plug/ stitches

After a frigid winter in Chicago, I am starting work on my Chesse 16 again. First- I  tried to search prior comments on this but did not find any.  I see on a lot of plastic/ fiberglass kayaks they have a plug at the end of the kayak to allow water out from the rear compartment.  Did I miss it or is there a reason why no one recommends one on the Chesse models?  SHould I install one? Second- the topic of to remove or not to remove stiches have been discussed a lot.  My stitches are in place and I am about to start my fillets.  The thought of heating and removing each and every stitch makes me tired, but the thought of a piece of wire poking thru and leaking makes me sick.  Any words of wisdom?

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RE: plug/ stitches

The plug is not needed.  Remove any water with a sponge.

Don;t cover the wire completely when you fillet.  They should come out with a wiggle.  I never used heat.




RE: plug/ stitches

On the other hand, if you leave the wire in (as I did), they don't poke through when you're finished, or leak.  After the epoxy in the hull seams cures, you clip the wire flush to the hull.  Then the fiberglass is laminated over the entire hull, including the wire.  Likewise, the seams have fiberglass laminated over them on the inside of the hull, so the tiny bit of wire remaining is fully encapsulated in fiberglass-reinforced epoxy.  And then the finish (varnish or paint) is applied. So you see, the wire neither pokes through, or is the source of leaks.

To my eyes, the trimmed wire "sutures" aren't an aesthetic problem, and the only reason to pull them is if your sense of aesthetics leads you to judge them otherwise.  You might want to check the photos of some of the yaks in the CLC online catalog to judge for yourself whether they're aestheticially intrusive in a varnished hull.

RE: plug/ stitches

De-stitching my wife's CH16LT took less than 1/2 hour of easy work.

Aesthetics aside, if you use tack the hull together with small epoxy smears between the stitches, pull the stitches when te tacks cure and then apply the fillets, you'll get smaller fillets, a lighter boat and use less epoxy that if you run fillets thick enough to cover the stitches from the inside.



RE: plug/ stitches

Thanks for the feedback. 

RE: plug/ stitches

I am building a stained and varnished Matunuck.  I didn't like the puzzle joints; my partner made me some scarf joints.  Which are very nice, by the way.  I was also not happy with those un-appealing stitch holes.  The manual says to remove the wires.  My partner and I read somewhere about plugging up the stitch holes with clear-drying TackBond mixed with Okume sawdust. 

Mistake.  That stuff dries dark.  Plus it makes a mess that, when dried, has to be wetted down and then flaked off with a putty knife.  And those dark "moles" will not take the stain.  We have recently resorted to filling in the now-bigger holes (due to removing the TackBond stuff) with wood putty.  And that wood putty won't take the stain.  So I've got these many spots on the boat now. 

As I have progressed, the stitch holes continue to be a problem.  Maybe it is best to leave the wire in so that (a) the holes don't get bigger and (b) to keep the epoxy from leaking through when you fbrgls the inside.  Which makes more sanding.  And most likely the stitch holes would be much less visible if I had just left in the wires, cut down,  and then fbrglsd.  I like the idea of using the fillet stuff to plug up the holes, too. 

Our options now are to paint the boat; paint the holes; or to use some Sharpies to cover them. 

As I have heard many times, "painting is always an option."  But I want that pretty finish!  And I want all that extra care and work to pay off.  For both of us.   My partner is building a painted version; we want to compare the end results. 

And we will make other boats.  The paint vs. varnish vs. wire in/wire out is all an education.  Some day I hope to do a stripper. 


RE: plug/ stitches

First, leaving the stitches in doesn't make them invisible. Depending on the light angle and just how the tips of the wire gots sanded, you can end up with shiny copper gleams all over your boat. Which are not bad looking. But they're not invisible. If you're trying for the "carved-from-a-single-block-of-wood" look, you won't get it by leaving the stitches in.

Next, I've seen people try for that look by hiding the joints, concealing the stitch holes and buying sequential pieces of plywood to match the grain from one sheet to the next. I haven't seen it work yet. They boats look beautiful, but they always look like stitch and glue. Which is just what they are, so that makes sense.

Stitch holes (with or without the stitches left in) and joints are the natural result of our building method. They're like the rivet heads and welded seams of metal boats, the glossy smooth curves of fiberglass boats, the sewn seams of a skin-on-frame and the carved from a single block of wood look of  dugout canoe.They all look beautiful if done with care, no need to hide the fact that they were built they way they were.

Enjoy your builds,


RE: plug/ stitches

Thank you, Laszlo, for that information.  I imagine the copper glint would look okay, too. 

We got some water-base latex paint that matched my stain pretty good.  I put that on the stitch holes, (that I had put wood putty into) blending it in like you would blend in makeup (being a girl helps)  then because I needed just a little more stain, I applied that and the holes just about disappeared.  Now with the fiberglass and epoxy, I am sure they'll be almost invisible.  I hope this ends the stitch hole problem for me.

As for the paint I got, I (we) made samples of the wood/stain,  took it to Home Depot to be matched and got some samples for about $3 a 7.25 oz container. 

RE: plug/ stitches

Laszlo, regarding the small smear of epoxy in between the stitches. What if anything do I fill the holes with?





RE: plug/ stitches

They fill in on their own with epoxy from wetting out the glass. Or, you can break off an epoxy-dipped toothpick in each hole. Or you can inject epoxy/woodflour mix into each hole.

Have fun.


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