How to build a seakayak / PART 5

How to build a seakayak /PART 5

fifth part of our tutorial on how to build a seakayak Bette 500 HV, using plywood and epoxy resin , with the so called “stitch and glue” system

sanding and fairing the hull and joining the deck panels

time required

-sanding and fairing the hull , cutting glass fabric : 3 hours

-joining deck panels: 5 hours

I decided to fair and sand the hull at this stage mainly for a simple reason: I needed a sanded and faired hull to cut the glass fabric patch neatly and smoothly, since I’ll further use the glass’ clippings to do the laminations on the inner of hull and deck, to stiffen the kayak;

Sanding the hull:

use a protective mask when you’re sanding, since you’ll do a lot of dust; if your power sander has a plug for a dust collecting pocket, use it ; I used sand paper number 100 as a reference, avoid to use papers too rough or too delicate.

We’ll start from bow or stern; first thing to do is to round the bow and stern bottom corners with the jigsaw, then we’ll use the sander to round the joints among panels on the whole hull and to “erase” occasional resin drops on the hull; the work is quite easy, just don’t sand too deeply; round quite aggressively the centerline, so that we’ll have a rounded bottom line that will withstand several “hard landing” on beaches without getting damaged.

25-stern detail 1

27-stern detail 2

28-stern detail 3

35-bow fairing 2

Cutting the glass fabric:

  • unroll our glass fabric patch (1 x 6 metres) on the hull, align the center of the patch with the centerline of the hull, and mark it on the glass fabric patch with a marking pen, just some dots
  • mark the bow and stern ( a small letter on the part of glass that will be clipped away is enough)
  •  we’ll lay down the fabric on the hull precisely and then cut the fabric with sharp scissors , cutting 3-5 cm above the chine between the bottom and the knee panel joint, take your time and do a cut as neat and smooth as you can, use sharp scissors so that you’ll obtain a very clean cut; stay quite far from the edges of bow and stern, in these areas we’ll cut the fabric precisely when we’ll laminate it with the epoxy
  •  re-roll the patch as delicate as you can and store it
  • of course, save all the clippings !




assembling the seakayak deck panels (in my humble opinion one of the funniest parts of the building)

  • we’ll start form the lower deck panels, which are the long narrow panels with pointed edges that we cut with the hull panels; join them to the hull with cable ties starting form stern or bow, just like we’ve done for hull panels; since it’s a temporary joint we may use only half of total ties needed, but we’d better drill all the holes, or at least mark them precisely;


38-deck assembly 3


  • deck panels: they are 4 panels, 2 for the bow and two for stern part of the deck, we’ll join the bow deck panels and stern deck panels out of the hull on the centerline with cable ties, and then we’ll place them above the hull , taking care that their edges are on the very bow and on the very stern, it’s possible that on the centre of the boat the four panels are overlapped for a few centimetres , cut them , and tie them with the deck lower panel, with all the cable ties, since now we need a very steady and fixed connection

39-deck assembly 4


  • problem: we don’t have access on the bow and stern inner areas once we’ve laid down the deck panels
  • solution: drill all the holes and position all the cable ties without closing them; in the most critical areas, that’s to say bow and stern, we may help ourselves with a small hook-shaped iron wire or a similar tool; after we’ve placed all the cable ties we may close and tighten them starting from bow or stern and tightening one tie on the left side and then the opposite on the other side of the seakayak hull


41-deck assembly detail 1

42-deck assembly detail 2


43-deck assembly detail 3

44-deck assembly detail 4



at the center of the deck we’ll join the panels gluing a small patch of plywood on the inner side; we may use clamps or screws to keep the panels in position while the resin sets

cockpit panel: that’s to say the panel with the hole that we use to seat in the seakayak; we have to place it right at the center of the deck, checking that it fits perfectly with the surrounding panels; it happened to me that deck parts where not perfectly on the very bow and stern , so I had to correct slightly the cockpit panel’s shape, just a few millimeters; after this we can assembly it with cable ties to the rest of the deck

47panel correction 2

49-deck assembly detail 6

50-deck assembly 7

now we have all the deck panels steadily connected with the hull of our seakayak