Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Book Review: The New Kayak Shop

Title: The New Kayak Shop
Author: Chris Kulczycki
ISBN-10: 0071357866

I picked this book up out of curiosity, but once I started reading, I was hooked. For the most part, this book succeeds in making all the steps involved in building a plywood kayak understandable to someone like me, who does not have woodworking skills. Even if you don't plan to build one, you will be tempted to do so once you learn how easy it is. When you see how beautiful the wooden kayaks look, you will want one out of sheer envy. And you will fantasize about the cachet of saying that you built it yourself. Chris also writes about the effect that woodworking has on him, and you will want to try it to know that level of relaxation and satisfaction.

There are some terms that the author takes for granted that you will know, but there's no harm in doing your own research for the few items that you don't understand. Some terms are used before they are defined. I'll help you out with one. The "stems" are the ends of the kayak. The bow and stern are the stems. Some tools may be unfamiliar, but you can look them up. For instance, I had no idea what a spokeshave was.

The most exciting feature of the book is that it actually contains the complete plans for building three different designs of wooden plywood kayak. The bill of materials needed are also provided. Now, Chris doesn't recommend you build from the plans in the book alone, in fact he says you're fool if you do, but you could! The benefits of buying the plans are that they are easier to read, templates for some of the parts are provided that you can trace onto your plywood, and you get to call for help if you've paid for the plans. Chris' company, Chesapeake Light Craft, sells the plans, and also sells complete kits, precut, for you to build. A tantalizing option!

In addition to learning about building a kayak, you will also learn many facets of kayak design and trade offs that occur for different characteristics. These boats are beautiful and exciting, and you get the feeling that the wooden kayaks have a soul, and that they are alive. If you are building your own kayak, please comment here, I would love to find out how it goes for you. If I start to build my own, believe me, I will write about it here.

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