Greenland Kayaks and Kayak Building
Illustration from History of Greenland, David Crantz, 1767


The books, links and other references listed on the tabs above are not intended to be an exhaustive list, but represent many of the most popular resources available. In addition to these references there are many historical texts as well, that are rich in information and await your discovery. For selected reading material please visit the Qajaq USA bibliography.

As described in the side panel, building a Greenland kayak does not follow a set of predefined "plans", rather it entails a building method. The beauty of the Inuit method is that right from the start, you can interact with the frame and tweak how it fits you.

Depending on your personality you may prefer to pick just one book for kayak building and stick to that, or to read several and sort out the many differences and conflicting advice. The latter approach will cause some confusion, but by studying multiple resources you will be more likely to have a better understanding of the process and common variations. Remember too you aren't alone. You have an entire community of online help and expertise via the Greenland kayak forum.

By far the most difficult thing about kayak building is simply getting started. It can seem overwhelming, at first, when you try to comprehend the entire project. Fortunately, building a kayak is not difficult, especially once you break down the process into a simple series of manageable tasks. That said, expect some head-scratching and expect some mistakes. New kayak builders often obsess over details that don't affect the finished product. Remember, although you want your finished product to be strong and resilant, it doesn't have to be perfect. You aren't building furniture, you are building a Qajaq!



Kayak Frame Illustration in Eskimo Life

Instruction in Kayak Building Cover

Instruction in Kayak Building by H.C. Petersen

Excellent guide to building a Greenlandic Kayak with text in Greenlandic/Danish/English. Available online from the Qajaq USA store (currently out of print). This book is often available from Atuagkat.
Some non-Greenlanders prefer a cockpit location further aft than described by Petersen. An excellent companion to this book is Chris Cunningham's two articles on"Building a Greenland Kayak", Sea Kayaker, Winter 1992, Spring 1993. Reprints are available from Sea Kayaker Magazine.



Skinboats of Greenland Cover

Skinboats of Greenland by H.C. Petersen

Although the kayak building information is limited, this beautiful book contains a wealth of information on the kayak gear and fittings, including weapons and also has a section about the umiak. Useful if you wish to make your own throwing stick, tuilik and other gear. Available online from the Qajaq USA store (free shipping within the USA). Also available from Atuagkat or Nunatta Katersugaasivia Allagaateqarfialu (Greenland National Museum and Archives) at grnatmus@greennet.gl.



Kayaks of Greenland Cover

Kayaks of Greenland — The History and Development of the Greenlandic Hunting Kayak, 1600-2000 by Harvey Golden

(580pp); an in-depth look at the construction, design, variation, and evolution of the Greenlandic hunting kayak. The spectrum of kayak forms from Greenland is linked to pre-historic forms from the Bering Straits and is analyzed within a changing cultural and climatic context. 104 scale drawings of kayaks are presented, representing examples from the early 17th century through the end of the 20th century. Aside from the 104 scale drawings of kayaks, there are 407 figures consisting of historic images and technical illustration. 79 paddles are also presented in scale-drawing. Available online from the Qajaq USA store (free shipping within the USA). Also available from Harvey Golden.

Kayaks of Greenland Illustration Index

This compilation by Ben Fuller, is a companion to Harvey Golden's "Kayaks of Greenland" reference (above) and provides a handy cross-reference to the kayak illustrations in Harvey's work.



Building the Greenland Kayak Cover

Building the Greenland Kayak: A Manual for Its Construction and Use by Chris Cunningham

Chris Cunningham builds upon his two popular articles in Sea Kayaker magazine in the creation of this book. Chris adds many of his own ideas for kayak construction including specialized jibs, milled ribs and a "hammock method" of covering the kayak/stretching the skin. Includes plans for a low-volume version designed for rolling; an especially stable version for children; and discussions of kayaking equipment, paddling, and rolling techniques. Details from Amazon.



Eastern Arctic Kayaks Cover

Eastern Arctic Kayaks — History, Design, Technique by John D. Heath and E. Arima

With contributions by John Brand, Hugh Collings, Harvey Golden, H.C. Petersen, Johannes Rosing, and Greg Stamer. Although this is not a text on kayak building, it is rich in kayak surveys, history and information about Greenland and East Canadian Arctic kayaks. Heath and Arima provide a broad context of the history and cultural significance of these kayaks. The surveys by Heath, Harvey Golden, Hugh Collings and John Brand (excerpts from Brand's "Little Kayak Book" series), should be useful to many builders. Includes technique information by Heath, H.C. Petersen and Stamer (a chapter on "Using the Greenland Paddle"), and a trip narrative by Rosing. Available from the Qajaq USA Online Store.



Hooper Bay Kayak Construction Cover

Hooper Bay Kayak Construction by David W. Zimmerly

Morris documents building a Greenland-style skin-on-frame kayak using pegged deck construction. Also included is building information for a North Alaska Retrieval/Recovery kayak, Netsilingmeot kayak, baidarka, Pram Dinghy, Providence River Boat, Canadian Canoe, and a Upper Yukon style skin canoe.  Details from Zimmerly's Site.



Making Skin on Frame Boats Cover

Making Skin on Frame Boats by Robert Morris

Currently Out of print
Morris documents building a Greenland-style skin-on-frame kayak using pegged deck construction. Also included is building information for a North Alaska Retrieval/Recovery kayak, Netsilingmeot kayak, baidarka, Pram Dinghy, Providence River Boat, Canadian Canoe, and a Upper Yukon style skin canoe.  Details from Amazon.



