How to skin a kayak quickly
This page shows my method for covering a skin on frame
kayak. This may not be the best or even the most attractive way
but it is cetainly the quickest. I have used many systems and
have more or less settled on this one as the most simple and
reliable. I cover alot of boats and for me the joy is in the
paddling so I don't fuss over details. That said, the
product is still very clean and attractive.
8:45 AM A clean workspace
and a kayak ready to be covered, the fabric is 8oz nylon, folded and
creased, I'm working inside where it's cool and the nylon will be most
Tools of the trade,
fabric cutter, needles, unwaxed dental floss, scissors, push pins,
9AM I start by draping the
fabric over the kayak and using a plain running stitch to sew a pocket
over the bow.
unhook the pocket and slide it back no more than 4 inches (3 is
plenty), and pin the fabric.
9:20AM Meanwhile at
the stern this stem is too steep so I pinned the fabric and slid a
scissors down the stem, melted theedges with the torch and finsh the
seam with a whip stitch. I switch to a running stich to sew
another pocket here, then remove the pins. Any stem steeper than
20 degrees will benefit from this treatment.
stretch the skin tight I return to the bow and lay on floor with both
hands on the fabric and my feet on the first deck beam and pull until
the pocket is hooked. Then I pin the keel every 8 inches or so.
9:40AM To cut the skin I
clamp a 1/2 by 1/2 batten down the middle of the kayak, it
have to be 1/2, better 1/4 I think but that tends to move to much for
me. I pull the fabric toward me while I slice the fabric along
the batten with a fabric cutter, heated knife or soldering
iron. The key to a clean stitch is a clean cut.
10AM I go back over
the edges with a torch to make sure they're melted so I can really pull
on my stitches later.
10:10AM Using #9 seine
twine I lace up the kayak from the end to the cockpit. I don't
measure but my lacing is about 2" off the seam, 4" apart. I take
1/4" bites of fabric. When finished I tighten the lacing and tie
it off. How tight? Until it starts to open a hole in
the fabric so pretty tight but don't tear it out.
11:00AM I sew up the
kayak from the ends to the cockpit with a whip stitch
11:10AM An easy way
to do the coaming, cinch it on with a cam strap and then cut out
the same seine twine I lace on the coaming, folding the fabric under as
Done skinning! Notice the weird
shape of my Ginnyak design, kinda ugly, but it paddles!
11:40AM Mixing up
the color, 1 pint vinegar, 1 pint water, Jacquard Acid Dye to the
Dying the kayak, tape off the coaming, work from the bottom up as
fast as you possibly can, do not go back to even out a spot otherwise
you have to do the whole boat again and darker. Finish by
scrubbing the color even with a rag. Let dry. If you must
shrink out wrinkles do not iron, carefully use a heat gun while the
boat is wet.
to Cape Falcon Kayak