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I made an 8' Folding Kayak for around $100 based on plans by Jess E. Rathburn originally published in Popular Mechanics in 1963. The plans have been modified by multiple people and instructions are available online for free in various locations:

http://www.vintageprojects.com/boats/folding-kayak.pdf (original plans)
http://www.ida.net/users/tetonsl/kayak/
http://www.vhcbsa.org/camping/kayak.pdf
http://www.duckworksmagazine.com/00/DM1999/articles/foldingkayak/index.htm

I've attempted to gather the most helpful tips and modification from each set of plans.

The kayak is made of plywood and canvas, and is bonded together with contact cement. The entire boat is coated in latex primer and paint, which waterproofs it. It folds up for easy storage, and is relatively easy to carry short distances.

Step 1: Gather and Prepare Materials

These are the materials you will need to make one kayak:
  • 2 - 1/4" 4' x 8' Sheets Untreated Plywood, smooth on one side
  • 1 piece wood lath
  • 1" x 2" wood for seat support rails (about 2' - 3')
  • Exterior Latex Primer
  • Exterior Latex Paint
  • 200" Heavy Canvas, untreated
  • Waterproof Wood Glue
  • 2 - 2" Screws and Matching Nuts
  • Heavy Duty Velcro
  • Contact Cement (the strong stuff that creates fumes that will explode without good ventilation!)
  • 6 or more - "C" Clamps

One of the sheets of plywood must be cut into four 1' x 8' pieces, the home improvement store will likely make these cuts for you for free if you ask.