Building a Greenland Kayak Cover

Building a Greenland Kayak by Mark Starr

Currently Out of print
Mark teaches a course on Building a Greenland Kayak at Mystic Seaport. This book documents his process and provides detailed instructions with illustrations, materials and tools lists as well as other pertinent information. Deck construction is mortise and tenon and forms are used to shape the ribs. Includes several kayak surveys. Call Mystic Seaport Bookstore for more information 800-331-2665. Details from Amazon.



The Aleutian Kayak Cover

The Aleutian Kayak by Wolfgang Brinck

Currently Out of print
Wolfgang describes building an Aleutian kayak using mostly natural materials, including a canvas skin. Deck construction is pegged. Included is a chapter on kayak dress with a pattern for a Greenland tuilik, with directions on how to adjust the fit. The appendices cover repairs, steamboxes and ribs and how to create mortised deck beams. Details from Amazon.



Kayak Frame Illustration in Eskimo Life


Reskinning your Skin-on-Frame Kayak by Brian Schulz

This video, by Brian Schulz of Cape Falcon Kayak, shows you how to remove an existing nylon covering and replace it. This video was posted to the Greenland Kayak Forum and was very well received.



Free plans (Non-Profit) for a Stitch and Glue Disko Bay style kayak from Christopher and Nick Crowhurst.

Shrike is a lightweight kayak whose design can be varied to suit the size and weight of the paddler, and the preferred style of cockpit, hatches and bulkheads. The specialist rolling variant weighs 23 pounds. Shrike is a non-profit project, for the free plans download, a Build Manual and a Builders' Gallery, see www.cnckayaks.com and www.facebook.com/CNCKayaks.

In the first seven months of the project, over seven hundred copies of the plans have been distributed.



Build a Greenland Kayak (Online "Instructables") by Wolfgang Brinck

Online instructions. This method of building a Greenland Kayak is a blend of the HC Petersen and Svend Ulstrupwww.cnckayaks.com methods with adaptations by the author. The link above is to the introduction page. The actual instructions are spread across 7 separate Instructables.



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Greenland Kayaking Audio Glossary

A cooperative effort between Qajaq USA members and Maligiaq Padilla, the audio glossary contains a number of audio WAV files of terms related to Greenland kayaks and kayaking. Recorded in Sisimiut Greenland, July 2002.



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Traditional Kayaks: Appreciating and Understanding Arctic Kayak Designs Through Research, Replication, and Use by Harvey Golden

Harvey has built such an incredible number of replica kayaks that he has opened a museum for the public. Harvey's site is a "must see" and contains many photos, replicas, adventures and travels, comprehensive resources, and more.



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Baidarka List Archives

Although no longer active, for years the Baidarka list provided a number of excellent discussions on every aspect of qajaq building. Searchable archive and Cultural Information. Excellent Books and Reference section. Also information on Steam Bending.


Kayak Building Links from the Masik Newsletter


Materials, Tools, Tips
Tools for Paddle/Kayaking Building by Dave Niles
Building Tips; Schmitz, Strand, Schulz, Golden, Nystrom
To Soak or Not to Soak; A Steam Bending Test By Brian Nystrom and Jay Babina
Building an Adjustable Rib Bending Jig by Brian Nystrom
Lightweight Fabric Tests by Larry Rehd Brown
Kayak Design DVD Review by Pete Strand
Skinning without a Needle by Robert Morris

Non-Greenlandic, Stitch and Glue and other Kayak Types
An Eastern Arctic Kayak by Duane “Arko” Bronaugh
Trial and Error The Evolution of a Folding Kayak By Tom Yost
Designing a Stitch-and-Glue Qajariaq Using anthropometric dimensioning By Dave Murphy
My First Stitch and Glue Qajariaq By Matt Johnson
Building the Sea Spirt by Wes Ostertag
My Strip-built Disco Bay by Richard Kohlström
A Qajaq for Cheri by Mark Starr
Designing Ginnyak; Building a coastal explorer by Brian Schulz
Building A Hooper Bay Kayak By Jack Gilman
My Iqyaq An Aleutian Kayak by Aaron Cunningham
An Alaskan Kayak by Bill Samsom

Building Narratives
Making a Greenland Kayak - Molly Ostertag Comics
Deconstructing Greenland Kayaks by Ralph Colwell Young
Deconstructing Greenland Kayaks Part II The Mighty Keelson by Ralph Colwell Young
SAQQIT: Narrative of an East Greenland Kayak by Sandy Noyes
Where to now for SOF kayaks? by Bill Samson
Qajaq Build Story Part 1 by Simon Wall
It's a Qajaq Part 1; Basics by Mike Bielski
It's a Qajaq Part 2; Materials by Mike Bielski
Misterie and the Necromancer: Qajaq for Father Qajaq for Son by Andrew Elizaga
My First Kayak by Richard Best
My Highly Rockered Greenland Kayaks by Bryan Hansel
An East Greenland Kayak; My first boat building experience by Rich Weise
Building My First Qajaq Is it becoming an obsession? by Jon Marien
“Sea Pup” SOF Kid Kayaks; Building Four Kid Kayaks, With Kids! by Steve Phillips
Number Three by Jennifer Torres
Self-Built Traditional Style Boats
My Ningeq; West Greenland SOF by John Petersen

 

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