Alternate Building Materials

I have already built the CLC17LT many years ago and have since sold her.  I'm now in a position to have another.  

I'm looking for an extremely inexpensive material to substitue for the okoume.  I assume this most likely will require modifying the build process away from the stiching process.

Appreciate learning some new ideas. 


Thank you, Art K.

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RE: Alternate Building Materials


Separately build a hull & deck from some cheap wood like luan. (Don't worry about the strength because you'll be throwing it away.) Cover the outsides with 4 mm polyethylene sheet from the paint section at Home Depot.

Cut up a lot of brown paper bags, or buy a roll of butcher's paper. Put down a layer of paper on top of the polyethylene and paint it with a waterproof white glue like Titebond III. While it's still tacky, put down another layer of paper and another layer of glue. The glue needs to thoroughly soak the paper. Repeat until the hull is thick enough for you. Remove the hull & deck from the molds after 2 days.

Glue wooden bulkheads in place to stiffen the hull and deck. Paint the whole thing, inside and out, with at least 10 coats of varnish or waterproof paint. Attach the deck to the hull, grab your paddle and PFD and go boating.

Paper canoes were a big deal in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I've personally seen people paddling paper canoes at MASCF, so this does work. And you're not going to get much cheaper than recycled brown paper bags and white glue for building materials.

Have fun,



RE: Alternate Building Materials

Outstanding reply, Laszlo!

So often we see posts of new builders trying to save a few bucks on wood, apparently not realizing that the real cost of the boat is the 100-300+ hours they will be investing in its construction.

If you want a boat that will last, go with the best materials you can find. If you want cheap, buy a plastic boat (or heed Laszlo's advice).


RE: Alternate Building Materials

Thanks for the replies.  Greatly appreciate your advice.  Sounds tempting...

Yes, a boat that will last requires good materials from its birth; but you left out another crucial requirement - constant care and ongoing maintenance.  I'm not that considerate of my toys, hence this is why I'm looking to try something else.  

I builit a foldup kayak as well.  Now that was cheap.  Sold that the quickest and lost no money on the materials.  I may do another.



RE: Alternate Building Materials

Here's an article from a 1913 magazine showing how to build a paper canoe. It uses more traditional methods and materials. Even if you don't build the boat, it's fun to see how things were done 100 years ago. Wonder what they'll be saying about the CH17 in 2113?


RE: Alternate Building Materials

It's fine to be sarcastic, but there really are a few viable options for a kayak (or canoe) built with less expensive materials. "Skin-on-frame" construction is probably the least expensive as long as you are carefull. As with stich and glue boat, there are some parts that you don't want to skimp on.


A fantastic refrence for this kind of construction is Tom Yost's website (

He has also designed some great folding kayaks that you can bbuild yourself.



RE: Alternate Building Materials

THanks Josh.  To be honest I didn't even recogonize the sarcasm.  I have a tendency to be unconventional, so that may explain why I took it all to be serious.  

Yes, the folder that I had built and subsequently sold was from a Yostwerks plan.  I enjoyed it, and may try another one in the future.



RE: Alternate Building Materials

I would also like to mention that most of your options end up with fiberglass as the element that yields strength. You'll spend a few hundred on glass and resin.  As I finished my Petrel, I learned the hard way that I was going to spend a lot of extra time and money on expendibles like sandpaper and varnish. The cost of wood was perhaps a third to a quarter of the total cost...and my inclination is not to scrimp on that. Since you're going to spend a few hundred hours on this, why not make it beautiful and something you can pass on to your grandchildren?

One of the least expensive ways to build a really nice kayak is to order the plans and then build your own strongback, cut your own forms and mill your own cedar. I'm not knocking CLC's kits, but they do sell plans.

You'll spend maybe $300 for cedar. You'll need access to a table saw to rip it into quarter-inch strips, and if you want to do bead and cove, you'll need a router table, router and the bits...but you can do it like Nick does in his videos by trimming each strip with a block plane. 

Just a thought.

RE: Alternate Building Materials


I was not being sarcastic. Paper boats are a type of skin on frame and have been successfully built by lots of people for over a century. Do a google and you'll find blogs and pictures. The one I saw at MASCF was actually a very good looking boat and was performing quite well. It was a replica of a 1900's boat. The examples were seriously offered to help someone who was looking for a cheaper boat and new (or new again) ideas. Also, I personally love the idea of using bags that would have ended up in the landfill as a boat.

So be inspired, amused or whatever, but don't be offended. Paper boats are for real.



RE: Alternate Building Materials

Do not forget that the Native Americans made canoes from birch bark, animal hides, and tree trunks. And all of that is still possible today.

RE: Alternate Building Materials

"So be inspired, amused or whatever, but don't be offended. Paper boats are for real.

Well put.

Thanks Laszlo

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