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3 Free and 7 Cheap Sit On Top Kayak Plans (with PDFs)

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3 Free and 7 Cheap Sit On Top Kayak Plans (with PDFs)

Building a plywood kayak is a great adventure for the colder season when you can’t do as much paddling as you would like. The trouble with them is that it can be difficult to find free sit-on-top kayak plans with PDFs that will guide you through the construction process.

While you can go the route of building your own canoe if you want an open cockpit, a sit-on-top kayak will be a little more nimble and stable. Unlike sit-in kayaks, building a sit-on-top kayak will also be easier to get in and out of between paddles.

Some of the sit-on-top kayak plans we have included in this guide can be built over the course of a few weekends. Others may require a little more time, energy, and precise craftsmanship.

Most of them can be built if you have amateur woodworking skills, but there are plenty of tips out there to help you if you have never built your own kayak. So let’s get started on detailing 10 free and cheap sit-on-top kayak plans with PDFs!

PC Metz Boats

Free Sit On Top Kayak Plans

  1. The Sawfish
  2. The PY12
  3. The Folding One-Man Kayak

Cheap Sit On Top Kayak Plans

  1. The Sea Island Sport
  2. The Happy Hour
  3. The Goldfish
  4. The Long Weekend
  5. The M-Yak 500
  6. The F1830 Tandem
  7. The Backsplash V2

Free Sit On Top Kayak Plans (with PDFs)

1. The Sawfish

PC Instructables

Available Sit-on-Top Kayak Specifications

  • Length: Customizable
  • Width: Customizable
  • Weight: 24 to 40 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: Depends on Boat Dimensions

The Sawfish is known as “the unsinkable, lightweight, foam kayak!” The plan for this kayak allows you to fully customize the final dimensions based on the exact type of kayak you are looking for and there are many examples of the Sawfish kayak being built in a variety of lengths.

The plan for this kayak is a full 114 pages long and it includes instructions to help you build several different variations of the Sawfish kayak. They are all primarily made using 4’x8’ sheets of thick foam insulation, lots of gorilla glue, canvas drop cloth, bamboo skewers, Titebond II, and several other important supplies.

The kayak plan includes a full bill of materials and complete step-by-step instructions for the building process. It also includes new building techniques that you can use to improve the tracking ability and maneuverability of the Sawfish sit-on-top kayak design.

The builder and creator of the Sawfish kayak plan claims that he usually spends between $125 and $150 on materials when he builds one of these kayaks. This boat has also been clocked at a maximum speed of five miles per hour but averages 2-3 miles per hour regularly.

The Sawfish

2. The PY12

PC Boat Builder Central

Available Sit-on-Top Kayak Specifications

  • Length: 12’4”
  • Width: 34”
  • Weight: 38 to 50 pounds
  • Displacement: 350 pounds

The PY12 kayak plan will help you build a boat that is actually somewhat of a hybrid between a sit-on-top and a sit-inside kayak. It offers a more open cockpit that is easier to enter and exit while still offering an enclosed storage compartment for your gear.

The addition of foam in select locations increases the buoyancy of this kayak and it is also the only one on our list that features a self-draining cockpit. That allows you to remove any water that gets into the cockpit without having to completely turn it over or utilize a bilge pump.

The best use for this kayak is for touring or fishing and it offers a low center of gravity that improves your overall stability when you are on the water. It is also one of the few sit-on-top kayak plans that includes instructions for installing a skeg in the hull to increase tracking ability.

The PY12 kayak plan allows for some customization for the experienced builder, but the plans are complete and easy for amateur kayak builders to follow. The lower deck angle on this kayak also makes it easier to paddle than most sit-inside kayaks.

The PY12

3. The Folding One Man Kayak

PC Macscouter

Available Sit-on-Top Kayak Specifications

  • Length: 10’
  • Width: Unspecified
  • Weight: Less than 40 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: Unspecified

The plan for this one-man folding kayak has been widely used by the Boy Scouts of America as a template for summer boat-building exercises with their individual troops. There is really no telling how many of these folding kayaks have been built with this plan, but it is definitely a trustworthy design on a large scale.

The original plans date as far back as 1968, but they were more recently modified in 2005 to the version you will see using the link below. The plans include a full bill of materials and builders claim they have spent anywhere from $100 to $150 to create this kayak.

As you will see at the conclusion of the plans, the resulting 10-foot kayak is suitable for flatwater paddling and class I or II whitewater excursions. The kayak also has enough room to pack your kayak for camping trips if you are interested in a multi-day adventure.

