Stitch & Glue

Posted By Dan Caouette

General | Weight | Standard Features | Options | Kits | Pricing

2013 "Areia" Black Pearl
2013 “Areia” Black Pearl


Every kayak built is designed to be rugged yet light weight and beautiful. The addition of two fiberglass skins to a plywood core create a structure similar to an I-beam. The wood provides light weight, stiffness and beauty, while the fiberglass absorbs virtually all of the loading.

Atka-14: Construction

The Stitch & Glue method was developed to build complex vessels out of flat sheets of stock.  A similar method is used for larger ships made of steel and aluminum.  Here lightweight, strong marine okoume plywood is used.  Each design is optimized for flat panel construction.  The panels are pre-cut, fitted into forms and then “stitched” together using copper wire.  A thickened epoxy fillet between the panels and creates the permanent bond.  Fiberglass is then laminated to both sides for strength.

Though the designs are limited due to the use of flat stock, it is a quick and relatively inexpensive method of building.  It is ideal for hard-chined Greenland designs such as the BTD Black Pearl, Shrike, Guillemot Kayak Petrel and Night Heron.

Puzzle Joint

The plywood used is marine Lloyds BS1088 grade Okoume plywood. Aucoume klaineana is an African wood that is a distant relative of mahogany.  It has a slight figure to the grain and usually has a golden honey hue. It’s similar in weight to spruce or fir and is about 10% lighter than Meranti, another common boat-building plywood.

The exterior can be clear coated or painted.  It can also be skinned in carbon fiber, Kevlar or a hybrid of the two (depending on the layup).

The epoxy and fiberglass matrix encapsulates the wood preventing any rotting and also enhance the beauty of the wood by adding depth.  For clear-coated kayaks, four coats of a tough, easy to maintain, crystal-clear automotive urethane are then applied to the exterior.  The result is the look of at least 10 coats of a deep rich varnish.  For painted kayaks, at least five coats of a tough automotive urethane system are then professionally applied to the exterior.  We do not use polyester gel-coats. The interior is finished with Super Sap CLR bio-derived epoxy package featuring excellent UV blockers.  A black graphite or colored low-friction epoxy/silicone coating can also applied to the hull for the ultimate in durability.


An average 18 ft (5.5m) long kayak will weigh as little as 30 pounds (13.6kg) with a Performance layup to as much as 42 pounds (18.1 kg), with an Expedition Kevlar layup.  S&G okoume kayaks will weigh slightly more than a strip-built one with a cedar core.  The plywood is more dent and ding resistant though.  Even an expedition boat is much lighter and stiffer than a comparable all fiberglass or plastic kayak. These boats are designed and built to be used in virtually any lake, river or the ocean.

Standard Features

– 4mm Okoume BS1088 Marine plywood (3mm used for parts of certain designs)
– Recessed solid carbon fiber coaming
– Recessed fiberglass tube or turned wood deck fittings
– Full wooden bulkheads
– Flush wooden hatches held by internal bungee cords or Beckson deck plates in carbon fiber recesses


2015 “Angry Bird” Black Pearl – JR

Building only custom boats allows us to build YOUR boat for the way YOU paddle. Every boat is fully outfitted to the customer’s tastes and preferences. We take pride in the fact we offer a large variety of options. Out list of options, including custom wood and shell inlays, is unparalleled. See our Options page for a small sampling. If you can dream it we can probably make it real.

It generally takes 6-8 weeks to built a stitch & glue kayak.


Home builders can also purchase plywood kits for some of the designs we build.  They are precision cut and shipped by the world leader in plywood boat kits: Chesapeake Light Craft.  See our on-line shop for the models offered.


Plywood Kits (Starting at)






Performance Carbon




Expedition Kevlar



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High performance kayaks, canoes and other small boats. Crafted individually in the USA.