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Kayak making - build your own skin-on-frame kayak


About the Course

Come and build your own skin-on-frame kayak.

Lightweight, beautiful and extremely strong; skin-on-frame combines traditional construction with the best modern materials.

Over 7 days, you’ll learn to cut joints and steam-bend oak to form your kayak's custom-fitted wood frame; lashing and pegging it together in the traditional way - without any nails or glue.

Then it’s on to sewing, colouring and coating the skin of your kayak, before you rig her and paddle away!

Working from Shipshape Boatbuilding's workshop, in the historic Underfall Boatyard, you’ll be a chisel-throw away from the slipway and pumps that have powered Bristol's floating harbour since the 1800’s.

No prior experience required - it doesn't matter if you're an expert craftsperson or complete novice.

Come and make some memories and learn new skills.

--- Types of kayak available ---

Choose to build a traditional West Greenland, Baidarka or the modern Cape Falcon F1.

Courses are a ratio of 1:3 max, but you can build a boat on a 1:1 basis if you prefer. You can also choose to build a paddle if required.

Roughly, kayak-making courses follow this plan:

Day 1: Spread the gunwales and build the deck beams (using pegged mortice and tenon joints).

Day 2: Steam-bend in the ribs and tie on the stems and stringers.

Day 3: Add the deck stringers, sand and oil the frames.

Day 4&5: Sew the skin on the boat and prep the deck toggles and decklines.

Day 6: Apply colour and coating to boats (+ rough shape paddles if desired).

Day 7: Add seats, backbands, rub strips, footbraces, and deck lines. Finish shaping the paddles (if included).

Day 8 (optional): Go paddling!

If you will be redeeming a CraftCourses gift voucher on this course, the voucher code must be provided at the point of booking.

What's included in the price?

All materials are included including Western Red Cedar and English Oak for the kayak frame, 9oz ballistic nylon and 2-part urethane for the skin, leather deck-lines, airbag, backrest and footrests.

Coffee tea and snacks througout the working days.

At the end of the course you'll take away your own custom-built boat, knowing you made it yourself!


Anthony Mace at Shipshape Boatbuilding
Underfall Yard
Cumberland Road
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This craft course provider has been awarded Bronze status for receiving 1 or more 5 star ratings from previous students.

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They also allow tutors to gain valuable feedback on their courses and for new students to find the course that's right for them.

Suitable for

  • Public transport
  • School holiday workshops & activities
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Teenagers
  • UK Holiday
  • Wheelchair users

Available as a gift

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7 days

Available dates:


Amazing once in a lifetime experience of building my own custom Kayak at Shipshape Woodwork and Boatbuilding, at the beautiful Underfall Yard in Bristol Docks. Ant is an expert teacher who led us through each step of the woodworking, steam bending, lashing, stitching the skin on the frame and sealing with our own custom colours patiently. I can't recommend this experience enough and now I have a high performance Kayak of my own.

In-person course
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