Chesapeake Light Craft CLC lt17 at Merrill Creek Reservoir.

My first build was a Chesapeake Light Craft LT17 Stitch and glue kit. The kit consists of pretty much all the pre-cut pieces and miscellaneous parts  needed to construct the boat.

Following are pictures with descriptions of the build process. These illustrate some, but not all of the steps to building the okoume plywood boat.

Click on a thumbnail for a bigger photo.

little box contents (58732 bytes)

The kit comes in three boxes: Contents of Kit. The two smaller boxes contain the small parts and adhesives.

big box contents (58532 bytes)

The larger box contains the precut plywood for the top, sides and bottom. Note that the plywood pieces are no greater than 8' long.

Scarf joints (69171 bytes)

To make the eight foot sections of the boat 17' long you join them with scarf joints. The nice thing about the kits is that the scarf joints are already cut. This shows the scarfs taped for neatness with the epoxy and Cab-O-Sil already applied

04scarf2.jpg (113448 bytes)

The two sides of the boat are stacked one on top of the other on the left- the two bottom pieces are stacked to the right. The joints are held tight by screwing a piece of 1x2 to the work platform at the joints. At the wider joints I added bricks for a little added pressure. The wax paper keeps the separate pieces from sticking together.

05scarfbowtip.jpg (91514 bytes)

The tip of the bow is also attached using pre-cut scarfs. I added a few bricks to help keep the joint tight.

06sheerscarf1.jpg (129829 bytes)

The sheer clamps are also lengthened with pre-cut scarfs. The sheer clamp is eventually attached to the side panels and provides an adhesion point to join the sides and the top. The plywood in this picture is the work surface and not a part of the boat.

07sheerscarf2.jpg (92224 bytes)

A close up of a sheer clamp joint- You can almost make out the overlapping scarf joint.

08poxshercls.jpg (92425 bytes)

After all the joints have cured the sheer clamps are attached to the top of the sides using epoxy and clamps. The white "clamps" are actually short sections of 2" PVC pipe with a split in them. The longer the section, the tighter the grip.

09PVC clamp.jpg (90841 bytes)

Close up of PVC clamps. They're surprisingly effective and much cheaper than C-clamps.

10poxsherfar.jpg (120112 bytes)

Here the sheer clamp is attached to the top of one side piece. You epoxy the sheer clamp "proud" to the side panels meaning the sheer clamp sticks up approximately 1/4" higher than the side panels; leaving the sheer clamp proud provides extra material so the clamp can be planed to meet the curvature of the deck.

11holes drilled.jpg (89614 bytes)

The larger pieces are temporarily "stitched" together with copper wire. To the left are the two bottom pieces with the holes drilled for the wires. One the right are the two sides of the boat- still waiting for the epoxy to cure.

12 close holes.jpg (82865 bytes)

You drill the 1/16" holes approximately 6" apart and 3/8" from the edges.

13 wires attached.jpg (96907 bytes)

Wires attached at center line of the two bottom pieces.

14 close wires.jpg (82571 bytes)

Close up showing wires. You twist the wires together loosely to allow for adjustment later in the process.

15 Sides joined.jpg (86026 bytes)

This shows the  two sides joined at the bow and stern and spread apart ready to attach the bottom.

16 bottom added.jpg (89976 bytes)

Here you can see the two bottom pieces attached to the two sides; lots of stitching wires. It almost looks like a boat now.

17 side shot.jpg (95469 bytes)

Side shot showing all the joints. You can see the sheer clamp showing "proud" at the top of the side (lower portion of boat in photo). The straight lines you see in the sides and bottom are the scarf joints from earlier.

18 under shot.jpg (95898 bytes)

Internal view of the boat. The sheer clamps are visible to the left and right.

getting the twists out. (110160 bytes)

Next you suspend the boat above the saw horses, remove any twists and plumb the ends of the kayak. The 1 x 2 pieces of wood serve as a visual cue, making it easier to see the twists.

boat untwisted (102156 bytes)

Here you see the bow and stern plumbed and all twisting removed.

