Please Select Username to appear on public areas of the site like community and recipe comments. Not only is the Cosine Wherry a beautiful looking boat, it is a boat with plenty of stability.
This boat will keep you dry in rough weather, carry up to 500 pounds, yet is lightweight (approx. During our recent trip to the Philippines, Katya and I saw a lot of people on the waterways and even on the open ocean traveling on traditional stand up paddleboards. Seated paddler (squatting) with two-bladed paddle, traveling among the nipa, Balingasay River, Bolinao.
Although most people paddle standing using a long single bladed paddle, I have seen some sit and paddle them like a kayak, using narrow two-bladed paddles. Bamboo contains starch which makes it especially attractive as a food source for many organisms, including fungi and insects such as borer beetles. Our board is totally finished now and we’ve had the opportunity to take her out on a few casual trips. Unlike a sea kayak, which has a cockpit and perimeter lines, a paddleboard doesn’t have a lot to grab on to, so hand carrying and cartopping a slippery, heavy board can be a serious issue.
I think the weight is actually real advantage on the water though because she feels very solid and stable, even in a rough chop.
One small modification we definitely plan in the future is to install some simple deck rigging, probably just of a length of bungee crossed over the deck by the nose.
As I mentioned before, I haven’t been on a lot of paddleboards, but I can say that this board so far has been the best I’ve tried! Anyone who has built a wooden kayak is familiar with hearing plenty of compliments from admirers, and then getting into long conversations with people on the beach about boatbuilding as they are about to launch. If you were thinking ahead you would have carefully marked where the balsa wood blocks were after the bottom was stripped so you would know exactly where you could install the fin box. When mounting the fin box it is important to have the fin in place, so you can tell that it is perfectly perpendicular to the surface of the board. After the epoxy cured, we removed the fin from the box, cut off the excess fiberglass and epoxy, and used a block plane to carve down the plastic lip of the fin box.
Simply letting the board sit in the sun for a few minutes will result in an increase in the internal air pressure, as I found out when moved our board from the garage to the yard. Ideally, you would have a hatch to drain the interior and allow air to circulate in case water gets inside. We placed a simple vent (also available from Wood Surfboard Supply) consisting of a screw and a neoprene washer at the tail next to the leash cup. Epoxy will discolor, turn brittle, and eventually disintegrate with prolonged exposure to UV radiation.
Katya and I caught up with Joe Greenley of Redfish Kayaks at the annual Redfish Wooden Kayak Rendezvous and talked to him about his cedar strip SUP. Joe couldn’t tell us exactly how much his board weighs but we estimated it was about the same as ours, a little over 40 pounds. Although I haven’t been on SUPs enough to really be a discriminating judge their performance, I was impressed with Joe’s board and thought it was the most comfortable board I've tried so far. After seeing Joe’s board I would definitely strip the rails in a single layer as I stripped the hull and deck.
It can be a real challenge to achieve a totally clear, transparent finish with fiberglass and epoxy.
When using epoxy, work in a well-ventilated shop and use a respirator with an organic vapor cartridge.
After both sides of the board were sealed, we unrolled a layer of 4 oz uncoated plain weave fiberglass intended for clear coating. I use volumetric pumps to ensure the proper ratio of low viscosity resin to slow hardener (2:1). Pour the epoxy over the glass starting in the middle of the board and spread it out to the ends. For an excellent example of how to wet out glass with epoxy, check out this video clip from Guillemot Kayaks.
When the glass layer has cured, apply another one or two coats of epoxy, just enough to fill the weave. Now that the entire board has been stripped, it’s time to fair the deck and hull and shape the rails.
A word on workspaces: don’t ever think that you could complete a project like this inside your home or apartment or within any living space.
I found that a rasp works best for shaping the corners between the rails and the hull and deck. After the entire board has been sanded with 80 grit paper, we sanded it again with 120 grit. In my previous post, I said that the wooden structure was complete, but I forgot to mention that we still needed to install the nose and tail blocks.
The process at the tail is similar, but this time we cut across the deck to expose the inside of the bottom and glued a single block across the end. After the blocks were shaped, we chose to extend the outer layer of the rails around the edges of the blocks. The outer layer was made by laying short strips vertically, perpendicular to the inner layer strips. A word about epoxy: I like to use MAS brand epoxy, specifically the Low Viscosity Resin and Slow Hardener, because that is what I have used in the past and am familiar with. After the epoxy on the second layer cured, we trimmed off the overhanging edges of the rails with a handsaw, and then carefully trimmed them flush with the deck and bottom with a block plane.
