Building a Greenland Qajaq

Photographic record of a self-build skin-on-frame qajaq.

It's a replica of a 1931 kayak from Disko Bay on the west coast of Greenland.

The original is in the Canadian Museum of Civilization, catalog number #IV-A-375.

Kayak length = 17' (5.2 m), beam = 21" (53 cm), weight 26lbs (12 kg).

Plans available from Gentry Custom Boats


Take some Douglas Fir and...
Soak the gunwales for 24 hours.
Gunwales drying over 48 hours with a weight to bend them into shape.
Paper templates for the frames.
Frames clamped for cutting.
Cutting the frames out of 12mm marine plywood.
Keel & 2 end frames of kayak laid out on 2x4 strongback.
Gunwales, keel & 6 frames strapped together.
Starting to look like a kayak...yeee haaaa!
Keel and gunwales attached to bow stem. Yellow string denotes sheerline.
Oak slats for a seat.
Marking the thigh support on my Tahe Marine Greenland as a guide.
The lipstick gives an idea of where to locate the masik.
Gone off plan now. Uh oh. Frame moved from below knee to above knee. Masik added.
Oak cockpit bent into shape after immersion in water for a week.
Basking in the winter sun. First time outdoors for this kayak.
Varnish frame, add flotation and start skinning.
Wooden frame of Disko Bay Greenland Kayak
Frame varnished, the masik and seat have had 5 coats of Tung oil.
Paid a fiver for 2 boxes of foam offcuts. Ebay. Bargain.
High density foam for kayak flotation
5 bulkheads packed with foam and glue. Unsinkable.
Skinning with ballistic nylon and cold rain water. Loosens the fabric.

Looks like something from the Tate Modern.

Stitching the centre seam from the cockpit to the stern. 

Took me a while to get the hang of this.

Side view of stern during stitching. 

Rear deck stitched and excess cloth burnt off with soldering iron.

Realised too late that a single thread is sufficient. Oh well.
Disko Bay Greenland Qajaq 1931

Thin batten strapped on as guide for stitching seam.

Running stitch on right, spiral stitch to fold down ragged edges on left.

Bow & stern stitching done.

Beautiful contours.

Time to sew cockpit to skin.

Holes drilled.

Sewing cockpit rim to skin.

One final soaking before drying drum tight in the heat.