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John's Cedar Kayak

Page Seven: Fiberglassing the Hull

(Click photos for a larger image)

A sealer coat allowed me to fill holes without affecting the color of the surrounding area.Sealer Coat
Epoxy is amazing stuff.  Strong, waterproof and nearly transparent, it can be used as a glue or a protective coating.  Epoxy resin is a viscous liquid, and when mixed with a liquid hardener it becomes a solid.  

Epoxy takes a longer time to become a solid in cold temperatures, and I'm building in an unheated garage in winter.  At least Dallas tends to have mild winters.    

The temperature in my garage workshop tends to be about halfway between the outdoor temperature and a normal room temperature.  I should be okay to apply epoxy when the garage temperature is near 60 degrees or above. 

I applied a sealer coat of epoxy to the hull using a roller and squeegie, and was pleased by the appearance.  No big glue blotches.

The next day, when the sealer coat was not tacky anymore, I filled some remaining little gaps with epoxy mixed with two parts wood dust to one part microspheres.  It produced a reasonably good color.

Sanded lightly the next day.   

No floating glass, no bubbles.
Bob came over to help me wet-out the fiberglass on the outside of the hull.  We removed the deck from the forms and stored it below the boat with sticks to help hold its shape.  I think we were both surprised at how light it was.  We then unrolled the fiberglass over the hull and roughly trimmed it to size.

We applied the epoxy by pouring it on from a cup and using a roller to spread it around.  It was allowed to soak in for a few minutes, then we used a plastic squeegie to scrape off the excess epoxy.

The glass formed nicely around the keel at the bow and stern.  We had just a little trouble with bubbles at the stern, but managed to press them away.
  On the first glass layer, I had to cut the glass for the last inch at the bow so it would lay flat.

The hull receives two layers of 6-ounce fiberglass, and just enough epoxy to fill the weave and give a smooth appearance.  

Originally, I planned the second fiberglass layer for only the bottom area, including the chines and the keel stems, but the hull wall on this design is only about 4 inches wide so I decided to put the second layer of glass over the whole hull.  It only adds an extra 8 or 10 ounces to the boat weight.   Glassing all the way up to the sheer line also eliminates a lot of scraping and sanding to feather in the keel strips and bottom patch. 

I am trying to keep the weight of the boat to a minimum every step of the way, and there are many trade-offs between strength and weight.  If my boat is a half-pound too heavy I will know why. 

Epoxy allows the beauty of wood to shine through.This photo is a close-up of the hull after two coats of fiberglass.  It also shows a glue line that should have been sanded out, staple holes, and a scarf joint.  With more epoxy coats, the weave will become invisible.   

Even though this is my second boat, I am still amazed at how the white fiberglass cloth becomes clear when wet with epoxy.

Epoxy won't stick to most plastics, so I place epoxied objects on top of PVC ring clamps to cure.Invariably, after applying an epoxy coat to the boat, I end up with a little extra epoxy left in the cup.  This is why I like to have a few little items around that might benefit from an epoxy coating.  I cut my seat back, and glued together strips that will form two hip braces now, so I can use the surplus mixed epoxy to finish them. 
This wood will be cut in half to form two hip plates.



The Box
The box is good for experimenting and practicing building skillls.The box gets epoxy, too.  I gave the whole box a sealer coat, and applied fiberglass tape to the inside seams.  I haven't decided whether to fiberglass the outside or only the inside bottom. 

I did some experimenting on the inside of the box, with not filling holes and gaps, and not smoothing, just to see how it looked after epoxy and fiberglass.  This will help me know how careful to be on the boat.  


Next Steps

1. Fill the weave with epoxy on the hull
2. Fiberglass the outside of the deck
3.Scrape and prepare the interior for fiberglass.   

Forward to Page 8 . . . 

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Created:  January 1, 2003