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How to scavenge wood with a kayak

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Much lumber washes up on beaches and can be used for a variety of applications from fuel for your wood stove to carpentry projects.
I build traditional style arctic kayaks with lashed wood frames. When I first started building kayaks, I always used lumber that I bought, but after a while, I got the urge to see how well I could do with scavenged lumber. After all, Arctic kayaks used to be built entirely out of scavenged wood. So I started looking out for nice pieces of lumber that washed up on the beach.

The lumber on beaches is good but has a short shelf life. People use it for making fires. City crews remove it and believe it or not, you and I are not the only ones who harvest this natural resource.

So if you want a better selection of lumber, you might want to look to break waters and remote locations inaccessible from land or from the water in conventional motorized boats. The kayak is the ideal craft for getting at this lumber. It has a shallow draft and can be landed on the beach. And surprisingly, even though the average human only operates at 1/7 horse power, you can tow some fairly large pieces of wood behind a kayak. Because lumber is long and thin, it slides through the water easily.
 
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Step 1: Tools


You will need a kayak, a paddle, a quarter inch diameter rope at least 20 feet long and some time to go exploring.
Your kayak will need some kind of deck fitting that you can tie the rope to and that is also strong enough to endure the stress of towing the lumber.

The kayak in the picture, by the way is made at least partially with scavenged wood and the rope is also scavenged off the beach. In other words, the artful scavenger can scavange many of the scavenging tools needed for more complex scavenging.
Reiff8 months ago
I just wondered but is this like a hobby to take lumber from these places? What do you do with the lumber you find? I'm guessing the wood you find is sort of nice because it is drift wood.
nativewater (author)  Reiff8 months ago
Mostly it's kind of like research to see what sorts of boats i can make with scavenged lumber. It's about seeing what is possible with limited resources. It's what people in the arctic had to do.
Thats a very beautiful hunting boat.
Isn't it, though? I was envious of how the sunlight illuminates the skin, myself. Gorgeous craft.
theRIAA6 years ago
that is a really nice kayak... don't bother posting the instructions, i have nowhere near the patience required to do that. i would take the PVC / tarp / ducktape route.
hintss theRIAA3 years ago
I prefer 3M contractor grade duct tape to duck tape brand...
mskogly5 years ago
Now I miss my kayak. It is stored over 600 miles away :(
Geordiepom5 years ago
Besides the recycling aspect you are also doing other boat users a favour. Floating timber can cause damage to hulls and props.
This is a interesting idea, I've always collected drift wood scraps. Once in a while I whittle away them. Its never occurred to me, to go out and hunt down the best pieces.
SWV17876 years ago
I saw you steamer instructable and now this one very nice. I like the Kayak and the recycling nature of your projects. Please let me know when you post your process for making kayaks and paddles
sam noyoun6 years ago
Nice instructable... As a paddler myself, I really enjoyed this. Of course, a deck-mounted safety towline can always be used for the same purpose.
nativewater (author) 6 years ago
theRIAA - any kind of skin on frame construction is cool, even tarp over PVC though I prefer wood.

I may do an instructable on kayak building in the not too distant future. In the meantime, I have some overviews of the process on my website
http://www.wolfgangbrinck.com/boats/boatbuilding/index.html

Come to think of it, I could migrate those photos over to Instructables.
Please add the pictures! Those kayaks are really nice, especially the Greenland style one.
Mr. Rig It6 years ago
Did you make the Kayak that is in the pictures? I think this is a great idea, you are also doing a clean up service to the community and getting free lumber. Great job.
LinuxH4x0r6 years ago
Very nice. Please post one about kayak building too. Good work.
nagutron6 years ago
That's a beautiful kayak. Especially in Step 6, where we can see all the ribbing backlit in the sun. You going to post an Instructable about making kayaks, too?
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