Kayak without resin


I am writing because I would like to build a kayak without to use resin.

So I would like to know which wood / or Plywood Marine is appropriated for this.

Of course it would be good if the wood is not too heavy and hard and water resistant.

I am interested to use a Plywood with a surface already "waterproof" or a "solid wood". I would like only to treate the wood with a varnish if it's enough.

Thank you for your answer:-) :-) :-)

3 replies:

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RE: Kayak without resin

Traditional small boat techniques like lapstrake and clinker would result in a very heavy kayak with limited shapes. Strip building could give you a better shape and weight, but waterproofing and rot could be a problem without resin. If you caulked the strips it would be like clinker with very thin planks. I would be worried about the strength of that style of building.

Looking at how bark canoes are built suggests a thin, almost paper-like covering over a wooden frame. In the late 19th and early 20th century wooden frames covered with multiple layers of paper sheets glued together with varnish were used for canoes. The whole thing was very heavily varnished for waterproofing. That style of boat was actually light and affordable, as well as easy to repair.

Personally, I think that if you want to avoid resin altogether, the best alternative is skin on frame. A light wooden frame waterproofed with varnish and covered with dacron cloth and paint will give you a tough, lightweight and very functional kayak. It won't leak or rot and the design is well proven.

Have fun,



RE: Kayak without resin

How about the Rushton canoes. The Smithsonian Museum has one, Sairy Gamp, on display. Cedar and slippery elm. An awful lot of tiny ribs in it though. Look it up for pictures. There was no epoxy in 1880s when it was made. 

RE: Kayak without resin

Hello Petitmoineau,

it can be done but it might be helpful to understand a bit more about your project.

do you want to avoid resin for a particular reason -- for example is it becuase you don't have it available or you want to imitate historic (pre-resin) building techniques?

can you tell us a little more about the type of kayak you are seeking to build?  do you have a picture of something you could share.

fwiw, there are a lot of different approaches to building without resin....are there any other limitations?    and to confirm, do you consider epoxy a resin? epoxy is very different from polyester resin which is how a lot of production boats are built.  it is very clean and does not have the toxicity of polyester.

coming back to options, the link below is related to restoring classic canoes....


you can see very complex construction here with no resin.  but there is glues and paints and canvas and varnish....and it can get pretty complicated and expensive.

as for more questions.....do you have a lot of building experience?  or is this your first project?

answer some of above and we can find a way to help.



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