TRI to keep it WILD - Raising funds for Nature Conservancy of Canada

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Ever since I started building the canoe in my half of the garage, dust, cobwebs, termite droppings and debris have been falling from the ceiling onto it. Up until now it hasn't been a problem because I just wipe it away and continue on, but for the fibreglass and epoxy step debris falling from the ceiling won't do. So I spent most of the day Saturday cleaning out the garage literally from top to bottom. I don't think it's ever been cleaned since it was built in the 1930's. I took the shop vac to the ceiling, framing and roof joists and just about everything else above canoe level. Afterward I was still worried about stuff falling from above so I tacked plastic sheeting to the beams above the canoe.
On Sunday, I got all my supplies ready - resin and hardener, paint brushes, plastic squeegee, mixing pots, disposable gloves, mixing containers, face masks, etc. and recruited Tracy to be my Chief Mixer. The 6 oz. fibreglass sheet was unrolled directly on to the canoe. It is actually quite delicate and any pulling, tugging or touching can quickly deform the natural weave of the fibres. We carefully laid it out and there didn't seem to be any major creases, which made me happy. With Tracy mixing the resin and hardener for me and cleaning my brushes and containers all I had to worry about was getting the resin onto the boat - just enough for the 'glass and wood to soak it up without drying out, but not too much that it pooled and dripped. Tracy also kept track of timing and where I was on the hull so that I could return to a previously applied area after 30 minutes to squeegee off the excess epoxy. I certainly couldn't have done this alone. At first we were working on a 20 minute interval as recommended by the book and I was finding it hard to keep up with the schedule, barely finishing applying the resin to one section before having to go back to squeegee a previous. Since the weather was fairly cool though, the epoxy was not curing very quickly and I found after the first couple sections that 30 minutes worked out better.

All in all the process went fairly well. There are no major bubbles, dry spots, cracks or runs in the 'glass. There are quite a few drips that formed even after I squeegeed that I will have to sand off before the next coat, but that is probably the worst of it. Before I put on the next two coats I think I will apply a couple extra strips of fibreglass fabric to the bow and stern for extra strength and durability in those locations.

Oh yeah, and I chose a name for the canoe. You can see it (upside down for now) in a couple of the pictures.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

raising the grain

I have just finished with most of the sanding on the outside of the hull. After planing down the edges of the strips I power-sanded with 80-grit paper on the random orbit sander. There is a bag to collect the dust, but it only catches about half of it. The rest ends up covering me and just about everything else in the garage. At least the plastic sheeting kept most of it off our neighbour's stuff. After sanding I could still see several gaps between the strips and I decided that I better fill them in with epoxy and cedar dust. Otherwise I could get air bubles under the fibreglass, which would be a disaster. So then I ended up sanding with the custom-made sanding blocks I put together (two blocks of plywood clamping together the edges of a sheet of sandpaper and tightened with a bolt and wingnut) and more power-sanding. Leaving on extra epoxy could cause the finish to look splotchy after I am done glassing so I had to balance getting off all of the extra epoxy and sanding the wood down too much.

Finally, after all of this I was able to wet-out the hull with a water-dampened cloth to raise the grain for final sanding. Wow, it has a great colour and the grain looks amazing! And the wet cedar smelled terrific. If I actually wore cologne I would want it to smell like that. Too bad the boat won't smell that way after it is encased in fibreglass and epoxy!