The Strip Building News

Fall 1997

The Strip Building News

This is the first issue of The Strip Building News , a joint publication of Newfound Woodworks and Guillemot Kayaks. In it you will find news from the world of strip-built boats, techniques to for building those boats, and new products for boat builders.

The Strip Building News will be published as time and material permits, hopefully at least once a year. Please help us make this an informative newsletter by providing news, tips and photos. Send your contributions via email <> or mail.

Newfound Woodworks
67 Danforth Brook Road
Bristol, NH 03222

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Welcome to the first issue of The Stripping News, a newsletter from The Newfound Woodworks and Guillemot Kayaks. We will be publishing this at least once a year to provide our customer with the latest in techniques for strip-building boats and any other information we feel is newsworthy.


Nick Schade, the designer behind Guillemot Kayaks, has moved up to Bristol, New Hampshire to work for the Newfound Woodworks for a while. He is helping organize the computer system, providing technical support on the phone and generally helping out. This is currently a temporary situation while he sees how well he likes living in New Hampshire.


For the first time, Michael Vermouth of the Newfound Woodwork organized a "regatta" for his customers in the Northeast. It was a great success with a good turnout at the Clearwater Campground on Pemigewasset Lake. It was really a pleasure to see all that varnished wood pulled up on the beach. A lot of people brought their own boats and were very generous about letting other people try them. It was a good chance to try various designs, see what others were up to and talk shop.

Pemigewasset Lake is a lovely, small, quiet lake just west of the northern end of Winnepesaukee. It provided a beautiful setting for an early morning paddle of a dozen or so canoes and kayaks. The Clearwater Campground worked well as the location. People got tent sites for the night and the beach made an easy place to launch and land the boats. Saturday night we all gathered for a pot-luck chili cookoff.

An early morning paddle across Pemigewassett Lake
Sunday morning at the Regatta

It was a glory of gleaming varnished on wood
on the beach of the Clearwater Campground.

All around the regatta was a lot of fun. We will definitely plan to repeat the event next September.

Nick's Book

For the past year Nick Schade has been working on his book: The Strip-Built Kayak. The final manuscript is now going through the last editing cycle before it gets sent to the printer. The book will provide instructions on how to strip build a sea kayak, methods for getting artistic with the strips, and information about kayak designing. The editor at International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press, feels that with all the drawings and photographs, it will be the best illustrated boat building book they have ever published. Although the book is directed at kayak builders, there is information in it which would be useful for anyone building any boat with strips. Offset tables for the Great Auk, Guillemot and Guillemot Double will be included in the book.

The orientation of the cove and bead will determine how you fit strips together

Laminate hardwood on to the bow and stern of the kayak
to protect it and cover the ends of the strips

Barring any last minute delays, the book should hit the bookstore shelves this spring. It will also be available through the Newfound Woodworks or directly from Nick at Guillemot Kayaks.


The most popular part of WoodenBoat magazine is the Launchings column. This is where boat builders can get pictures of their newly finished boat published. All that is required for you to get your boat in the Launchings column is for you to send WoodenBoat a good quality picture of your finished boat. The beauty of it is, they will pay you $25 if they publish your picture. Send them information about the boat: length, beam, what design, name and addresses of the designer, builder and owner, place of intended use, and date of launch ing. Also include a description of the construction. The best format for pictures is 35mm slides. Take a bunch of pictures and send them several. They like action shots, as well as the boat at rest. Clean your boat before photographing. You can cut down the glare off glossy varnish by using a polarizing filter, this will bring out the color of the wood. Mail everything to: Launchings, WoodenBoat, P.O. Box 78, Brooklin, ME 04616.

Rick Cassidy deviated a little from the kit when making this Redbird, he made the decks, seats and outwales out of cherry and the yoke and inwales from ash.

Jim Gabriel did a beautiful making his Coastal. The circle on the fore-deck contains two leaping dolphins. These are done in solid strips not veneer.

Even if WoodenBoat doesn't like your pictures, we will. Any picture you send us will be put on our web site and the best ones may appear in future issues of this newsletter. (Sorry but we don't pay anything)

The "Kayak Building Page" on the Guillemot Kayaks website has links to kayak building information throughout the world wide web

Wood Strips Online

Both Newfound Woodworks and Guillemot Kayaks have web sites: <> and <> respectively. The Newfound Woodworks site contains an online catalog, strip-building notes and a launchings page featuring customer boats. The Guillemot Kayak page includes information about building all kinds of kayaks using all different methods as well as descriptions of the different designs.

