a Jim Michalak designed "Toto" double paddle canoe
by Barry Johnson

Below is the building saga of "Lilly", my first home-built boat.

She is built from the the "Toto" double paddle canoe design by Jim Michalak. Jim calls it a Canoe, I call it a Kayak. I started a little late in the game with the photos, but I believe they'll give the gist of how she goes together.

Oh yeah, "How did you come up with 'Lilly' for name?", you ask. Well, there is a beautiful stand of Day Lilies out in front of our old barn. They really look lovely as they bloom this time of the year. This boat has really started "blooming" about the same time, so I thought it was good fit.

To see what it is going to look like when it is finished, Go Here. I personally don't think the first boat you see is the coolest looking one, so be sure and scroll down a bit to see the others... :-)        (click thumbnails for larger view)


click to enlarge At this point she is all stitched up with zip-ties and the seams are taped with Duct tape. Getting ready to do the fillets and glass tape the interior seams.
click to enlarge Temporary forms are removed and the interior seams are all filleted and taped. I made the fillets with Epoxy thickened with pine wood flour. This was much easier than I thought it would be but it got a little tedious. I tried the venerable "pastry-bag" method where you put the putty in a ziplock bag and cut out a corner, but this didn't work as easily as I thought it would. In retrospect I probably had used a little too much flour and got the mixture a little too thick.. I ended up applying most of the fillets with tounge-depressors (or big popcicle sticks, which ever you'd like to call them :-) )

You can see in the pic that I've already cut out the back deck and hatch coaming... I put a temporary brace in up near the bow to keep the sides from springing in too much till I get the bow deck on...

click to enlarge This shot is after I got the outside fillets done, the zip-ties cut off, the seams taped with 3" fiberglass tape, and the whole hull covered in 5oz fiberglass cloth and epoxy. I forgot to mention that for the whole project I I've been using epoxy and fiberglass from Raka in Florida. Their stuff is a breeze to use! Up till now, whenever I've done any fiberglass work it has been with the cheapest polyester resin I could find but I'm an epoxy convert now! Its much easier to mix and time, and its no where near as funky smelling as polyester. Unfortunately it is a good bit more expensive than polyester, but I'm learning to do a little at a time and not waste it. All in all, I think for stich-n-glue it is well worth the price.
click to enlarge A friend at work called these my "head shots". My wife came in as I was filling in some spots I'd missed with putty. She loved the scene and took a few shots...
click to enlarge The Skeg! I cut my skeg out of a piece of redwood that I had laying around. At this point it is attached with epoxy and stainless screws. I have an epoxy putty fillet at the joints where it meets the hull. I'll probably put a layer of fiberglass on it for abrasion resistance, but I've toyed with the idea of putting a strip of copper on the edge.
click to enlarge Fitting and cutting out the bow deck and coaming. The bow deck was a breeze, lay out a piece of plywood, mark it with a pencil and cut it out. The coaming was a little more aggravating...
click to enlarge The angle at the front it 45 degrees. I aligned it on the centerline, made pencil marks on the deck so I'd remember later where I'd placed it, and also made pencil marks where it overlapped the gunwales so they'd be flush when I cut them off.
click to enlarge The seatback. Jim says that for proper trim you should sit about where the side and bilge panels are scarfed. That's cool and all, but I believe it would give you one heck of a backache if you paddled too long there without something to rest your back on. (The original design doesn't have a seatback). To fix this little problem, I put together a removable seatback.

I don't know if it is universal or not, but all the seatbacks on all the chairs laying around my barn seem to have about the same angle of 8 degrees between the seat and the back, so 8 degrees is what I used.

The long horizontal board slides down into slots on each side of the boat. The slots are made by gluing two cleats to each side both slanted back at 8 degrees. I also cut the bottom ends of the vertical pieces at 8 degrees as well so they'd sit flat on the bottom.

click to enlarge Primer on the whole boat and and one coat on the bottom. I used Behr primer and 100% Acrylic Latex Exterior house paint in a semi-gloss finish. I learned an important lesson here...
click to enlarge Dark colors show surface defects much more than light colors. Cest la vie though, Lilly is going to have a "work-boat" finish anyway since I don't have a lot of patience for sanding
click to enlarge All masked up and ready for the interior and gunwale paint.
click to enlarge While I was waiting on the interior to dry I made a bow handle out of a small piece of rake handle and a little rope. This handle will make it easier for two people to carry her and it also doubles as a handy cleat to which to tie a painter.
click to enlarge Paint is all dry and I have my decks fitted and sanded, but not permanently attached. I'm going to give them a couple of coats of spar varnish before I attach them with glue and bronze boat nails.

                              Launch Day

click to enlarge My son Thomas, my daughter Amanda, and I ease her off the top of the Kay's car.
click to enlarge Thomas and I carry her down to the water. You can't see it, but I'm using the clever bow handle :-) I'm going to have to add one the stern as well. Carrying her by the gunwales is a little rough on your forearms...
click to enlarge My wife Kay prepares to christen her with a bottle of premium Corona Cerveza Mas Fina.
click to enlarge She's raring to go, but Thomas holds her back long enough for a passenger to board.
click to enlarge Everyone gets a turn gets a turn putting her through her paces... Here's Amanda
click to enlarge And Barry
click to enlarge And Kay
click to enlarge Thomas concentrating on his technique.

For more information see Barry's website: