Kayak Building Part 14 – Sanding, End Pour, Seats and Deck Rigging!

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This is part 14 of a multipart blog . . . Read Part One here,  Part Two herePart Three herePart Four herePart Five herePart Six herePart Seven herePart Eight herePart Nine herePart Ten herePart Eleven herePart Twelve herePart Thirteen here.

I just got back into town from a family trip to the beach. I was really afraid Gary would have his boat finished by the time I got back, but fortunately, he is still working on it (whew)!

Day 64: 8/19/12 – 4 hours

I made it to the lockmaster’s house by 2:00 Sunday afternoon, and I was ready to attack my boat with sandpaper! It was time to see if I could work out all of the imperfections in the epoxy on the deck and smooth out the patch that I fretted about earlier.

Although, it’s really a shame to take a perfectly shiny boat . . .and make it look like a dusty white mess!


I started out with 220-grit sandpaper and my Festool Rotex Sander. I was also wearing a heavier duty dust mask, even though I was outside and felt that the Festool Dust Extractor was clearing the air. After working for an hour, Mark showed up to help. He worked with a sanding block.

Although I wanted to have Mark’s sanding help until we were finished, he actually showed up to help me with the “End Pour.”  Basically, I need to tip the kayak vertically and pour epoxy into the end of the boat. The end pour creates a solid plug of epoxy and is necessary if you want to put the hand toggles in the end of the boat to help carry it. I definitely wanted hand toggles on my boat, so I had to do the pour. (Note – the hand toggles don’t come with the kit. They are only $5, so I suggest that you buy them at the same time you purchase the kit so you don’t have to pay more for shipping than the hand toggles cost).

Because the epoxy is so concentrated at the tip of the boat, Pygmy suggests that you put the tip of the boat in water to keep it cool. (What happens – will the tip of the boat burst into flames? I wasn’t going to take any chances!!) I found a large bucket in our garage (last used to hold beverages and ice at a graduation party), along with a few shovels, a ladder, and several ropes to tie the boat up vertically.

I didn’t need to dig a hole because the bucket worked fine. Water was more of a problem – there is no running water in the lockmaster’s house. Fortunately in front of the lockmaster’s house there is a memorial with a really nice fountain with running water. Thanks to the city of Marietta, I was able to fill the bucket.

Dan suggested that we tip the boat up by the side of the house and the patio. That way I could stand on the edge of the cement patio and the ladder and reach into the kayak. What a site – a 17 ½’ kayak tied to the side of an historic old house sitting in a big pink bucket of water!

I mixed a triple batch of epoxy thickened with wood flour to the consistency of molasses. Dan grabbed the light so I could see into the tip of the boat. I was balanced on the wall, one foot on the ladder and my upper body inside the vertically rigged up kayak. OK – pouring it was much easier than I expected. The light made it easy to see the end, and I was able to pour it directly into the tip without running it down the sides.

Now I just had to let it set up for an hour. We left the boathouse, and when we returned, my boat was still there. Whew! Well, I guess it would be tough to get away with stealing a boat that long. Mark and I moved it back into the lockmaster’s house and went home for the evening.


Day 65: 8/20/12 –  1.5 hours

I showed up with the expectation of finishing the sanding job.  I decided to switch to 120-grit paper, and I made much better progress. I sanded for about an hour, continuing to make the boat look worse!

Since Dan and Gary were around, I decided to quit sanding and work on the other end pour.  With their help, Mark didn’t need to come back to flip and tie! Dan, Gary and I rigged the boat back up in the pink bucket and tied the boat up the same way we did the day before. I went back to the fountain and collected the water falling from the big rock. (Thanks again, Marietta!)

This time I was the end pouring pro! I quickly mixed the wood flour with epoxy to the correct thickness, climbed over the wall, stepped on the ladder and poured the epoxy into the tip using the light to see the end. Again, no epoxy on the inside of the boat – and no flames! I took a break for an hour and brought Mark back with me after dark to take the boat back into the lockmaster’s house. Yea! That step was complete!


Day 66: 8/22/12 – 2.5 hours

Now that the end pours were complete, I could finally finish sanding. This time I brought our Porter-Cable sander from home because it was 6” instead of the 5” Festool sander I was using. The Festool Dust Extractor still fit the sander and fortunately I had enough of the 120-grit sandpaper to use. The instruction book says to first sand with 120 grit for the bigger drips and runs, and then move to 220 grit. Dan took a look at it and said as long as I got the boat smooth, I didn’t need to use the 220 grit. I finally called it a night after 2 ½ hours and no sunlight and hoped Dan would approve so that I could varnish on Friday.

Day 67: 8/24/12 – 3.25 hours

Dan had given me a list of items to bring to prepare the boat before we varnished. I needed medium-grit steel wool, at least two tack clothsclean rags, paint thinner, a respirator, clean coffee can, paint filtersfoam rollersfoam brushes and the marine grade varnish.

Dan uses the same process for preparing the boat, and it’s proven to work well! First I touched up sanding around the cockpit and on the seams with the steel wool.