21fillets.jpg (82332 bytes)

Next you epoxy the sides and bottoms of the boat together using fillets. This picture shows the fillets in the bow of the boat; they consist of a mixture of wood flour and epoxy, reinforced with fiberglass tape.

Bow fillets. (73965 bytes)

Another shot of the bow fillets. To the right is the bow bulkhead. There's another bulkhead at the stern and the two together define the cockpit of the boat.

23epoxy_cockpit.jpg (77067 bytes)

Next you install the fiberglass reinforcing in the cockpit of the boat using epoxy.

24morepox.jpg (83350 bytes)

The fiberglass disappears as you work it into the epoxy. The stern bulkhead is to the right in this photo.

25pox_dun.jpg (95796 bytes)

The epoxy brings out the the natural grain of the wood and provides a glimpse of what the finished wood grain will look like.

26wires_cut.jpg (95854 bytes)

Once the fillets have cured you can cut off all the wires and file them flush with the wood.

27fill_holes.jpg (80253 bytes)

Next you fill all the wire holes with a mixture of epoxy and wood flour and fill in the gaps between panels with epoxy.

28hull_sanded.jpg (97938 bytes)

After the epoxy has cured you sand the kayak smooth with 80 then 120 and then 220 grit sand paper. Since the wood will be covered with fiberglass and epoxy it is important to have as smooth a finish as possible at this point: imperfections in the wood cannot be corrected later.

29glass on.jpg (101835 bytes)

Next you lay the fiberglass sheet at a 45° angle to the centerline of the kayak and remove all the wrinkles, conforming the sheet to the shape of the hull.

30poxied_hull.jpg (98458 bytes)

After you have the sheet positioned, you bond the sheet to the kayak using thinly applied layers of clear epoxy.

31side_pox_hull.jpg (89144 bytes)

Here's a side shot. The little brown circles are the wire holes which will remain visible unless you choose to paint the hull. You trim away the excess fiberglass later. Now you really get to see how beautiful the wood grain will be.

32planeguide.jpg (76138 bytes)

The kit comes with two plane guides which are used to plane the "rolling bevel" onto the sheer clamps. The larger radius guide is used for the aft deck, the smaller radius is used for the foredeck. Planing the clamps requires a sharp plane and a little patience. (The plane is not included in the kit.)

33planestern.jpg (88792 bytes)

Basically you plane the sheer clamp by taking smooth long strokes, removing thin strips of the wood. Periodically you place the guide across the sheer clamps to check your accuracy. Planing the sheer clamps to the appropriate bevel provides a secure surface to mount the deck to.

34secureboat.jpg (76247 bytes)

Initially I had the boat suspended on a couple straps at the front and back of the boat. This set-up allowed the boat to float and rock back and forth which was a bit frustrating. To lessen the boat movement while I was planing I secured the boat directly to the uprights on the sawhorse and tied the two sawhorses together using two 8' long pieces of 1x4. This provided a very stable work surface.

35sideplane.jpg (73357 bytes)

Here's a side shot trying to show the bevel. To the left you can see that the sheer clamp sticks up a bit from the side of the boat- this area has not yet been planed.

36lotsshave.jpg (92482 bytes)

Planing produces a lot of shavings. Once you get a feel for the motion of the plane its actually a relaxing excercise. The pencil marks are areas where further planing is needed.

37foredeckbeam.jpg (71555 bytes)

This shows the Fore Deck Beam. There is another deck beam at the cockpit of the boat which is not shown in the pictures. These beams define the shape and provide support for the deck.

38bow_endpour.jpg (73199 bytes)

The two ends of the boat are reinforced by filling them with a mixture of wood flour and epoxy. The clamp is holding a foam dam in place.

