Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fiberglassing lesson from Anthony

I have some pictures from yesterday evening, when my friend Anthony gave me a beginner's lesson in fiberglass. (Thanks Anthony!) He has done this on a few wooden kayaks, so I wanted the benefit of his experience when trying it for the first time.
The project was to protect and stiffen the blades of this kayak paddle that I made, but never finished, last summer. I gave a final sanding/scraping , and then we got to fiberglassing.

wetting out the cloth
First we rough-cut the fiberglass cloth to size, with an extra inch or more to spare on all sides. The cloth stretches on the bias easily, so we laid it down on a table and tried to get it to lay flat first. We put our gloves on for this part because apparently fiberglass is not so nice to skin.

Once the work area was all set up and the cloth pieces were ready, we started mixing the epoxy. We had a tough time initially figuring out what to use to measure it, but ended up using some little pvc pipe caps that probably held less than 1 oz. each. The hardener seemed to react with the pvc, but it wasn't in there for long. Next time, I'll probably get some pumps that measure as they dispense, which Anthony has convinced me are the way to do it.

We laid the cloth down and painted the epoxy on with a couple of disposable chip brushes, taking care to avoid bubbles or other unevenness. When first "wetting out" the cloth with epoxy, it goes from opaque to invisible in the span of about 3 seconds, starting when a dollop of wet epoxy lands on it. That was worth seeing!
Epoxy looks the same whether wet or dry.

I took a look at it this morning and the epoxy has gotten harder, but looks exactly the same. I tried slicing a little bit of the excess cloth off just to try it, but that's all the time I had today. At the next opportunity, I'll apply another coat of epoxy before moving on to marine varnish.

Excess cloth slices off easily once dry.

It would seem that applying fiberglass is a straightforward task for anyone with a bit of finishing experience. I'm definitely not going to hesitate to try it again.


  1. Hey Scott, Just for your reference, a lot of the tips that I tried to demonstrate to you came from here

    1. Wow, that's a wealth of articles. Thanks!