Making a Strip Built Kayak – Joining Deck & Hull – E15

Hi I’m Nick Schade at Guillemot Kayaks, welcome
episode number 15 of my series on make the strip planked Petrel Play kayak. In the last episode I installed a hatch, deck
line fittings and did end pours, in this episode I’ll finish up the hatch and varnish the interior
of both the deck and hull before joining them together. The hatch will have a gasket to provide a
seal. That gasket needs a smooth surface to seal
against. Since the thin interior fill coats leaves
the texture of the fabric showing, I need to apply another fill coat around the perimeter
of the hatch. I mask of the middle of the hatch and then
paint on epoxy with a little colloidal silica added to thicken it slightly. While I’m at it I’m sealing the end grain
around the hatch edge. A little blast from a heat gun pops bubbles
and levels out the surface. When the epoxy has tacked up a bit, I peel
off the masking tape. I need to scuff up the interior to help the
varnish stick. Since I want to keep the weave texture of
the glass fabric, I can’t just sand everything flat. I cut a circle of synthetic steel wool and
use that on my small random orbital sander. The wooliness of the material does a good
job of de-glossing the epoxy surface without sanding out the texture. Both the deck and hull get the same treatment. I don’t want to get varnish along the sheer
line because I’m going to have to epoxy in fiberglass tape along the deck-hull seam,
so I mask off the top edge. The whole inner surface below the tape will
be coated in varnish. While the interior will not see much Ultra-violet
light, the varnish is still good protection for the epoxy. Since the ends of the kayak will be almost
completely inaccessible when completed, now is the time to prevent problems later. I use the same brushing pattern for varnish
as I did for the heavy epoxy fill coat discussed in episode 10. First I apply the varnish with heavy horizontal
strokes, then level it out with lighter vertical strokes, followed by very light horizontal
strokes to tip off the bubbles. At the chine, it can be helpful to break up
the vertical strokes into two sections for above and below the chine. Irregular shapes such as the deck fittings
are drip producers. I carefully work my way around the bump using
my brush to sponge up excess varnish at the end. When the first coat has dried for about 10
hours, I apply another coat right over the top. After those two coats have dried overnight,
I de-gloss again. A tack cloth cleans out any accumulated dust. A third coat of satin varnish provides the
final finish for the interior of the kayak. I left the same tape on for all three coats. The top edge of the sheer still has a bit
of a rough edge left over from the interior glass, plus there are some puddles of epoxy
here and there. I need to make the sheer fair and smooth to
ensure a tight fit between the deck and hull. I use a block plane, rasp and or a sanding
block to clean up the edge. I don’t want to round it over, but instead
make a pair of nearly matching bevels on the hull and deck. This will require some test fits. Here I see the end pour needs to shaved down
a little. With the ends fitted well, I want to check
the fit along the length. I temporarily tape the seam together looking
for tight spots. I mark these with some blue masking tape so
I can find them when I take the deck off again. Satisfied with the fit, I clean out the interior
then lay in some painter’s masking film. This has tape along one edge and a lot of
static cling to hold it in place. This will keep me from getting much epoxy
on my fresh varnish. A strip of green tape above the masking film
defines the edge of the fiberglass seam tape. I’ll be able to peel this up after laying
in the seam tape on one side, without peeling off the masking film before seaming the other
side. Denatured alcohol cleans off any dust or contaminants
where I’ll be epoxying down the interior seam tape. I mix up some epoxy thickened with wood flour
to apply to the tops of the endpours. This will secure the deck down at the ends. Now I start clamping the deck to the hull
with glass-reinforced packing tape. The thing that is going to hold the sheer
line seam in alignment is friction. This is created by forcing the deck down on
to the hull with the tension of the packing tape. What I’m saying is: inorder for this to work,
the tape must be very tight. I use a tape dispenser that lets me really
pull hard on the tape, stick it down to the hull while I’m pulling on it and then easily
cut the packing tape after it is in place. If I cannot reach inside the boat to push
the seam into alignment, I can use a thin putty knife to lever the seam into position
while I tape it tightly together. The
hull and deck are really quite flexible, so even if they don’t align perfectly initially,
you can usually bend them to line up. While the tape might have trouble holding
initially, with enough tension and friction between the sheers, I’ve successfully joined
together badly mismatched pieces. Depending on how easily the seam comes together,
I usually end up with tape every 4 to 6 inches or 10 to 15 cm. While applying epoxy to the inside seam, there
is bound to be some that leaks out. A strip of masking tape along the seam will
contain it, but to avoid large bumps I want to apply the tape wrinkle free and smooth. I find it helps to apply it to the hull and
then fold it up on to deck after. We want gravity helping the task of taping
the inside seam, so I secure the kayak up on edge. A little tape assures it doesn’t do something
unexpected. The inside seam will be reinforced with 3-inch-wide
pre-woven fiberglass tape. I measure a length from about 6″ shy of the
stern to 6″ short of the bow. A piece of masking tape placed to align with
the center of the cheek plate in the cockpit gets marked with an arrow point to the bow
to help get the glass back in the correct spot. I roll or fold up the strip of tape to transfer
it from the boat to a table covered with a piece of waxed paper. The strip of cloth now gets completely saturated
with epoxy. The cloth is actually a 9 ounce fabric that
takes a while to soak up the resin, so I brush it on heavy and give it time to soak in. While the cloth is absorbing the epoxy, I
brush more resin on the seam. I reach as far up as I can with my arms and
then use a brush screwed to the end of a stick to spread the resin up into the end. I roll up the saturated tape to transfer it
back to the kayak. I roll from each end towards the middle where
I marked the masking tape with the cheek plate locations. Bringing the roll over to the boat, I align
the tape behind the center of the cheek plate, making sure my arrow is pointed towards the
bow. I can now roll out the tape along the seam
as far as my arms will reach in each direction. When I get beyond my arms reach, I again switch
over to the brush on a stick. I just want to unroll the tape down the seam
between the green masking tape. This takes some patience. You can steer the roll one direction or the
other by pushing it with the brush. Mistakes happen. Depending on your personality you may find
that cussing helps. Others may try to manipulate the tape with
the brush in a fruitless effort to make the situation right. The solution that works is to just pull the
cloth back, re-roll it and install it again. The epoxy is setting up while you fuss around,
the quicker you get on with the show, the better off you will be. This time I checked there were no snags before
pulling back the stick. With the tape properly in the bow I now want
to smooth it out and make sure its well stuck down by brushing on a bit more epoxy resin. Now to do the other end. Hopefully, it will go more smoothly this time. I let the first side set up sufficiently that
it won’t fall off when I flip the kayak over to do the other side. Here, I’m marking the center of the cheek
plate and reference arrows to guide the strip of tape back to the right spot after it has
been wet out. The marks on the tape will be hidden behind the
cheek plate and won’t be visible in the finished kayak
I had a few issues again in the bow, but with patience and persistence it worked out fine. We just about have something that looks like
a kayak. In the next episode I’ll make the outer stems,
and apply another layer of fiberglass over the hull and reinforce the outside seam. Be sure to post any questions you may have
to the comments area. Until the next episode, happy paddling and
thanks for watching.

