Back in the day, qayaq builders used sharp stones and basic metal tools to cut driftwood for frames. Needless to say, this would take awhile. We’ve modernized the process just enough to fit our workshops in 9 short days.

Below is the list of hand-tools each participant is responsible for bringing. We have done our best to distill down only the necessary tools for each person to bring, while the majority of tools and materials are supplied by us or our workshop host. Our hope is to cut down on the personal cost for our students, while keeping our workshops efficient and running smoothly!

We have curated two tool lists for online shopping. Between and Home Depot, you can find everything. Please note that there are duplicate items in the Amazon list, as items often disappear, so you have options.


  • Japanese Saw
    The Japanese saw is more often than not the least familiar tool for builders. After this workshop, you’ll want to use it all the time! They are excellent, precision saws for all manner of projects.
    Japanese saws come in all types: flush-cut vs. ribbed, oneblade vs. double-sided, big teeth vs. little teeth, high TPI (teeth per inch) vs low…the options can be overwhelming. Saws with little teether are better for ripping along the grain, while big-toothed saws are best for crosscutting. In a perfect world, you would have 3 different saws in your arsenal — but one all-around saw will do the job. For the workshop, the best saw will have a 19-23 TPI, a spine, and no flush-cut tip.
    Our favorite: Gyokucho 372 (if the Amazon link is not working, search for Gyokucho 372)
    Runner up: Ribbed Dozuki
  • 2 x Quick Grip Clamps
    With all this sawing, you need to be able to clamp stuff down. QuickGrip clamps allow you to clamp and reposition quickly and painlessly. For the workshop, look for a set of minimum 12 inches.
    Our favorite: DeWalt 4-pack
  • 6-8″ Block Plane
    Many of you will have an early love-hate relationship with the block plane, that we hope will turn to love-love as you see how well it shapes your paddle. Used for trimming the gunwales as well.
    Our favorite: Woodstock D3831
  • 6 x Spring ‘A’ Clamps
    Spring clamps are endlessly useful during the workshop. Look for clamps with 2″ opening, preferably metal as it is much stronger than plastic. Great for grip-strength training! Example from Harbor Freight.
  • Measuring tape
    12′ (4 meter) minimum, though a tape as long as the kayak is always useful.
  • 2 x 8′ Cam Straps
    Cam straps are used for frame building and for tying your kayak down to take it home. You will need them on day 1 on the workshop, so please have them with you! We will go over safe tie-down before we send you on your merry way. You want regular locking cams, not ratchetsExample on Amazon
  • Hammer
    Pegs, pegs and more pegs!
  • Needle-Nose pliers
    Believe it or not, you’ll want these for the sewing stage.
  • Notebook & Pen
    Good notes will help you day-to-day as well as for future builds.
  • Closed-Cell Foam Mat
    This mat is for sitting in the kayak. These mats (camping pads) can be found online, at outdoor stores, or Army Surplus stores. Look for minimum 1/4″ or 6mm. Length: you’ll want the mat long enough to protect your ankles while sitting on it in the kayak — so the length of your waist to your feet when standing. An old yoga mat will work, though a closed cell foam pad is better. Coleman Pad
  • Paddling Clothes & PFD
    We cap every workshop with a paddle on our final day. Please be prepared for a short paddle in seasonal weather. If you do not have kayaking drysuit, bring warm, synthetic layers. Even on calm water, plan to get wet. Water shoes or bare feet only in the kayaks. Everyone must have a PFD (lifejacket) to paddle with the group.
  • Change of Paint Clothes & Shoes
    I am putting this last because it is most important! There is nothing sadder than ruining your favorite cat sweater or sweet light-up sneakers with sticky polyurethane.


While not required for every student, if you have these items lying about, pop them in your bag!

* = tools that almost made it onto the MUST HAVE list. We do our best to keep costs down for students, so if you’re prioritizing these are the tools you want.

  • *Cordless Drill + Battery Charger, or Corded Drill
    We use these everyday, so the more the merrier! We bring all the bits you need.
  • *Combination Square
    We’ve been told combination squares should be required. We don’t mind sharing, but this is one of the more useful tools for your kit. In absence of a combo square, a short ruler will helpful. Example on Amazon (Imperial).
  • *Wood Rasp
    A fine cabinet rasp or Shinto rasp will make your life easier for shaping your stems and paddle.
    Our favorite: Shinto rasp
  • *Bucket or Bag for Tools
    It’s nice to stay organized and keep track of your own tools. Bags with a detachable strap allow you to hang your kit from a sawhorse. Or just a 5 gallon bucket! We recommend labeling your tools, as many of you will have the same brands, and we encourage sharing.
  • *Sanding Block
    While a piece of wood will do the trick, these blocks make the job far easier.
  • Aluminum Yardstick/Meterstick
    Be sure it’s a full 3′ or 100cm stick. Everyone loves a good straight edge!
  • Fingerless Gloves
    A pair of work gloves will save your fingers will sewing and lashing.
    Our favorite: this DIY version using cheap gardening gloves!
  • Sharp Scissors / Fabric Scissors
    Speaks for itself.
  • Needle Pullers
    Help save your fingers during the sewing days, recommended by kayak builders and surgeons alike.
  • LED Headlamp
    Helps to see when working on detailed areas
  • Clipboard
    For keeping track of the measurements and specs of the kayak as you work


Certain creature comforts make the workshop more comfortable and fun.

  • Folding Chair
    After 8+ hours on your feet, the dogs start barking.
  • Mug/Thermos/Water Bottle
    We do our best to supply tea and light snacks!
  • Anti-Fatigue Mat
    For standing all day on a hard floor
  • Camera and/or Video Camera
    For those who plan on building another kayak after the workshop, visual notes are indispensable. We have had students film nearly every demo step of the process, so long as it doesn’t slow down the class.
  • Your Best Jokes
    Bring yours, or you’ll be forced to suffer through ours.

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