The process of planking the hull, or bottom, of the paddleboard is similar to planking the deck but poses a few extra challenges. Because the deck has been installed, there is no way to use the shrink wrap plastic to hold the strips in place, so you’ll need to get a little creative in holding the strips together as the glue dries.
Since you will be working with the board lying free and not secured to the workbench, possibly on soft blankets like we did, it is easy to introduce a twist to the board if you are not careful placing the weights evenly and making sure the board is balanced side to side.
Another concern is although the hull is “flat” in the sense that is does not have any side to side curvature, it does have a lot of rocker.
The length along the curved bottom of a 12 ft board will necessarily be greater than 12 ft, so your 12 ft strips will come up a couple inches short. Many paddle boards also feature a notch in the deck which serves as a hand hold to carry the board under your arm. After the first strip is installed, strips are added to the sides of the center strip, after pre-bending with a heat gun. In addition to being strong, lightweight, rot resistant, and easy to work with, western red cedar comes in different colors, ranging from pale yellow to chocolate brown. By the time we were ready for planking, our strips had been pre-bending in the corner of the garage for several days. The combination of elegant lines and lightweight wood-stripper construction, she is the rower’s dream. She responds instantly to a light pull in the oars and gets up to hull speed with a few strokes. The Cosine 10 footer is designed as a yacht tender or for wherever an easily carried and stored boat is needed. She can be rowed for either of two oar locks stations, though the forward position may be tight for a large person. Here are some of our favorite ways to simplify building storage units and get gorgeous results.
From all that experience, we've learned that the best building tricks are shortcuts that avoid complex steps.
The combination of elegant lines and light-weight wood-stripper construction, she is the rower’s dream. John built and tested this boat on lakes, rivers, and the harbors around Puget Sound, near Seattle, Washington. Because of this it isn’t especially naturally rot resistant, and needs to be treated by one of various methods prior to use in any construction.
We watched him pull the bamboo through the shallows along the shore a few miles back to the fishing village.
Unfortunately, the deck on a paddleboard is constantly exposed to the sand and pebbles stuck on the bottom of your feet and booties. This is primarily to hold a pfd on board when we don’t feel like actually wearing one on hot sunny days! Katya has been getting her first taste of that, sometimes talking so long she hardly has any time to paddle! We forgot to mark where the blocks were, so our hole extended about an inch too far aft and we had to plug the bottom of our hole with more small pieces of balsa. Because of the curvature of the board, it was difficult to clamp a guide in place.The first few passes with the router were shallow, just used to define the area. This lip is there to keep epoxy from getting in the fin box during installation, and is meant to be removed after installation of the box.
After just a few minutes in the sun, opening the vent released a long and dramatic rush of air.
The central spar effectively separates the left and right halves of the board into two separate air chambers so it’s important that the vent overrides the spar.

The Rendezvous is a casual event where local wooden kayak builders gather on the Fort Worden beach in Port Townsend with their kayaks. I suspect the weight gives it a lot of extra stability compared to the lighter foam boards and is a difference you will really notice in any kind of chop. BPA is a weak endocrine disruptor, which can mimic estrogen and may lead to negative health effects. I discard the first squirt from the pumps if they haven’t been used recently to eliminate any air trapped in the pumps.
Allow the first coat to fully cure (about 24 hours, depending on the ambient temperature) then cut the excess fiberglass hanging over the edges with a razor or sharp knife. The weave will be filled by one or two additional coats of epoxy after the first coat is cured. The subsequent layers may take longer to cure, especially in cold weather, because they are thinner. The end grain doesn’t cut easily with a block plane -- the red cedar is brittle and tends to tear. Since the purpose of sanding with 120 grit is only to smooth out the scratches from the 80 grit paper and not to fair the board, it takes a lot less time. We thought it would be more aesthetically pleasing to have the pattern of vertical rails continuous around the entire board.
After the bottom was planked the overhanging edges were carefully trimmed with a handsaw and planed flush to the rail strips with a block plane. We used epoxy thickened with wood flour instead of Gorilla Glue, because we anticipated that there would be gaps between the strips, and epoxy is a better choice when you need a gap-filling glue and when joints might be exposed.
Since you are planing the end grain of the outer strips, the plane needs to be really sharp.
The instructions suggest using a combination of weights to hold the strips down against the deck, and clamps to hold the strips together. The strips will need to be pre-bent with a heat gun to follow this curve, especially near the nose.
