Woodworking in the great white north.

Canoe – part 5

With the majority of the construction complete, we move on to doing some of the finishing on the outside of the hull.

The hull as it stands is pretty rough, there’s a lot of squeeze-out of the poly-glue that we used on the strips, rough edges to the strips, slight tearout around the areas where the staples were. I have to confess, I don’t look forward to the sanding process for any project, but once resolved to the idea, I find it a calming zen-like process.

The sanding was done with rather large random orbit sanders. Rather large, rather noisy and rather heavy. My zen-like state of sanding was rudely interrupted (insert sounds of a record needle scraping across an LP) by the numbness traveling up my arms from the vibration of the sander. Ok, so I’m whining a bit, it wasn’t all that bad, but it was by far the most arduous task in the project. Getting the hull all sanded down to a smooth consistent state took quite a while, and included burning out one the sander motors.

As is usually the case, once the gruntwork is done, you feel satisified with the end result.

With all the glue and gunk removed, you can start to see what the canoe’s character is going to be. Very satisfying stuff.

The last step before the canoe comes off the form is the fiberglassing. This was something I had zero experience with and was more than a little nervous about screwing up the work done so far.

The process was surprisingly easy. Clean the surface of all the dust, wipe it down and very gently roll out and lay the sheet of velvety fiberglass material evenly over the canoe. When you see the canoe draped in what looks like a nice shiny white satin cloth a lot of questions come up about how it’s going to look when it’s done.

With the fiberglass in place, we mixed up tubs of epoxy resin and set to work. This was the part I was most concerned about, I had visions of big wrinkles and a resulting ugly mess on my beautiful wood. My fears were unfounded. Pouring the resin onto the keel line and using plastic spatulas, we worked the epoxy into the fiberglass, making sure not to stretch or wrinkle it. This was much easier than I thought. The resin is quite thin, kind of like a runny syrup, so it goes on pretty easily and spreads well. It took a fair bit of time to get the whole hull done, but the satisfaction was huge!

It was a big boost to see the wood as it’s going to appear when it’s all done. The epoxy darkened the wood to its final colour and while it was wet, gave it a luster and shine that was pretty spectacular when you compare it to the before picture. Here’s the same view as the last picture, but with the epoxying done.

A couple more pictures of how the hull looks with the fiberglass/epoxy in place. I really was quite surprised at how clear the fiberglass became with the epoxy soaked into it. Great stuff.

Next up…do the whole process again on the inside of the hull.

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