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Build your own Cedar Strip Kayak in shared Cape Anne workshop


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Interested in building your own cedar strip boat this fall/winter but don't have experience / shop tools / confidence?

Will be moving soon to Gloucester and am looking for interested folks who have access to an available workspace nearby, or want to share the cost of a suitable shop (preferably somewhere in Cape Anne or close by). Will provide shop tools, instruction, and help in exchange for space. If there is enough interest from several people, then we can pool our resources and set up a "community" workshop.

Please reply to this post or email mike_aguiar@yahoo.ca



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Hi again,

I should point out that a strip built kayak can be put together with less than $500 of materials. A first time builder should anticipate a good 150 hours of work (with some direction, we can keep this number closer to 150 than 300-400).



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Hi Folks,

There is a carpentry shop available in Gloucester, $900 for 1000 sq/ft. That is enough space for 3-4 boats to be built simultaneously. Split 3-4 ways, that would be $225-300 per month for each of us. If anyone is interested, here is a chance to build yourself your own kayak, in a shared space with other builders, all power tools supplied.

I know you guys are out there,


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I called the shop, and he said it would be at the regular membership rates of $150 (alum), $75 (fac/staff/retiree), or $30 (student) per person for a semester-long membership, and each person involved would need to have an MIT ID card. This is probably pretty easy for you to get since you're at HMS (which does loads of cross-registration with MIT) and you could probably just call up the MIT ID office and ask to get a card.

For the boats to live there, they'd have to have specific agreed-upon-in-advance space takeup times during the dead of winter, because they don't have the space to store boats during the higher-demand parts of the year. They get lots of people bringing in *parts* of boats to work on, but not leaving whole boats there for extended periods of time. They *used* to let people keep boats in there all the time, but it got out-of-hand because the projects dragged on and on and were just taking up space in the shop... He said having boats there for, say, a month during the dead of winter, would probably be fine. Kayaks are small, though, and maybe they'd be more lenient once they realized how little space you'd actually take up.

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Hi Dan,

Thanks for the follow up.

If you figure on spending at least 10 hours per week, you will need at least 16 weeks straight to get her done. That's ~ 4 months of evenings and weekends. In practice this works best if the shop is right in your house or really close to home/workplace.

You're right about the space requirements. A boat on sawhorses with wheels (which can be rolled aside when you're not working) will only need about 2'x20' (40 square feet) of space. Cedar boards/strips and other odds and ends can be stored right below the boat. Will the hobby shop allow us 80 sq feet (2 boats) of storage space for 4 months straight?

If not, then perhaps another space in Boston or North shore? Ideally the shop would be on the first floor and have some way to conveniently get a boat/materials in/out with little fuss. If we had some more folks on board, we could economically share a nice large "community" space. My sense is that there are several options in the > 1000 sq foot range, which would cost ~ $1000 per month (at least on the North Shore; Salem, Gloucester, Cape Ann); suitable smaller spaces seem hard to find. A properly organized 1000 sq/ft space could accommodate the construction of 7 or 8 standard sized sea kayaks. $1000 split 8 ways is $125 each per month. Four months at $125 per month plus $500-600 of materials is ~$1000. Even if you take 8 months and use Carbon Fiber inside with Select Grade Full Length Cedar you will approach $2000. You will not find a hand-made, carbon fiber inside, book-matched cedar kayak for anywhere near $2000. At least in my experience, the feeling of putting a boat like that on the water; that's priceless.


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Will the hobby shop allow us 80 sq feet (2 boats) of storage space for 4 months straight?

Probably not, but it might be worth you calling the shop manager and detailing the exact requirements -- tell him you're the guy from HMS who the MIT alum was talking to him about earlier. Based on my conversation with him, it sounds like they still have a bad taste in their mouths from past boatbuilding projects that took up an inordinate amount of space and never got done.

It's definitely worth trying to put together a bigger group, though, and MIT clearly couldn't accommodate that.

