Greenland SOF Kayak Build Update – Start Kayaking

This week most of the Skirts and Skins group was working on finishing the gunwales – sawing the tips to join at the proper angle, then moving on to cutting the deck beams.  Some of the beams will be arched to be worked on next week.  Saturday the tenons on the deck beams were starting to be cut.  The tenons are separating the woodworkers from the novice.  In the time I made two tenons the guy next to me made ten and his looked better.  Not that you will see it in the finished boat, but I like things to look nice and not pleased with the look, and this step is really slowing me down.

Skin On Frame Kayak Build Feb 24-26, 2011

Greenland Kayak 2011 Building Schedule – Skirts & Skins Group To Start Kayaking

Continuing from an earlier Greenland kayak building post on February 16, 2011, here is the remaining schedule to complete the Skin On Frame Greenland Style Kayak.

Masik finished (first arched top beam in below picture) and added to boat.  I obtained my Masik wood from Recycle Ann Arbor Urban Wood Project

Masik now on boat

Greenland Masik completed and added by April 7th

Now all the remaining framing is completed, getting ready for the kayak covering.  Should be at this stage by April 16th.

Frame completed

Frame Completed by 4/16/11

The ballistic nylon covering is now added to the boat, for those dying their boat a color, some will pre-dye the material by boiling the nylon in the coloring.  Dye may come off the finished boat if steps are not taken to make the coloring more permanent. the ribs can be oiled or have a finish put on them for looks and to preserve them.

Covering Stage

Kayak Skin Stage - start cutting to fit by April 21, 2011

The covering is going to be a long process other tasks are also being worked on such as the cockpit hoop (or coaming) which involves bending some wood again to get the desired shape. A form is needed, fortunately for this build the form was made last year and will be used for this build saving some time. Lots of clamps are required.

The Cockpit Hoop

The Cockpit Hoop Around April 23, 2011

While the Greenland cockpit hoop coaming is taking form, the skin can be sewn, there are several techniques. This one uses hemostats and twists the material for tension and sewing the bead. This takes 8 to 12 hours to complete and some patience.

Kayak Skin Sewing Operation April 27, 2011

Kayak Skin Sewing Operation by April 27, 2011

The coaming is now complete, this one used a rope epoxied on, the majority of the people will likely make this lip out of wood. The spray skirt will go around this hoop. Unlike modern kayaks, the coaming’s of traditional Greenland Kayaks did not have flanges to hold the spray skirt.

Completed Cockpit Hoop

Completed Cockpit Hoop Around April 27, 2011

Normally this Greenland coaming shown above is smaller more oval shape. This one made to allow the same spray skirt to fit as his current kayak.

Pinning the Coaming

Pinning The Cockpit Coaming to the skin

A pair of sticks and a clamp anchors the coaming while it is attached to the skin. Drywall nails stretch the skin into the coaming and hold it there until the lashing is installed.

The Finished Boat Ready To Start Kayaking

The Finished Greenland Boat Ready To Start Kayaking May 8th 2011

The skin has polyurethane applied to seal the covering. Many types of sealants can be used, even varnish. The budget for the sealants can vary as well from $15-$20 to $450 for high end coatings.

Next comes fine tuning and setting up the kayak for proper weight distribution in the water.  Then we start kayaking and getting used to our new kayak.  There can be a little learning curve to paddle the new boat.  It may feel a little more unstable than the kayak you were used to.  This is a high performance boat that has great acceleration and fun to paddle.  Purest will tell you it works best with a Greenland style paddle.

Accessory hardware can be added once the set-up is complete.  Now that the process is complete, doe it look easy?  Let me know your comments.

Skin On Frame Build – Greenland Kayak Project

Went shopping in Ann Arbor Michigan on Sunday for wood for the Greenland Masik – the beam in front of the paddler.  This can be made out of many types of woods, it is a curved piece.  Can be made from steaming and bending several layers gluing each layer, or out a curved piece of wood , or a piece cut for shape.  I am going to do a combination of bending and layering and gluing a curved piece on.  To see what someone else did for their Greenland boat look at the last picture of the schedule two posts ago.

I went to Recycle Ann Arbor a non-profit that recycles just a everything.  They are connected with another group called Urbanwood.  This group obtains trees cut down in urban areas and then takes them to local saw mills and processes the lumber.  This a very green way of using wood, it is local, uses local resources – local jobs, uses tress that normally would be destroyed and turns them into wood products. To learn more about this renewable lumberyard wood alternative click on this link for Urban Wood.

