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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Canoe Building: Fiberglassing the outside of the Hull

Before you fiberglass the outside of the hull, you should make sure you are done fairing and sanding the hull.  It will look pretty sweet.  Don't forget also to trim the strips along the shear line!
I pulled on my rubber gloves to keep the oil from my skin away from the fiberglass cloth, then carefully rolled it out over the hull.  It looked like a shroud.  Maybe that's a little to much of a focus on death.  I guess you could say it looked like a bride all attired in white.  Since you're working toward preparing the boat for it's maiden voyage, that analogy will work.
I then peeled back the fiberglass at the ends and inserted a prolonged oval of fiberglass cloth as a skid plate of sorts- basically a way to make the ends a little more durable because that's where a lot of the wear occurs in canoes.  I positioned it just right then folded the cloth back into place.
Fiberglassing is the step that stressed me out the most about the canoe building process.  Its something new, and once you start it's pretty much impossible to reverse.  It ended up not being too bad.  Just find a time where you can work all the way through without interruption- it will be a several hour process.  Mix a batch of epoxy, paint it on, then repeat until the canoe is all epoxied.  It's fun because as you wet out the cloth, the cedar appears behind it.  The fiberglass disappears as it becomes saturated in the epoxy.

You will end up doing three coats of the epoxy.  The first coat bonds the cloth to the wood.  The second coat fills in the waffle weave of the cloth, and the third coat gives it a glassy appearance.  The steps outlined in "Canoecraft" are easy to follow and will give you the desired results.


  •  use the "grunge can" made of a cardboard frozen juice container to clean your squeegee of excess epoxy.
  • Start 1/4 from the end to anchor the cloth in place, work toward the end, then go back and work the rest of the way down the canoe until it is done.
  • only squeegee two directions- toward the end and down to the ground.  You'll want to squeegee other ways, but trust me- don't do it!  If you do it will make a wrinkle or bubble in the cloth that will be bothersome to get out.
Once you're done, you'll really see what your canoe is going to become.  It's very fun and immensely satisfying to be done with this step!

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