Monday, April 25, 2011


The first coat of varnish on the hull. I used a white high-density foam roller to apply Interlux Schooner Gold varnish, thinned 50/50with 333 Thinner, and a foam brush to tip off. The thinner really helps prevent bubbles, and allows a very thin coat. Interlux claims that Schooner Gold builds as much finish with one coat as other varnishes do with eight coats, and while that's a little optimistic, it does build faster.
This took longer than I thought it would. The hardest part is the "final" coat. I discovered a neat trick for "repairing" the odd brush stroke or fingerprint in the last coat. I saturated a paper towel with the 333 thinner,  added a few drops of unthinned varnish to the pad, and went over the area, being careful to end the coating in an inconspicuous place. Sort of like "French Polishing"!
I do, however, sense that I'll give up on this level of perfectionism after the first outing.... 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Here's the boat, sitting on foam blocks, while I clean up the table. Its a lot of work, to get the basement clean enough varnish in. I have done this cleanup before-a long day's work. I vacuum  everything that can be vacuumed-corner to corner, edge to edge, walls, floors, water pipes, electrical cables, stairs, etc. Remove contents of shelves, clean & replace. First with the shop vac, then with the household vac. Non-existent dust can't settle on the finish. Its a "pain", but it works.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sanding & Progress

I'm "finally" at the Final Sanding stage. Its tedious, even after I applied those smooth coats of epoxy with a squeegee. At this time, some builders start to make comments like "Its a kayak, not a piece of furniture", etc, and that thought has crossed my mind. 
There are visible imperfections. In a few spots, I have over-zealously sanded down to the fiberglass. Oddly, when I wipe those areas down with alcohol, the 'glass disappears again. I hope this will be how it looks under varnish? As I hear, no matter how "perfect" the finish,  it won't be after the first time I take it out. I'm going to finish the boat, and live with the results.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hip Braces

These aren't the braces that came with the kit. I had to make new ones of luan, because I didn't know what the ones that came with the kit were, and I used them for something else! Pretty easy job.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Glassing The Cockpit Coaming

Easier than I'd thought it would be.At least I get to do the highly-visible parts after much practice on less-visible parts. 
I'm still using the lamp-heating method.
I mixed up way too much epoxy at once for this job. When I looked at the cup, it was visibly steaming!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Cockpit Coaming Again

This is the assembled cockpit coaming glued on. I decided to use wood flour rather than silica to thicken the epoxy, in order to get a better color match.
Oops, I did it again! I knew that thin coats of epoxy would take longer to cure, but after two days, I began to suspect that I'd screwed up again (Scene Of The Goof). After a suitable tantrum, I thought that this and the other time, the problem wasn't the mix ratio, but temperature. The leftover 1/2" of epoxy in the mixing cup hasn't cured yet, either. My basement averages about 58 degrees. They're really serious about that business of not leaving the epoxy on the concrete floor! I think that if the stuff is mixed at too low a temperature, the reaction will never take place.
I decided to try another tip: using lights to raise the temperature of the surface. I placed two work lights with 100-watt bulbs about three feet away from the boat. After two hours, the lamps have raised the temperature to 68 degrees.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cockpit Coaming

I decided to try something I read about on a message board. I thought it would make quite a mess to attempt to glue all the pieces together and onto the boat at once, so I've tried gluing the spacers & coaming together while clamped to the boat, but not gluing the assembly to the hull yet. I hope it will be easier to sand & shape off the hull. A very motley assortment of clamps:

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Cabinet Scraper

is one of my favorite tools. I've been using it for years to smooth wood, but it seems to be the perfect tool to smooth an epoxy coat, neatly decapitating runs & drips that I didn't even know were there. The thing is, that it cuts the material, rather than grinding it. The debris looks like tiny planer curls, much easier to clean up, and less hazardous than filling the room with toxic dust. It even works well on slightly "green" epoxy, that would clog sandpaper.
I made a little demo video about the scraper. Its basically the same as CLC's, but here it is:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Skim Coat

This is what I certainly hope will be the last coat of epoxy, after all that sanding. I applied it with a foam roller, and tried a squeegee. I wish I had thought of the  squeegee before! It smooths the glue out to a glass-like finish, reflecting all the junk on my table with clarity.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sanding. And More Sanding....

I'm correcting my not-too-skillful fiberglass job on the bottom with sanding, lots of sanding. Its like I didn't know how much I would have to do until I started. I made a padded sanding block big enough for a full sheet of paper for the flat areas, and one half the size for the curved areas. Here you can see how the ripples sand out (with difficulty). I always use Norton 3X paper. The dust falls off, rather than packing into the paper, and it really does cut faster & last longer.
This is how a wrinkle looks after sanding flat. I have clearly cut into the fiberglass, and will have to recoat, this time with as many thin coats as necessary. I am determined on a "fair" hull.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Glassing The Deck

Applied the fiberglass the top of the deck today.
I was determined to do a better job than I did on the hull. I came to the conclusion that I'd generally used too much epoxy. This caused the 'glass to try to "float" off the wood, causing the ripples which I had to sand out. The instructions tell you to pour a big pool in the middle of the work, and spread it out. This tends to cause an over-saturation, and I wasn't spreading it out far enough. I found it better to just apply the glue gently, with a paintbrush, until it just begins to saturate the 'glass, then go over it again with a plastic putty knife, until it runs dry. The knack, it seems, it to apply just enough glue to stick it down, and eliminate any dry spots. They probably tell you to pour it on in order to anchor the 'glass down, and prevent you from stretching & dragging the the material around, but if you're careful, you won't.

I tried another tip I read about on a message board. I applied masking tape to within 2" of the deck-to-hull joint, and trimmed the fiberglass to end on the tape. The masking tape is a paper "mailing tape" with a slick, waxy back, to which epoxy won't adhere. I hope to be able to rip the excess 'glass off neatly, leaving a 2" overlap. Hope it works!
It worked great, as far as leaving a nice, straight line of fiberglass, but next time, I'll be careful which kind of tape I use!. This  tape self-destructed when I tried to remove it, spent a long time cleaning up the residue.