First Strip Build - Great Auk Double?

Next week, I am going to order the kit for my fourth build, which will be a tandem.  Initially, I was set on the Shearwater Double, but the more I look at things, the more I am leaning towards the Great Auk Double.  Besides being a much prettier boat, the Auk looks like it is a bit faster and lighter.  The only reason that I hesitate is this will be my first strip build, and I don't have much wood experience beyound the three S&G kits that I built.  Here are my questions:

1.  Has anybody out there build and/or paddled either of these boats?  If so, please share any thoughts regarding on the water performance and/or construction difficulty.

2.  Is the Great Auk Double too big of a project for first strip build?

3.  I have watched all of the videos on strip construction in the "Tips for Builders" section of this site and have read the book "The Strip Built Kayak."  Are there any other sources that I should study/review?

4.  Watching the videos, Mr Schade spends a lot of time bevelling each strip prior to gluing in place.  It is my understanding that the strips that come with the kits are "bead and cove" which requires less bevelling.  Is this correct?

5.  Any other thoughts/suggestions for a guy with a who has completed a couple of S&G boats and is about to try the strip thing?

Thanks in advance.


8 replies:

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RE: First Strip Build - Great Auk Double?


saw your note.   i just finished my first strip built after a number of stitch and glues.  so you are asking good questions.

let me respond to each one

1)  i have no direct experience in the paddling or building doubles.  all my builds are singles.  9 stitch and glues over the years....and now this one new strip-built.  that said, my strip built is very light weight compared to my comparable stitch and glues.   cedar, i think is less dense than ply....the shapes are also more efficient (true curves vs polygons) so less surface area to volume.

2) is the project too big?   if this is the boat you need/want (a double).....then its not too big.   i would only say that as the boat gets bigger you have more of an investment in time and money.  and so making a mistake that is fatal or makes you regret building the boat has more in it than a smaller boat.  but i don't think it makes it inherently more difficult or complicated.  but it will probably take a bit longer than a smaller boat.

3) other sources.  you should definitely become a regular on the builders forum.  this is Nick Schade's site and it is very well inhabited by a talented community of strip builders.  they saved my life more than a couple times.  i would also consider seeking out a mentor or local strip builder whose work you respect to help and advise.  there was a wonderful talented builder i met paddling who really took me under his wing and gave me a lot of encouragement on my first strip effort.   there are also a lot of private blogs that you may find useful that you will quickly see links to from the kayakforum i mentioned above.  lots of details and pictures

4)  beveling.  there are two kinds of shaping required for a strip: 1) the basic shape of the strip (in thinking of it like a narror stitch and glue panel) and 2) beveling it so that as you join the strips or panels, as you make your way around the hull form, you don't get cracks opeing up between the inside hull edge and the outside hull edge.  in strip build with cove and basically eliminate most of the type 2 (beveling) shaping.  but each stip still needs some work with respect to its basic shape.  no 'pre shaped' pieces like a stitch and glue boat.  so there is a lot more work than stitch and glue.

5) other thoughts and suggestions.   the first thing that comes to mind is patience and don't rush.  my first boat strip-built took about 10 months (October to August).  it was a lot more work than any stitch and glue i have built.   that said, the stitch and glue experience was very helpful becuase i knew basically what a kayak was supposed to look like and had all the basic experience with epoxy and glass.   the big learning was things unique to strip-building -- building and setting up the strong-back.  getting comfortable shaping strips  ( i got a lot better from strip number 1 to strip number 50....and then i was a will have lots of strips to learn on), how to use a staple gun and dealing with a lot of freedom becuase the strip-built boats inherently have more choice to them (e.g., do you want to do a pattern, exactly how do you want to do your coaming.)  they don't have the kind of detailed construction manual that you have with the strip built.    that said, i am really pleased i did it.




RE: First Strip Build - Great Auk Double?

 A few thoughts....

The Great Auk Double is a pretty good choice for a first strip built boat because the lines are pretty simple.

Think about your design and order Western Red, Alaskan Yellow or that darker wood in proportion to your design, otherwise they may just send you one-third of each, which is a design headache. I had a "duh" moment when I realized just how easy it is to do stripes, but then I tried not to overdo it. I found the Western Red and Alaskan Yellow easy to work with. The Western Red cedar really gets beautiful once you get the glass/resin on it, and a lot of really beautiful strip kayaks have mostly Western Red with a few accent strips of Alaskan yellow. 

