I completed the skin stitching and laced the coaming in today. Six hours of work. I neglected to go over the coaming details earlier: It's a 1/4 in x 3/4 in band of oak, with two 1/4 in x 1/4 in bands for the lip, glued together with Titebond II and pegged with 1/8 in pegs every inch after the glue had dried. My previous coamings were yellow cedar epoxied together -- did that ever make a mess! It was a real pain to try not to get epoxy over all the clamps and the form. Back then I covered the form in parchment paper, which doesn't stick to anything and therefore is difficult to keep in place. All that epoxy required a lot of scraping and sanding too. Morris says that carpenter's glue works fine so this time I used Titebond II.
To review, here are some things I think are not necessary when making a skin on frame replica kayak:
• a warm, dry and dustless workshop
• lofting (just work from the drawing)
• mortise and tenon joints for the deck beams (as opposed to pegged joints)
• green oak (kiln dried oak is OK for bending)
• straight seams
• tung or linseed oil on the frame (it will not prevent rot, and linseed oil promotes mold)
• any color other than brown or black. I don't understand how builders, especially those who pride themselves on building exclusively replicas, will still condescend to dye their kayaks blue, green, and even pink.
On my desk I have four books open to their stitching chapters. Everyone has their own way of stitching. You can tell a Robert Morris kayak from a Chris Cunningham or a Corey Freedman kayak from the stitch used. I used a simple overhand stitch. It lies flat but leaves holes around the stitching where I pulled hard on the skin. I don't think it matters if you used a surgical stitch used for closing intestines. It's all going to be saturated and sealed in polyurethane anyway.
After stitching the skin and lacing the coaming in I wet it all down with a garden hose. The nylon gets slack when wet. It also looses its "memory" and all the wrinkles disappear. When it dries it smooths out and tightens up like a drum. For now you can see the naked frame underneath. Doesn't it remind you of a wet t-shirt contest? I'm drooling!