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Hi Folks,

There is a Barn-style carpentry shop available for us in Rockport, $550/month for 1150 sq/ft, which is a steal. That is enough space for 4 boats or more to be built simultaneously. Split 2 ways, $275/month each (or less if we get more builders on board). For those of you who have read this thread (some 300 readers), here is a chance to build yourself your own kayak, in a shared Cape Ann space with other builders, power tools supplied.

Have a look at Nick Schade's "The strip built sea kayak" to get a sense of what we are talking about here.


Boat building season is almost here,


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  • 3 weeks later...

Concerning a community kayak shop, on Friday Mike and I met with the manager of the building we are considering on Western Avenue in Lynn. We’ve established that there is a ground level space available that can exit an 18ft kayak. It is a large basement space, about 1100 square feet. With proper layout of the space, there is enough room for six or seven boats to be built simultaneously. Considering the various options on the North Shore, this space is a “good deal†($500/month with a 6 month lease). The shop location is in the Lydia Pinkham building which was an old manufacturing site but has evolved into an artist colony of sorts and also houses some light manufacturing. The web site for the building is http://www.lydia-pinkham.com/. The building is open 24/7. Street parking is adequate, and it is on a bus line. For anyone wishing to sign on at this time, it looks like a maximum of $125/month/participant is required - but this figure could be less depending on the number of participants. Right now we have three definite users. Obviously the lease agreements and budgets would be shared with and agreed on by everyone (CAM style!). In addition to the monthly rent there are some minor extra communal costs (eg. ventilation equipment, a table, etc), and there is the standard up-front expenses with leasing (first,last,deposit). Depending on participant response, we may try to formulate a mechanism for people to rotate in and out of the shop instead of being obligated to the full terms of the lease (although fabrication of a kayak from scratch can easily take up to six months for part-time work around normal paddling and pool schedules). A modest boat will require about 150 hours of work in the shop.

As to the building of cedar strip kayaks, Mike has outlined some information and details of what is actually involved. This is as follows:

> The reference texts I've been using are Nick Schades two books

> (The Strip-Built Sea Kayak: Three Rugged, Beautiful Boats

> You Can Build; and Building Strip-Planked Boats). Lots of

> useful background information can be freely accessed at

> Nick's Web page (http://www.guillemot-kayaks.com/guillemot). From this

> site you can order full sized plans for all the Guillemot

> Kayak designs. You can also watch short You-Tube videos of

> Nick doing various aspects of the projects. RedFish kayaks

> also has some very nice boat designs.

> Chesapeake Light Craft offers complete kits containing all

> the materials you will need for a boat. My preference is to

> obtain large cedar boards from a specialty lumber yard, and

> order other materials (epoxy, fiberglass, carbon fiber,

> varnish) from various sources. This requires more work but

> saves significantly in cost, and allows the most flexibility

> in materials.

> Large power tools I'd be willing to share include a table

> saw for ripping strips, router which is part of the table

> saw assembly, a thickness planer to get all strips to

> uniform thickness, 6" Band saw for cutting various curved

> pieces, shop Vac, Random Orbital Sander, battery powered

> drill, battery powered jig saw. In addition to raw materials

> (wood, glue, epoxy, fiberglass, glass reinforced adhesive

> tape, drywall screws, sandpaper..) each builder will want to

> have some of his/her own equipment including a 6" block

> plane, jack knife, Japanese pull saw, air filtration mask

> with removable/replaceable canisters, latex gloves, lots of

> wood clamps, and perhaps a few other things I'm forgetting.

> You will need a pair of sturdy work horses, with adjustable

> height so as to save your back from working for too many

> hours bent over. These can be built cheaply from 2x4 stock

> and some 1/2" wood dowels; you can model yours after the

> ones I use. You may want to invest in an IKEA type track light

> with 5-6 halogen spots to be

> hung right over work area. You might also want an overhead

> rack for storing strips and other materials.

> Each project should take ~ 150 hours in the shop of real

> work (reading, thinking, fixing mistakes not included).

We could get together before the lease begins (the manager has offered to let us in early) to build sawhorses, set up benches, ventilation and extra lighting,etc.


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