Probably the most useful things on both the web pages are the bulletin boards. The Strip Building Bulletin Board on the Newfound Woodworks pages is a place to post your questions about strip building or help others with their questions. The Kayak Building Bulletin Board on the Guillemot Kayaks pages is an open forum for discussing building kayak by any method. People from around the country and around the world read these bulletin boards and you can learn a lot from reading them


We are always learning new ways of doing things. Our best source of new techniques is people like you. When you call to ask us a question, we will learn as much from the conversation as you, if only by learning what you don't understand. While we have methods that work for us, they probably are not the best way. They may not work well for your particular circum stance. If you have any techniques that worked well for you which you would like to share, please write or email us, or post the idea on our website. We will include your ideas in future newsletters.


We are asked all the time, "How can I make my canoe without the staple holes?" Our first response is to roll our eyes and say, "Why do you want to avoid the staples holes? They don't look that bad." However, it is a valid question, and with all the work you put into making a beautiful boat, it is understandable if you find the line of staple holes disappointing.

There are several methods that have been suggested for eliminating staple holes. The first methods involve filling in the holes after you make them. Some people have used toothpicks stuck in each hole. This is a tedious task. You don't want to stick the toothpicks so far in that they go into the staple holes in the forms, because you will in essence be stapling the strips back to the form and you will have trouble getting the boat off. After all that work, the toothpicks don't look much better than the raw hole because the wood of the toothpick will probably not match the strips. Instead you can fill the hole with putty made of epoxy and sanding dust. While you would think that this would match better than the toothpicks, however even if you use dust from the same wood you are filling, the putty will be darker. You need to add something such as Q-spheres which are white to lighten of the putty.

Most of the techniques for avoiding staple holes in strips involve some way of temporarily holding the strips while the glue dries.

It is easier if you don't make the holes in the first place. Almost all the methods to do this, that we have heard of require you to install one strip per side then let the glue dry. All the different methods are just different ways of securing the strip in place until the glue is dry enough to install the next strip.


A "U" shape plywood fixture with the slot slightly wider than the thickness of the strip can be fitted over the strip next to the form. With the strip pushed into place a spring clamp is used to hold the U-clamp to the form, this securing the strip in place

Elastic strap

A series of nails driven part way into the face of the form can be used as cleats to secure rubber bands. By hooking a rubberband below the sheer and looping it up over the strips and back down to another nail, you can strap down the new strip. Shock-cord, string, or strings of rubber bands tied together may be used as well.

Screw and Dowel

This unique idea requires you build with the cove side exposed. By placing a dowel in the cove, you can use a bugle-head (sheetrock) screw to clamp down against the dowel. Drive the screw as close to the dowel as possible, so the bugle shape of the screw produce a clamping pressure


A series of holes or slots cut along the edge of the forms can serve as a place to grab with a clamp so you are directly clamping the strip to the forms.

The reason you can only do one strip per side at a time with the above methods, is in each case the clamp goes over the top of the strip and you need to remove the clamp before you can add the next strip. A idea that we have heard suggested is to hot-melt glue the strips to the forms. Presumably, since the hot melt glue is not very strong, you can break the bond between the strips and the forms to remove the boat. We would perform some experiments before stripping up the whole boat with this method.

Is all this effort worth it? That depends on a few factors. How fussy are you. Standing 5 feet away from the boat, the staple holes will be hard to see, from 10 feet away nobody will see them. Stapling is by far the quickest and easiest way to get the boat done. If you want to work fast and a few small holes don't bother you, use staples. But if you are only working about an hour a night, maybe all you can accomplish is one strip per side per night anyway. In that case, it might not take you much longer to use one of the clamping methods. We like to get the boat done and in the water. We use staples.


One of the distinctive details of Guillemot kayaks is the "cutout" or recess around the cockpit. This is an area of the deck surrounding the perimeter of the cockpit which is stripped horizontally. This serves several purposes: it lowers the cockpit height to make padding and rolling easier and more comfortable, it provides some contour inside the boat for your knees to grip for good bracing, and it simplifies the shape of the coaming to make the lip easier to construct. The problem is, the recessed area can be a little difficult to make.

The way we have been making it, each horizontal strip has to be individually fitted into the space. This require cutting a compound miter in the end of each strip. While the is possible to do with a saw and some sandpaper to adjust the angle, it can be tricky.

Mike Stocks came up with an excellent suggestion on how to make it easier. Instead of fitting the strips in one at a time, he makes a large panel and fits the whole thing in one step. He wrote via email:

 First, cut out the cockpit areas as usual. Smooth and straighten the side until nearly vertical. Tape around the edges of the cockpit the same way you would the forms. Cut enough strips 1-2" wider than the cockpit to cover the length of the cockpit when glued together. Begin at the center of the cockpit and begin working towards the bow. Glue the strips together tightly, following up the curve of the cockpit all the way to the top of the cockpit. Remember that you are only gluing the strips to each other over the curve of the cockpit. Nothing is actually being glued to the boat itself. Complete the process back to the stern. Use staples as necessary. You should now have a "mat" of strips that conforms to the approximate curve and shape of the cockpit. Remove the mat, remove the tape and lay strips of carbon paper face-up along the edges of the cockpit cutout. Now carefully lay the mat back down on the cockpit, over the carbon paper (you did remember to mar the bow and stern on the matt, didn't you?). With a smooth round object (such as a rolling pin) apply enough pressure to the mat at the edges of the coaming to so that the carbon paper will transfer the edge of the cockpit to the underside of the mat. (This may be practiced ahead of time with some scrap wood if you like). Now you have an exact template of the hatch on your mat. Cut the matt according to the carbon paper lines, plane as necessary, fit and glue it in! You may then proceed to cut out the center after it has set.

