this is a close up of what sanded epoxy looks like as well as what sanding through fiberglass looks like. don’t do this. the fix is kinda shitty and will require patching the fiberglass. i mean, it’s not the end of the world but i could’ve avoided this if i’d been more careful. also, those little holes above and just to the right of that spot are more fixes that must be made. yay epoxy & fiberglass!
Since we had to wait 24 hours we started working on the seats. They’re kind of tricky, cutting a 12 degree angle on the tenon joint. Luckily I had my Dad there to teach me how its done. This piece you see is just the practice chair. We’ll be making the real-deal seats after we mess up the practice seat. i think we’re learning how to make mistakes now that we’re past the first fiberglass stage.
with each layer of epoxy, the canoe just gets more and more beautiful. We wait 24 hours for this layer to cure before we sand it and FLIP it!
majestic? that’s closer. you’re just seeing the nose. this thing is a whale. 18 feet is pretty big when you’re standing next to it. You see the staple holes near the center of the image running vertically? Here’s the trick to minimize/eliminate those (maybe i should put this quick tip in that section? nah, this is ‘what i learned’ not ‘how to’. if you’re mad because i’m just NOW telling you, i’m sorry. please forgive me. cool?): to ELIMINATE those staple holes don’t use staples. you’ll use velcro or tape or even surgical tubing to keep the strips down tight until the wood glue sets. that’s why you see the pros waiting a while before they apply the next consecutive strip. they’re not using staples and they’re amazing human beings. but that’s not me. so if you did use staples, one neat trick is to use an iron and a wet rag. lay the rag on the canoe over the holes and heat it with the iron. this will cause the wood to expand in the holes and minimize their visibility. it’s not a perfect fix but it’s pretty good.
You can see the weave under this first layer of epoxy on fiberglass. You’ll have to completely fill that weave before you’re ready to flip the canoe. You’ll also need to shape down the fiberglass where you tucked it in over the other side of the canoe. It’ll take some, wait for it… sanding! You’re looking to make a mechanical bond. Basically, you’re preparing the weave to accept more epoxy but it won’t completely bond if you don’t sand it down a bit. You’re not trying to sand down the weave, just enough so the next layer of epoxy sticks.
If i’m going the full disclosure route, i must confess that we almost screwed this whole thing up about 10 minutes after this photo was taken. We mixed WAY too much epoxy to pour onto the fiberglass. The idea is to get a relatively small amount and pour it out on top of the canoe. Then as it thickens you work it down the sides of the canoe to the bottom. If you’re a pro, you won’t need to gather any excess epoxy or have any fall on the floor or your feet or your arms or your face or your hands. anywhere you don’t want epoxy but it ends up there because it’s epoxy and it hates the world. So, we had way too much epoxy and i was struggling to maneuver the stuff when my Dad finished his side (we worked on opposite sides of the canoe and moved down to one end of the canoe). He asked me if I had extra and i handed him my container. He poured some out and asked if mine had begun hardening. I said i didn’t think so and looked up as smoke began to rise out of my container. that’s not good, if you’re keeping score at home. we attempted to smooth some of that epoxy out but realized quickly that surgery was the only thing that could save this canoe. And in that moment, the entire three prior weekends flashed before my eyes. I did not want to start this process over nor did i want to sand all the epoxy and fiberglass off the canoe. Since we were moving from the center of the canoe towards a stem, we were able to cut off the remaining 15% of the fiberglass. We then had to put a new piece on and overlap so we could mesh the two pieces together. This is not ideal and i would not recommend doing any of this. PRACTICE your fiberglassing before you start on your canoe. see. more mistakes by me. do as i say not as i did.
You’ll start your lifelong love affair with fiberglass with two simple strips along the stems for reinforcement. That’s to protect your canoe from all the ramming you’ll do at the company picnic by the lake. When Larry from accounting runs his mouth this year, you’ll be ready. oh how you’ll be ready.
nothing against all the Larrys in accounting out there. i’m sure they’re great guys. fun to be around. never run their mouths or anything.
ok you see what happens when you lay the epoxy on thick? that’s what happens (top image). the good news is: it all sands out. I HIGHLY recommend an orbital sander with a shop vac suction attachment. makes your shop way cleaner but doesn’t eliminate all the dust. that’s gonna be there and if it bothers you, open a door. get some ventilation. because you’re just starting this epic journey into the Sahara of cedarstrip canoes, friend. strap in. the bottom image is the ‘after’ sanding. See? it all goes away.