Building a Chuckanu -for reals this
August 28/29, 2015
A few years ago, we built one of Dave Gentry's Chuckanuts, a Skin
on Frame kayak. I really liked that design and I really, really
liked the boat. The only thing was, I thought the cockpit could
be more open to make it easier for two-people, so I designed the
While a person *could* line out the frames of one of these boats,
it is easier to just print out the cut plan on a large scale printer
(I used a local Fed Ex store - used to be a Kinkos) and trace it
over carbon paper. The cut plan covers an area 32x48 (you can get
3 boats out of a single sheet of plywood.
NOTE: Use Marine Plywood - not construction ply. I used
construction ply once (once) and it deformed under the pressure
of the stringers.
Spread the cut plan over the carbon paper, hold it in place, and
trace. It takes about 30 minutes to an hour. Remember to press fairly
hard and to number your frames - it becomes important during construction.
Cut - use a blade that gives smooth cuts in wood and allows you
to make tight turns. The cut plan strives for economy of layout,
not ease of cut. This takes about an hour.
Roundover the edges that will not be touching skin or floorboards
- I used a 1/4" roundover bit for this. Also, you'll notice
I did not cut out the bottom of the notches yet, just the sides.
I'll show you a trick in a second.
Use a 3/4" chisel to cut out the bottom of the notches - it's
quick and easy and gives you a reason to sharpen your chisel.
And finally, sand. You probably don't need to sand, but smooth
wood is nice wood.
Then it was off to the Boathouse where I was greeted by our new
resident cormorant. I hope he stays around.
For me, getting the sticks for stringers and wales is the hard
part of Skin on Frame (SoF) building. These were leftovers from
a previous build: 6 1x1s for the stringers and 4 1x2s for the Wales
The stringers are actually 5/8+ (or 3/4-) on a side, ripped from
a 2x6. The 1x2s I planed down to just 1/2" thick.
The strongback was used for a Glouchester Light Dory and I had
it stored up in the rafters. I got it down (no mean trick) and covered
it with some scrap ply to make a flat surface. . Then I snapped
a line down the center for reference.
Start with the ends - the boat is 15' long, so I mocked up how
the stems would fit and cut the keel to the correct length. 3 screws
to hold the stems on seems about right.
I brace the frames in place with L brackets - they are cheap, reusable,
and do a good job of both holding the frame in place and also keeping
the keel in place.
I level the frames as I screw them to the brackets.
Frames in place.
Time for the Wales Geoff and I set 'em in place and held 'em there
with ball bungies.
Then we went through and one at a time, alternating side to side,
first applied glue,
Drilled a pilot hole with countersink
And secured the wale to the frame with a 1 1/2" stainless
This wale will have the skin attached to it and then be capped
with another wale (to hide the seam and provide protection.) I ran
the screws down low so they won't get in the way of the other staples/screws.
Attaching the Wales to the stems is always fun. Geoff was particularly
good at it, so I let him do both ends.
That's about it for this week - I forgot to order the sinew for
lashing the stringers in place, so we'll do that next week. See