He thought the rest of the boat looked okay, and I didn’t need to sand anymore. (I was completely surprised and very happy!) Next I vacuumed the dust off of the boat and wiped it down with a wet shop rag. After about ten minutes, the boat dried off and I wiped it down with a tack cloth. I used the end of a thumbtack to remove any dust left in small holes. Then we wiped the boat down again, but this time with paint thinner. After the paint thinner, one last wipe down with the tack cloth.

Wetting down the kayak was the first glimpse of how great it could look – what a shine! Let’s hope the varnishing goes well!

We moved the boat inside and turned it upside down so we could start on the hull first. Previously I taped wax paper on the horses so we would have the least amount of issues with the wet varnish.

Next Dan and I put on our space masks . . . aka respirators, and opened the varnish.

Dan poured the varnish through the filter into the clean, plastic Folgers Half-Caff coffee container to remove any particles. He then poured the varnish into one of our small paint trays. I asked him to start on the hull so I could make sure I did it correctly. As Dan varnished, I followed up with the foam brush to remove any bubbles. After the first half of the hull, we switched and I varnished, while he followed up with the foam brush. He called any missed areas with the varnish a “holiday,” and we closely watched for them.

Next we flipped the boat over, allowing the newly varnished hull to sit on the wax paper covered horses. Dan rolled the varnish, and I followed up with the foam brush. I actually found a few holidays that he quickly covered. The boat looked AMAZING! I couldn’t believe it. It was shining to a glossy finish, but I thought it was just because it was still wet.

That night I went home and showed the pictures to my 16-year-old son Alex. He asked me to text it to him, so I did. He immediately posted it to his Facebook page with the best post I ever read!


I let the varnish dry over the weekend while I enjoyed the weekend with my sister, who was in town from the West Coast. Of course one of the many things we fit in over the weekend was a trip to the lockmaster’s house to see the boat! At least I didn’t put her to work!! I was actually surprised that the boat looked just as good as it did the night I varnished it – and it wasn’t even wet!  My sister Mary was excited about the project too!

And that small nickle-sized patch that I was so stressed out about can still be seen.  When you look for it, you can find it, but it really doesn’t stand out.  My camera actually picked it up better than my eyes when I was taking the picture.

Day 68: 8/27/12 – 5 hours

I returned on Monday to install the seat and to drill holes for the hardware. The last thing I wanted to do was drill holes in a perfectly good boat, that so far, had a pretty good chance of floating.

Dan met me at 6:15, and we took out all of the hardware and reviewed the instructions. We realized that I was missing all four screws for the foot pegs. OH NO! I should have closely examined the kit (per the instructions) when I first got it instead of finding out at this stage that something was missing. I immediately got on the phone with Pygmy and informed them of the missing screws. They said they would mail them to me that night. Along with that, I placed an order for the hand toggles. Bummer – I’d have to wait for the specialty screws . . . unless Dan or Gary would sacrifice theirs until mine arrived.

Dan said I could use the screw from his kit at least to measure the holes I needed to drill for the foot braces. He also stressed that I needed to complete the seat first, because I would need that in place before I could measure for the foot braces. After the lesson, Dan took off for the night, and I was antsy to get to work.

The kayak kit comes with a high density plastic seat back with foam padding. I first marked the spot on the plastic where the foam would be attached. Then I bent the plastic seat on each side over a step to put a permanent crease in the plastic. This gives it a curve and makes it more comfortable. Then I drilled two small holes in the bottom of the back strap and screwed in the pad eye provided with the kit. Next I coated the plastic and the foam with rubber cement, waited 15 minutes, then pressed together. I knew that the first touch would be important because the rubber cement was instant. (I actually was a bit off, but realized later it didn’t matter much.)

Next I mounted a strap eye to the underside of the cockpit.  I used the right angle chuck that came with the Festool Drill to drill holes and drive two stainless steel screws.  Having the right angle chuck with a light made it very easy.

The seat back is attached to the hip braces with a 1/4-20 screw and nylon lock nut.  Nylon line is attached to the strap eye on the back of the seat and a brass clip on the other end.  This line keeps the seat at the proper angle.

I then decided the best spot for the Therm-A-Rest Trail Seat that comes with the kit. I roughed up the spot that would require Velcro. I used rubber cement to attach the Velcro fuzz side to the floor. Once attached and dried, I put a piece of Mylar in between the two pieces of Velcro and added a piece of rolled tape to the back side of the hooked Velcro. Then I put the Therm-A-Rest Seat on the Velcro which stuck to it because of the tape. I marked the spot on the seat where the Velcro should go and permanently attached it to the seat with instant cement.

I was obsessive about measuring the holes to drill for the decking and for the foot braces. I REALLY didn’t want to have an extra hole in the boat! Plus, I needed to make sure the holes for the screws were big enough for the screw, but not too big to leak!

