Monday, December 19, 2011

Skin on Frame Kayak by Lou Brochetti

My good friend Lou is at it again - nothing can stop this man! This winter he has already built two skin on frame kayaks, one for a friend and one for himself.

Lou is a pilot and has built skin on frame remote control planes, so he has a good grasp of the materials. I haven't seen his kayaks in person yet, though other friends of ours have built them and they are impressive for such a simple, lightweight boat.

I admit to having doubts about the durability of these featherweight vessels, especially on top of a car at highway speeds. I'm happy to report - they hold up!

The Chuckanut 15 is multi-chined, with a wide, slight V bottom for stability, zero rocker in the keel for solid tracking and a large cockpit for easy entry and exit.
She's designed by Dave Gentry as a protected water expedition boat. The Chuckanut is 15 feet long, by 31.5 inches wide and weighs about 40 pounds.

Lou is planning to offer classes on how to build the Chuckanut 15 for those who live in the Bend, Oregon area, near his shop.

If anyone from the Bend, Redmond and surrounding area is interested, please contact me here.


Bob said...

Lou talked about that project at Paulina Lake. Those look great!

I am convinced SOF boats are durable but I don't fully understand how they're skinned. Maybe I should just build one for myself and figure it out!

Bob W

doryman said...

Lou could tell you and might be happy to do so. Andrew has built a few skin boats now and probably has some advice. I was around when he skinned his first boat. It seems that the proper tension on the fabric is critical, before shrinking. After that, the task is to heat the surface evenly to achieve uniform tension without burning the fabric.

Michael said...

Those are nice looking boats, and hard to beat for fun and utility. They resemble the sof I used in Alaska for life support.

Heat is for shrinking polyester fabric. It stays stretched after it's coated. On my current sof I used floor paint for the sealer.

For nylon fabric, which is said to have better abraison resistance, water is used to shrink the fabric. Some folks have trouble with the skin getting loose when the kayak drys out.

On my first sof I used canvas and I will use it on my next one also. It's organic. It tightens with water and does not loosen up. It's sturdy and nice to work with. But of the three it's heavier.

Keep building 'em,


Anonymous said...

I wish that there were classes on building one closer to the Portland area.

Joe said...

I like it

Anonymous said...

Hello Doryman,
Okay, I am a little skeptical about using canvas for my skin on frame kayak. I my first and used a heavy awning fabric that I can't get tight enough to get the wrinkles out. When you talk about canvas are we talking about something like a good painters canvas? I am in Albania and materials are somewhat limited. That is how I came to use the awning material, it hardly stretches even when heated up and I don't want to heat it to much it loses some of it's strength then. Any advice would be appreciated. Sincerly, Vince N. My build post is at if you are interested.

doryman said...

The fabric used for these boats is a dacron, not canvas. The critical detail is the ability to heat shrink the fabric once it's laid on the frame. Then you must paint the fabric to keep it from changing shape again.

Good luck!