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Reader Comments

  1. Andrew Moizer

    Great video. Your footage of taping the inside was wonderful. I must say that this step is one I am most apprehensive about, but this footage makes it seem quite doable.

  2. david kolompar

    Grate video like always! I planing to soon starting to make my first kayak. But I have little suggestion. I have some experience with reparations polyester glass boat, and when time come for assembly it's much easiest to role glass tape with resin on handle from painting roller, and then role off on boat.

  3. Max Maker

    Here are three questions: How do you deal with working on your own all day? How do you market the kayaks? What do you do while waiting for epoxy to cure?

  4. Croatoan

    Thank you so much for going trough the trouble of making this series. Trust me, it's 100% worth it considering how immensely important source of information it is for those who need it.

  5. Florida Keys Wooden Boat Fishing

    As usual, amazing build and your designs are stellar.  My first build was a Great Auk and I still use it regularly paddling off the Florida Keys.  Your boats belong in a museum (and also on the water).

  6. Karmi James

    One more quick question – I just put the fiberglass tape along one seam., using 6oz tape and MAS slow cure epoxy. I will go tomorrow morning to do the other side. It was a real struggle to get the two halves together. The hull had relaxed and was about 1" wider on each side of the cockpit and rear hatch. With some shaping, then webbing, blocks, rachets, tons of tape and a lot of grunt work, we got the two parts together. How long should I wait before taking off the tape that's holding the boat together on the outside? I'm afraid that it is going to break the fiberglass because of the tension that it is under! Thanks!

  7. Richard Walker

    Maybe you’ve thought of this trick or maybe you haven’t, but taping a $2 flashlight onto the stick means there’s always light exactly where you need it to be. I figured out that trick when I was … ummm … 90% done.

  8. Marius Engelsen

    Thanks for the video! 🙂
    Any reason you don’t cut out the forward hatch before joining deck and hull? It would be easier to work through the forward hatch when joining the hull and deck, I think..?

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