New Builder Questions


Hello,  I am considering building a Chesapeake 17LT.  I have never built a boat before and have the following questions:

  • What do folks use for a long work table/bench?  It seems to me that gluing up the sheer clamps would benefit from clamps to hold the pieces stationary.  Working on the floor might work, but one would need some heavy weights to take the place of the clamps.  And, I am not sure my garage floor is all that flat.
  • What do folks do for the seat?  Use the standard seat, spring for the Creature Comfort Seat or?
  • Skeg - I am thinking that I’ll install a skeg even though some of the reviews say the boat tracks really well.  A skeg can help on those strong crosswind days and as the boat trim varies with gear load.  I am thinking the Superior Kayak Skeg kit from Nash boat works.  What do you folks recommend, skeg or no skeg?
  • Foot Braces - Do most of you use the standard foot braces or something else?  And do you mount with holes through the hull?
  • Wires - Do you folks recommend leaving the wires in, or pulling them out?  If pulling, are there some tips to do so?

Thank you!  Mike


9 replies:

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RE: New Builder Questions

1. I have a collapsible 16-foot long table that I made.

It's 2 pieces of an 8x4 3/4" plywood sheet cut lengthwise into quarters, 2 16-foot 2x4s and 4 folding sawhorses, the plastic kind with the 2" slots on top from any big box DIY store. I put the 2x4s into the slots and screw the plywood sheets onto the 2x4s. When I'm done building it all comes apart, the plywood leans against the wall, the sawhorses fold up and get put away and the 2x4s get put up in a loft.

2. Creature Comfort makes me happy.

3. I personally don't think that the Chessies with their hard chines and moderate rocker need a skeg, but it's your boat so do what you want. I would recommend a retractable if you do go with one.

4. I've always used standard footbraces, don't see any reason to change. Also aways use stud mounts instead of through-holes. Why anyone would want to go to all the trouble of building a light, strong watertight hull and then weaken it by punching holes in it I'll never know. If you do use the stud mounts, put them in before you put the deck on, it's a lot easier and more accurate.

5 Wires out from my second boat onwards. Makes smaller, lighter and neater fillets with less epoxy.

Best option, tack the hull together with epoxy/woodflour smears between the stitches. Once they've cured, cut the wires, pull them out and then put the fillets over the tacks. No messing around with hot wires needed.

Bonus -  assemble the coaming risers and coaming on a plastic sheet on the deck.

Then you can pick the coaming assembly off the boat and post-process it.

It's much easier to sand it, put on a fillet between the risers and coaming, etc. when it's not attached to the boat. Once the weave is filled and the deck is sanded (just before varnish or paint time), then glue it to the deck. You'll be so glad you did.

Have fun,





RE: New Builder Questions

 Hi Az Mike, 

Frist, the 17LT is a great boat.  i built four of them over the years...(one for me, one as a guest boat, and then two for friends. they are a great first CLC kayak project.

let me take your questions one by one:

What do folks use for a long work table/bench? I did not build a long table/bench and i glued up the panels on the floor.  i did have an old wooden door tthat i made into a table for a work bench for my tools and epoxy.  for glueing the panels you do not need a perfectly flat's just important that the joints where you join are flat.  you can put a piece of plywood on the floor at the joint area if you have a concern.  i did protect my floor with painters plastic sheets to keep everything clean.  glueing the sheer clamp to the hull sides was also done on the floor.  and again, it does not need to be perfectly flat.  all of the sides will be wobbly and flexible and won't take on their true shape until stitched together.  

What do folks do for the seat? redfish kayak will sell you a precarved seat blan that you can make the final cuts.  its comfortable and works well and seems like pretty good value. and about $85

Skeg:  i have used the superior kayak skeg you identified on 6 boats and i think its a great system.  its all fibreglass construction and well engineered and i have never had a problem with them.   every kayak i build now gets a skeg for precisely the reason you cite.  it's just a lot easier to install before it all comes together.

Footbraces:  the standard footbraces with the kit are just fine and i use them routinely on almost all my build (14 and counting)

Wiires:  I like to pull mine out.  its a bit of extra work....but i think it makes finishing a bit easier.


RE: New Builder Questions

As usual, good answers by Laszlo and hspira.

I made an 8' table top that I put on saw horses when needed.  I build in a small 2 car garage so don't have much space.  This has worked well for me.

For the shear clamps on the two Chesapeakes, I did the glue up on the floor.  In the picture, both sides were glued at the same time then clamped together.

As Laszlo says, this boat tracks really well so no skeg needed.  On the other hand, a skeg really helps when paddling in rough conditions and there are few negatives to adding during construction.  I retro-fit the CLC kit which was a bit harder.  

The Ch17LT was my first build that still gets used for recreational paddling, especially for longer distances.  I will be taking it on a week long kayak camping trip in the keys this coming January.


RE: New Builder Questions

   Among other builds, I've built a Chess 17.  Excellent kayak.

