Kayak Building Part 4 – Flipping and Tipping

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This post is Part Four of a multipart blog . . . Read Part One here,  Part Two herePart Three here.

In the last blog, I just completed fastening the plywood to the frames with HIGHPOINT square drive screws.  Keep in mind that night I was working solo and Dan wasn’t around for instruction.  The next morning in the office, I had a few questions (again) for the product managers.  I wanted to know why the screw didn’t go into the two panels easily and why the two pieces of wood had a space in between on my first attempt.  If you didn’t guess the answer already, I didn’t have a big enough pilot hole.  Also, I didn’t have the settings correct on the drill.  I didn’t even realize there were different speeds, and a special setting for driving screws.  I found out that if I had it on the driver setting, that the drill would stop and not merely lose traction.  I had no idea the pilot hole should be the same size as the minor diameter of the screw, and that the hole should be the same length of the screw.  Also, I could have drilled a bigger pilot hole in the first board and a smaller in the second so the boards wouldn’t separate.  Another tip was just to drive the screw once, back it out, and drive it again and the space should close.

I also mentioned to a few product managers that the space was hard to get to and I needed to change to a lighter, corded drill.  Evidently using a corded drill is like living in the 80s.
“THIS IS 2012!”, shouted the product  managers!  YOU CAN’T USE A CORDED DRILL!  Plus, corded drills are usually only intended for drilling holes and not driving screws.  I quickly had the newest model of a Festool CXS cordless drill – only 10.8V with a Lithium Ion battery.  The drill comes with two chucks, so you can keep the drill bit (for the pilot hole)  in one chuck and the driver in the other.  Plus, it comes with a right angle chuck.  Andrew Bondi, our Power Tool Manager, gave me a quick lesson on the settings, including using faster speeds for softer wood and slower for harder wood.  There is an obvious setting for driving bits and a light that would have been perfect for the tight spots at the end.

Thanks for the lesson Andrew!  Unfortunately I am only borrowing this drill, so now I know what I want for Mother’s Day!

Day 14: 4/28/2012  2 hours 

I met Dan Saturday morning in the parking lot, and the first thing I did was show off the new drill.  He hasn’t used it yet, but he seemed thrilled with all of the features and its light weight.  We went inside, he looked at the work and said the plywood attachments were fine and he liked the high quality scrap wood I brought.  We’ll save it for the next set of boat builders.  That day we moved the boat off of the sawhorses and spent some time making sure they were level.  I’m not sure if you noticed the floor of the lockmaster’s house, but it’s far from level.  We didn’t have anything long and straight enough to cross all three horses to make sure they were the same height between the first and last horse, so we had to eyeball it.  Next we flipped the boat over and strapped it down to make sure the boat’s frame supports were sitting flat on the sawhorse.

This was the last chance to make sure the shape of the hull was exactly right.  In addition to being level, each seam needed to be even, in terms of how the plywood matched up.  We adjusted the seams with a utility knife.

Day 15: 5/1/2012 3 hours

Today we were going to epoxy the seams.  First Dan reviewed my adjustments and fine-tuned them a bit.  In the meantime, I put painter’s tape on the panels  to minimize the drip marks on the panels.  The kit comes with two syringes to apply the epoxy precisely.  The syringes need to be frequently cleaned with acetone so the epoxy doesn’t set up and clog the tip.  I realized I forgot to buy the acetone, so I ran over to the local hardware store.  A woman immediately greeted me at the store and took me straight to the acetone.  Next she asked me if i was going to use it to work on my fingernails.  I was happy to reply, “No – I’m building a kayak!”  When I returned to the house, I was greeted by Frank Byers, who was ready to shoot the first video of the boat and lockmaster’s house.  To bring this blog to life a bit – check out the video!


We mixed the resin and hardener for the epoxy in a small tub for 30 seconds, filled the syringes and then carefully filled the seams.  We cleaned the syringes in between each new batch of epoxy.  When each seam was filled, we waited 40 minutes, then put a second application on.  This time the epoxy mix contained wood flour, and we had to clean the syringe in between each refill. The bead of epoxy in the seam needed to be generous and would be sanded off later.

Day 16: 5/2/12 1 hour

Dan greeted me at the door of the lockmaster’s house with a telescoping stick used for painting and said we’d need it.  I couldn’t figure out that one.  Although I knew we had to tip the boat on its side to finish lining the end seams with epoxy, I never thought about how we would do that.  Because both the bow and stern ends of the boat are so vertical, if the boat was not tipped, the epoxy would just drip down.  We loosened the straps and tipped the boat up, using the telescoping stick.  Then I finished the seams on the ends and in the spots that the straps covered. I first applied straight epoxy, let it set for at least 40 minutes, and then mixed wood flour in the epoxy for the second coat.  It was a quick and easy night; I didn’t even need to change from my office clothes.

Day 17: 5/3/12 1 hour

Easy day today – I just had to tip the boat on the other side to epoxy the bow and stern ends.  A quick run on the bike path in between the two coats of epoxy and I called it a night.

We’ll see what the weekend brings!  Stay Tuned!

Read Part Five here!



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