Kayak Building Part 13 – Cockpit Coaming and Seat Installation

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This is part 13 of a multipart blog . . . Read Part One here,  Part Two herePart Three herePart Four herePart Five herePart Six herePart Seven herePart Eight here, Part Nine herePart Ten herePart Eleven herePart Twelve here.

Day 59: 8/8/12 –  2.75 hours

Now that there are three boats in action and a fourth one beginning, Dan wanted to highlight our projects and get the community excited about boating. He arranged for the local paper to check out the new life inside the old lockmaster’s house on the river.

Sam Sawyer from the Marietta Times showed up at 6:00. We had all of the boat builders present: Dan, Gary, Dave and me. Sam interviewed all of us and published a great article in the local paper:Local woodworkers building their own kayaks.  I asked Frank Byers – our well-known Woodcraft reporter, to stop by and film a bit. Here’s a short video from that night!


Once all of the interviewing and videotaping was over, I finally got back to work. I was starting on the cockpit coaming. The upper and lower coaming were already prepared and ready to be cut and glued on the kayak. Tonight I will work on the lower coaming only, with Dan’s help. The two pieces of the lower coaming still need to be cut to exactly fit over the cockpit.

First we took a lower coaming piece, lined it up with the inside edges and clamped it on one side of the cockpit.

The coaming had to be cut at the front and back of the cockpit. To make the precision cut, we used a straightedge to mark the edge to match the keel seam. Then we lined the straightedge to center line of the deck to mark the top of the coaming. We cut the coaming using one of Woodcraft’s new Kakuri Japanese Hand Saws. We used the straightedge to guide the saw.

We removed that coaming and repeated the process with the other half of the lower coaming.

Next I lightly sanded around the cockpit where I would attach the coaming. Then, using a disposable glue brush, I painted a layer of thickened epoxy on the  cockpit and on the coaming, aligned them, and clamped them into place. I used Bessey’s Mighty Mini Clamps to hold down the coaming. These clamps turned out to be perfect for the job – they were easy to use and small enough to fit at least ten on each side of the cockpit. Dan also had small squares of Mylar and small pieces of wood already cut out to use with the clamps. He wanted to make sure the clamps didn’t leave an impression on the coaming. I thought the small pieces of wood were Festool Dominos, but evidently, he had cut them out awhile ago.

At first Dan wasn’t so sure about the clamps, he normally uses C-clamps. After that night though, he asked me about purchasing the whole box that I had brought to the shop. Thanks to our generous friends at BesseyThe Marietta Rowing and Cycling Club was the lucky recipient of a clamp donation for all boat building crews!


Day 60: 8/9/12 –  1.5 hours

Tonight it was time for the upper coaming. The process was very similar. First we clamped one side of the upper coaming to the lower coaming. We used a straightedge to measure from the center keel and the top of the deck. Since the upper coaming is much thinner than the lower coaming, we used a utility knife to trim. The directions suggest using the utility knife, but it took many passes to get the wood cut.

For the next cut, we went back to the saw. For the second half, we left the first half clamped on and used that to guide the cuts.

We filed the seams so they fit perfectly and glued them to the lower coaming. We applied epoxy to the lower coaming and upper coaming. We also laid a short strip of fiberglass tape over the top seams of the upper coamings at the front and back where the two sides met.  Then, we broke out the Bessey Mighty Mini Clamps and clamped the coaming in placed.  Again we used the small wood pieces and Mylar squares to protect from indentation.

Day 61:   8/10/12 –  1.75 hours

Dan met me at the house at 5:00 and gave me instructions for the hip braces. The hip braces are placed vertically from the underside of the cockpit straight down to the bottom of the boat. They not only add support for the top/bottom of the boat, but the seat back is attached to them.

I previously woodburned in my hull identification number and fiberglassed the reinforcement plate material that is used for the hip braces. I placed this plate 9″ in front of the inside rear of the cockpit and marked the spot that met the underside of the cockpit. I then cut the wood to fit. I used the cut piece to make a duplicate for the other side.

After cutting the wood and the lesson, Dan was off and I was ready to get to work.

Dan originally suggested that I flip the boat on its side to filet one side at a time. He wanted me to lay the piece horizontally rather than fighting gravity and doing both sides in one night. I (unsuccessfully) tried to convince Dan we could use quick drying epoxy or super glue to tack them in place vertically and do both in one night. He definitely didn’t want me to tack the piece in place with superglue, but said I could work on the boat vertically by filleting the bottom one night and flipping the boat upside down to fillet the inside of the top under the cockpit the next night. He mentioned that I could use thumbtacks with the fiberglass tape to hold the piece vertical and in place if necessary.

I sanded the area on the bottom inch of the plate and the bottom of the hull. Next I positioned the plate in place under the deck so that it was flush with the inside of the coaming. The bottom fell nicely into a seam in the hull. I mixed up a very thick batch of epoxy with wood flour and built up a ramp from the bottom of the hull to the wooden plate. I placed a piece of fiberglass tape and saturated it with clear epoxy. This was done on both sides of the bottom of the plate. Then I glassed a piece of fiberglass tape to the inside top edge to hold the plate in place under the cockpit.

I didn’t think thumbtacks were necessary. Just then, Joe Tewkesbury, the crew coach from Marietta High School, stopped in. I knew Joe had experience with boat building, so I asked his opinion on the tacks and the ramps. He confirmed no tacks were needed and that my epoxy job looked good. I called it a night.

Day 62:  8/11/12  - .5 hours

Since I couldn’t manage to make this a one day process, I was back tonight to finish the hip braces. I flipped the boat over, mixed up a very thick batch of epoxy and went back to building a ramp. This time the ramp was on the top of the plate, underneath the cockpit coaming.

At this point, that’s all I could do until the hip braces cured, so I called it a night.


Day 63:  8/12/12 –  3 hours

Now that the hip braces were set, I could work on the rest of the seat. Dan approved my epoxy ramps and was especially happy to hear that his friend Joe stopped in that night and gave me the thumbs up.

First I drilled a 1/4″ hole in the hip brace 2 1/2″ below the cockpit coaming. I trimmed the excess fiberglass tape from the top of the hip brace and sanded down the rough spots.  I also sanded the cockpit combing and coated it with a layer of epoxy before I left for the night.  I was going out of town the next day, so Dan added a second coat of epoxy to the cockpit coaming for me on 8/13/12.

Here is a snapshot of Dave, boatbuilder #4, starting to work on his kit, and Dan wiring in his deck.

Time in this project so far: 125 hours

Next blog will hopefully wrap it up!  Stay tuned for the end pour and deck rigging in:

Kayak Building Part 14 – Sanding, End Pour, Seats and Deck Rigging!


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