1. I did all my puzzle joints flat on the floor. Paint cans, tool boxes etc. on top of random wood boards for the weight. (I've never used the "Gatorade" method shown above - but whatever works!!")  Don't use excessive amounts of epoxy on the puzzle joints, minimize the squeeze-out.  I definitely recommend a table/tables for the remainder of the work. Saw horses can work, but don't give you a place to set things down.  Nice heavy solid tables are great, but even two cheap plastic fold up tables from the box store work fine, store out of the way whenever needed, and have many post-contruction uses.  I definetly recommend a "construction cradle" for the hull.  Just random wood like a 2ft. long 2x6 board cut with a wide notch to create a two low-angle v-shapes, with a stable base nailed to it to set on the table.  Cover the supporting edges with plastic.  Place them at about 1/3 and 2/3 of the hull length. Works with moat right side up, upside down, and even holds boat at an angle with one side or the other rotated up for ease of work.

2. Of all the different seats I've used, I like the Creature Comfort - but there are oh so many options, and so many different derrieres that preference is very personal. I've left out the hip braces in all my kayaks.  Just never felt the need for them.  I've also done away with the "keyhole" shape, going for oval.  Laszlo's coming hint above is something I'd do on my next build.  I had no problem doing the coaming "per the book" - but was sure to use a gloved finger to smooth in a good epoxy filet under the coaming.  I'm sure his method would save a cup of epoxy, and some sanding work.

3. I paddled my boat for about a year with no skeg or rudder.  Then purchased a Windsail, which made installing a rudder a must-have. Now I like having the rudder even while not using the sail. It does add something that needs just a little extra care when moving the boat around on shore so as not to damage it while handling the boat, but no big deal. I would NOT consider a non-retractable skeg. So, I think that a retractable skeg or rudder isn't necessary, but I've read that many like the retractable skeg. But in my opinion if I was going to do a skeg, I'd just do a rudder instead.  More functional options, about the same expense and extra effort to install as a skeg. And whatever you do, it is easier to do it during the initial build.

4. I've put my footbrace mount screws through the hull, but respect those that don't. If you do decide on a rudder, do take some time to read up on how to select the proper height so that your toes are in the right spot to control the steering pedals.  Whatever you do, don't leave off some type of footbrace.  Footbraces add much potential power to your paddling (says the guy without hip braces...). And everything about installing footbraces is easier before installing the deck - even though I didn't do it that way, I would if I did it again.

5. I would absolutely pull the stitch wires. Can't really imagine any good reason to leave them in. Filets will be much cleaner, smaller and easier with wires pulled.  With 4 builds complete, on my last 2 I shifted to CA glue for tack "welds." So, so, so much simpler, faster, cleaner and less work. Did I mention cleaner and faster?!  There are times when you might desire a dab of epoxy on a joint where you worry that high stress might pop the CA joint when you pull the wires prior to getting the filets done, but those are rare places.  Pulling the wires actually saves time and work that you'll otherwise have to put into extra sanding.

Enoy the build and good luck.


RE: New Builder Questions


   Thank you Laszlo!  Is your table 12" or 24" wide?  It looks to be about 24" judging from the beam of the boat.  If so, wouldn't one cut the 8x4 sheet in half length wise, rather than in quarters?  Maybe you cut the pieces to 12" wide for storage reasons?

Also, it looks like you have a sling in the photo.  Did you mount the uprights to the side of the table?

Thank you Mark N!  I am confused on the procedure to glue the shear clamps to the sides.  The manual says to scribe a line near the top of the sides to line up the shear clamp.  The manual also says to glue them together as you have done.  How does one see the line on the bottom set?  It is underneath the stack.  Further, the manual says to use a gloved hand to wipe off the squeeze out.  How does one do that with the bottom set?  Or, does one only use the top line to align the top shear clamp and then use it to align the bottom shear clamp?  That might work, but the plastic in between will likely get in the way.  How do you guys do it?

Thank you to hspira & Bubblehead!  The insight and decisions are really helpful to a new builder!

RE: New Builder Questions


Yes, you are correct. It's 2 feet wide and the plywood sheets are cut in half. I was distracted by the fact that I had cut up 2 sheets of plywood and ended up with 4 halves. FWIW, the table is strong enough and stiff enough when assembled to support my weight while I'm standing on it. The particular sawhorses I'm using also have little table surfaces that can be used for storage (visible in the photo) and, of course, the space under the table can be used for storage. It's a good spot for the shopvac, the toolbox, etc. All in all, I'm really happy how it turned out and my wife approves of how quickly it disassembles and liberates her parking space (though why anyone wants to park in a boatshop I'll never know).

Yes, the sling uprights are screwed to the table.



RE: New Builder Questions

   One correction on Howard's response:

The Redfish seats are great. I put one in my microBootlegger Sport and liked it so much I put one in my Petrel. I may now put one in my wife's mBs. But, they are not cheap. $220 plus shipping.


RE: New Builder Questions

   AZ Mike - The stacked glue up with shear clamps is really pretty easy is you go one step at a time.  Start by marking side panels and gluing shear clamps to each side individually.  Get good alignment and clamp each side individually with widely spaced spring clamps.  Then, flip one side over, place the other side on top and one at a time remove clamps and clamp the two side together, again, with farely widely spaced clamps.  Once this is done, you can flip the whole thing over pretty easily so go back along each side, making adjustments to get good alignment and adding additional clamps to lock in place.  Once all the clamps are in place, then use gloved finger to remove squeeze out. 

RE: New Builder Questions

   Thanks Mark!

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