Building A Whitewater Kayak From Scratch (Video)

This engineering student just built a fully functional whitewater kayak from scratch. Watch his process here.

Konrad van Varseveld has always enjoyed diving headfirst into DIY projects. So, after recently creating a hydrospeed (a whitewater river board) out of the shell of an old creek boat, the next logical step for this B.C. boater was to put the outfitting to good use.

At this point in the process, most of us would have stored away the outfitting in an old draw of “off-season projects that I’ll never get to”; but for this determined mechanical engineering student, these odd-bits served as the kindling for an exciting new project. “I figured I could probably build a kayak to put the outfitting in,” Van Varseveld told us. And build a kayak is exactly what he did.

First, he assembled multiple paper prototypes until the pieces fit together seamlessly. Once he had found the perfect combination, he then traced the corresponding outlines onto High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) sheets before cutting them out and beginning the welding process.

“I plastic-welded the pieces together, as one would fix a crack. I used a heat gun and filler rod cut from the same sheet. Most welds were done from the inside and outside, but the bow and stern decks weren’t accessible from the inside,” he said.

Seeing the small stack of paper boats (at 0.07) among the clutter of his computer desk did not fill us with confidence. At this point in the video, you could surely excuse our initial skepticism of the project as a whole.

Yet as the video continues, the pieces—quite literally—start to fit together. We witness the evolution of paper to plastic and, before we know it, the life-size kayak is sitting next to a Jackson Nirvana and not looking too out of place at all. We find ourselves believing that he may have just pulled this thing off.

Van Varseveld then takes his newly built kayak down what looks to be a class 3 river. He bumps a few rocks, hits a few boofs… and yet, the homemade kayak endures. In fact, it doesn’t just endure—it kind of excels. Towards the end of the video we see Van Varseveld surfing up a storm on a fun little wave and we’re left with the lasting thought: where can we buy some HDPE sheets?

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