Hull and deck prep for varnish

Well, I've finished my Great Auk and love it. I am thinking about my NEXT kayak for a winter project. I learned so much with the first one BUT I'm not sure I can improve on some things without a little help. My boat has lumps and bumps and white spots probably from a not so good sanding. My question is what can I do next time to be sure all is nice and smooth and ready for a pre coat of epoxy then ready for glass that will pretty much assure me of a more glassy smooth looking end result? Garry

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RE: Hull and deck prep for varnish

Chances are nobody else will notice the lumps and bumps and white spots. Your boat probably looks great from ten feet away. Next time, though, take plenty of time at each step to get it as smooth as you can. I rushed my last build and had some white spots, which I covered with model railroad paints before varnishing. -Wes

RE: Hull and deck prep for varnish

I agree with Wes: you're the only one who will ever notice the warts. Everybody else who sees your boat will "Ooh and Ah" and be further impressed when they learn you built it.  Their context, after all, is the fleet of plastic boats they know, and yours will really stand out in comparison, even if you see a few flaws in it.

As for your next boat .... My guess is that the white spots are air pockets between the fiberglass and the wood which have been frozen in place by the cured epoxy.  You can prevent that in future construction by making sure the glass is thoroughly wetted, and using a cheap bristle brush or something similar while the epoxy is still fluid to pop any bubbles and work epoxy into the voids.  

The lumps probably result from either excess epoxy, overlapped fiberglass or fiberglass that has floated up off of the wood.  If the epoxy has cured, sanding is pretty effective in all cases; after your varnish or paint is on, it will look okay.  But as Wes suggests, by working carefully you can prevent these problems from developing.  First, make sure gravity is helping you rather than fighting you as the epoxy cures.  Make sure the epoxy is applied evenly, with no excess to form runs or bumps. Make sure the wetted fiberglass adheres to the wood and doesn't have a glop of epoxy beneath it, lifting it off the wood.  And make sure any fiberglass overlap is feathered out so it doesn't create a noticeable bump.

As you work, keep in mind that this is a boat, not fine furniture; it's purpose is to provide the vehicle for enjoying the sport of paddling ... and to the extent that it's beautiful, well, that's just icing on the cake.  So relax and enjoy your Great Auk, and the boat-to-be.

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