The plans for this folding kayak even include details that will help you build the seat, a comfortable backrest, and your very own kayak paddle. That way you don’t have to spend extra cash to get a manufactured paddle to navigate in this sit-on-top kayak.

The Folding One Man Kayak

You may also find the video below very helpful for building this kayak!

Cheap Sit On Top Kayak Plans (with Downloadable PDFs)

1. The Sea Island Sport

PC CLC Boats

Available Sit-on-Top Kayak Specifications

  • Length: 15’6”
  • Width: 27”
  • Weight: 48 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 325 pounds

The Sea Island Sport is the second-longest single-person sit-on-top kayak on our list and it provides a great balance between a sea kayak and a traditional recreational kayak that is easier for people to get in and out of.

It is also a great kayak for people that love to kayak in the ocean but that have stiffer knees that makes it hard to get into a sit-inside kayak. The open cockpit also makes it more comfortable for paddling in warmer environments because your lower body will receive more airflow.

Technically, this is a stitch-and-glue style kayak design with a roomy cockpit and the natural ability to drain any water that enters the cockpit. It also boasts plenty of stability that will work well for the kayak angler.

The PDF study plans for this kayak are available from CLC Boats for just $2.99, but there are a variety of additional resources you can purchase from them as well. For as much as $1,325, you can purchase a complete kit that includes the plans and all the materials and hardware you need to build the Sea Island Sport kayak.

Click here to find pricing for this downloadable sit-on-top kayak plan!

2. The Happy Hour

PC Plyboat

Available Sit-on-Top Kayak Specifications

  • Length: 9’
  • Width: 39”
  • Weight: 39 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 270 pounds

The Happy Hour is a short and easily maneuverable sit-on-top kayak that offers a wide beam and a flat bottom that make it super stable. Those design features make it a great choice for beginners as well as those interested in kayak fishing.

It also includes bilge panels that help to keep water from entering the cockpit in the first place and the added stability also makes it a great choice for photographers and bird watchers. The most recent redesign of the plan includes increased volume and displacement to handle heavier payloads.

The Happy Hour kayak may not track as well as a 16-foot kayak, but this design is all about maneuverability. It is perfect for people that are going to spend most of their time on smaller creeks and streams.

The design also features a large skeg on the hull to increase tracking ability and a runner board that provides more lateral stiffness. The kayak is also light enough to be (relatively) easily lifted up and loaded onto kayak roof racks.

Click here to find pricing for this downloadable sit-on-top kayak plan!

3. The Goldfish

PC Plyboat

Available Sit-on-Top Kayak Specifications

  • Length: 7’7”
  • Width: 34”
  • Weight: 30 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 240 pounds

If the Happy Hour wasn’t quite small enough for you, check out the Goldfish sit-on-top kayak plan. This kayak plan is a great choice if you are looking to build a kayak for a smaller paddler or for children.

It is also one of the lightest kayaks on our list, which makes it easily transportable and easier for smaller paddlers to maneuver. This build is also easier than the Happy Hour kayak plan because it does not require you to splice together multiple sheets of plywood.

It does feature a similar stitch-and-glue construction style and it calls for impregnating the entire hull with epoxy resin in order to increase the kayak’s longevity. In spite of its smaller size, this kayak does include a rear storage area and emergency flotation chambers in the bow and stern to improve its overall seaworthiness.

The builder says that the bow bulkhead can be used as a foot brace for larger paddlers and that he achieved standing up in this kayak (even though he wouldn’t necessarily recommend it). The plan for this kayak is available for just a little over $30 USD and it claims that the entire kayak can be built for roughly $200 USD.

Click here to find pricing for this downloadable sit-on-top kayak plan!

4. The Long Weekend

PC Plyboat

Available Sit-on-Top Kayak Specifications

  • Length: 12’
  • Width: 36”
  • Weight: 45 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 440 pounds

The Long Weekend is another sit-on-top kayak plan from Plyboat and, as the name suggests, this one is a good choice if you are looking for a kayak that can handle multi-day paddle excursions.

The plan is based on a scaled-up version of the Happy Hour kayak, but a number of major changes have been made to help the resulting kayak perform much better over longer distances.

It has a V-shaped hull with a narrower beam to improve straight-line speed and tracking ability. It also features a gently-rising bow that helps to break waves and prevent water from splashing directly into the cockpit.