You can get really creative by combining different woods, stripping in angles or curved patterns, or adding inlays.
Clear cedar boards are usually available at your big box home improvement stores in 12 ft lengths. She is designed to be strip-planked by an amateur, wood worker working in a small area, without expensive tools. So whether you're a beginning builder or a veteran, these bookcase and shelf building tips will lead to beautiful results with less time and effort. It is strong and well-suited for racing, yet practical for fishing and ideal for leisurely excursions on quiet lakes.
John built this first prototype, it rowwed, funtion perfectly and looked so beautifully, he decided to keep this design. The boards are constructed simply out of a few thick stems of bamboo which are lashed together with heavy duty fishing line to three or four thin bamboo crosspieces placed along the deck.
The smaller ones might be used merely as tenders to transport people and supplies from a beach to fishing boats anchored in deeper water, while the longer ones are used for fishing on the open ocean, and usually equipped with a small raised platform for sitting, a fishing net, small styrofoam cooler, and other fishing gear.
One ancient method involved immersing the stems with weights underwater for 3-4 weeks which leaches out the starch. We were concerned that the varnished deck might be slippery and even bought a few cakes of board wax, but it turned out not to be an issue. I bet applying board wax might actually make the situation worse by making the sand stick to the board.
Compared to Joe Greenley’s cedar strip board, she’s less responsive to changes in trim (adjusting your position fore and aft), which makes sense because she has a more volume at the ends. So one final tip: give yourself some extra time when planning trips to field those questions, bask in the admiration of strangers, and share the joy of boatbuilding! Later we cut it the hole the appropriate depth (a little over 1 inch) using multiple passes, then cleaned it up with a chisel.
So in order for the fin box to lie flush with the bottom, the box should be installed so that the lip will stick above the surface.
If you do, it will sand it off easily, but you might want to cover it with tape to keep the epoxy off. After we carved most of the fin box down, we removed the masking tape on the board and ground down the rest of the box lip flush with the board surface with a random orbital sander. Imagine how much the internal pressure rises after letting it sit on top of a hot car for a few hours! If the inside gets wet the strips will start to warp and you would notice it as ridges running along the length of the board.
To improve the flow, I dilute it 10% with high quality paint thinner, the kind intended for actual thinning, not for cleaning. Instructors give presentations on range of different kayak building techniques including cedar strip building, stitch-and-glue, traditional skin-on-frame, and even folding kayaks. He mounts cross-sectional forms on a strongback and builds the hull first, including the fairing and glassing.
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Measuring out the volumes in separate graduated cups is going to be less accurate, especially when you take into account that you have to mix the two, and there will be either resin or hardener stuck to the side of the one of the cups. Use a paintbrush to wet out the sides, again being careful not to leave any loose bristles behind. You could carefully cut, scrape, and sand the glass off and repair the hole with a patch of new glass, but sanding into the wood will result in a discolored area. You might be wondering why can’t we just lay the glass on bare wood and apply a single thick layer of epoxy on it to accomplish all three steps at once: sealing the wood, wetting out the glass, and filling the weave. When they are completely cured, sand the whole board again with the random orbital sander using 80 grit paper to smooth and fair the surface, then again with 120 grit paper to smooth over the scratches from the 80 grit. A block plane or spokeshave works well for this but be sure to set it for a very shallow cut because they can be too aggressive and tear a chunk out of the strips. Sanding should be done outside of a living space and even away from where you plan to do your final varnishing.
We drew a pencil line about an inch below the top and bottom of the rail and used it as a guide for rounding the corner of the rail. It still weighs almost nothing and now I’m getting really excited about taking it out on the surf! With this thickness, the rails could be carved creating soft, rounded edges with the deck and hull. The outer layer vertical strips were also secured into place with staples, but only at the ends, and stapled into parts of the inner layer that would be trimmed off afterwards. The last thing you want is to ruin all of your beautiful woodwork by trying to save a few cents on epoxy!
Like the hole for the fin box, the notch will be cut into the blocks using a router after the board is glassed. Gorilla Glue is applied to the ribs and central spar after the surfaces are moistened, and the strip is positioned and clamped at the nose and the tail. As the stripping progresses toward the edges and the distance across them becomes to big for the clamps, you will need to use tape to temporarily hold the strips together as the glue dries. Katya choose to strip the deck in a simple pattern using full-length (12 ft) strips of western red cedar.
