Cross Training
Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival


FuglyI have to change my standards when I look at a skinboat.   Coated nylon can't compare to a perfectly smooth shiny varnished wood surface, especally when it's held together with a Frankenstein's Monster sewing job.   I'm telling myself to just embrace the ugliness.   (Sorry, no "full body" kayak pictures from now on until it's done.)

CoatedcoamingI've been working hard on "Chapelle 208" but haven't posted in a while because of my frustration trying to get the color and the waterproofing right.  The guy at Spirit Line told me that the dye would darken after it was coated with the urethane, but I didn't expect it to turn from a yellow ochre to a chocolate brown!  The first lesson is that unless you try it on a test strip you can't tell what color it will be when you are done.  Plus every day it seems to change slightly, or maybe I'm just getting used to it.  The second lesson is that two-part urethane is awful stuff.  I will never use it again.  It sags and drips, even several hours after you think it has cured.  It's difficult to sand smooth.  One putative advantage is that is goes on quickly so you can waterproof a boat in two days.  However, it stays tacky for several days afterwards.  This is my third time using it so I can't blame it on not having enough experience with it.  I think the trick is to work the surface smooth continously with a spreader for a couple hours until the urethane has cured enough that it won't move anymore. I'm planning to apply a coat or two of a matte finish oil based polyurethane to smooth out the surface and get rid of the glossy sheen.



I would love to build a skin on frame kayak. I feel confident that I could build the frame, especially using your minimalist approach. The skinning however is what keeps scaring me away from actually doing it. Yours looks awesome. I can't wait to see more pics.


Thanks, Richard. There's more than one way to skin a... well, you know. One of the hardest parts is overcoming the psychological barrier to covering up a beautifully crafted wooden frame. But if you can sew a crooked overhand stitch you can skin a kayak.


I want to redo the skin on my greenland kayak...but I do not have the skill, time, or money to put on a whole brand new canvas from scratch. My kayak had weathered to nasty BC winters on my saiboat (my home)...and she needs some TLC bad! what can you reccomend?
best regards & happy paddling



If the skin just has some weathering an flaking of the finish then maybe all it needs is a few coats of paint. Sand the old surface lightly to get any loose flakes off, being careful not to abrade through the skin, then brush on a few coats of floor varnish, oil-based exterior house paint, or whatever it was coated with before. That shouldn't take much time or expense.

If you really need to replace the skin, look around for a local builder who is willing to do it for you. I recommend posting on the Qajaq USA forum in either case, to get advice about recoating canvas, which I have never worked with, or finding a local builder:

Good luck!

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