Baidarka Building Process
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The baidarka building process:

Gunwale Prep
The Deck

Bow, Stern and Keelson


Hull Stringers

Deck Stringers and Cockpit

Skin sewing


The Baidarka Building Process Illustrated

This series of pages illustrates the basic steps in building a Baidarka or Aleut kayak.

Building a baidarka takes about 120 hours of time. In the classes we finish a boat in nine eight hour days. If you do the math, that's 48 hours short of 120, but when you take my class, I buy all the lumber, order the fabric, cut the wood and do all the preparation that's normally part of the 120 hours.

A one hatch baidarka is made up out of the following components.
2 gunwales
stem and stern cross blocks
a stem piece and tail
7 deck beams
30 ribs
8 hull stringers
1 keelson
2 deck stringers
1 cockpit coaming
1 cockpit rim
2 cockpit stanchions
1 skin

Preliminaries and Gunwale Prep
The building process starts with an asessment of what sort of boat you want, how wide, how long, how heavy, how stable, how fast. And we talk about what you want to use it for.

Next we get your body dimensions for positioning the deck beams in the vicinity of the cockpit. These are the length of your legs, and the position of your knees. If you are building a low volume boat, we also get the elevation of your thighs and your feet.

Then we cut the gunwales to length. Length of the gunwales is roughly two feet less than the total length of the boat.

Ripping the gunwales. In this case, we rip two 1-1/2 inch gunwales out of a 3-1/2 inch board.

Once we have arranged the gunwale boards so that their grain matches, we nail them face to face so they can be marked as a pair.

Then we mark the bow and the stern so we don't lose track.

We mark the deck beam positions on the top of the gunwales. The deck beam in back of the cockpit doubles as a backrest. The deck beam in front of the cockpit doubles as the knee brace. The deck beam in front of the knee brace doubles as the foot brace. These deck beams are spaced to fit your body. The remaining deck beams are spaced evenly in the remaining space.

Rib positions are marke on the underside of the gunwales. This pair of marks is for flat ribs that are 3/4 inches wide. If you use round ribs, only a single mark is required because you will be drilling a hole instead of cutting a slot.

Cutting slots for flat ribs using a router. These mortises can also be cut by drilling two holes and then removing the wood inbetween with a knife or chisel.

The underside of the gunwales with the rib mortises cut.

Building the deck.

All content copyright © 2004 Wolfgang Brinck. Personal non-commercial use permitted.