That’s probably the main reason I choose it over balsa or pauwlonia (which the instructions recommend) for planking. The stems are oriented so that the more narrow ends are lashed together at the front, making the bow slightly more narrow than the stern. I expected them to be lightweight but they are remarkably heavy, which has the advantage of greater stability in waves as well as easier handling in wind and when going in and out of surf. Factory manufactured boards seem to run anywhere from 28-45 pounds so she is at the upper limit but not far out of range. The sling consists of a couple adjustable wide strips of nylon webbing that snap around the board with quick releases, and another adjustable padded strap that clips in between the other two that you wear over your shoulder. I felt like I had a good grip on the board with neoprene booties on, even in rough water when the deck was awash. I suspect our meticulously finished deck is going to look pretty scratched up before too long. Be sure to make enough room in the hole for a layer of fiberglass and thickened epoxy in addition to the fin box itself. I recommend installing a vent to equalize the external and internal pressures, and keeping it open whenever the board is not on the water. It is actually safer to put the vent at the nose where you can always see it, as a constant reminder to close it before you get on the water, but we felt that that would detract from the look of the nose. You definitely don’t want to use a cheap brush for this, because it will leave loose bristles behind.
Although we were hoping to bring and show off our own SUP, it still needed a few finishing touches including one final coat of varnish before it was really ready to display.
It looked like it was about 30 inches wide and 4 inches thick, very similar to our own board.

Unlike the foam boards I’ve tried in the past which couldn't go straight, Joe’s board tracked well even with a light breeze and I didn’t need to switch paddling sides at all. Stripping the rails in a single layer would require modifying the frames to have rounded corners and some fancy stripping work to get around the tight bends and compound curves of the bow, but it would definitely save quite a bit of weight. Back when I was building my cedar strip kayak, I used a kerosene heater to get the whole shop to at least 80 degrees F. BPA is used in the plastics that coat almost all food and beverage cans, hard transparent plastic food containers, and reusable sports water bottles. We made a few cuts at the corners of the tail and around the nose so that the fabric would drape smoothly around the sides. You can clean uncured epoxy with white vinegar, but you really don’t want to have to bother with that -- just use a disposable chip brush and throw it away. I like to use a random orbital sander with 80 grit sandpaper even out most irregularities and fair the deck and hull. We cut across the bottom at the nose to expose the central longitudinal spar and then cut off the end of the spar to expose the underside of the deck at the nose. Since we are working in cedar, building up a rail that thick would require a lot of wood and add a ridiculous amount of weight to the finished board.
The inner layer strips were then glued to them with Gorilla Glue and stapled and clamped into place. The Low Viscosity Resin works well for a clear wet out of fiberglass, joints and making fillets.
When we couldn’t use clamps anymore we used packing tape to hold the strips against each other. Plywood will lack the beauty of cedar strips but there are unlimited possibilities for painting designs on it, or even gluing on a patterned Hawaiian fabric under the fiberglass. They are glued to both sides of the central spar in the three chambers between the 1st through 4th ribs, using epoxy thickened with wood flour. Several weights (books, cans of paint, concrete blocks, etc.) are placed along the strip to hold it against the ribs and central spar.
Katya said that stripping the bottom took much longer and was much more challenging than stripping the deck. Build or learn to build Wood Strip canoes, kayaks, woodstrip sea kayaks, row boats, rowboats, cedarstrip, Cedar Strip. Add a drop down centerboard, a retractable rudder and two different sail configurations and you have a boat for all kinds of fun.
Be warned that if you decide to make one of these you may grow to envy those dudes who can carry their boards to the water across big parking lots under one arm without breaking a sweat! I noticed the hard varnished surface was slippery and not very comfortable when kneeling on my bare knees though.
The box is plastic and the removable fin itself is glass and can be adjusted fore and aft to fine tune the trim. We brushed the inside of the hole with epoxy, put a layer of fiberglass and wet it out, then spread a layer of thickened epoxy in the hole before inserting the fin box. To mount the cup, we drilled a hole 1 inch in diameter in the center of the tail block on the deck, spread thickened epoxy in the hole and pushed the cup in. The board probably won’t burst at the seams right away if you forget to open it one day, but repeated cycles of high and low pressures will eventually lead to failure. I pour the varnish into a pan, wet the roller, and roll a layer onto the surface, then I go back and tip it off with the dry brush. Although in the video I mention that the tracking is stiff, I discovered that shifting your weight more aft makes the board very maneuverable. Another effective way to heat the wood is to shine some hot lights right on the wood surface or, if you are building a kayak or canoe, put lights inside the boat. Our main exposure to BPA is through food contamination, but it is easily absorbed through inhalation or the skin, for instance through handling thermal paper printed receipts, tickets, and boarding passes. The volumetric pumps make it easy to mix up even small volumes in a single container as well. I’ve tried it and discovered that if you apply a thick layer of epoxy while wetting out the glass, the glass will actually float on top of the epoxy layer and create big wrinkles in the glass.
