Kayak Building Part 12 – Glassing the Deck

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This is part 12 of a multipart blog . . . Read Part One here,  Part Two here, Part Three HerePart Four here, Part Five here, Part Six herePart Seven herePart Eight here, Part Nine here, Part Ten Here, Part Eleven here.

After all the preparation on the deck, it’s finally ready for the fiberglass! I was happy that the timing worked out so we would be glassing on a Saturday morning. It’s easier to assemble the team, and it’s easier to see with more daylight!

Day 55:  8/4/12  3.25 hours

I was headed out the door to meet Dan at the lockmaster’s house for a 9 am start when I took a quick look at the construction manual. Almost a month ago, Dan pencilled in on this day “burn numbers”. Fortunately I read the book before leaving my house and grabbed the letter that Pygmy sent me with my Hull Identification Number (HIN) on it. I would need that! The letter gave specific instruction on where to burn the number on the deck, and the height/width of the ID. (I remember getting that letter in the mail from Pygmy Boats. It arrived a few weeks after I bought the kayak kit from them. I thought to myself – wow, they really think I’m going to finish this boat!) So – here I am, actually using that number!

I started driving to the lockmaster’s house when Dan called. He wanted to make sure I had the letter.

I arrived at 9 and immediately went to work measuring the spot for the HIN number and then burned it in place with Dan’s woodburner.  According to the letter, the number must be on the starboard side within 2″ of the top of the hull/deck joint.  Dan had assembled the glass team as he did for the hull, and they were scheduled to arrive at 9:30.

While I burned in the number, Dan laid a strip of blue painter’s tape down both sides of the hull, 1″ below the deck. This will be used later to cut the excess glass. Next we pulled out the fiberglass cloth and draped it over the deck. The edge of the cloth on one side hung just over the tape. The blanket extended from the stern to the middle of the boat. After smoothing down the cloth, I cut the excess from the other side just at the tape line. This leaves a triangular piece of glass cloth, which fits nicely on the other end of the boat. We overlapped the cloth on the bow end of the deck. Although the directions suggest a 2″ overlap a the cockpit, mine turned out to be an 8″ overlap in front of the cockpit. We then trimmed the excess at the tape lines.

We again had a team of five for the glassing job. Dan mixed the epoxy, John rolled epoxy, and Peter followed up with the foam brush to break the bubbles on one side. Both John and Peter are experienced and always help out glassing. I rolled epoxy, while Dave followed up with the foam brush on the other side. Dave and I are both newbies. Dave has a kit, but hasn’t opened the box yet. Hitting the overlapped area was a bit tricky. We had to make sure the glass stayed flat and was saturated enough. Looking back on the operation, it might have been smarter to have an experienced and newbie on each side. Later I discovered an air pocket on the side I glassed that was on the overlapped section. It was the size of a nickel. The plan was to drill a small hole through it after it set up and fill it with epoxy. Great. Other than the air pocket, the glassing job went fast; we finished in an hour.

After the crew left, I worked on the pieces of the cockpit that I would need later this week. The cockpit coaming comes in four half-moon shaped curved pieces. There is an upper and lower section. Two pieces together surround the cockpit. The upper lip of the coaming is used to fasten a spray skirt. The coaming also strengthens the cockpit.

I sanded the rough spots off the lower coaming and then saturated it with epoxy. The lower coaming is much thicker than the upper coaming and doesn’t require fiberglass, only epoxy. The end grain of the plywood really soaked in the epoxy, so I added it liberally.

I found scraps of fiberglass and fit the upper coaming on it like a puzzle. I managed to get both pieces of coaming on one piece of glass, which made it easier to hold the glass in place while rolling on the epoxy. I let both sections cure overnight.

I took a lunch break while I waited for the deck to get tacky. I returned at 12:30, which gave the deck two hours to set up. Then I cut the excess glass off of the boat by running a razor knife on the upper edge of the masking tape. I had to apply enough pressure to cut off the new glass, but not enough to cut through the hardened epoxy on the hull. Next I carefully pulled up the tape. This left a nice clean line where the fiberglass ends. I thought cutting and pulling up the tape would only take a few minutes, but I ended up spending an hour making the cuts and cleaning up the tape. I wrapped up at 1:30 and rushed out the door to make it to the store and then to an afternoon wedding!

Day 56:  8/5/12  2 hours

I started out easy and cut the fiberglass out of the cockpit hole with the utility knife

Then Dan examined the air pocket and said that instead of drilling a hole and filling with epoxy, I’d have to cut it out and patch it so I cut out the bad spot with the utility knife. Since the bad spot was in the overlapped fiberglass area, one small patch of glass wasn’t enough. In fact, every nickel sized patch I cut from the regular glass kept falling apart. I ended up cutting the patches out of the fiberglass tape which was a bit thicker than the glass. I painted the patch on with a disposable brush and kept kicking myself for letting that happen! I wish it was at least at the stern end, but of course it’s in a spot that I will always be able to see while paddling.

Next I smoothed up the edge around the cockpit and the overlapped glass area with the yellow shaver. I also used the cabinet scraper to smooth out the overlap.

Then I jumped over to prepare the hip brace. The hip brace is made from 3-1/2″ wide wooden reinforcement plate that came with the kit. First I burned in my HIN number onto the hip brace.  According to the letter, a duplicate HIN number must be  marked on an unexposed permanent location on the inside of the boat, with the characters 1/4″ high.  Then I laid a scrap of fiberglass over the plate and had it ready for epoxy saturation.

Back to my epoxy station.  I mixed up a triple batch of epoxy, filled my small tray, cut my foam roller, and went to town on the deck. After I rolled on the layer of epoxy, I smoothed over the bubbles with a foam brush.

While still in epoxy mode, I saturated the hip brace. Then I added another coat to the lower coaming and flipped over the upper coaming to saturate that side with epoxy.


Day 57:  8/6/12  1.25 hours

“Happy Anniversary, Mark – 24 years! Do you mind if we meet at the lockmaster’s house and work on the boat a bit before dinner?” Now how many husbands can get away with that?! Let me know if that ever worked for you! Fortunately it worked for me, and Mark happily met me at the boathouse after work.

I fiberglassed the other side of the hip brace and sanded the rough spots from the end grain of the lower coaming while Mark trimmed the glass off the upper coaming with the utility knife.

Then we put the second coat of epoxy on the deck.  I rolled epoxy, while Mark followed up with the foam brush. After all of the epoxy work I had done so far, for some reason I was trying not to overlap the roller. Because of this, the epoxy was uneven; some spots were thicker than others. I tried to get Mark to help correct it with the foam brush, but he said much of it was from the previous day’s epoxy work and he couldn’t fix it. He assured me I could correct it with the sander later. I think I was trying too hard.

I was getting depressed about the look of the epoxy and the bad spot on the fiberglass. My team at Woodcraft suggested several ways to cover the spot:  perhaps quick marketry work to cover the spot – maybe a nautical star. Good idea, but I didn’t think there was anything quick about that!


Day 58:  8/7/12  1 hour

I returned after work for the third and final coating of epoxy with my extra focus on the bad spot. Also, for some reason, I was still trying to overlap the epoxy as little as possible. Although overlapping with the roller brush causes more bubbles, going over the work with a foam brush removes them. (Later I watched Dan rolling epoxy, and he continually overlapped while rolling and made sure he covered every spot.) I knew I would have a lot of sanding work to get my epoxy flattened out.

Time in this project so far: 115.5 hours

Stay tuned for the next blog where I attach the cockpit and get some local news coverage in:

Kayak Building Part 13 – Cockpit Coaming and Seat Installation


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