The advantage of this method over fitting each strip individu ally, is it is a lot easier to control the larger piece than it is small pieces. Another idea that this brings to light is using plywood for the recessed area instead of strips. The plywood would need to be bent in to place, so you would probably want 1/8" material for it to be flexible enough, but covered with fiberglass this would be plenty strong enough.

New Products

A wanigan makes a good introductory project for learning
how to work with wood strips and epoxy

Wanigan kit and plans

The traditional storage boxes for a canoe was known as a "wanigan". This is said to be the Ojibwa word for "man made hole". This is a box which is contoured to custom fit into the shape of the canoe. It is like an 20" long canoe with flat ends. This is the perfect project for getting familiar with the strip building process, or to custom outfit your finished boat or SUV. (Kit: $175)

Saw Rasp

Take eight hacksaw blades, bend them, rivet them together and put a handle on one end and you have an excellent rasp. The Japanese Shinto Wood Rasp is just that, but with two sides, one fine, one coarse. This is an excellent tool for shaping the stems on a canoe or cleaning up the cockpit of a kayak. Price: $24.95 from Newfound Woodworks.

The paddle kits from Malone of Maine include all the materials
to make a high quality canoe or kayak paddle

Paddle Kits

Malone of Maine is a newcomer to the field of paddle manufacturing but they do beautiful work. You may have seen their wooden paddles with distinctive colored veneer laminations. They have forgone the colored veneer for a more traditional looking cherry lamination in these paddle kits. The canoe paddle kits are for a wide blade (Price: $49 ). The kayak paddles include a three position stainless ferrule (0, 40 and 80 degree) to make a take-apart paddle (Price: $96). Another three position (left, right, and unfeathered) ferrule is available separately (Price:$17).

Night Heron Sea Kayak

This 21" x 18' kayak has been on Nick's drawing board for a couple years now, he finally decided it was time to "shoot the engineer and get the drawings out the door". This kayak is styled after the Inuit kayaks of Greenland. While not strictly "hard" chined, the chines are fairly hard. This is a narrow boat with a very low back deck which will be fun to roll and fast to paddle. (Plans: $85, Kit: $1,025)

Winter Cure Epoxy Resin

MAS Epoxies has met a need for those working in a northern climate during the winter. Their winter cure resin will cure over night even when the temperature is as low as 35Á. This resin works with the standard MAS catalyst (both slow and fast cure) in the same 2:1 mix. Priced the same as the standard MAS resin.

Christmas Ideas

We have a variety of small items that would make good gifts for the boat builder in your family.

T-Shirts and Sweat Shirts

Get a Newfound Woodworks or Guillemot Kayaks T-shirt. The Newfound Woodworks shirts have canoe logo on the back and "Newfound Woodworks" on the front. They are available in Ash, Blue or Green with dark Grey lettering and Sweatshirts are available in Khaki with Maroon lettering. The Guillemot Kayaks T-shirts have a kayak with "It's Not just Art, It's a Craft" on the back and the Guillemot logo on the front. They are available in Khaki with Brown lettering. (T-Shirts: $15, Sweatshirts $28)



The quality Record straight-sole spokeshave is excellent for fairing your hull and making paddles. ($21.95)

Japanese Pull Saw

These traditional Japanese saws are extremely sharp, accurate and easy to use. Cutting on the pull stroke permits the blade to be very thin and flexible. (29.95)

Pro-Prep Scraper

These are very sharp scrapers with a replacable blades. We have convex blades in stock for scraping the inside of the hull. They are also very effective for pulling staples. (12.95)

Kayak Cockpit Cover

Keep your kayak from filling with rain when its on top of your car. It will also keep any gear you keep in your cockpit from littering the road as you drive home. ($18.00)

Aquameter Compass

If you ever paddle in the fog, you need a compass to tell you which way to go home. These compasses can be mounted to your deck. ($48.00)

Folding Cane Seatback

Sit back and relax while canoeing with this cane seat back that slides onto your can seat. ($36.90)

Gift Certificates

If you are not sure what to get, let the recipient decide. We can supply a gift certificate in any denomination.

Show Schedule


Maine Boatbuilder's Show - March

WoodenBoat Show - June

Sea Kayak Symposium - July

Newfound Regatta - September

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