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Home  | Traditional Kayaks  | Lowie Baidarka




The Lowie Baidarka is a good example of what we now seem to consider typical

of recreational skin on frame kayaks. I built this in the winter of 2008/09.


This is the finished kayak covered in cotton duck and sealed with polyurethane



This is me in the Lowie baidarka. It is comfortable and stable. The cockpit is rather

 large making it easy to get in and out. Some baidarka replicas that I have made have

very tight cockpits making entry and exiting more difficult but very comfortable once

you are safely installed.


The gunnels are made of clear pine scarfed and glued together about mid-way

between the bow and stern. The rib layout is laid out and mortises are drilled

to accept the ribs.


The completed gunnels are set up and the initial dimensions of the deck are established

with spacers cut out of scrap wood.



The deck beams are cut and carved. I like to start the assembly with the beams that

will hold the cockpit.


Mortise and tenens may be used but drilling and gluing dowels in place is faster.

Lashing the deck beam to the gunnels keeps them from popping out before the

covering goes on.


The frame can be aligned by running a string down the middle from bow to stern.

Mark the middle of the deck beams and align the frame by forcing on or the other of

the gunnels forward or back. That will allow you to move the middle of the frame

from one side to the other  until the frame is square and lined up with the centering



I like to use a gouge to carve the bow and stern pieces.


This is part of the bow construction after it is saw cut and before it is finally shaped.


This is the stern piece being doweled and glued into place.


I made a very nice steamer out of a turkey fryer. It came with the stand and the

burner. I cut a hole in the side of the pot and installed an 1-1/2" pipe near the top.

I attached a length of radiator hose and feed it to the steam box that I made or a

long piece of plastic pipe for cockpit coamings and other long pieces. It works great!


The coaming on the Lowie is made of two steam bent pieces of oak glued together. In

the original collected specimen, the coaming was made of two pieces of wood lashed



The nearly finished deck with the cockpit coaming set in place.


Another view of the deck. I was establishing the shear dimensions at this point.


I cut these willows near the Mississippi River and leave them in the sink with a

couple inches of water until I strip the bark and install them. They stay supple and

bend easily long after they are cut if they are kept wet.


The hull with most of the ribs in place. I like to start in the cockpit area and work

towards the bow and stern. The temporary keelson establishes the shear dimension

and is clamped into place. The clamps can be seen holding it in place.


The lower bow piece establishes the depth to shear at the bow. The temporary

keelson can be seen clamped to the aft end of the bow piece.


The stern piece establishes the shear dimension at the stern.


The stern before the ribs are lashed into place showing the lashing of the deck

stringer and the keelson.


I usually clamp and lash the ribs on one side and then try to lash the other side in a

mirror image of the first side.


Clamping the stringers in place gives you a chance to try out a couple of hull con-

figurations. If I am building a replica as I am here, I match the hull shape of

the original.


The finished frame before it is varnished or painted. I dyed this frame red to

duplicate the original. I usually varnish the frames with polyurethane varnish.


Another view of the finished frame.


The partially dyed frame showing one of the keelson scarfs.


The completed frame wearing the traditional red dye.


Another view of the very pretty frame. These are fun to build. Try one.



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  2009 Jim Rutzick