Monday, February 18, 2008

Luke, I am your father.

Check out my new respirator! 

The hull panels are complete and the scarf joints have been sanded smooth. I spent all of last week, taking my time, gluing the sections together along the hull pieces. In tandem with the hull panels, I also epoxied the scarf joints of the sheer clamps (these are long 1" x 3/4" that are glued to the finished side hull panel to add structural integrity and additional surface area for the kayak deck to be attached to. 

I spent a few hours today using the electric sander to smooth out the epoxy squeeze out from the scarf joints. This epoxy stuff is pretty hard stuff, but with some 100 grit sand paper and some muscle, I sanded it all down. The respirator I picked up yesterday was just for this kind of sanding work. I don't want to breathe wood and epoxy dust. Also during the sanding I placed a box fan as an outlet exhaust fan to help clear the dusty air as I worked. 

Next step: I need to epoxy the sheer clamps to the side hull panels. This steps involves a lot of clamps and patience to get the pieces set in just the right place.


Monday, February 11, 2008

I'm Rubber You're Glue

Kayak construction has begun! 

The first steps consist of gluing together the 8' long plywood panels (that make up the kayak hull) to make even longer 17' panels. The joints where the panels are glued are called "Scarf Joints" and are beveled which increases the surface area and thus a stronger bond. Epoxy is used which is a super duty adhesive/glue/bond-o compound that I mix together just before use. 

At this stage in the process it's prudent to make sure all the panels and joints are lined up according to the plans as misalignment now probably will spell disaster later on. The hull panels are 17' finished but are made up of three piece glued together. In order to assure proper alignment of these panels I stretch a string baseline along the length of the construction area. From this straight line I can measure the correct offsets of the panels along that line. For example, the manual lists the mid-point offset from the baseline as 1 11/16". 

I will be gluing for a while. Each of  the 4 finished hull panels consist of 3 sections which each need gluing at the scarf joint. Each glued joint needs at least 24 hours to dry and harden. In some cases, though, I am able to glue multiple joints at the same time to save time. 

It's exciting to finally start the construction process and already see progress happening. As I am experiencing, though, a lot of patience is necessary. Patience to read (and re-read and triple read) the instructions and patience to make sure everything is correct and finally patience to wait while the glue dries. 

Friday, February 8, 2008

Fra-gee-lay. That must be Italian.

The weather for the past month has been pretty much miserable. If it's not raining, it's snowing. And if it's not cold it's frigid. So the prospect of heading into the garage during this time of year has been keeping me a little unmotivated. But the purchase of an old $5 space heater from Goodwill has changed my outlook. So yesterday I fired up the heater and started unboxing all of the long strips of wood panels that will eventually be glued together. 

It's amazing at this point to see the strips of wood and know that this pile will turn into my sea kayak. I'm getting closer and closer to actually starting the first step in the instruction manual. Also yesterday I popped my head into the marine boat store that is directly across from the Lowes near my house. I discovered there a complete section of tools and brushes and gadgets that I will need in the epoxy/fiberglass stage. It's great to know that resource is so close to home.