Building a Skin-On-Frame Kayak

by Patrick Farneman



In June of 2009, I traveled to Manzanita, Oregon to build a skin-on-frame kayak with Brian Schulz, owner of Cape Falcon Kayak. Although he offers several modern kayaks of his own design, I decided to build a replica Greenland hunting kayak that he offers. The original boat was built by a Greenland seal hunter and was collected in 1931 in Disko Bay, Greenland. The week I spent with Brian in that class was fun, very hands-on and informative. Quoting Brian from his website, “I build replica kayaks because they are pretty, because every traditional kayak I build teaches me about modern ones, because the Greenland hunting kayak imparts a sense of history, even if it's not my history; and mostly, by simple virtue of proximity, the Greenland kayak conveys a powerful intimacy with the water.” Following is a series of photographs of the process of building this lovely little kayak. Photos with me in them were taken by Chuck Tucker of Bend, Oregon, who was also a participant in the class; they are used by permission.


Photo Essay on Building a Skin-On-Frame Kayak

Intro – marking and mortising kayak gunwales.


Kayak gunwales from clear red cedar boards


Using end forms and spreaders, we set the gunwale angles, the boat width and rocker.


Deck beams are measured, tenons made and installed with wood dowels.


All deck beams installed.


Ribs are made of bamboo plywood and are steam bent and installed.


The keelson is lashed onto the ribs and the stem is fitted and attached.


The stem is fitted and attached in the same manner.  Photo shows the other frames in the class and several fellow classmates.


The stringers are lashed into place finishing the hull shape.


The cockpit is made from steam bent white oak and is used at this stage to ensure correct placement of rear deck stringers.





E-mail your comments to "Patrick Farneman" at
Visit and join us in the journey of discovering our roots - the ancient ways and skills that help define who we are. Bridges to the Past is a non-profit organization dedicated to education and preservation of our shared human history through the skills of our ancestors.

PrimitiveWays Home Page

We hope the information on the PrimitiveWays website is both instructional and enjoyable. Understand that no warranty or guarantee is included. We expect adults to act responsibly and children to be supervised by a responsible adult. If you use the information on this site to create your own projects or if you try techniques described on PrimitiveWays, behave in accordance with applicable laws, and think about the sustainability of natural resources. Using tools or techniques described on PrimitiveWays can be dangerous with exposure to heavy, sharp or pointed objects, fire, stone tools and hazards present in outdoor settings. Without proper care and caution, or if done incorrectly, there is a risk of property damage, personal injury or even death. So, be advised: Anyone using any information provided on the PrimitiveWays website assumes responsibility for using proper care and caution to protect property, the life, health and safety of himself or herself and all others. He or she expressly assumes all risk of harm or damage to all persons or property proximately caused by the use of this information.

© PrimitiveWays 2013