Is Making Your Own Folder Practical?

Discussion of user-built folding kayaks

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Is Making Your Own Folder Practical?

Post by Rob »

I get that making your own kayak is possible, since the natives used to do it from scratch, with no modern conveniences or tools to speak of. Therefore, those of us with more modern tools, resources, information, and technology should be able to get it done, if applying the right amount of effort and money on the project(s).

However, making a rigid kayak is one thing, but making a folding boat just seems like it would be doubling the complexity, if not more.

Of course, on the plus side, should any of the ribs or longer-ons (stringers) get bent or broken in a folding boat, they can be repaired or replaced a lot more easily.

I haven't had a chance to read more than a smattering of posts in the numerous articles in this section, so forgive my significant lack of knowledge in this subject.

I do know first-hand, that inexperienced people with basic tools, and good instruction, plus a kit, can indeed produce a very serviceable and stable kayak, since my parents built a two-person (actually a four-person, two adults and two kids) Folbot kayak, back in the day, and I watched them do it in our house, first-hand.

I'm most interested in an aluminum framed one, since I don't have the tools and experience with wood-working to consider the alternative.

I also suspect, given the time and effort involved, it would probably just be much easier and better to purchase a well designed, and working, folding kayak from a reputable manufacturer, rather than going down this route, but the appeal of making one is there too, especially if the project is successful.

Have any of you actually built a serviceable, fixed or folding hull kayak of your own?

Does anyone still market kayak kits for do-it-yourself hobbyists?

With the folding of Feathercraft (forgive the bad pun, but I couldn't resist), creating one similar to their expedition K-1 designs is of interest.

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Re: Is Making Your Own Folder Practical?

Post by idc »

Enjoy reading this ... ... kayaks.htm (worth exploring this site more widely).
You could also look for Percy Blandford's works from the 1950s. He published a good number of canoe plans including at least one folder. (In the UK 'canoe' can be used generically to mean both kayak, i.e. decked canoe driven with a double paddle, and 'open' or 'Canadian' canoe. Percy's were usually decked canoes or kayaks. I believe plans are still sold for the PBK = Percy Bland kayak.)

There is also a middle path for those of us with less time/skill/fewer tools. Buy yourself a second hand folding kayak where the skin or frame is damaged and repair the damage. In my case, I picked up a 1970s Tyne Prefect for about £100 (approx. $120 US). Another about a £100 in materials and glue bought me the pvc and canvas to make a new skin for it using the techniques outlined in the yostwerks site above. It is one of my favourite kayaks to paddle. And I know I can repair it should it ever wear out. There are accounts of others' successes elsewhere on this site.

If you have a go, take some photos as you go and tell us how you get on!

john allsop
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Re: Is Making Your Own Folder Practical?

Post by john allsop »

Percy Blandfords plans are available from Clark Craft in the USA. Folders and rigid skin on frame.

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