Featured Kayaks Projects

Spray HPK – Deck Construction

Posted By Dan Caouette

If I was building a canoe, I’d be thinking about outfitting now.  It is a kayak so time to build the deck.  The same basic steps used to build the hull are used: strip, sand and fiberglass the exterior, flip, sand and fiberglass the interior.  Easy as that…

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I started stripping the deck at the sheer.  All the strips are 3/16″ (4.5mm) thick.  Some weight could have been saved using 1/8″ (3mm) strips but Zack was willing to sacrifice some weight for additional strength and resilience.

The deck has a round over at the sheer. I wanted to get past that point before starting from the center line.  I put a bevel on the first strip so it would meet tightly at the hull. I tacked it to the sheer with a few dabs of hotglue so the deck would not move after I remove the staples.  I’m painting the deck so I stayed with square-cut strips.  I also went back to my usual method of gluing between the strips as I go.  Spring clamps help hold the strips in alignment while glue (Titebond III) sets up.  The first three strips also got me past the rise on the nose.

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At this point I switched to stripping from the center line down toward the sheer.  I noticed one little issue with my deck design. I laid a test strip on the forms and I had a low spot at form #5.  It was low about a 1/4″ in the middle, tapering to zero on either side.  I could hade made it hit the form but it would have bulged and been unfair.  I double-checked it’s location and alignment.  #5 was the last unchanged form until the cockpit.  Part of the fun of modifying a design.

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I had two ways to fix it.  I could have either lowered #6 or raised #5.  Adjusting #5 proved to be the simplest.  The deck was designed with parts of ovals.  I temporarily clamped a strip of leftover 1/8″ thick northern white cedar to the deck strips, putting a curve in it so the middle would hit.  After checking for fairness in a few spots I marked and removed it and hotglued it back in place.  To beef it up and give me something to staple to, I laminated three more strips of white cedar using hotglue.  It made a pretty rigid deck beam and took staples beautifully.

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Stripping continued down the sides.  To close in the sides I then alternated centerline down with sheer-line up until the fore deck was closed in.

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Once off the sheers, the aft deck is practically flat.  It goes fast using 1″ wide strips from the center line out.  The cockpit is only recessed in the front.  The back is directly cut from the aft deck.  This will make more sense later.

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Done stripping the deck.  In this picture you can see how the depressed sheer line creates a closer catch.

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Another view of the fore deck.  Masking tape and spring clamps help align the strips while the glue cures.

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I pulled all the staples, removed all the masking tape and sanded the entire kayak with P40 grit paper.  I filled any gaps resulting from the square-cut strips with filler.  The entire deck was sanded fair by hand with some P80 grit paper on the longboard.  The dip at the paddle catch is even more pronounced now.

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When designing the deck I made the area around the cockpit wider by at least a 1/4″ to 1/2″.  It guaranteed me the deck was going to be wide enough for the proposed coaming rim.  If I found that the deck was too narrow while fitting the rim, the only option would have been to lower it until the deck was wide enough.  This could have had drastic consequences like not being able to brace or having a vertical curve such that a spray skirt would not seal.

I used some 4mm okoume marine plywood to fill between horizontally between the deck and the rim with.  I could have used strips but I had scraps of the plywood leftover from the Black Pearl project.  The aft deck is already flat so it didn’t need the plywood.  It will be faired in and painted.

If this was clearcoated deck I would have done things differently, perhaps making the entire recess out of strips (side to side).  Here the deck has been roughly trimmed and the plywood has been taped in place so both can be scribed.

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(Many moments later…)

The recess was fitted to the deck and tacked in place with some dabs of hotglue on the inside.  It was then permanently bonded with thickened epoxy.  When cured the entire cockpit area was sanded smooth and vacuumed.

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As part of our Standard Construction, the deck received one layer of 3.7 oz (eg 4 oz) tight weave E-glass.

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The glass weighs the same as regular 4 oz plain weave glass but because of the tight weave it’s about 2/3rds the thickness.  This means less epoxy is used for wet out saving weight.

You can see how the cockpit recess will blend in seamlessly with the aft deck.

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The tight weave is also smoother requiring less fill coats, which means less epoxy which means… you got it!  Less weight.

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When cured the deck was separated from the forms.  The hull was put aside (on my workbench/outfeed table) and cradles were attached to the strongback.  These cradles are the standoffs that were cut from the forms.  They originally held the forms at the correct height while stripping the hull.  The entire interior was sanded smooth to P80 with the ROS (random orbit sander) trying to remove as little material as possible.  The interior only has to be smooth enough so the glass lays flat.

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The deck interior was then laminated with a single layer of 4 oz tightweave glass.  I was able to use the cutoffs from the exterior.

Ready to start on the ancillary components: hatches, bulkheads, deck fittings, etc…


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