Kaholo kit build tips

I finally ordered my kit. It came last week. I thought I'd include build tips as I construct the kit. Some of the tips might also apply to the plans build.

Cardboard shipping box: The plywood parts come in a cardboard box. I've been using the box as a protective covering on the floor for various parts. The top and bottom strech out to about 15' x 4'. 

wax paper: Epoxy stickk or go through it. Its MUCH easier to use than plastic wrap. I put wax paper on both sides of the puzzle pieces when I glued them up on my garage floor. 

Puzzle pieces: I took a little sand 100 grit paper to all the puzzle joint edges. They fit together easier. I put plywood on top of the wax paper and just piled stuff on top. When the epoxy was set, the surface was smooth from the wax paper. Try to get the puzzle pieces to be flush with each other to minimize sanding. 

Epoxy: I'm trying to make the board as light as possible. This means minimizing the epoxy where ever possible. I found using a small stiff bristle bush used for spreading soldering flux to be more suitable for spreading epoxy into the puzzle joints than a 2" brush. In the end, I'm sure I used less epoxy and the joint on the other side had very little spill over. WHen spreading epoxy, I kept skimming over the surface to minimize excess epoxy. Puddles are easy to see if you sight just along to surface into a light (for me, this was looking along the surface towards the outside of my garage door. Puddles will shine. I kept skimming till the puddles disappeared. Everytime I skimmed, I wiped the plastic paddle off on a dry part of the work piece or on a blue paper towel. So far I'm pretty happy with the results. I'll keep posting about new  "discoveries" about epoxy as I make them. 

Wiring: I found it easier to loosely wire up the sides to the bulkheads and then go back and tighten everything up starting with the bow. Similarly with attaching the bottom to the sides and bulkheads. Also, I found it easier to insert one end of the wire in from the outside of the boat and then thread though the other hole from underneath. 

Attaching the bottom to the side: I have some tall sawhorses and mounted the bottom on top of the sides as suggested in the manual. I also have a small garden weeding cart that I can sit on. This worked out well as I could stick my head under the boad between the bulkheads. 

Extra wiring: I had to add a few extra pieces of wire to make things tight and symmetric. Even so, a found a couple of the bulkheads just a bit wide. I debated taking them out and trimming but decided it was too marginal to worry about. I did try and make the space on each side the same however. 

Tail piece: I found it just a bit too narrow. I'll just sand or plane down to the sides to match the tali stock width. This will cause the deck to curve down a bit in the back by about 1/4" or so. I'm ok with that.  

Comments on the manual: The manual should be updated to reflect photos of the current design (not the oder design where the bulk heads are significantly different). Also, on page 9, there's an editor's note telling me that the manual references silica powder but that current kits use Cell-O-Fill. The manual should be updated to replace all references of silica to Cell-O-Fill. 

After about 16 hours work, I've got the hull wired up and ready for tack welding which will have to wait about a week when I can get back to it. 

That's it for now. I'll keep updating this thread with my observations and comments till the boat is done. 




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RE: Kaholo kit build tips

Nice list. I'm building from plans and would add the following:

Lay down blue tape to minimize epoxy clean up. Buy several rolls of the stuff. Also test the blue tape on some scrap first. I find some brands to be a but more adhesive than others they would pull up some of the wood when removed leaving rought patches. You can pat the tape to the inside of your arm less hair) and peel it off to reduce the stickiness. Also try to wipe away excess epoxy while it's still wet. Once it's hardened it's REALLY hard to scrape/but/chisel away. 

To help pull the nose together I used some zip ties to pull the front together. I drilled two holes above the wiring holes. I inserted a zip tie through the holes in a straight line and the used the head from a second zip tie to snug it down. Using two zip ties in a line allows you to pull the two pieces together in a straight line. If you just use on zip tie in a loop it won't pull straight but instead will pull some curve into it. 

If building from plans get some melamine and secure the plans using spray mount. Apply the plans to the melamine just a few inches at a time to ensure a smooth mounting. Spray down 3-4 inches of spray mount and then gently roll down the plans over it. Once the plans are mounted cut them out with a jigsaw or Roto-Zip (see below) and clean up with a block plane. Once you have some templates you cen then create perfect parts using a flush trim router bit. Ideally use a palm/trim router or a Roto-Zip - easier to handle than a full sized router. I found this template approach to be quicker than try to meticulously awl punch a bunch of marks and then manuall draw the lines. Plus if you screw up and need to make a new part you can. 

