Western Red Cedar holes

Thought I'd put this out there as a warning to anyone who is attempting a strip-built deck using Western Red Cedar. I built my first boat and made it a hybrid and trusted the simple instructions of using epoxy-wood flour (from pieces of same strips) to fill the tack holes. As it turns out that was the most horrible mistake I have made in my woodwordking experience. No matter what I tried I could not make the blend match, once epoxy was introduced. To my best judgement, loose fibers of western red cedar turn black or extremely dark when epoxy is introduced, no matter the consistency. If ANYONE has a different opinion please tell me how they got a different result. The Yellow Cedar (using a wood filler) and Dark Mahagony are acceptible. 

Unfortunately my deck looks like absolute $hit now but at least is structuraly sound which is what I need for my upcomming trip. If I was retired and had nothing but time I would be throwing my deck out and starting again. All I can say is do not put holes in Western Red Cedar. Find clamps, tape, or SOMETHING other than staple/nail holes to tack your strips to the forms.

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RE: Western Red Cedar holes

I have seen staple holes that seemed almost a feature of a handsomely stripped boat. And I’ve heard plenty of builders offer variants of “it’s a boat, not a piece of furniture” in advocating the use of staples. But I have to say I’m with you. I am that unfortunate combination of perfectionist and sloppy craftsman and so I don’t regret the extra effort (if it really is extra) to avoid those potentially crude often unpredictable staple holes. I recently stripped a Wood Duckling deck with 3/16” cherry. Even with the much tougher strips and only 4 offset forms I made out fine with only clamps. And fairing was tough enough- I’m glad I didn’t have to pull out hundreds of staples to boot!

Take heart- now you have a built in excuse to start your next boat- that is, if like many of us you’re in favor of almost any excuse to start another.


RE: Western Red Cedar holes

Staple holes in strip kayaks is the subject of endless fulmination.  The boats in our showroom done with staples didn't have the holes filled;  we just let the clear epoxy coating fill the holes. They come out looking more or less like the photo below.

That seems to be the easiest approach.  The next-best trick I've heard is to dip toothpicks in epoxy and break them off in the holes.  Obviously that's not going to help much with color-matching, but it gives people something to DO besides wring their hands and fulminate.  Most efforts to fill the holes seem to make them more visible, not less.

Nick Schade has a thoughtful article about staples in strip boats here.

Me? I'm too impatient to go staple-less.

RE: Western Red Cedar holes

if mine came out Like in your picture I'd be ok with it. Unfortunately the holes in red cedar absorbed epoxy and the holes and surrounding wood turned very very dark. It's really bad in the areas where a tack didn't go in right and damaged the wood a bit. That's where I tried the wood flour trick which didn't help at all. With the fiberglass on I'm out of options. At this point. I'll have to really think if I want to even proceed any further with it.

RE: Western Red Cedar holes

   "That's where I tried the wood flour trick which didn't help at all."..................Ever notice how the fillets are a slightly different color than the surrounding boat?

"I'll have to really think if I want to even proceed any further with it. ".............I'm sure somebody would take it off your hands. However, part of building them is playing with them and you'd miss that.

This might depend upon how many of these rows of "holes" you have. I first thought they were screw holes they looked so big. My first impression was to just drill and plug them.  If you wanted a traditional wood boat appearance maybe a row of brass boat nails. Too much effort in my opinion. But if you you wanted to cover it up how about some inlays, or graphics, or paint (yeah I know). Maybe that is where some deck rigging needs to go. A strap or some bungee can soften a lot of ''charactor marks''. The glass will be filled and sanded anyway so a patch can blend in.  Most people will look at the boat from a distance and be inpressed even if you had runs and drags in the finish.


You know we've got to get beyond imperfections. My first task at launching is to take the boat out in the driveway and drop it on the concrete. That way I get the first scratch grief remorse out of the way and I can enjoy the boat.


RE: Western Red Cedar holes

  Those in the picture are th biggest. Although most are larger than the holes themselves. The cedar is so soft and pourous. When I glassed the underside of the deck epoxy made it through the holes and the drip formed on the underside which gave it time to really absorb into the broken fibers. That the big ones. 

I've got one more idea. After that, its lots of rigging. 

RE: Western Red Cedar holes

   I would find this diaspointing. Just reading up on cedar strip decks. Some time ago I dinged a new wood floor just after i installed it. I got a  great idea to drill a small hole down to anchor the fill then use marine epoxy and some white spruce wood flower i made with the belt sander. The stuff still turned darker than the medium shade oak floor but blended to resemble a natural character inperfection. Can't get away with that in a clear wood application :-) 

Thanks and good luck with the extra rigging. 

RE: Western Red Cedar holes

An interesting topic on many levels. John mentions being too impatient to forego staples- which tells me he must be a much faster builder than I. By the time I would rough cut a strip, plane a rolling bevel, fine tune the ends, glue and clamp a strip on one side, the previously installed strip would be well dried. I've got a ways to go before clamps versus staples are the limiting factor in my build speed!


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