DIY Folding Kayak – Step By Step Guide For Making A Fabulous Folding Kayak

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Post Updated On: November 23, 2022
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It is possible to make a DIY folding kayak by yourself. In order to make a DIY folding kayak you will need a few materials and equipment like 200-inch untreated canvas, 2-1/4-inch 4-inch by 8-inch untreated plywood sheets, waterproof wood glue, exterior latex paint, c-clamps, screws, matching nuts, etc.

Step 1: Collection Of The Necessary Materials

The following materials are vital when you want to make your boat by yourself. They are available from your local hardware shop.

1. 200-inch untreated canvas

2. 2-1/4-inch 4-inch by 8-inch untreated plywood sheets with one smooth side

3. Heavy-duty Velcro

4. Waterproof wood glue

5. Exterior latex paint

6. 1-piece wood lath 

7. 1-inch by 2-inch wood for seat support rails 

8. Exterior latex primer

9. Six or more c-clamps

10. 2 – 2-inch screws and matching nuts

Ensure that one of the plywood sheets is cut into four pieces that measure 1 inch by 8 inches. You can request the nearest home improvement store to do it for you. 

Step 2: Cutting The Cockpit And Painting The Interior

Clamp the two sides of the plywood sheets together (one must be cut into 4 – 1 inch by 8 inches). The two smooth sides should touch each other. You should then cut the cockpit opening starting around 41 inches from the front of the kayak. The cut should be about 5 inches deep and 28 inches long. 

After deciding on the shape of your kayak, clamp together the four pieces of wood to ensure the cuts match and that the kayak is symmetrical. Round the edges of the boat and create your desired shape ensuring that the front and the rear are not too pointy. Tape the wood and install the strips to attach the unpainted pieces. You should then paint the interior of the vessel with two coats of flexible exterior latex paint.

Step 3: Making Spreaders And Spacers


You should make two spreaders each consisting of two 1/4-inch pieces of plywood already joined together.  Cut four, 11-inch by 24-inch pieces of 1/4 –inch plywood. You should bond then bond the wood using wood glue and C-clamps making two thick triangles of 1/2 –inch. The spreaders should then be cut to the desired dimensions. You can also cut the center of the spreader to reduce its weight. 


Spacers are useful in holding the kayak pieces together in the right configuration when applying the edge canvas. You can use scrap wood to make the spacers by following the steps below:

1. Cut two pieces of plywood each measuring 3-inch by 3-inch

2. Cut four pieces of plywood measuring 2-inch by 6-inch

3. Bore a hole through the center of each piece of wood. Insert the 3-inch by 3-inch wood pieces of wood between two of the 2-inch by 6-inch. Join the pieces with a 2-inch screw and matching nuts. 

Step 4: Preparing The Canvas And Assembling The Kayak  

Canvas and Assembling the Kayak

 You should assemble the kayak using 5-strips of canvas with the following dimensions

1. One 13-inch by 12-inch 

2. Two 4.5-inch by 46-inch

3. Two 4.5-inch by 72-inch

You should draw the outlines of the strips on the canvas and paint it with 2-layers of contact cement. Allow the cement to dry as you apply it before cutting to prevent the edges from fraying. You should then assemble the kayak with the spacer blocks.

Draw a line that is 2 inches from the edge around the kayak and apply contact cement to it. Allow the cement to dry as you apply and repeat it on the bottom of the vessel. You should then apply the canvas strips with the 2-inch marked line as a guide. Apply the shorter strips to the front and rear of the boat and the longer ones to the sides. 

Stretch the canvas and apply slowly while smoothing the wrinkles. After you are done applying on one side, slip over the kayak and apply the remaining canvas to the bottom. Apply contact cement where the strips overlap to secure them. Leave to dry for a few hours, then install the spreaders.

Step 5: Installing The Stop Blocks

Use eight stop blocks to hold each spreader board in position and allow them to pop into place between the stop block. You then need to cut sixteen stop blocks from the wood lath as per your desired dimensions. 

Install the spreader boards at your desired position and get in your kayak. You should ensure that you have enough space where you can spread your legs. You should then install the stop blocks on the unpainted sections of the interior side of the kayak by use of waterproof wood glue. 

Step 6: Installing The Center Canvas

Installing the Center Canvas on kayak

After measuring the widest gaps and the front and back of the cockpit, install the spreader boards.  Add four inches to the largest gap to allow two inches of the canvas glued to the wood on every side. Cut out a strip approximately 13 inches long, center, and clamp it onto the kayak. Mark the canvas at the front and back of the kayak and tamper it at both spots to match the width.

You should then install the canvas with clamps and draw an outline around it on the kayak. Join the kayak and the canvas with contact cement starting from either side. 

Step 7: Assembling The Seat And Its Rails 

Assembling the Seat and its Rails

Join two pieces of plywood with a canvas hinge and let them sit on two rails that are glued to the floor of the kayak. Attach the seat to the vessel with Velcro. Cut two rails of the desired length from a piece of wood with a dimension of 1-inch by 2-inch and attach them to the unpainted section of the kayak’s floor. 

To make the seat, cut two plywood rectangles whose size depends on the spreaders installed in the kayak. The width will also depend on the distance between the seat rails. You should then cut out a small piece of canvas to act as a hinge and attach the two pieces together. Finally fix the Velcro to the seat and rails

Step 8: Painting The Kayak

The final step in making the best folding kayak ever is to paint and prime it, the seat, and the spreader boards. Ensure that the items have at least three coats of paint to make them flawless and durable. 

Reference Video

Final Verdict

Let only your imagination on the waters be the only limit! 

If you are an enthusiast of kayaking, you need not break the bank to acquire a good vessel. Follow the simple step-by-step DIY guide and let nothing stop your way. You can enjoy the adventures in the water without having to stress yourself.


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