There was so much selection but I choose a piece of sassafras wood for it’s grain and somewhat lightness, lighter than oak but still a hardwood.  I will post pictures later of the Greenland Masik construction.  What do you think about the Urban Wood concept?  Ever hear of it before?

Skin On Frame Greenland Kayak Build 5 and 6

Sessions 5 and 6 involved marking and mortising both the rib and the beam locations. Cutting and gluing on bow and stern triangles onto the gunwales.  Some people opted to not add the extra wood triangles for a lower profile kayak.  We learned that going out to lunch on Saturday takes a chunk of time out of the day, and progress afterward is slower.  Maybe the two beers had something to do with that.  So next Saturday it is sandwiches in.

Build Consultation

Going By the Book - Consultation

Mortising the beam locations using a fixture

Mortising the rib locations using a hand made fixture

Assembly Area

View of the assembly area

Power tools ready for work

Power tools ready for work, not everything is done with hand tools

Bow Cut Ready For Shaping

Bow Cut Ready For Shaping

Mortising Beam Locations

Mortising Beam Locations with another hand made fixture

Gunwales Mortised

Mortised gunwales ready for deck shaping

Gunwales with triangles for shaping

Gunwales with triangles for shaping

Gunwale Shaping

Gunwales with wood added for shape

Gunwales assembled with the center and end forms. Beam #3 and beam #9 measured to make the middle spreader forms.  Work on the steamer box in the background.

Gunwale with forms

Gunwale with forms

Frame Taking Shape

Frame taking shape

Skin On Frame Greenland Kayak 2011 Building Schedule – Skirts & Skins Group

Posted here is a Greenland Kayak schedule for the  first two months of the build process.  This is based on the 2010 Skirts and Skins Group 2010 build which was based in downtown Brighton Michigan.  This years 2011 Skin On Frame kayak build is in a bigger facility in Livonia Michigan off Plymouth Road.

The Greenland kayak build is underway and on schedule the pictures below will indicate where people should be by that date.  It takes a while before the boat looks like a boat.  It should be noted that one person in the group is building a kayak and does not yet own one, so it is not just for hard core kayakers.

Balance point and story board marking

Finding balance point and making a story board

Gunwales are assembled with lashing

Gunwales are assembled with lashing

Kayak forms made after determining the width of kayak to be built. Only 3 out of the 5 needed now at this time.  Date 2/10/11

Kayak Forms

Making Kayak forms 3 out of 5 done now

Cutting of the gunwales, transferring the “story board” dimensions and marking the rib mortise locations 2/12/11.

Cutting the gunwales

Gunwales are cut, marking ribs and beams

Mortises are now cut for the ribs by the end of the day 2/12/11.

Gunwales with mortises cut

Greenland Gunwales with mortises cut

Using the forms to start the shape of the boat 2/17/11. The other 2 forms are now marked and cut.

Starting Gunwale Frame

Forms For gunwale frame shape for 2/17/11

Adding boards to shape to the gunwales, then cutting the deck beam mortises, bevel gunwales, hollow shear – ends of gunwales, prep deck beams, cut Tenons at end of deck beams 2/19/11.

Gunwale Greenland Shape By adding Borads

Shaping Gunwales 2/19/11

Gunwale board shape is complete, deck beams are added by mortising and pegging,  back rest and foot rest are worked on during the week of 2/21/11, then this below view is how the boat should look by 3/3/11.  Not sure about the look of the boat builder at this point.

Gunwale Frame view by March 3rd 2011

Greenland Gunwale Frame view by March 3rd 2011

Assemble gunwales, lock gunwales and deck beams, join gunwale ends with Trennels.  Lashing holds gunwales in place during assembly. 3/5/11.

Gunwale Frame Work continues

Gunwale Frame Work Continues 3/5/11

Gumwale beams

View of Gunwale Beams by 3/5/11

Sizing up ribs

Sizing up ribs 3/5/11

Ribs being measured, cut to size and bevel ends, check for fit, bevel bending points.

Ribs Being cut and installed

Greenland Ribs Being Cut to Size 3/10/11

Bending Jig used (need to construct one if not already done, we have a jig) ribs bent into shape, bending at thinned areas by 3/12 starting to resemble a boat.