The Long Weekend also features a much larger weight capacity to accommodate the paddler and overnight camping gear. The plans are available starting at roughly $40 USD and the plan claims that the kayak can be built for approximately $360 USD.

Click here to find pricing for this downloadable sit-on-top kayak plan!

5. The M-Yak 500

PC Metz Boats

Available Sit-on-Top Kayak Specifications

  • Length: 16’5”
  • Width: 30”
  • Weight: About 66 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 441 pounds

As you can see, the M-Yak 500 is one of the sleekest sit-on-top kayak designs for a single paddler. It is also a relatively fast kayak that still boasts enough stability to make it useful for kayak anglers.

It features stitch-and-glue construction and a self-draining cockpit that prevents you from sitting in standing water on a windy or rainy day. It also features more than 230 liters of storage space for all-day or even multi-day paddles.

The final product will even allow you to install a Hobie Mirage Drive propulsion system if you want to propel your kayak without a traditional paddle. Also, plans for a mast bracket and rudder box are in the works if you are interested in kayak sailing.

The PDF plans for the M-Yak 500 are available starting at approximately $57 USD, but you can also buy paper prints to help you build this kayak for about $75 USD.

Click here to find pricing for this downloadable sit-on-top kayak plan!

6. The F1830 Tandem

PC Bedard Yacht Design

Available Sit-on-Top Kayak Specifications

  • Length: 18’
  • Width: 30”
  • Weight: 80 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 500 pounds

The F1830 is the only tandem sit-on-top kayak plan on our list and, as you can see, it is an absolutely gorgeous build for you and your kayak partner. The added length makes this kayak super efficient over long distances because it still boasts a relatively narrow beam.

The higher weight capacity means that this kayak can handle two larger adults plus a kayak cooler or other paddling gear for extended trips. Or, it can handle two adults and a couple of small children for a casual recreational paddle.

The second-generation design of this kayak includes an aft seat that can be repositioned to the center of the cockpit. This feature makes it easier to paddle this kayak by yourself, which makes it the only kayak on our list that can be maneuvered by either one or two paddlers.

The assembly manual for the F1830 can be downloaded for just $4.99, but there are a number of additional resources available. For a maximum price of about $1,999 USD, you can purchase the complete kit, which includes the assembly manual, complete build plans and drawings, and all the wooden components and hardware you need to complete the build.

Click here to find pricing for this downloadable sit-on-top kayak plan!

7. The Backsplash V2

PC Duckworks Boat Builders Supply

Available Sit-on-Top Kayak Specifications

  • Length: 10’9.625”
  • Width: 30.25”
  • Weight: About 27 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 205 pounds

The Backsplash V2 is a folding kayak that is ideal for hiking into remote paddling locations. It folds completely up into a relatively comfortable backpack that weighs less than 30 pounds and includes an external frame, shoulder straps, and a hip belt.

The backpack frame can be stored inside the kayak when you are paddling and the boat actually acts as a backpack when you are hiking. Although you will still need to pack light, this is truly a unique pack raft that you can build on your own.

The V2 version features a slightly elongated bow and stern, but the middle section remains the same dimensions as the original version. Although it is still better for day trips instead of overnighters, this kayak is certainly unique and the plans can be purchased for roughly $35 USD.

Click here to find pricing for this downloadable sit-on-top kayak plan!

Final Thoughts

PC Metz Boats

We encourage anyone with an interest in building their own kayak to give it a try! There are a lot of ways you will learn throughout the process, but when you finish you will end up with a sit-on-top kayak that is uniquely yours.

Of course, building your own kayak comes with knowing how to store it and maintain it properly. A kayak that you build can arguably require more maintenance than a kayak that you buy, but many find that it is worth it to have a kayak that will last longer than an average polyethylene kayak.

We hope that you have found a sit-on-top kayak plan on our list that you can use as a model for your own build. As always, we also wish you the best of luck on all of your upcoming kayak building and paddling adventures!

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Free and Cheap Sit On Top Kayak Plans

Author: Peter SalisburyPete is the Owner of KayakHelp.com. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, he grew up kayaking, fishing, sailing, and partaking in outdoor adventures around the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him skiing in the mountains, reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.

Welcome! I’m so glad you are here :-) I’m Pete. I am the owner of KayakHelp.com. I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, I grew up kayaking, fishing, sailing, and partaking in outdoor adventures around the Great Lakes. When I am not out on the water, you can find me skiing in the mountains, reading my favorite books, and spending time with my family.

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