If you're  building from plans and don't own a bunch of power tools and don't want to invest in a bunch get a Roto-Zip. It's basically a more powerful Dremel tool. I used mine as a jig saw  for cutting out parts and as a router for bevels and cutting parts to final size. For the thin sized wood on the Kaholo it really is a great tool. I have a jig saw and a few routers but found this easier to use.

If you've never applied fiberglass before practice on some scrap. Also make sure whatever applicator you use is smooth. I used a wallpaper applicator and found there was a small ridge on the blade that was just rough enough to snag the fiberglass. I knocked it down with some sandpaper before using the tool on a real piece. 

When gluing the bottom panels together make sure the two bow pieces overlap. I didn't and wound up with some warping in the middle of the boat. Doh. This really isn't made as clear as it should be in the manual. While the manual is generally clear do spent some time on the web looking at all the different blogs people have put together about building a Kaholo. 

RE: Kaholo kit build tips

I started my board in December and it is almost ready, just the final coat of epoxy and the varnish to go. I ordered the plans and bulk heads from clc, along with the fiberglass and epoxy. Everything else I purchased locally. I made many changes to the plans along the way as I made mine of strip cedar, with some poplar and black walnut highlights. My best tip is to read this forum all the time, never hesitate to post a question or search out answers elsewhere on the web.  You tube has some great instructional videos on almost every step to guide you through. My only regret is that my board is going to come in a little on the heavy side, firstly because I used too much epoxy on the inside and secondly because of the weight difference between 1/4 inch cedar vs. 1/8th inch plywood. 

Have fun and enjoy the build, I haven't finished this one and I am already wondering what my next build will be.  I've learned so much and I cant wait to improve on it.



Lake Country, BC

RE: Kaholo kit build tips

Over the last two days, I tack-welded the hull. 

Masking off the epoxy areas: A number of build blogs show tape to limit the epoxy spread. I did that. It did help because it minimized the epoxy that stays inside the boat that spreads out beyond hte joint but you aren't putting much epoxy in while tack-welding. I suspect it will help more when I get to the next step - filleting. 

Some tips from Larry Froley: Larry is the designer of the Kaholo. He has built many (prolly more than anyone else) and focus' on building light boards. I asked him a few questions and he gove me a few more tips. Larry is quite accessible and is quite willing to talk with builders and pass his experience along. Great guy!! Gray Whale Paddle, GrayWhalePaddle.com, (916) 300-6111. He's in Sacramento CA

 - He does not tack weld but goes right to filleting. He leaves the wires in and cuts them off flush on the outside. Says course sandpaper makes quick work of the soft copper nubs and they also fill the drill holes. I may be misquoting him here but he says, "Nothing wrong with tack-welding and then filleting but its sort of an unnecessary step." Too late for me but hopefully it will help others in the future. 

  - Filleting: He rounds over the fillets with a popcyle stick-sized tool. Uses a tongue depressor-sized stick for filleting the bow. Rather than filleting the bottom between bulkheads where the bottom is flat, He uses 2" fiberglass instead. 

 - Sealing the inside fo the boat: He thins the epoxy with 10-15% xylene to penetrate the wood better and then the xylene evaporates off. This gets less epoxy in the boat but ensures good penetration by the epoxy into the wood.

  - I ended up with a couple dime-sized gray areas on the deck underside where I didn't get the fiberglass bonded to the wood. He suggested opening them up, filling with epoxy and feathering out the patch. 

A few more things:

  - I ordered my Kaholo and a few supplies within two days of each other. They supplies showed up about more than a week after the kit. I was able to find most of the supplies I needed at local hardware store so really didn't need the CLCBoat supplies afterall. 

  - In place of the plastic spreaders, I used wooden tongue depressors. I buy them in a box of 500 or 1000 from Amazon for less than $10. I sand them to shape as needed and just toss them when the batch of epoxy is finished. The tongue depressors are useful for all sorts of things. 

  - My skegs are still on backorder after three weeks. Hope they get shipped soon!!

I won't get back to working on the boat for about a week. 


RE: Kaholo kit build tips

BTW, Thanks Cyclocross for the additinoal tips above. THey are really very good!! (BTW, I'm also a cyclist)

Mike, Looking forward to seeing the strip design!! Larry Froley told me he was doing one. I also saw one at the CLCBoats shop when I visited there in Feb/March. Its very pretty but I want it light. I have an interesting visual design for the boat that will add less than 1/2 pound but I'll post it when the boat is done. 

Thanks for adding more tips.


RE: Kaholo kit build tips

BTW, just for reference, I weighed the hull and deck tonight. 

Hull, tack-welded but without fillets or sealing: 16 lbs.

