Selecting a kit

Hello all, I'm new to the wood built kayak hobby, and my hope is to build something to replace the 1980 vintage Folbot I currently use around the Northwest.  I enjoy getting out when I can but the 17' boat is heavy and hard to load on my own.  It is 34" wide and weighs about 85 lbs just guessing. It takes some work to paddle several miles.  It is larger than what I really need, most of the time it's just me with two Pomeranian dogs but on occasion a young niece or nephew comes along.  I just do short day trips, fair weather calm lake to calm river boating.  Although I don't get out much during the year I think with the right boat I'd get out a lot more often.

 Since I've never paddled anything besides my Folbot I have a number of questions, but for now I'll just ask two:

 1) What boat to go with.  Definitely doing a stitch 'n glue vs. strip built for time, cost and difficulty reasons.  I'm leaning toward the Mill Creek 13 because it looks like the cockpit is large enough for myself and a couple 4-legged passengers or younger child.  I am 5'9" and 165 lbs so capacity isn't much of an issue.  The other one I was kinda looking atis the 12' Wood Duck but I think it's a bit small as far as the cockpit is concerned.

2) Has anyone built a boat by ordering the plans then coming up with and cutting out their own material?  How difficult & challenging is that? If you order the plans & book only would it still cost hundreds in materials to build a Mill Creek 13?

3)  Lastly how laborious is it to paddle a MC 13 any considerable distance, what would its typical "cruising" speed be, maybe 3-3.5 knots?

I've sure been enjoying this site and am excited about possibly building a boat.  I've been looking around at kayaks a bit but I find plastic boats VERY unappealing.


7 replies:

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RE: Selecting a kit


First, congratulations on your excellent good taste and your right-minded thinking in finding the clorox bottle boats unappealing! :-)

The only thing I know about Pomeranians is that they're small. If they're not hyperactive, one in a WD12 cockpit should be fine, 2 is pushing it. A child older than 3 is probably beyond the WD12's cpacity. Don't know if an MC13 is big enough for the kid.

Lots of builders build from plans only. It's not a problem at all as long as you can read plans and transfer dimensions to wood. WIth CLC plans there's no lofting. The panels are already developed, so it really is just a matter of marking and cutting wood.

One big difference is that kit builders may get pre-cut puzzle joints (depending on which kit they buy) and plans builders have to scarf the panels themselves.

As far as the prices go, it's still going to be hundreds of dollars. Just the epoxy and fiberglass is going to run a couple of hundred, then there's the wood and hardware and shipping, not to mention the paint, varnish, sandpaper, gloves, etc. I'd say tat for building from plans, you sould probably budget at least the kit price to cover everything. And if you're building the kit, add at least 1/3.

3 to 4 mph sounds about right for an MC13, depending on the wind,water conditions, etc. It'll be much easier to paddle than a Folbot.

Good luck,



RE: Selecting a kit

There is a Wood Duck 14 in the works.  I don't know the cockpit dimensions, but the WD-14 will handle a larger load (nieces and nephews have a habit of growing).  Call CLC, talk to John.

Building your own kayak allows one to make the cockpit any size (within reason).   Lots of pictures on the web for ideas (consider talking to the designer to avoid big mistakes).

Search this and other kit sites for discussions about differences between building from a plan or from a kit.  A typical figure mentioned is a plans builder could save 20% in material costs if all the materials needed are readily available in their local area.  If you have to scrounge around and travel, consider your time and gas costs.  If you have to have marine ply shipped in, go for a kit. And don't opt for substitutes for Okoume plywood (luan or Douglas Fir), you won't be happy.

I have built from plans, partial kits, and kits since the 60s; a happy amateur with almost too many small boats.  IMHO, most first time builders have a better experience starting with a kit.  TOO MANY variables to make a definative statement.

Best of luck however you choose to build.

RE: Selecting a kit

Thanks for your input Laszlo & ootdb.  I live in a metro area of 200,000 and should be able to get most supplies locally, I agree if I had to have plywood shipped I might as well get the kit.  One benefit I see of obtaining materials locally is spreading out the costs a bit if buying a kit is a stretch to the budget.

 I read on another thread about doing scarf joints, I wouldn't like the looks of puzzle joints (someone posted on another thread that puzzle joints scream "I'm a kit boat," LOL).

I'll have to check into the WD14, that might be another good option to consider.


RE: Selecting a kit


I am a new builder myself. Like you, I thought the plans build would save a little money and let me spread the purchases over some time. In hindsight, for me, this was a mistake.

I do have a source of marine plywood locally, but their price was significantly higher than CCL's. To the point where I purchased my ply from CLC. And to ease the pain of the shipping costs I bought a few pieces at a time. So now I have all of my wood, the epoxy kit, some tools and am pretty darn close to kit cost. I have not yet purchased the glass, or the trim (I'm building a skerry) and the build schedule looks like a Christmas launch is a stretch.

So now I am thinking of buying the kit, and stowing the wood I have for the next boat (face it, once you start you will want to build another). If I do that there is an outside chance that I will have something to float in for my Labor day vacation.

The moral of this story is if you can source the bits and pieces 1st, it might work. But if you are only saving a bit of money why not start out with a kit? You can buy the plans/manual 1st, and this should be helpful with your decision.

And in no way read this as a dissatisfied customer. Great kit, great support, great company. So so decision on my part.



RE: Selecting a kit

I agree you should go with the kit. You may not like the puzzle joints, but they make alignment of the panels a breeze and prevent you from gluing the wrong panels together. I get a lot of positive comments from people on the puzzle joints and, as an artist, I think they are more attractive than scarfed or butted joints. You also save a lot of time, work and potential for errors by going with the kit. If you're considering the Wood Duck stitch and glue model you should also know that the deck panels need to be cut very accurately. Eric Schade told me that these panels need to be cut within tolerances of 1/16" or they won't form the proper curves. Whether you buy the kit or work from plans, figure a couple hundred dollars for sandpaper, brushes, masking tape, packing tape, mixing sticks, vinyl gloves, syringes, alcohol, paper towels, paint or varnish, and polyethylene sheets to protect your shop floor.

RE: Selecting a kit

Unless your an accomplished woodworker with an extensive shop full of power tools kit boats with puzzle joints are the best way to go on a first boat build.

My first boat has them and I am happy to show them off the gaps are so tight they look like a single piece of wood with only the wood grain changing direction at them. Trying to cut a dove tail joint is hard enough but cutting out a puzzle joint by hand well let's just say a scarf joint is a lot of sanding to get even close to that perfect then alligning them. Lap joints and butt joints can fail when bent puzzle joints don't.

Consider the weight of the finished boat a kayak is around 40# some of the rowing Skerrys get up to 100#

Good luck,


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