45-Minute Kayak
An inexpensive, easy to make kayak that can be built in 45 minutes.
Status: Complete
License(s):
Schematic CC-BY-NC
,
Images CC-BY-SA
Binaries: Scalable Cutting and Folding Schematic (PDF)
Fig.1 - A full view of the kayak. NOTE: The blue masking tape was for testing, and is not water proof. Rivets, snaps, staples, velcro straps or other attachments are recommended depending on whether you wish to unfold your kayak for portability.
Fig.1 - A full view of the kayak. NOTE: The blue masking tape was for testing, and is not water proof. Rivets, snaps, staples, velcro straps or other attachments are recommended depending on whether you wish to unfold your kayak for portability.

The kayak is made from a single sheet of corrugated polypropylene which is commonly used for political and other temporary signs. The material is usually available in 122cm x 244cm (4ft x 8ft) sheets, although different sizes may be available. For a full-size adult kayak, a sheet larger than 122cm x 244cm will be needed unless the adult in question is small.

Corrugated polypropylene has some advantages for making a kayak: it is inexpensive, it is saltwater and solvent resistant, and it is easy to cut. The biggest disadvantage is that most glue will not adhere to polypropylene reliably. It has been reported that some higher temperature, hot-melt glue (like that of a crafting glue gun) may work. Fortunately, no glue is required for this project.

As always, appropriate safety measures should be taken when attempting any project. This one in particular since a simple mistake could confine you to the briny deep...


Fig.2 - LEFT: The bow and interior of the kayak. RIGHT: Interior view with detail of an inward fold. NOTE: Depending on how deep the kayak sits in the water, the upper portion of the seam may need to be sealed.
Fig.2 - LEFT: The bow and interior of the kayak. RIGHT: Interior view with detail of an inward fold. NOTE: Depending on how deep the kayak sits in the water, the upper portion of the seam may need to be sealed.

Fig.3 - FROM TOP: A spline tool for crimping folds in the corrugated polypropylene. NOTE: Do not press hard enough to cut the material when using the spline tool. A utility knife. A marker. You will also need a measuring tape.
Fig.3 - FROM TOP: A spline tool for crimping folds in the corrugated polypropylene. NOTE: Do not press hard enough to cut the material when using the spline tool. A utility knife. A marker. You will also need a measuring tape.

Q & A

Where do I obtain corrugated polypropylene?

Some home improvement stores carry it, but most larger print shops will have it. Some trade names include: Coroplast and Corflute.


How much does the kayak weigh?

Less than 4.5kg (10lb)


If I build one of these kayaks, do I have to use boating terminology when I use it?

We recommend recklessly throwing out words like "bow", and "starboard" when in the company of people who know nothing of boating. When in the company of people who regularly boat, make sure to use left, right, front and back, because they really dislike that. If you are not sure, fall back to esoteric nautical terminology like "stunsail", "punting", "sloop", and "sextant", or just make some words up and say them with confidence.


Can I cross the Channel with one of these?

Possibly. Please make a video if you do and remember that you are responsible for everything you do. Also wear a flotation device.


Can I really build one in 45 minutes?

If you are sober and can use basic hand tools and measuring devices, probably less than that.



Notes