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You can build a kayak of green willow shoots, a blue tarp in just four hours!


The amount of willow used to make the kayak. If you plan to build this kayak consider building a model. Making a model first of thin willow will make it easier to build a full size kayak. Waxed cord grips the willow and speed along the process. How about a two person boat?

Kayak Modle 1

Some of the willow is twisted into ribs. Some into stringers. The largest two ribs are 16″ by 27″.The stringers are overlapped 2′ 3″ (this makes the stringers stronger in the middle where they need it the most.

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The above binding tool was used to join the willow on this boat. You can buy this tool at most lumber yards for about $12.; it is used mostly to bind re bar. The “binding wires” are wrapped around the willow joint and then the hook of the binding tool is engaged in the small loops on the ends of the wires; when you pull on the red handle of the tool it twists the wires tight. Fast and simple. Cord lashing was used in several places to prove that cord could be used. However, the binding tool is much faster. You can also make your own “wires of galvanized wire” And use a Vise Grip to twist them:

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You might also try nylon cable ties. Make sure if you do that you keep the tail of the tie long or if you cut it that you have the sharp cut end facing in away from the cover. You will also want to tighten it so that the gripper part of the tie is inward; since it it faces outward it could cause a hole to wear in your boats cover.


Here you can see ribs joined to the side stringers. Note cords on the two mid-stringers making the bottom of the boat flat. If not flat, the boat tips over too easily.


Completed frame. Length is 11.5′. Stringers are about 15′ long and overlap the two center ribs. The center ribs are 27″ wide and 16″ deep. The next out from the center ribs are 19″ by 14″. The smallest ribs are 13″ circles. Spacing of the ribs is 17″, 17″, 24″, 24″, 17″, 17″.


A blue tarp, 12′ by 9′, was used to cover the frame. You could cover your frame with anamal skins if you have them. The tarp was gathered along the top of the boat and fastened together with six Grip You can also use the rock and cord technique where you place a 1.5″ rock under the two tarp layer and then squize the tapes into a narrow neck around the rock and tie this tight with a cord.
The boat turned out great! It handles well in the water, weighs only 22 pounds! and is good looking. Total cost about $25; includes tarp, Grip Clips and binding materials. Only 22 lbs!

Kayak Air

If the tarp is pinched between rocks and the boat’s frame, it can be punctured. Two tarps layered or a nylon-reinforced tarp is stronger. However, since the blue tarp is easy to obtain and can be repaired with duct tape or with a patch of tarp material and silicon rubber as a glue, the blue tarp kayak makes a lot of sense for most conditions. Wear a life jacket at all time. Flotation devices such as inner tubes should be added inside both ends of the boat for additional safety. To make a stronger boat you can cover the frame with heavy coated nylon or vinyl. You can also make the frame of thicker wood. silicone rubber can be used to seal the gathering at the stern and bow by applying a generous amount between the layers before securing (this is not necessary unless you plan for the seam to be under water). This boat is intended for flat water use and not for use in white water. One reason for this is if the boat was crushed against a rock, the frame could collapse or brake pinning you in the boat and preventing you from swimming to safety and possibly drowning you.