Bending Ribs

Ribs after bending 3/12/11

Ribs in place

Starting to look like a Greenland boat with ribs in place

Pinning Ribs

Ribs Ready for Pinning 3/17/11

Ready to work on the keelson.

Adding Keelson

Keelson being added 3/19/11

Cutting and fitting the Greenland Kayak keelson, install fairing blocks, lashing the keelson, cut chines,taper chine ends, round edges, tie line around frame at deck beams 3,6,7, and 9.  Bevel chine ends, position and lash chines 3/24/11 to 3/26/11

Keelson attachment 3/19/11

Keelson attachment 3/19/11

Checking boat fit, taking measurements for the Greenland Masik (pronounced maa sheek)

Checking fit for Masik

Checking the fit - Masik design

Construction of the Masik

Masik Construction

Making the Greenland Masik - a custom design by 3/31/11

Two months down one more month to go – to be continued. Does this look easy to do?  Please take the time to comment, very much appreciated.


The Skin On Frame Kayak group “Skirts and Skins” held a Greenland kayak pool demo at the Brighton Michigan High School pool to try out various skin on frame Greenland kayaks to determine what size and characteristics works the best.  Each skin on frame kayak was a little different.

SOF Kayak Pool Session

Getting Some Greenland Kayak Pool Time

I am still undecided about the width of my boat.  I liked the 20 inch wide boat and the 21 inch boat.  The wider the more stability.  Narrower the boat will be faster but less stable, the kayak should be a little of a challenge at first to improve paddling skills.

Skin On Frame Demo

Trying Out The Skin On Frame

Pool Demo For Skin On Frame Kayak

Trying Out The Greenland boats

Demo Of The Skin On Frame Kayak

Building Skin On Frame Is Not Just A Guy Thing

Does anyone that attended the pool session have any impressions of the boat demoed?


Any other women out there interested in building a Greenland high performance boat?

Greenland Skin On Frame Kayak Building 4

Safety Gear For Cutting Gunwales

Safety First For Cutting Cedar Gunwales

This Greenland building session we were ripping the 19-20 foot cedar boards in half for the gunwales, ending up about two and 3/4 inches wide.  Then the next step was  marking the boards transferring the “story board” markings to the gunwales.  The step after that was to mark the rib locations for the mortising.

The Start Of The SOF Kayak - Cut Gunwales

Marking Gunwales

Ready To Mark Greenland Gunwale Using Story Board

There will be about 50 mortises to cut.    A ruler and a combination square is used to draw the mortise outline on the gunwale locations . One builder from last year had a fixture to mark the mortise width, this was very helpful and a time saver.  The marking gauge sped up this process  and allowed more consistent marking.

Mortise Machine For Gunwale Ribs

Power Mortise Tool and Fixturing

The Greenland mortises were cut by a power tool, but they could also be made by hand tools if one wanted to be a Greenland Kayak purest and spend more time doing it.  A jig was set up with a power mortise tool which really made the job of cutting all the mortises into the gunwale go quick.

Cut Mortises In Gunwales

Cut Mortises In Greenland Gunwales

This post is short but the work for this session took most of the day, lunch was bought in so the work could continue.

I thought a lot was accomplished at the session, do you agree?

Greenland Skin On Frame Build 3

Greenland kayak building materials arrives today and gets distributed to about 18 people to begin the actual build.     The stack of wood is  about $1100.00, contains Western Cedar, fir. and pine.  Last meeting we took body measurements and recorded them on a wood “story pole”.  These measurements are important since where you sit in the skin on frame boat has a significant impact on how the Greenland kayak behaves in the water.

Skin On Frame Kayak Build Width Check

Greenland SOF Width Measurement

If your weight is too far forward the bow sinks deeper than the stern and the kayak will wander.  This will use up a lot of your energy trying to keep the kayak on a straight course.  Place your weight too far aft (behind center balance point) will allow the kayak to track well, however at the expense of maneuverability, also it will be more difficult to hold course in the wind.  The right position in the kayak will be found.

For this session we worked on the forms to keep the gunwale boards held and continued setting up the power tools.  A tent was made for the heavy cutting of the gunwale boards to keep the saw dust under control.  Respirators will be worn.

