Finishing the Deck

March 25, 2017 § Leave a comment

While I wait for the garage to warm up before fiberglassing the deck, I thought I’d update on the progress thus far and mention some mistakes that I’ve made. It seems that no matter how many boats I build, I’m constantly learning and often relearning lessons.

The last post saw the hull being completed. Here it is just before it was fiberglassed.

z_finished hull

For the deck, I decided on a maple leaf motif and a set of stripes aft of the cockpit.

The stripes that run off the deck align with the stripes on the hull, so it’s a pretty cool effect.

Now, in terms of lessons learned or relearned…

Glue lines drive me crazy. Most can be eliminated by sanding properly and while they are hard to see, wetting the surface usually causes them to jump out, giving you the opportunity to sand them away or using an iron to heat the glue, rendering it transparent. Knowing this, you’d think I’d be building glue line-free boats these days. Unfortunately, no. And while there are relatively few visible glue lines, where they do appear is annoying knowing that I could have averted this problem had I been less impatient.


It’s nothing critical and probably won’t be too visible when all is said and done, but it’s a lesson relearned… Don’t rush.

The other mistake has to do with wood selection. I use 10′ strips that I join using a scarf joint. I’m pretty careful that I join strips from the same end of the board to avoid wildly different grain and color at the joint. Usually. At any rate, I had 2 joined strips left over from the hull and used these for the outside strips of the deck. Dry, the strip looked pretty contiguous, but when I put the seal coat of epoxy on, I realized that I’d been napping when I’d joined the two pieces. As a result, the color of the joined pieces is very different.


Again, it’s nothing critical, but it still rankles.

That said, I’m pleased with the overall look of the boat and look forward to playing with it this summer.

So, on the eve of fiberglassing the deck, that elusive “perfect boat” still eludes me.

Oh, and another lesson learned: protect the hull against drips when glassing the hull. Thankfully, I remembered that one!

z_ready for glassing


New Kayak Build

September 29, 2016 § Leave a comment

Just when I was getting worried that the growing armada of boats in my garage would prevent me from building another kayak over the winter, my newest build (see pics here) found a new home. Of course, it had to happen the day before I was to take it along on a camping trip, but what can you do?

Now that it’s cooler, a man’s mind turns to thoughts of stripping. But before that can happen, he must make the necessary preparations.

And so I mounted the forms on my trusty strongback, made sure everything was aligned properly, and it was off to the races.

This build features a sheer clamp as shown below.forms

The sheer clamp is made out of a 3/4″ x 7/8″ length of cedar which is rounded on the inside edge.

The instructions suggest using finishing nails to fasten the sheer to the forms, but I find that drywall screws keep everything nice and tight against the form. Just be careful that you don’t drive in the screw too much as this will crack the sheer. And yes, I am speaking from experience.

Next, I set about fashioning the internal stems. For these, I used discarded lengths of cedar strips. I floated them in the bathtub for a day to make them more bendable. Even then, the stern caused me a little trouble with the outside strip cracking a little because of the pronounced curve of the stern mold. Next time, I’ll plane these strips a little thinner, as I normally do for the outside stems, to make them complain less at being bent.

inner-stemFor the inner stems, I used Gorilla Glue between the strips, which has never failed me before. The glue leaves a crusty foam, but this is easily removed.

Next steps: shaping the stems and preparing strips.

It’s good to be building again.

Starting the football

September 3, 2015 § 3 Comments

For me at least, boat building is often a solitary affair. I suppose it’s no surprise; after all, I wouldn’t want to see me strip either. Strangely. the “stripping” tag always seems to drive traffic to the blog for some reason.

At any rate, I’m at the point now where it’s time to fill the football. Because the last canoe worked out so well, I’m planning on using the same pattern for the kayak — alternating light and dark strips that form a continuous line around the circumference of the football halves. Of course, the kayak is narrower than the canoe so I have less width to play with. Hopefully it works out. The following picture from the last canoe will give you an idea of what I’m talking about.


It’s a cool design and spares me the challenge of stripping half of the football, cutting a straight line and then trying to match the wood color from side to side. That said, it’s a finicky bit of work, but the end result makes it worthwhile.

So here is the football and twinned center strips that run down the length of the hull. At this point, it’s a good idea to measure the distance between the center strips and the edge of the completed hull on both sides to make sure that the space is the same. As well, this is one of the few spots where I use finishing nails to make sure the center strips don’t move as I’m stripping the football. These nails will be removed when the football is finished.


centerNote that the two center strips are not beaded. I used a butt joint, beveled towards the bow and stern to accommodate the shape of the form. The middle of the hull is pretty flat, so no beveling was needed.

Kayak end pour

May 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

The incessant rain notwithstanding, we’re almost into boating season.

There were a few things that I hadn’t done to ready the kayak for its launch, one of which being the end pour. The purpose of the end pour is to reinforce the tips of the kayak, particularly because it is not possible to run the fiberglass tape into the ends, and to cause a visual distraction for anyone driving by.

The end pour is achieved by standing the kayak on end, standing on a ladder, lowering a resin-filled container to the tip, and then overturning the container, thereby depositing the resin into the tip. What follows is the most enjoyable part of the process — enjoying a beverage while the resin hardens.

Here’s the bit of information that I found difficult to find on the internet. I didn’t want overheated, liquid resin to fall on my head on flipping the boat, so I was curious about how long it would take for the resin to harden. Here are the details: I mixed 6 – 8 ounces of MAS epoxy with fast hardener. By the 10-15 minute point, the resulting goo was hot to the touch and after 30 minutes or so, the mixture had hardened. All in all, a perfect period of time to stand around and enjoy a beverage.

Installing a kayak grab loop

April 19, 2011 § 1 Comment

I realize that all of my posts to date have been related to canoes, but the fact is that my neglected kayak needed some finishing touches. One of these is the installation of grab loops at the bow and stern.

To prepare the boat for the grab loops, I fashioned a couple of inserts that consist of a length of 7/8″ dowel into which a hole is drilled lengthwise. I might have gone for a slimmer dowel, but I wanted the fudge-factor given that I was free-handing it.

Then I drilled a 7/8″ hole cross-wise at the bow and stern, close to where I remembered the internal stems to be. There’s something unnerving about drilling holes  in an almost-finished kayak, but it had to be done.

When the holes were drilled, I applied thickened epoxy to the dowel sections and inserted them into the holes. I then used thickened epoxy to fill any gaps and left it alone for a day or two.

When the epoxy had dried, I did that thing that seems to comprise at least 50% of any boat-building activity — sanding.

And here is the insert after being varnished.

When I do the end-pour, the insert will be encased in epoxy, which will give the ends of the kayak a great deal of strength.

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