Last weekend the family and I launched the Freedom for the first time. It wasn’t quite “finished” in that I hadn’t varnished it yet, but I wanted to wait for the weather to cool a bit before spraying the urethane. And check out that paddle in some of the pictures!
Here are some pictures from my trials and tribulations in fiberglassing the inside of the hull.
after 2nd coat of epoxy. The weave is mostly filled and I’m leaving it like this. I’ve noticed in other people’s builds that their inside finish is immaculate. I guess they maybe fully fill the weave and sand smooth? I want a slightly rough finish, and some of my cloth is wrinkly – not air bubble so strength is not an issue, but simply that in order to smooth flat, either epoxy will be wasted to fill in the troughs, or the fiberglass will have to be sanded (and removed) and patched. I have a sketch below to show what I mean. I’ve actually had the sketched situation happen on almost all of my epoxy/fiberglass endeavours. I guess I need some work in perfecting the glass layout and squeegee action.
I’m half finished the scraping inside the hull. I would guess I have about 3 hours left on the other side of the hull. I’m not sure how it will all turn out, using the rounded scrapers puts slight “channels” or rounded grooves along the wood where you scrape. Since the plan is just to glass the interior without filling the weave, I don’t think it will make any difference.
My biggest worry is that the very bottom of the hull did not hold its shape when removed from the moulds. It sort of flattens out and actually popped up a bit. I need to press down on the bottom to get it to take the intended shape.
Sunday was sort of a big day for me, as I finally got to take the Freedom off of the strongback. I first unscrewed all of the moulds from the strongback since they were still attached to the canoe with hot glue. My neighbour Joe helped me lift the canoe up, and at first we had some difficulty. It turned out that one of the moulds was still screwed to the strongback and the hot glue was holding tight. I dislodged the mould from the canoe by wacking it aft with a hammer, and then the canoe lifted off easily.
I fit some cradles back onto the strongback, lined them with foam pipe insulators, and then we put the canoe back on.
Later in the day I even started with some scraping of the inside of the hull. More on that later…
With the stems finished I had to touch up the strips prior to the final shaping of the hull. There were two things I wanted to do. First, I had a couple of spots where some strips were thinner and I wanted to make them a bit thicker. Secondly, I had to fill in numerous gaps between strips.
There were 7 spots (I think) where I had strips that were too thin. I opted to glue more wood on top of it, which would then be sanded down such that the fillers would add a few mm of thickness. The first spot worked okay:
The third area I tried to fix was a bust. After gluing I wasn’t able to fair it out very well. However, I learned something very important. Even though the strip was originally too thin, I was able to fair it into the adjacent strips. First I had to sand off the filler wood that I glued on (which was easy):
I added some fillers to some of my thin AYC accent strips as well. Most of them I later sanded off during the hull shaping.
The last prep step was to fill in a bunch of gaps I experimented with using Dunhams Wood Filler. I had a difficult time color matching the filler with the wrc. I had done several trials but when I finally came to use it on the boat I got the color wrong. I also filled gaps with epoxy thickened with wood flour. I found this to work better, albeit a bit more work. I could match the color better than with the filler. Mixing epoxy with wood flour typically gives a mix that is too dark, so I added some white glass fibers for a better color match.
I masked off all the gaps when using the epoxy and although this takes more time up front, it sure saves a lot of cleanup work. I didn’t mask with Dunhams and that was a bit of a mistake. I found that although the Dunhams sanded really well, the sanding left small bits of powder stuck into the wood.
With the stripping done, the next task was to attach the outside stems. First I trimmed the strips flush with the stem along the leading edge. I’d do the rough work with a Japanese pull saw, and then final work with a spokeshave. Next I added a taper to the bottom part of the stems and placed the stem on the hull. Tracing the outline of the stem along the bottom of the hull, I hoped to cut a groove that would provide a good fit for the stem to sit. Basically what happens is that the bottom of the stem fits in a slot while the upper part sits flush with the ends of the strips (upper is actually down while building since the boat is upside down).
The fit wasn’t too bad. It took a while to get it correct. I alternated between using a chisel and a utility knife to cut the groove. Once again my woodworking skills weren’t all that perfect. I ended up with some gaps between the stem and strips from removing too much wood. It was good enough for me though. Next I drilled clearance holes in the stems and predilled into the inside stems. Screws will be used to clamp the stems together while the outside stem is glued with epoxy.
I then did some shaping of the stems, and once the bottom of the stem was trimmed down, I added walnut plugs to fill in the now vacant screw holes. I made the plugs myself by spinning small blocks of wood in the drill while shaping the wood with 60grit sandpaper.
After the final shaping the stems basically look like this: