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Canoe vs. Kayak: An Intro to Skin-On-Frame Building

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Course Overview

The idea of building your own boat can seem like a daunting task. Where do you begin? There are endless designs and construction styles to choose from. This course intends to give you the space to explore skin-on-frame (SOF) construction by building a 15’ Canoe and a 17’ West Greenland-style kayak. We will build these two classic designs simultaneously while stopping along the way to discuss elements of design, choosing appropriate materials, alternate construction methods, and adapting SOF construction to a design you may wish to build someday. While building the kayak we will focus on traditional aspects of SOF and then introduce some more modern techniques while building the canoe. In this class, you will learn to work with hand tools, steam-bend ribs, tie a square lashing, cut tight-fitting joints, rivet components together, carve a paddle, sew heavy duty fabric, and apply 2-part polyurethane for a waterproof skin. On the last day we will launch the two boats and raffle them off to the students who are interested in paying for the cost of materials. This course is open to students 14+ working independently.

Required Tools

  • Pair of leather gloves for hand protection when lashing
  • Several pencils
  • Life vest or PFD
  • 16’ tape measure

Optional Tools

  • Feel free to bring your favorite tools and whatever materials you might feel appropriate for this course.
  • Cross cut saw/Japanese or folding saw preferable
  • Cordless drill 
  • Assorted bits (1/4” – 1/16”)
  • Combination square 
  • 8 – 3” “C” clamps
  • 6 – 2” spring clamps
  • Spoke shave
  • Sliding T bevel
  • Eye and ear protection as desired (available @ North House School Store)
  • 1/4" and 3/4" chisels
  • Half round file or rasp
  • Mallet or hammer
  • Countersink for a drill
  • Carving knife (available for purchase @ North House School Store 888-387-9762)
  • Low angle block plane


Mon, Jun 24th, 2024  –  Sat, Jun 29th, 2024

Course Details

Hours: 9am-5pm each day
Tuition: $680.00
Latest Update: View recent changes →

Meet the Instructor

North House Folk School photo of instructor, Phil Winger
Phil Winger

Meet the Instructor

North House Folk School photo of instructor, Brian Thorkildson
Brian Thorkildson
St. Paul, MN

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Canoe vs. Kayak: An Intro to Skin-On-Frame Building