Researching for my first build

Just getting started here, and I have a few questions. What I'm thinking about is starting with a Wood Duck 12 or 14. I'm comfortable with my woodworking skills and would go with the plans and manual only. I'm in the Pacific NW, and found a place here that sells the materials I'll need.

Here's where the questions come in. ;) I work in a fiberglass shop and have access to cheap or free materials, and we use 3 lb chopped mat and a heavier woven roving. Could I use the chopped mat instead of the boat cloth that's used in the CLC kits? Also; could I use my completed boat to make molds, and build another few boats out of all fiberglass with a layer of woven roving to add strength? I'd use gel coat of solid colors instead of varnish. 

By the way; this is a great site, and CLC seems like a great company!

Any input would be greatly appreciated!

7 replies:

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RE: Researching for my first build

  First, you're going to love the duck. One of the great features is the light weight of the boat making transport and portage a breeze. So nice to make landing, put the boat up on a shoulder and walk away - and people sure notice it too. I can't comment about the strength differences in mat/cloth but I think the weight of the mat and the gelcoat would be considerable.

  About using the boat for a mold I would think there are permissions to be considered. I do know purchassing the plans allows for the construction of one boat. The good folks at CLC are very accomodating if you want to build more for family but outside that peramiter a new set of plans must be purchased for each boat.

  I'll add that we've had ours in some terrible conditions and put them through hell without issues. The design is proven as well as popular, don't see any need for improvement. But that's my take.


RE: Researching for my first build

Your questions would make any boat designer cringe.  Sure you can use chopped mat.  Would it be a good idea?  No.  The Wood Ducks are designed to take advantage of the properties of the selected materials to yield a kayak that is light, durable and effective at its designed tasks.  Adding chopped mat to the degree needed to match the strength of the original cloth would add a lot of weight and a lot of extra work to achieve a reasonable finish.

I built my first fiberglassed boat in the 60s, and have built many since, but even if I was paid to use chopped mat on a S&G kayak, I wouldn't.  YMMV

For many reasons, an all glass yak, built to replicate a Wood Duck, would be much heavier than a plywood-based copy at the same strength, especially using the free materials you mentioned.  Using exotic glass materials to bring the weight down is a very expensive alternative.  It is very difficult to improve the Wood Duck design using all glass without increasing the cost of materials and tooling many times over the kit cost.  Your money, your boat.

RE: Researching for my first build

Very valid points. Thanks for the info! 

RE: Researching for my first build

With a lot more time than money on my hands at the moment, I decided to design my own kayak. Drew up top and side views and sections at 12" intervals for a 14' hard chine kayak. Just kept playing with it until I liked its lines. Now, for the price of one sheet of okoume, I can build my plug, molds, and hulls. Will it be as light or as pretty as the wooden ones? Nope, but that's fine with me. I'll let y'all know if it floats. ;)

RE: Researching for my first build

It souds like you will end up building a "fiberglass boat" instead of a light weight composite wood-epoxy boat. I found in my first build that the biggest investment was my time, not the materials. Good luck with your kayak. I'm sure it will float and you will have lots of fun paddeling it, and will have the satisfaction of having designed it yourself. I think it will be considerably heavier than wood-epoxy composite though, and I suspect you will use a lot more epoxy with chopped mat than with e.g. 4 oz FG cloth. I suppose you could lower the costs by using polyester resin that is used by most commercial boat builders using molds etc. but you couldn't pay me enough to use it! I'm sticking with epoxy... and wood.


RE: Researching for my first build

Curtis, you work in a fiberglass shop? Do they know how to keep it from unravelling??

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