Take your time assembling the strong back, and support it (and the kayak as you build it) in three or more places. Otherwise, the strongback may sag or bow. Likewise, use a string to line up the bow and stern forms with the strongback and check your alignment regularly as you add strips to each side, being careful not to pull the boat out of alignment. Likewise, when you get to the bow or stern, remember to line up your strips vertically as you look at the the bow and stern.

Cedar strips steam bend nicely and it's easier to staple them in place around the bow and stern if you steam them. I used a cheap iron I bought at WalMart. 

I used staples and no one notices the holes today.

I would get some guidance, perhaps from Nick Schade, on the weight of fiberglass to use. It's a long kayak.

You won't glue the strips that join the deck and hull together, but when you start fiberglassing them, it will be easy to get resin and glass on those mating surfaces. I suggest taping those mating edges and trimming the excess tape on the sides with a razor. That way, you won't screw up how the deck and hull fit together once they're glassed.

That's all I can think of for the moment. Good luck.




RE: First Strip Build - Great Auk Double?

   Is it too big?  ....... will it fit in your shop?

RE: First Strip Build - Great Auk Double?

Another thought...

When you get your wood, I suggest sorting the strips out by color and shade, perhaps wetting a few to get a sense of how they will look finished...and then try to use them in nice patterns when you go along...and I mean the Western Red Cedar strips. They are a relatively light, rather dull wood when unfinished. As I mentioned before, once you put glass on resin on them, they really pop. If you pay attention to the patterns, you can get a really beautiful kayak with just a few other stripes...or you can do the bottom in WRC and have it look beautiful and put strip patterns on the deck or sides. I didn't pay much attention to how I assembled the WRC strips on the bottom and regret it today. 


RE: First Strip Build - Great Auk Double?

   Thanks much for the replies, they have been very helpful.  I had not really thought about the design/strip color mix so I am working that now.   Shop space is actually my primary concern which leads to one followup question.  Can the strongback be moved during construction as long as I check the alignment after moving?  I work in my garage and would like to be able to move the build off to one side when not actively building.  Kayak building gets a bad rap here if the Admiral of the Fleet and CFO has to park outside and it is raining.


RE: First Strip Build - Great Auk Double?

a strong back can be moved during construction.  but depending on how you make/set-up your strongback it can be easy or very difficult.

some builders build an elaborate support system for their strongback making the whole thing one solid unit with casters and a level floor.....and easily push the their work piece around their shop with no impact to their work.

in my case, i had my strong back on two seperate wooden sawhorses and moving it required the help of my son and, until a number of strips had already been placed on each side which effectively locked everything in, 30 to 60 minutes with string and levels and shims to ensure it was exactly back in alignment.

if you don't have an elaborate system, i would think it would be something you want to avoid (unless you have a lot of time or not doing it that often)  until you are built enough that the hull has its shape pretty much locked in.   there are several alignment issues, sag [are the waterline marks all level],  sraightness [sighting down the centerline all straight] and twist [ is the boat corkscrewed],,,etc). 

on a long boat like yours, after the first several strips on each side, straightness  gets locked in, followed by twist and finally sag get locked in last.

hope that helps


RE: First Strip Build - Great Auk Double?

I am in the process of buiding a Guillemot Double using cedar strips, my first kayak  build ever. Other useful sites are and oneoceankayaks. I installed my support beam on casters so it can be  moved and it is not difficult. My biggest issue was getting the support beam straight. I started with the design Nick Schade details in his book but switched to the design specified at Orca Boats.  I also segragated my western red cedar by colour so the boat has patterns (stripes of different shades)  in it . I must say that this is the first project I have ever undertaken where the final product is better than I expected so don't be to leery of the undertaking. I also put in a section of striping at the stern and bow ( like the boat on Orca web site) so if you take your time you can be very creative during the stripping.

RE: First Strip Build - Great Auk Double?

   Thanks very much for the comments.  They were all very helpful.  As much as I would love the Great Auk Double, I realize now that I do not have enough room to build it.  I plan on following that with a Great Auk 14. 

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