Deck with epoxied fiberglass (1 coat) on underside: 10 lbs. 

The epoxy I have left weighs 12lbs (including the containers).

THe cell-o-fill and wood flour weigh a combined 2 lbs (including containers).

A quarts of varnish weighs 2 lbs (including the container). 

The fiberglass I have left weighs 3 lbs.

Worst case, if I used everything I have left and subtract 2 lbs for the containers, I'll be at 41 lbs if I used all the epoxy, cell-o-fill, wood flour, and fiberglass (for the outside of the boat).

On the postive side, I've only used about 20% of the epoxy so far - about 4 lbs I think), and I will likely use about another 8 lbs. I'm guessing I'll only use about 2 lbs of fiberglass and about 1 lb of wood flour (fillets) and cell-o-fill (gluing on the deck). I'm guessing I'll use about 2 lbs of varnish, maybe more. I'll likely lose a little weight fron sanding as well. 

So at this point, I'm estimating my Kaholo will come in at 38-39 lbs, about 6-7 lbs heavier than I was hoping. I'll proivde actuals of course when the board is done. 


RE: Kaholo kit build tips

Hadnt even weighted mineas of yet. Did it this morning 33 lbs. Standard Kaholo with cloth decoration on front and rear, and a deck plate.

Works for me!


RE: Kaholo kit build tips

Had some time today. 

Filleting: I had taped everything leaving about a 1/4" from the joint. I'd done this because I'd seen other do it on their blogs and assumed it would "catch" the overflow of the epoxy. In the end, it was a PITA to pull the blue tape off. And it didn't make that much difference. So I think it was a mistake to tape off the joints. I was able to scrape the epoxy off the wood without a problem so the tape was unnecessary. I won't do THAT again. I made the filleting material likedescribed in the manual - won't fall off the mixing stick. I sanded down some tongue depressors to about 1/2" round and used them to create the fillets.Larry cuationed me against making the fillets too broad. I made them smaller rather than larger. I'm pretty confident that they will be fine. I'll try to take some pics before I close up the boat - probably next week.

Nonetheless, I'm ready for epoxying on the inside. I won't have a chance to get to it till Saturday. In the meantime, I and my wife are working the external design which I'm confident will be interesting. 


RE: Kaholo kit build tips

I finished my Kaholo a month back - came in at 31lbs.  In addition to the already mentioned lightening tips - here are a few others I used;

I drilled out the bulkheads and cut down the stringers - don't plan to carry a dog on the front of mine...:)  Also fairly stingy on the fillets. Didn't glass the whole boat - just the bottom and sides with a layer underneath the standing area on the deck.  I did add a fin box and handle and leach plug - probably a little more weight there.  Left off the fancy wood strips on the rear.  Definitely did not use all of the epoxy nor cloth.   The boat is super strong as it becomes a very stiff monocoque structure when wired up and sealed up.  Ive had mine out in pretty rough puget sound conditions with no issues - it goes fast!


RE: Kaholo kit build tips

When you tape your epoxy joints you need to go back remove the tape within the hour. Do NOT let the epoxy dry or you'll have a real mess. I taped the outside of the joints to keep the epoxy from seeping out and leaving a hard bubble on the outside which I'd have to go back and chisel/sand off later. At first I taped off the inside to control the width of the fillets but really found that to be unnecessary. I just taped the outside to keep the epoxy from seeping out. For filleting tools I found some wood ice cream "spoons". One ending like a tongue depressed and the other end is more triangular. Perfect for filleting and only $3 for a bag. 

RE: Kaholo kit build tips

I agree with your tape strategy. Thanks for clearing that up. Trying to get the tape out was a PITA. 


RE: Kaholo kit build tips

I've made good progress since I last posted my observatons and tips. So here's a few more.

Sealing the inside of the hull: I thinned the epoxy with 15% xylene. (I actually used another xylene-like thnner from Home Depot that they reocmmend as a substitute for xylene.) It helped keep the amount of epoxy down because it allows better penetration of the epoxy into the wood and then evaporates off. Xylene is kinda smelly. I found I needed to add a bit of xylene towards the end of the 2 8 ounce pots I made because it started to thicken up (lack of xylene vs epoxy setting up I believe). I made sure there were no puddles. That part of the build went pretty quickly and smoothly. BTW, it took about 16 ounces of epoxy. 

Planing the cleats, sides, bulkheads and runners with a block plane: I just kept working it with a block plane (I have a Lie Neilsen - excellent plane - but the Veritas planes from Leevalley.com get very high reviews, often better than Lie Neilsen by Fine Woodworking + they are cheaper). Took about an hour to get it pretty even all the way down the deck. This was not a lot of work. I used a long level to span the deck starboard-to-port and shaved off the high spots. 

