Stage 2 of the Kayak Build: the ribs and keel

The lower frame started with Corey placing the keel into the notches in the bow and stern pieces, and I lashed it in place. The keel defined the rocker of the boat, which would affect turning ability. The baidarkas didn’t have much rocker, so they went straight like a dream. A boat for lakes and slow rivers in Idaho would need a little more maneuverability, so we put in some rocker. Then Corey placed 5 ribs in strategic places, which defined the shape of the lower frame. The ribs were yellow cedar, which had been soaking in boiling water for some time.


With the first ribs in place, we placed 6 stringers on the sides of the ribs, and tied them to the starter ribs. The stringers were knot free straight grain old growth red cedar, which Corey gets from logs not perfect enough to go to the sawmill. Next we started placing more ribs, first by bending them slowly. Each rib fit into a mortise in the underside of each thwart, and was tied to the 6 stringers and the keel.


Finally all 6 stringers and keel were tied to the 45 ribs in 315 knots! The deck stringers were mounted to the deck pieces, and the extra sinew was cut off. Every square inch was coated with tung oil. Noted below: the spacing of the deck pieces were determined by the size of the cockpit, which rested on the two medial ones. The width of the boat was based on my own particular compromise between stability and speed. The depth of the boat was based on my ability to get my legs through the cockpit and under the front deck. This was based on how flexible I was (not very) and and recreational nature of my intended use.