Making My Wooden Kayak

My wooden kayak is a handmade cedar strip built kayak. I made it over the course of several years. Lots of reading, learning and trying new things made it possible.

kayak forms
Detailed blueprints enabled placing the forms to persuade the wood to the desired shape.

Completely built of cedar wood strips, the kayak is the Great Auk design by Chesapeake Light Craft. The wooden kayak measures fourteen feet long and weighs thirty-five pounds.

I specifically selected the Great Auk design and length. This wooden kayak is ideally suited for lakes and rivers. It can easily be maneuvered in tight spaces, yet it has sufficient length to handle well over long distances. It also has enough stability to handle waves.

cedar wood strips
Over 1,000 feet of cedar strips were used to make the wooden kayak.

How to Make a Wooden Kayak

I started with constructing a form from the detailed blueprints provided by Chesapeake Light Craft.

wooden kayak cockpit rim
A meticulous process, but the cockpit rim works well to help keep water out and provides a place to secure a cover.

1,048 linear feet of cedar strips were used to make the wooden kayak. Each piece of cedar wood is 3/4″ (18mm) wide and 1/4″ (6mm) thick. Yes, only 1/4″ thick!

Three different types of cedar were used to give the color patterns of the finished product. Each strip of wood used to make the kayak is about seven feet long.

cedar strips form kayak cockpit
Individual strips of cedar were carefully adjoined to finish the cockpit.

Each wood strip was soaked in water and/or heated to the shape of the forms. The wood is beaded along one edge and a cove along the other. The individual strips are glued and fit together similar to a tongue and groove wood floor.

top of cedar wooden handmade kayak
The top and bottom of the kayak were made separately, and then adjoined with glue and finally fiberglassed together.

Only two strips can be glued and clamped in place at a time. That has to dry and the wood dry to the shape of the form before adding another strip. Lots of patience required – it is a slow process.

The top and the bottom were made separately. Then the two pieces were glued together and adjoined with fiberglass. The cockpit was cut out and small individual pieces of cedar form the rim around the cockpit.

brad's wooden kayak specs

Wooden Kayak Strength

The strength of the wooden kayak comes from the fiberglass applied to both the inside and outside. The thin wood between the two layers of fiberglass provided rigidity.

clamps for cedar strip built kayak
Clamps, brackets and tape were all used to keep the stubborn cedar formed to the Great Auk design.

I then added some black bungee cord on the deck, adjustable foot-braces and a seat. These final projects finished my wooden kayak.

partially built kayak
Cedar strips are placed one at a time, glued, clamped and allowed to dry before adding another strip of wood.

How I Carry My Kayak with Fifth Wheel RV

As I live and and travel full-time with with fifth wheel travel trailer, I needed a unique solution to carry my kayak with me. My homemade cedar strip built wooden kayak rides on top of my truck cab. It’s been up there well over 25,000 miles.

wooden kayak carried on truck cab with rack
My 14 foot wooden kayak rides on top of my cab. This site in Tombigbee National Forest near the Natchez Trace presents a perfect set-up for a sunset launch right from my camp site.

It is supported by one truck rack behind my cab and secured in front and back with ratchet tie-down straps. I also secure the kayak with a metal bracket, as a fail-safe in case one of the straps would fail.

view of wooden kayak from truck windshield
Here’s my view out the windshield with the kayak mounted over the truck cab.

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.

Maya Angelou, American poet, singer, and civil rights activist.
wooden kayak
My 14-foot wooden Great Auk.

Favorite Place to Paddle

I have had my wooden kayak in the water from South Dakota to Mississippi. I have paddled many lakes, streams and rivers.

Brad Saum paddling Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park, South Dakota.
Brad Saum paddling Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park, South Dakota.

My absolute favorite place to paddle is Sylvan Lake in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Incidentally, you may have seen Sylvan Lake on the big screen as National Treasure 2 was filmed there.

My Wooden Kayak Pics & Videos

Over and Under Adventures

Perfect Pair

Pennyrile Trifecta

Brad Saum paddling his wooden kayak
I have spent many enjoyable hours paddling lakes and rivers.

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