Putting the deck on: I positioned the deck on the boat and marked it underneath with a pencil and then jigsawed it to the line. It was about 1/4" wider than the boat on both sides. Expoxied the top of the cleats, bulkheads, runners, and tail stock (I did not put the wood overlay on the back of the tailstock, just left it plain.) Got some help from a neighbor. She held up the nose while I positioned the back and then we rolled it down on to the boat - stern to bow. I weighted it with lots of magazines (Fine Woodworking, Koi USA, Architectural Digest). I also took a rubber mallet to the deck on the sides and over the bulkheads and runners using a small blcok of wood to seat it all as tightly as possible. Even still, one side didn't seat as tightly as I would have liked. I let it set up 24 hours. 

Rounding the deck edge. I used a 3/8" router round over bit to trim the deck. Worked just fine. Took all ten minutes. The router is the messiest tool I have!! I like what they do but hate using them because of the mess they create. 

Sanding the boat: I have a Festool 6" random orbital sander and the associated vaccum. THis set up cost a bit more than a kaholo but I do a lot of woodworking and this sander is phenomenal. First, its 6" so covers 16% more area. Second, It blows cool air out through a hole in the center of the paper (from the sander motor) and collects the dust from 8 holes spaced around the paper using a separate vacuum. When sanding, I rarely see dust in the surrounding air and the paper stays cool. Thirdly, its all pretty quiet. I have the vacuum on the other side of the wall and its triggered by the sander being turned on. Its a more comfortable environment and safer since there's very little dust left in the air - wood dust is a carcinogen. I like the Bosch sander recommended by CLC (I have one but haven't used it in a couple years since I got the Festool). Moving on... I started with 80 grit and ended with 220. The entire job took 6 sheets of 80 grit, 2 sheets of 120, 1 sheet each 180 and 220. With the Bosch, I'd bet I'd use 2-3x more paper). A common woodworking practice is to blow off the dust before moving on to the next grit because the course grit and sanding dust from the previous paper is still on the wood. I do this everytime I sand. I rounded over the edges (chines, side-to-deck, and the center line on the front of the boat) with the sander. It all came out pretty well. I had to go back and fill some spots on the outside where the joints came together with epoxy/woodfiller. No big deal but it delayed moving on to the next step. I also, unfortunately, sanded through the top layer of plywood on the tailstock. Its ok actually becuase I plan to do an overlay on the tailstock anyway. Just a bit disapointed that it happened to me. When sanding near the bow, there's no way you can keep the sander flat. Just be gentle and make sure you don't sand through the top ply layer. GENTLE!! With regards to sanding, A Fine Woodworking article years ago reviewed random orbital sanders. Their recommendation is 1) let the sander do its work by not pushing on the top of the sander because that slow down the random orbiting and 2) move the sander about 1" per second. I generally practice these recommendations and the sanded finish came out well. If you move too fast or push on the top, it leaves swirls visble in the finish. Be patient. Wear a mask (I like the 3M and hate those stupid paper dust masks from the local hardware store - a complete waste of money and your health) and hearing protection (I use Zomes - simple, light, cheap, effective. These are quote good). BTW, I actually use a Trend Airshield which is a full face shield that blows fresh air across your face. These are expensive but very effective. I use it for almost all operations but this would be going overboard. I did handsand the bow and the bottom to tailstock joint. One more thing, I left the copper wire in the holes rather than taking them out. After sanding, and now even after epoxying, they are bright but believe thay will ultimately oxydize (sp?) blend in with the wood color. One last thing - wear a long sleeve shirt. I felt like I got wood slivers in my arms, perhaps from the epoxy. It disappeared the next day but was uncomfortable for a bit. SO WEAR SAFETY GLASSES. You don't want these slivers to end up in your eye. 

Fiberglassing and epoxying the bottom: This took about 3 hours. I took my time and made sure the fiberglass was flat. I started at the stern but in retrospect beleive I should have started at the bow. I ended up cutting a slot in the fiberglass at the bow to make it all sit flat. BTW, I continually smoothed the fiberglass as I moved down the boat. It took about 3 hours and about 20 ounces of epoxy. I kept "scraping" to keep the first layer thin. 

2nd coat of epoxy: It went on within an hour and I again kept scraping to keep it thin - no puddles. I also kept scraping the sides to minimize the drips.  I defintely need a 3rd coat (tmw).

More tmw. 


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