39dam.jpg (51091 bytes)

This is a close up of the foam dam in the stern of the boat. The directions suggest making the dam out of cardboard cut to the appropriate size and taped in place. I found using the foam much simpler and since the foam conformed to the sides of the boat tape was not needed to prevent the epoxy from leaking out.

40stern_end_pour.jpg (62937 bytes)

Top view of the stern end pour.

Deck installed. (75378 bytes)

This shows the aft deck installed and secured to the sheer clamps with bronze boat nails. A coat of epoxy thickened with cab-o-sil was applied to the sheer clamps prior to installing the deck. The blue strap was used to force the deck down and onto the sheer clamps. The thing laying on the deck is the Nail Locating Guide- this helped locate the sheer clamp so the nails were driven into the sheer clamp.

42stern_deck.jpg (76815 bytes)

I temporarily secured the very end of the deck to the stern with some clear tape.

43bow_deck.jpg (77979 bytes)

Front view of deck installation- the extra material is trimmed away after the epoxy has cured.

44top_deck.jpg (61487 bytes)

Front view from above. There were actually two pieces to the deck- the clamps you see towards the top of the photo are where the two pieces join at the cockpit.

45but_deck.jpg (82315 bytes)

Close up of the joints at the cockpit. The two pieces "butt" up to each other and a small piece of wood is epoxied to the underside of the joint, forming a "butt joint".

46deck_trimmed.jpg (73435 bytes)

This shows the excess deck trimmed away and the sides and deck sanded in preparation of fiberglassing the deck.

47fiber_deck.jpg (74824 bytes)

Fiberglassing the deck.

48fiber_trimmed.jpg (68266 bytes)

After the epoxy has cured you trim away the excess fiberglass at the cockpit.

49coaming_back.jpg (82597 bytes)

Installing the coaming at the cockpit. There were 3 layers of plywood cut to shape which had to be epoxied and then clamped into position. This builds up a lip so that you can secure a spray skirt to the cockpit.

50coaming_front.jpg (81045 bytes)

Front view- lots of clamps.

51coaming_rough.jpg (65621 bytes)

Once the epoxy has cured you remove the clamps and are left with rough and jagged surfaces. You smooth these out using wood rasps and then sand paper.

52coaming_side.jpg (55153 bytes)

After shaping the coaming.

53coaming_close.jpg (44635 bytes)

Close up. Nice shape.

52hatch_supports.jpg (68179 bytes)

After cutting a hole in the foredeck you epoxy the hatch doubler and hatch stiffener to the underside of the opening in the hatch. A similar hole with supports is cut into the aft deck. The scraps of plywood you see under the clamps are there to protect the wood of the deck.

55hatch_rim.jpg (74746 bytes)

Installing the hatch rim on the foredeck. Similar rim installed on aft deck. This provides a lip for the hatch cover to seal on.

56hatch_covers.jpg (48794 bytes)

Stiffening ribs are epoxied onto the fore and aft deck hatches. I didn't position one rib on the fore hatch properly which produced a slight twist to the cover- luckily it doesn't leak.

Comparison Sanded/ not sanded. (56221 bytes)

Before the coats of varnish are applied the entire boat is sanded with 100 then 150 then 200 grit sand paper. The goal is to get as smooth a finish as possible. Here you can see the difference between sanded and unsanded. Sanding was a tedious process and seemed counterproductive as the boat looked pretty nice before I started sanding.

58finish.jpg (86410 bytes)

In the end all the sanding paid off. This shows the boat after 3 coats of gloss spar varnish. I finished the boat with 2 coats of satin varnish which produced a pleasant non-reflective finish.

59hang1.jpg (86879 bytes)

I suspended the boat using this set-up so I could varnish the whole thing in one shot- I didn't have to wait for one side to dry and then flip it over and varnish the other side.

60hang2.jpg (80679 bytes)

Another view of the set-up.

61sunset.jpg (79348 bytes)

Well, that's all the construction pictures I have. There were quite a few steps which I didn't photograph. I hope this gives you a little idea of what's involved with building your own stitch and glue kayak.

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