Perfect wetout

To get a perfect wet-out of your glass you will need to follow many guidelines not provided by the epoxy and glass manufacturers but are available from experienced glassers.  I am happy to share some of my knowledge knowing how difficult it is to learn by trial and error.

First, read the instructions on your epoxy and be sure to talk with the supplier of your glass to ensure you have the right materials and understand the basics of handling their materials.  Epoxy must be mixed at certain ratios and you must not deviate from them for any reason.  No reason at all. Glass must be of the right weight and have the right coating to allow a good wet out.  Your glass supplier will tell you what glass you need in 4 or 6 oz and epoxy will label the ratio.

temperature is extremely important!  You must glass at high temperatures, the higher the better up to 85 degrees F.  I heat my shop to 85 to 90 degrees and then let the temperature begin to drop.  Glassing in rising temperatures will cause out-gassing of the wood, resulting in foaming of your epoxy and air bubbles in your glass. Try to maintain a temp of 70 minimum as your epoxy cures for the fastest cure rate. 

Lay your glass over your hull and smooth it out carefully to achieve a smoothly draped cloth with no ripples or pleats.  Trying to glass and smooth at the same time will be a real pain.

Warm your epoxy with a heat lamp or water bath to 75-80 degrees and mix small batches at the right ratio.  Mix for 1 minute and then poor into a new cup and mix again for one minute scrapping the sides and bottom of the cup.

Use a thin 1/4″ foam cabinet roller or epoxy roller cover.   These can come in different lengths but cut the longer ones down to 3 inches or so for working on your boat.  Let the roller cover soak in epoxy for about 5 minutes to allow air to escape and then begin brushing epoxy over your glass.

Roll the epoxy on in a thick enough coating to allow the glass to soak up epoxy and become transparent but take care to make the coating thin enough that you do not have a lot of runs and drips.  As you coat the glass you can run your roller over your glassed area a second time to even out the coating and spread the epoxy more evenly.  Continue to wet out the entire side of the boat and then check the starting point to see if the cure is proceeding fast enough to require squeegeeing. you should be able to glass the entire boat before you need to squeegee.  

Finish the second side of the boat, using your roller to paint the epoxy onto the glass.  Make sure you get good coverage and that you do not leave any glass visible.  you will be able to see the texture of the glass because your first coat will not fill the weave but only soak into the glass and wood. If you see white fibers of glass you do not have a complete wet out.

After glassing you must use a heat gun to quickly pass over the hull to raise and pop air bubbles that have formed in the epoxy.  move the gun in a smooth steady pattern over the boat to make sure you do not overheat an area.  Move quickly to pop bubbles but do not attempt to heat the epoxy.

As soon as the epoxy has a cold honey thickness to it you must use a plastic auto body squeegee to remove excess epoxy and press the glass tightly against the wood hull. The epoxy will float the glass and excess epoxy will add a ton of weight.

Use your squeegee by starting along the keel and holding it at an extreme angle of 60-70 degrees, draw the squeegee down the hull to the sheer line.  Use enough pressure to press the glass tight to the hull and remove or spread areas of thick epoxy while not removing epoxy in thin areas.  If you begin to see a color change in the glass weave you are pressing to hard. 


16 Ft companion nears the finish line

I have finished painting the inside of the canoe I have been working on for some time.  I find canoes challenge my artistic interests in wood boat building.  I much more prefer to design a pattern of strips along the deck of a kayak that works well as a pallet.  Image

I do love the sweeping curves of a canoe however and I enjoy the building process that allows me to slowly create these gentle curves.  In this case I have been struggling with my artistic drive that insists I build a classy and beautiful boat.  I decided to paint the interior with a marine quality paint using a pneumatic sprayer. I chose a cream color that will compliment the unstained ash gunnels, seats and yoke.  The outside of the boat is smooth as glass and will finish bright with several layers of varnish allowing the curly maple and mahogany accents shine through.  


Hull is stripped and ready to sand

I have completed stripping the hull.  The build has gone very well, I completed the hull in about 10 hours.  I went staple less, using a hot glue gun to hold the strips while the glue dried while also hand beveling the strips to assure a tight fit without the surprises that I always get when using bead and cove.  Gaps always seem to appear due to a poor fit that cannot be seen inside the bead and cove.  The stripping required extra care and dedication to excellence to make sure that the fit of each piece was as tight as possible but due to the care and precision of each fitting, the build went faster than my others.  

