Which is easier, Strip Built or Stitch and Glue?

Building a kayak using either the strip-built or stitch-and-glue method is within the means of most people who want to do it. Neither method is particularly difficult for anyone who is willing to take the time required. Many first time builders who have never done anything remotely like a constructing a boat have produced beautiful boats they are justifiably proud of. Wanting to do it is the most important prerequisite.

"Ease" can be broken down into at least two factors: time and skill required. A strip-built boat will take more time, a similar design of a stitch-and-glue boat will require finer skills to get right. The differences are mostly in the woodworking parts of the projects. After the woodwork is done, the fiberglassing and finish work is pretty much the same. Because a "stripper" requires individually fitting many narrow strips together, you spend a lot of time doing woodworking. Once finished with the stripping, you must sand everything smooth. Neither the stripping nor the sanding are particularly hard. While a "poor" job of stripping may look a little ragged, but even if you end up with gaps between the strips, the fiberglass and epoxy will seal all but the biggest mistakes and the finished boat will work very well.

A stitch and glue boat depends on the accuracy of how you cut out the panels of plywood in order to get the desired shape. Small errors in cutting the shape of a panel can result in weird boat shapes that may effect performance. However, since there are not that many panels to cut it does not take long to do the work and then there is less sanding involved.

If you buy a kit for either type of boat, you will save some time. However, with a stitch and glue boat, the work that is pre-done in the kit will have a lot of impact on the project. The pre-cut panels virtually eliminate errors in the panel shape and put the builder beyond most of the woodworking. A strip kit includes the forms and a bundle of strips. The builder still needs to do the individual fitting of the pieces, so most of the woodworking is still part of the project.

In conclusion, a stitch and glue boat is quicker, and with kit there is less skill required. If you are building from scratch strip-built boat is still going to take longer, but the work is not hard and mistakes are less critical.