion and sharp objects. The coating will also protect all the 160 Gathering signitures that participants were kind to share on the skin.

 

Contrary to common perception wood composite kayaks are stronger than fiberglass and plastic kayaks. The construction is sandwich. External layers (inside and outside) of fiberglass & epoxy with a wooden core in our constructions. OneOceanKayaks says a lot about the construction on their webpage "Composite Sandwich Core Panel - mechanics and principals". I wanted to add a video demonstration to convince sceptics that think pure plastic or fiberglass is less trouble. Find the video I am referring to lower down. My daughter is rocking the boat on the ground while I stand on the deck of the other end. No harm done.

A mended fiberglass boat is likely to require more skills to reach the original strength. A fiber boat with comparable weight to the wood composite is also likely to break sooner ie. more mending needed. Add the lesser risk of dropping or hurting yourself with handling a 5-10 kilo lighter boat.

If you plan to break and dump the broken kayak for the winter, then you should go for the plastic. Water and ice will not make you worse off for the spring when you want to fix that leaking crack. What you need is similar plastic and a substancial amount of heat to quickly melt some new plastic and bond it with the edges.   Fiberglass and wood kind of rots when swamped with water, but the rot does not happen much faster with epoxy&fiberglass laminated wood than with fiberglass that has lost its protecting gelcoat. The styren resin used when building fiberglass boats soaks water when exposed, as opposed to epoxy that is water resistant in comparison. The wood also soaks water but only to a limited amount. And since air is blocked by the water few microbes will enter the exposed wooden parts of the core. The soaking is demonstrated in the video referred to in this article. I also had a laminated piece out in the snow over the winter, big parts of wood exposed in the cuts, and minimal harm seen. Sadly I burnt it some weeks ago and could not add it to this video.

Mending a wood composite kayak can require as little as adding some epoxy to the surface. In the worse case you would push back the wood sticks so they match, dry the wood and soak the area with epoxy. Then sand it and add a new coating of fiberglass and epoxy. Sand it again to the finnish you need, and it is as strong as it was. Optionally you might want to glue in some new wood with the same colors and then finding the old damage is guesswork.

Mending fiberglass boats is not really difficult but is likely to require a bigger patch and might need something to act as a mold. Small cracks in the gelcoat (the colored hard outer shell) need to be opended and cleaned. Start with one side. Make sure the structure stays until you have enough stiffness to avoid molding/modelling. You can use epoxy. In fact epoxy is gerenrally recommended for repairs. Once you have replaced the broken old fibers with intact fibers, and sufficient thickness, then space for the colored gelcoat is grinded by sanding. And then apply gelcoat, with some repeated sanding for a nice finish.

To have and to hold a dear kayak for years and generations it is better be enjoyable and inspiering by looks and performance. Invest in a wooden kayak.

 

We recently noticed an attempt to copy the Fragrance into a mass production kayak. Certain details struck to our design team eyes. The copy attempt is definitely there. Did not exist before. We are pleased to have such a confirmation of the highly valued design elements. The copy has lost some of the functional ideas and the copy is a very differently behaving kayak. If you are comparing our designs with others the only safe comparison is done by trying both boats, and you will notice the difference.

 

To provide an initial summary of the working steps involved:

  • Wood planks are stripped with a saw to form long strips measuring typically 18 mm x 7 mm.
  • The strip may be bevelled and faired
  • A set of hull forms (similar to bulkheads) are organised and aligned on a strongback or spine to give the kayak its proper shape
  • Strips are glued together ontop of the forms
  • The hull formed by the strips is faired and sanded for smoothness on the outside
  • Epoxy and fiberglass is layered ontop