The herringbone pattern along the Keel is absolutely amazing and finishes out the bottom of the boat with a quality look.

How far from perfection?

I am ready to begin the herringbone pattern along the keel of the Tuxedo sea kayak.  If this particular design works out I feel I will be producing some of the finest boats available today.  My intentions have been to build the finest watercraft anyone can expect to own.  I have read just about everything I can find, books, manuals, blogs, forums and websites.  I have purchased plans from multiple sources and built boats from various woods, epoxies and glass.  I have attempted at every step to learn how to build a beautiful work of art and functional quality water craft.  

I believe anybody can build a cedar strip boat.  Its just not that hard.  However, building a boat with cosmetic values suited to a display case or showroom has been my goal since I completed my first boat.   The detail and beauty I have been seeking requires time, patience and skill as well as knowledge of the art of boat building.  The Tuxedo has the Quality of Construction I have been striving for and even if the Herringbone does not work out this time I will continue to work hard to achieve my goals.  Building a boat second to none with my signature style.  Image

Milling strips for the Tuxedo

ImageToday I put my new Rigid Contractors table saw to work.  In the past I used a small Skill table that was very wobbly and low in horse power.  WOW what a difference.  I cannot emphasize enough how nice it is to use the right tool for a job compared to the difficulty of trying to use a sub par product or tool.  In the past I had to fight with the table by adding weight to the arbor in an attempt to get it to act like a heavy, steady contractors saw.  The board would lift, sway and float away from the blade at every opportunity causing blade marks and uneven cutting.  The saw motor would bog down with the demands of ripping the long board, slowing down and hacking at the board instead of making powerful clean cuts.  What a pain it was to produce the strips I must have to build a boat.

I want great wood not good wood, not ok strips but the best color, grain and shaping I can get.  Why build a boat, taking hundreds of hours to see to completion with poor quality or badly milled strips. Start with the best and I will get the best out of my efforts.  I am talking to myself but you can take this to heart, I’m sure it applies to all but I did not want to do listen, until now.

So I purchased a used Ridged table saw.  Its and older model built in the USA.  It has a 1hp motor which may be a little small for some people but it rips through a 2 inch cedar plank without a hitch.  It is heavy, having a cast iron table and a good solid arbor.  It does have castors on it to allow it to be moved easily around my shop.

I used a piece of ¼” ply to make a zero clearance insert to keep strips from binding in the opening around the blade and another piece of ply to enclose the bottom of the arbor so I could use a shop vac to collect dust.

  • To make a zero tolerance insert, remove the insert provided by the manufacturer of the saw and use it as a template to draw the outline of a new one on a piece of thin plywood.   Cut the new insert out and install it into the saw without cutting out a hole for the blade of the table saw.  Once your new insert is properly fitted into the saw, slowly raise the blade, cutting a hole into the insert resulting in a zero clearance insert.

I utilized my 16 foot long strongback as a discharge table to catch my 12-16 ft long boards as they came out of the table saw.  In front of the saw I used a single roller stand to support the weight of the board until it was caught by the table saw.  The transitions from the support structures to the table were closely aligned to eliminate transitional movement of the board.  Meaning, when the board leaves the roller stand or enters the discharge catch table it does not have to settle or lift into a new position.  It just moves smoothly along the length of the feed support, cutting table and onto the catch table.  This is an important process to milling strips without causing a defect somewhere along its length that will cause a quality issue with the strips.  A nice milled strip with a small blade mark in the middle can result in an unusable strip.  Or maybe all your 16 ft strips now have a defect in the middle that results in cutting all your strips to 8 foot lengths.  Not the end of the world but It may result in problems for your project and the typically high standard boat builders have.

I processed my boards running them through the saw, producing 1.5” x 3/16” strips of cedar.  I then ran them through the saw a second time by lying them flat and introducing a 3 degree bevel.  This resulted in strips that are 3/4 ” x 3/16 “ and pre-beveled.   I do not intend to use bead and cove in the future if this works out.Image