Stack Of Wood For The Kayak Build

The wood pile for the kayak frame

Cutting Tent For Dust Control

Cutting Tent For Dust Control

Another person is wet sanding down the finish on his hand made wood kayak, too cold in his garage over the winter to put the finish on.  The finish needs above 60 degrees.

Wet sanding wood kayak

Wet sanding strip wood kayak

The below zero temperatures this week is getting a little old.  The 30+  degrees this weekend will feel like a heat wave.  Is anyone hoping for warmer weather yet to start kayaking?

Greenland “Skin On Frame” Kayak Build 2

The Greenland Kayak building groupSkirts and Skins” held their second meeting and equipment was moved into the leased warehouse located in Livonia Michigan.

Kayak Skin On Frame Build Location

The Greenland Kayak Build Facility

The build areas are set up in rows going down the center of the building space.

Kayak Build Work Area 1

Setting Up Kayak Work Area

This space is shared with some storage material from a previous lease and a 38 foot Power Quest Cigarette boat – just a little different boat than the boats we are building, if you add about $380K +  to the build budget.  The beauty of our boats is they have unlimited MPG of gasoline fuel rating, costing much less to operate and no carbon foot print.  Of course these benefits are sacrificed for the speed capabilities of the other boat, and not likely to be able to attract the attention of members of the opposite sex at Metro Beach next summer with the Greenland Kayak.   All boats it appears have their own purpose and limitations.

There are two people working on finishing their Greenland Skin On Frame kayaks from last year’s build.

Skin On Frame Kayak build In-Process

Skin On Frame Kayak From Last Year's Build

Two kayaks for sanding and putting on a finish, one kayak kit, and one canoe being built.

Kayak Kit Build

Kayak Kit Build

There is one Baidarka style sea kayak also being built.  So a variety of activities will be going on during the Greenland build process.

For the majority of the group this is their first hand built kayak-  Greenland or any other style.

The purpose of this Kayak building session was to move in the equipment and take anthropometric measurements of each person building a Greenland boat to custom size the boat for each person.

These measurements determined the center of gravity, the length and width of the boat to be built, many of these measurements were then transferred to a “story pole.”   This pole is a wood pole or stick that is a reference ruler to layout the ribs and other parts of the kayak.   Our main reference guide is the book by Christopher CunninghamBuilding The Greenland Kayak” if you want to read more about the process in detail.

Greenland Skin On Frame Kayak Ribs

Wood arrives prior to the next session when the work really begins.  After each session there is a debriefing option over lunch or beverages.

Bar Bar Plymouth Michigan

Box Bar Debriefing

We met at the Box Bar in Plymouth Michigan for this one, there was a heavy snow fall coming down making the distance to the bar appear far.

On the way home I saw something I have never seen before in Michigan.  I was on the M-14 freeway traveling West just before Ann Arbor and three cars decided they could stop in an active lane on the freeway and clear their windows of snow as if they were in a parking lot.  How they did not get hit I will never know.  Has anyone else witnessed a crazy and stupid thing like that winter driving on the freeways?

Greenland Skin On Frame Kayak Building Begins

An informal group (Skirts and Skins) has come together as a team effort to learn and build Greenland Skin On Frame Kayaks. It is an international mix of people with several engineers in the group in the states due employment with international companies. The group has rented a warehouse in Livonia Michigan to build 15 kayaks and one canoe in 3 months. There are two more people still considering it.

These kayaks are not from a kit, all from scratch. There are a couple of experienced builders in the group and some craftsmen woodworkers. A couple people from last year’s build are coming back to finish their boats. I will be taking photos to document the build and maybe shoot some videos. The overall material cost is estimated at $300.00, this does not include the cost of tools you may not have. There are many woodworking tools I have been wanting, so now I have an excuse to buy them. I’m also looking at a power sander that I need but have put off.

This should be a fun activity but it will take time – 80-100 hours part time is estimated. Our team leader has promised to keep everyone on schedule. When the build is complete and the waters warm it’s an excuse for a launch party – 2nd annual. Please leave comments and let me know if you have questions.

The Agenda

Skin On Frame Kayak

Greenland Cockpit View

SOF Lecther

Our Leader

SOF Build Tools

The Greenland Tools

This is a fun project to start kayaking this spring on the Huron River in Southeast Michigan. Let me know if you find this interesting – or not.