The holes in the deck of the cockpit will be used to screw in pad eyes for an elastic shock cord to be threaded through. The shock cord forms a rectangle with an “x” through it. This deck rigging provides a place for storage such as water bottles, lunch, etc. This same shape is in the front and back of the cockpit. The kit has enough material for one more small line crossing the bow near the end to hold the paddle. Dan doesn’t use it and mentions “paddle” and “scratch,” so I quickly agreed not to use it either. I used a 5/32″ size bit to drill the holes for the deck rigging hardware, and it worked out well.


I had a trickier time with the foot braces. The first hole is drilled 1 ¾” below the sheer and 39” forward from the back seat. If you are over 6’ or under 5’6”, you should measure the distance yourself. I’m 5’5”, but I went with the standard measurement (which turned out okay). I used the borrowed screw to measure the width of the hole. I used a 7/32″ drill bit.

Once the first hole was drilled, I had to bolt the rail temporarily in place on the outside of the boat and using it as a guide, mark and drill the second hole. I held the rail on the outside of the boat while I screwed in the self tapping screw. The screw was just long enough to fit through the rail, but didn’t fit into the hole I just drilled. Evidently, I was supposed to screw in the screw from the inside of the boat. Also, I shouldn’t have screwed it in so far. Now, Dan’s screw was stuck in the foot brace. Great. I couldn’t get it out without fear of stripping the screw. It stuck out enough that I could still use it for a measurement to drill the other hole. During this small episode, Ben ( a new club member) stopped in the boathouse to check out the progress. I quickly put him to work helping me hold the foot brace in place so I could measure for the other hole. Good timing – thanks, Ben!

Once all of the holes were drilled, I was supposed to coat them with a thin layer of epoxy. I mixed up a small batch and wondered what I would use for such small holes. I ended up using the outside of the syringe tip. It worked fine. Dan later said that he has used Q-tips.

So what I originally thought would be a two-hour night turned into five hours. Oh well.  The next morning I woke up to a text message from an old high school friend. Angela wrote, “Adding tv star to ur resume? My kids just saw the kayak piece!” Angela lives over three hours away, and I had no idea what she was talking about. After a bit of exploration, I discovered my old college roommate, Amy Radinovic, picked up the my son’s posting from facebook a few days earlier, read the blog, watched a few videos and put it on the morning news that she anchors in Youngstown, Ohio WKBN! Wow – how cool is that!

Day 69: 8/29/12 –  2.75

I chatted with Dan earlier that day and asked him if he had a bigger screwdriver because I couldn’t get the screw out of the foot brace. He said he’d have one waiting for me.

I showed up at the lockmaster’s house, and all I had to do was put in the hardware for the deck rigging, thread the cord, and screw in the foot braces. Of course, I still needed to remove the stuck screw, and I still didn’t get the new screws in the mail. Fortunately, Dan let me use the screws from his kit and I would replace them when mine arrived.

I found the large screwdriver Dan left for me. I placed the foot brace on the floor, with part of it in a hole over the doorway. If you haven’t noticed the floor from any of the pictures yet, there are holes all over. In fact, one of the rooms is sectioned off so that you won’t fall through the floor. Anyway, in order to apply enough pressure to the molded plastic foot brace without breaking any pieces off, I positioned it on the floor over a hole. I was able to stand on the plastic and apply enough pressure to remove the screw without stripping it. I was so pleased. Then, before the smile left my face, the screw slowly rolled into a hole in the floor. Unfortunately, I didn’t hear it fall to the basement.

Just then, Carl, a longtime club member, came in and offered his flashlight. Unfortunately his giant size flashlight didn’t work, so he handed me his keychain with a small, dim pen light. That wasn’t going to do it. I stuck a tape measure in the hole so that I could find the spot it fell through in the dark, deserted basement of the lockmaster’s house. No luck – that screw was still stuck in the floor. It figures that I picked a hole that was over a floor joist. I took a chair, broom, screwdriver and rubber gloves into the basement. I ran both gloved hands through the dirty floor joists searching for that stupid screw. After several attempts from both the basement and the top floor, I finally found it – FORTY FIVE MINUTES LATER! Seriously!! I should have been done by now!

ANYWAY, I’m happy to report that the holes were properly drilled! I screwed in the pad eyes in the deck and secured with a nut on the inside of the boat. The only problem is that a few of the holes were drilled in an area that was thicker from reinforcement in the deck. I would need to buy longer stainless steel machine screws so that they can be screwed into the nut. Dan was working on his boat that night, but he stepped over to help me thread the shock cord through the deck and made sure it was tight. For the moment, we just taped the ends so they would not fray, but Dan suggested that later I melt them with a lighter.

The foot braces fit in nicely. Fortunately, Dan helped here too. It was tough to reach in and hold the brace while screwing it in from the outside. Four arms were better than two in this case!

Was this it – aside from the holes for the hand toggles (which hadn’t arrived yet) and longer screws for the deck rigging, I was actually done. It looked like our plan of launching on Friday would work out!

My boat is complete!

My boat on the left, Gary’s on the right! Whew – he didn’t catch me!

Total time in this project: 144 hours

Go to Kayak Building Part 15 – FINAL! The Maiden Voyage, for the big day to see if it really floats!


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