Some building & finishing tips

I’d like to share some techniques I’ve developed in the course of building 2 CLC kayaks, the LT17 & the WR18.


Trimming inside hatches & cockpit: The instructions don’t even hint about it but I tried a variation of the Stanley surform you don’t always see. Not the usual flat one but a cylindrical one about 9” long & 5/8” diameter. It almost works too well – you’ll want to angle it at least 45 degrees to ensure you meld the divits into a smooth edge. The excess comes off in a hurry but well controlled and smooth enough to finish with 80 grit before progressing to 220.


Dust Control: I stumbled on a gadget at Home depot called Sand & Kleen by Aquair. It’s a 5 gallon bucket with a lid & 25’ of 1” flexible hose that you attach to your sander. The magic is there’s another short hose that you attach to a shop vac and add 3 gallons of water. Fire up the vac & the Aquair becomes a water type filter for all that nasty dust. I rate it at 98% effective. Pouring out the gunk when done is so much better than wiping down the entire house…


More Dust Control: OK I can go over the top. When the instructions said go on the offensive against dust, I built a clean room. For $50 you can too – here’s how.


4 sheets of 1 mil 10’x20’ drop cloth: Staple one above your boat to the ceiling joists. Screw 1x2s to make a 8’ x 20’ frame attached to the joists. That’s your clean room roof. Make another 8 x 20 frame for the floor, position & attach posts between the 2 frames. Now you have an 8x8x20 box around your boat.


Staple a 20’ sheet to each long side. Cut a piece a little more than 8’ for one end and staple that on. Finally, make an entry at the other end with a 6’ piece from one side & 5 footer from the other so you have a 2-3’ overlap.


Get a window box fan and place it against the end opposite the entry. Mark the edges then cut inside by about 2“. Tape the fan in place so it blows inwards & tape an AC filter on the fan inlet.


Run the fan on 1 or 2 and mop up & wipe down inside. As the room purifies, any remaining dust seems to go to the walls and away from your boat. Leave the fan on for the few days you are painting and/or varnishing. I wet sand between coats so no new dust is generated.  It helps to wear non-dusty clothes. OC types might want to also wear a hazmat suit but this is a boat we’re finishing not a microprocessor for a space probe ;)


A tip on stapling plastic: Tear off a dozen 2-3” strips of duct tape and put on your chest. As you struggle to get the initial staples in to hold up the plastic, put one of those handy strips where you are about to staple. It reinforces those first few staples until enough are zapped in to handle the load without ripping.


My WR18 has its 3rd (of 5 planned) coat of deck varnish as I write this. The hull is already done in Brightsides black (no dust motes) and I plan to launch this weekend on a local river where a 2-3 mile section has thawed – we’re talking Alaska in mid-April. In June I compete in the Yukon River Quest, a 460 mile marathon on the Yukon & I hope for Chena Fly II to get me to the finish line in style. Check out their website and wish me luck.


Regards from Fairbanks Alaska.

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RE: Some building & finishing tips

I like that plastic.  3 bucks a roll.  I made a room with 4 rolls for my upcoming varnish.

 I am a lil bit more low tech.  Varnish time I will hose down the area. 


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