A lot still needed to be done to shape the edges of the rails and fair surfaces of the deck and hull, prior to sanding and glassing.
Another possibility is to make a bunch of “C” shaped pieces out of plywood and clamp them against the ribs to hold the strips both against the ribs and against each other, as shown in these images from my cedar strip baidarka build. The nose end would definitely need to be pre-bent, maybe by soaking for a few days with weights at the end. The blocks are planed to match the curve of the bottom of the board, and the strips glued directly to them. Since the distance around the edge is greater than 12 ft, the rail strips need to be scarfed from 12 ft stock, with the scarf joint in the middle where the curve is minimal. The Cosine Wherry will give years of exercise, pleasure, and the greatest satisfaction to build and row.
Wood Surf Board Supply sells a transparent traction film that protects the deck surface and provides a nonslip surface. This can be difficult to create in a workshop after all the cutting and sanding that’s been going on. I keep a cylinder of BernzOMatic propane handy and blow it into the can as I close the lid to expel all the air out. The transition from the deck and hull to the rail is smooth and seamless because they are stripped as part of the deck and hull. And by standing on the very back of the board and lifting the nose up you can really swing it around quickly. You definitely do not want to start with a cool shop and warm it up after applying the resin. You can wash it off with white vinegar, although I’ve heard that dissolving it in vinegar makes it more easily absorbed through your skin. I had to go back and scrape out as much of the epoxy from under the glass as possible, resulting in a lot of wasted resin.
You might find that it’s a great way to meet your neighbors as they stop by to ask what you are building and compliment you on your beautiful woodwork. You could use a single large solid block if you wanted to -- it just happened to be those pieces are what we had on hand. The instructions suggest this as an alternative to stripping but I decided against it because I was uncertain about the practicality of pre-bending the plywood. Just as before, we glued them to the ribs with superglue and taped them in place, then removed the tape after the superglue dried and reinforced it with Gorilla Glue. Another thought is to use a matte rather than a gloss finish, which would hide superficial scratches. After the epoxy cured, we ground down the cup edges flush with the board surface with sandpaper.
You should use as little epoxy as possible when sealing the wood, wetting out the glass and filling the weave. When not fully cured, sanding will take much more time and effort, and the uncured resin will clog up the paper, and clump up into small white grains.
After the epoxy cured we rough cut it to shape with a handsaw then planed it to match the curve of the nose. My guess is that it might affect performance on surf and waves but probably wouldn’t make much of a difference on flat water.
Kits for DIY folk, do it yourself, handmade, homemade, hand made, custom built, White Salmon, Washington, Hood River, Oregon, WA, The Columbia River Gorge, boats, boating, rowing, paddling, paddles, oars, accessories. He lays the board on its side at an angle, and, working through the tail which is still open, uses gravity and a foam brush attached to a long stick to spread epoxy over the fiberglass tape along the inside seam.
When fully cured, the dust will be very fine and the sander will cut through the epoxy much easier.
By this time I have abandoned reading the instructions and am making all this up as I go along.
Start from one end of the board, and always work from wet to dry, to the other end of the board. This is especially important when trying to wetting out fiberglass to get a transparent finish.
The disadvantage is that in cold weather, it may take a couple days or more for a thin layer of epoxy to completely cure. Don’t go back over an area that you’ve already varnished: you will leave brush marks because it has already started to dry. When the varnish has completely dried, wet sand it down with 300 grit paper, preferably somewhere other than where you do your varnishing, and just enough to get rid of any drips and dust particles, then dry it, wipe off all the dust and repeat another layer, until the can is gone. There is also an internal structure composed of three longitudinals and a few frames supporting the area in the middle of the board where the paddler stands. I save all my sanding dust from previous projects in a big can and use it as “wood flour” for making thickened epoxy for joints and fillets. A small hatch by the nose gives you access to the inside for limited storage and for allowing the interior to dry in case of leaks.

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Comments to “How to build wood strip boats”

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