I've seen two basic variations on this design, the one presented here that uses an 8' x 4' sheet of plywood and another that uses a 10' x 4' sheet of plywood. What I am attempting to figure out is, for someone like me (I'm just shy of 6' 2&quot; tall) fit (without serious contortions) into the design based on the 8' x 4' sheet of plywood?<br> <br> I would like to go with the 8' x 4' design, but I don't want to feel like a pretzel in the kayak. Can anyone offer any insights?<br> <br> Thanks.<br> <br> P.S. In the original 1963 Jess E. Rathburn article he shows doing a kayak in a crocodile motif (not my cup of tea... but to each their own). This gives rise to the question, what is the wildest / craziest paint / decorating job that has been done on one of these kayaks?
I reworked this design a few years ago as the duckchaser. About 30 have been built from the plans &amp; instructions I've posted in a Yahoo Group.<br>Max paddler weight for the standard duckie is about 220lb.<br>A minor revamp has been done (labelled Goosechaser) to lift the payload to 300 lb but it hasn't hit the water yet.<br>A 6'+ paddler fits OK unless they have VERY long legs.<br> They are NOT white water craft though I've bashed mine through a fair bit of grade I &amp; II water. a few minor cracks in the ply fixed at the end of the day &amp; lots of rock scratches but no damage at all to the canvas - that stuff is tough.<br>(I found references to the design going back to the 1930s - nothing is really new)<br>Don
<p>Where can I find the plans for the Goosechaser/duckchaser?</p>
<p>groups.yahoo.com/group/duckchaser/</p><p>Most recent plans &amp; instructions there plus in the Files section furtther minor improvements in construction. 9eg. laminated runners, better seat, splash deflecter</p>
<p>Thanks ... will join the Group and post any photos related to the project. Have a couple of ideas on attachments for it</p>
Hi - so far over 70 built (officially) but I know of others who haven't provided me with my bottle of wine :-)<br>Plans &amp; upgrades modifications etc available on (also lots of pics) groups.yahoo.com/group/duckchaser/<br>Included is the design changes for an owner weighing 165kg. (a Goosechaser)Also have made one half way between for a guy weighing 135kg.
<p>maintann, I have been trying to find your plans on Yahoo Groups because I am of a height and weight that might sink this boat. Do you have a link? Thanks,</p>
cool! have you found a good way to carry them? i'm thinking about sewing something from the leftover canvas and adding a shoulder strap.
Well mine has shark teeth, eyes, a couple thumbs-ups and a racing stripe, if you want some pictures i would gladly post them.
Shark teeth on a kayak sounds like it could be neat. Yes, I would love to see a good photo of what you have done.
Thats the paint job, if you want to see more pics more will be posted if you scroll up. Thanks =D
(third attempt to post an answer here - not sure just how the new &quot;improved&quot; groups is supposed to work)<br>So far over 70 have been built to my plans so something must be right about them. (more than this have been built but I haven't received my bottle of wine so they're not official)<br>the plans are at groups.yahoo.com/group/duckchaser/<br>Also instructions on how to expand one to make a Goosechaser for a payload of 165kg.(thats 363 lb) Also made one half way between for a friend weighing 135 kg. Standard one handles just over 100kg easaily.
<p>Hi Wizgirl, I also made one a couple of years ago, still use it. Not sure what was more fun, making the boat or using it!</p>
How is this boat holding up?
how much did you pay for the canvas ?
how long did it take to build and finish this kayak ?
wanting to try this but has anyone tried silicone treated nylon? thinking it may make it lighter...plus it's already waterproof.
Why is one Orange and gray, and then yellow in the water ? Did you make two of them ?
<p>Same kayak, just different lighting.</p>
Hola, yo fabrique uno de madera, con las mismas dimensiones
Esta es una prueba con mi hijo Daniel
Nice splash rail! You added it? I may add one to mine! Good idea! Muchas gracias amigo!
excelente!!!
Muchas gracias, pienso hacer uno mas grande, ya que yo soy mas gordito, me anim&oacute; mucho lo que tu hiciste. Saludos. Por cierto donde lo probamos es el rio Caroni, afluente del Rio Orinoco, en Venezuela
Amigo, I like the rail / splash guard you added! Nice, muchas gracias!
Great job and nicely presented! <br> <br>Have you seen this link?: <br> <br>http://foldingkayaks.org/build.shtml <br> <br>It takes you to a version a gentlemen by the name of Pax Rolfe built some ten years ago with two pieces of coroplast (since coroplast is flexible, he dispenses with the canvas membrane in the centerline) <br>All the best.
Your link won't work!
You are right. It seems the site no longer exists. But googling for Pax Rolfe threw this site, where the same (rather scanty) information was copy-pasted: <br> <br>http://www.foldingkayaks.org/WP/?page_id=8
Thanks for the link. The coroplast kayak looks really cool!
My brother just called. He wants the plans for this. I can't find them. I will give him the web site info. He wants to make a ten or twelve foot model. More stable and less prone to sideward movement! Thanks.
Hey, have you seen my instructable (pumkinseed kayak) ? Our kayaks are identicle , except mine is made not to fold, as the supports fell in one day and I sank. So I opted to make them permanent . Mine is red! Nice job!
I did see it, it's sweet! I find the supports somewhat hard to remove and insert, but it has gotten easier over time. Your camping chair is really cool!
Thank you!
where did you get the canvas <br>
Local fabric store.
hey can you post a video of you folding it and unfolding it in addition to the photo o you riding it? it would be really helpful to see the difference between this and a normal kayak
Dittos!
for the bottom of the boat are the two sides different lengths or is that optical illusion.
They are all the same... the wood was stacked when it was cut... they are identical.
ill build one this year in shop class. I need something to prove my greatness over the rednecks lol
Hahahahhahah! Awesome!
Hello, Great instructable! This is a brilliant kayak you've built but i was just wondering what sort of conditions this can go in, As i live near the sea and was wondering whether it would be to rough for the kayak.
Hello, thanks! I wouldn't take it in anything rougher that what you see in the video I posted. The larger waves started splashing water into the kayak. With a spray skirt, it could likely handle rougher water.
Nice Kayak,Where Did You Get The Canvas From?If You Don`t Mind My Asking.
Thanks! I got mine at a local Hancock Fabrics.
I was wondering if anyone had an idea how to use this as a dual purpose Kayak / Sailboat. Without modifing the original kayak, maybe by bolting a through hull mount for a bracket to attach a keel to for stability. Then somehow make a mount for the mast somewhere that would run through the tarp and be able to attach it easily. If thats possible where would I need to attach those brackets. Thanks for any advice.
Looks good. Do you think a tarp would work in place of canvas?
No, I don't think it would work, tarps rip too easily. Are you making one?

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Bio: I get restless, so I make things.
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