hybrid deck -- filling little cracks

I'm preparing to glass the deck of a shearwater 16 hybrid.  What is the best way to fill in the little gaps and cracks here and there? Some between strips where bead-and-cover have a bit of separation, some at ends of strips where they butt against the cockpit coaming....

 The primary problem that occurs to me is matching colors. Seems like I could:

  1. Fill it with some varying mixture of wood flour and cel-o-fil attempting to match colors by varying the ratio. More wood flour for darker areas -- more cel-o-fil for lighter areas. Perhaps I could use an artist's pallet and knife and wear a snappy beret.
  2. Just run a fill coat of clear epoxy over the whole deck before glassing and attempt to let that fill into the cracks.
  3. Some sort of process involving sanding dust. Perhaps infiltrating some epoxy into the crack and then sanding over the general vicinity.
  4. Just not worry about it, they are mostly fairly small and might just fill up with epoxy when the glass is wetted out?

Seems like difficulty with 1 would be matching colors, 2 would be getting sufficient epoxy to fill in the cracks without excessive runs and without excessive weight, with 3 just sounds  difficult, messy and possibly ineffectual, 4 sounds like there is a risk of having air bubbles in those cracks that would be difficult to get filled with epoxy in a few places.

Would it be generally otherwise advisable to do a fill coat of clear epoxy before glassing the deck?


Ogata (eric) 

4 replies:

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RE: hybrid deck -- filling little cracks

If you just let the epoxy fill the cracks you will have dark almost black lines where the epoxy fills in. If there are any larger openings use slivers of wood. For the smaller openings i used saw dust from when i faired the deck.


RE: hybrid deck -- filling little cracks


I tried the epoxy and wood flour on my first boat, which works fine, but is more difficult to sand.  On my second boat, I went to Lowes and found some colored wood putty to match the wood. It worked fine, and was much easier to apply and sand.  There were no compatibility issues with the epoxy.  I'll never mess with the epoxy and woodflour again for filling cracks. 

RE: hybrid deck -- filling little cracks

Well, luckily, the deck is mostly pretty tight. I used 2 dark cedar strips for the perimeter around the sheer line and most of the little gaps that existed were there, so I just used some wood flour to fill in those. The wood flour/epoxy color seems a pretty close match to the dark cedar as it is.

The only other areas were a couple of 6 or 7 inch sliver cracks just above the sheer near the rear of the cockpit. There is a fairly tight radius curve there so it left a little gap between bead and cove for  a couple strips on each side. Tried W5's idea of using some wood slivers to fill those in. This matched the color very well, especially for an area of white cedar that I was concerned would be difficult to match. It was somewhat problematic to get the slivers to stay down since they wanted to curl. Held them down with some stretch wrap and tape. I think that will look ok once it is sanded out.

Thanks Birke, the wood putty idea is good. Too late now though:) The general problem with fillers and putty though is judging the color match since the color changes significantly when the cedar gets epoxy on it. 

And actually, as far as black lines using clear epoxy, I was thinking that wouldn't be bad in general  because, especially in an area of white cedar, the strips are mostly tight enough that in certain light conditions, it is hard to see the parallel lines between the strips, and tends to just look like a solid white section. I kind of like a little more visibility of those lines. But I'm hoping they will  show a little more when the deck is glassed. 

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