Monthly Archives: January 2015


Comparing Cost and Weight of Flat Panels

How to choose the best materials when building flat panels

by Jeff Wright — Vice President of Technical Services

Above: Jeff Wright, Vice President of GBI Technical Services, poised to take a deep dive into types, materials, costs, weight, and stiffness of flat panels.

Many WEST SYSTEM® customers appreciate the benefits of cored composite construction. They understand that it creates a part that is lightweight, strong, and stiff. We often receive calls from these customers inquiring about using a composite panel when building or repairing something that would normally be made of plywood. Such projects may include a new center console for a fishing boat or the replacement of flying bridge side shields. Determining the best material requires consideration of many aspects of the project, but often comes down to cost versus weight. Continue reading

razor blade

Practical Uses for Razor Blades

by Tom Pawlak — GBI Technical Advisor

Necessity is the mother of invention, and razor blades are often called into service for a variety of tasks around the shop other than shaving. Here are a few.


Razor blades can be used in a pinch to apply caulks and thickened epoxies with great precision. They do a great job filling isolated pinholes and scratches, especially when the blade is laid at a low angle (nearly flat) when spreading the putty. Continue reading

Seaworthy Kayak

Building a Guillemot Kayak

By Jason Havel

I am a Captain in the Air Force and was stationed in Wichita, Kansas, in October 2002 when I purchased a book about building a strip kayak. After the first chapter, I was sold. I ordered the full-size plans for the Guillemot kayak. While on vacation in Texas, I spent about $300 on the western red cedar, purpleheart, and yellow heart, then discovered I was to deploy to Saudi Arabia. In the evenings prior to the deployment, I machined the cedar into ¼” strips and put the bead and cove on them using a router table. It was during the process of setting up my table saw that I realized how clear D-grade pine can be. I accidentally bought a few long boards of it to build an extra-long table saw fence for ripping the cedar.

The stripping of the Guillemot kayak's hull with Western red cedar is completed.

The stripping of the Guillemot kayak’s hull with Western red cedar is completed.

I was amazed at how little grain was visible. That’s where the idea of the lighter-colored deck came from. I got 6 or 8 strips on the mold before I left for my deployment.  While I was gone, the confrontation with Iraq began. What was supposed to be 3 months turned into 5 months. The air war ended and I came home and was informed I would be moving from Wichita, Kansas, to Altus AFB, Oklahoma. I knew it was only 300 miles, but I wasn’t about to bring a couple of hundred strips of cedar and an unfinished boat along for the trip. I spent every spare moment finishing the boat. I finished stripping in June, laid the fiberglass in July, and moved in August.

The inside of the Guillemot Kayak's hull is glassed with 6 oz fiberglass cloth. Havel used 105/207 to wet out the cloth in temperatures over 100 degrees F.

The inside of the Guillemot Kayak’s hull is glassed with 6 oz fiberglass cloth. Havel used 105/207 to wet out the cloth in temperatures over 100 degrees F.

I used 6 oz cloth with 105 Resin/207 Special Clear Hardener and was very impressed. Since July in Kansas is typically over 100°F, I was a little hesitant pouring epoxy. When I did all the epoxy work, it was 108° to 112°F. I could thoroughly mix the epoxy, lay it down, brush or squeegee it out, and make it look perfect. Ten minutes later, it started to harden. There were no issues with sheeting or running. In fact, I never saw any anime blush and had zero bubbles. Believe me, I looked for amine blush since every piece of the literature mentions it. After an hour or two, I brushed on the next coat to fill the weave and add a nice smooth surface for the varnish. Since the epoxy wasn’t fully cured, I got an excellent chemical bond. I can’t say enough about how great the 207 Hardener worked at over 100°F. I coated everything with epoxy, including the deck fittings, before I fastened them to the deck. I sanded the hull with 150-grit sandpaper on a random orbital sander and finished it off with five coats of Z-Spar™ Captains Varnish. Z-Spar also works great at 100+ degrees.

guillemot kayak detail

Guillemot Kayak detail: Everything is coated with 105/207 and finished with 5 coats of Z-Spar Captain’s Varnish.

Purpleheart provides a nice contrast for the outline of the deck design and deck hardware on the Guillemot Kayak.

Purpleheart provides a nice contrast for the outline of the deck design and deck hardware on the Guillemot Kayak.

I’d do it again in an instant but next time it will be a canoe since my family will soon be a total of four plus our dog. Even though the kids will be small, it’s tough to stuff them and my wife in a single place kayak and expect to get anywhere.

Bounty Hunter after sheathing with WEST SYSTEM.


by Patrick Ropp—GBI Technical Advisor

Above: The 65′ strip-planked Bounty Hunter after sheathing with fiberglass and WEST SYSTEM Epoxy. After 5 years, she still looks as good as she did then. In addition, her new fiberglass skin quickly paid for itself through increased performance.

Five years ago, Captain Glenn James decided it was time to make improvements to his Coast Guard-inspected charter fishing boat operating out of Edgewater and Solomon’s Island on the Chesapeake Bay. Bounty Hunter is a 65′ cedar-strip planked hull, a one-off Davis™ hull that was built in 1967 at Harkers Island, North Carolina. The planks are fastened to frames on 16″ centers with monel fasteners. The cedar strips are narrow, less than 2″ wide, and are edge nailed with monel nails and edge-glued. Continue reading

The planter box later that summer, with flowers in full bloom.

Building a Planter Box

by Brian Knight—GBI Technical Advisor

My wife gave me the basic guidelines for a planter box she wanted me to build. First, keep it cheap. Second, she wanted an “L” shape. Third, she provided some rough dimensions. The design was up to me. Logic seems to abandon me when I design something, and this project was no exception. A nice, straightforward box with square corners should have been the default. But after some doodling on paper, I decided to build a planter with flared sides and rounded corners. Continue reading

3 8" plywood supports isolate the mold from the strongback

Improved Mold Strongbacks

by Tom Pawlak — GBI Technical Advisor

Above: Three 8″ plywood supports isolate the mold from the mold strongback.

Back in the 1980s, Gougeon Brothers, Inc. was one of the largest producers of wind turbine blades in the US. The blades were built of wood veneer and epoxy, and varied in length from 10′ to 70′. They were built in halves and vacuum laminated in female molds built with WEST SYSTEM® Brand Epoxy. Tolerances were tight, and every aspect of the tooling was critical, from molding to assembly. If something wasn’t right when the two halves were glued together, there wasn’t much you could do to make it right later. Continue reading

1—This strongback table is used to assemble airplane wings. It must not twist or sag. The table was originally 32' long, but has been shortened to 20'. Four rubber casters, one at each corner, support it. Built as a strongback, it spans 20' (previously 32') without sagging.

Staudacher’s Strongback Table

by Brian Knight—GBI Technical Advisor

Above: This strongback table is used to assemble airplane wings in John Staudacher’s shop. It must not twist or sag. 

Jon Staudacher, of Staudacher Hydroplanes and Aircraft, has been using a long, very flat, work table/strongback that is mounted on casters. The table was originally 32′ long, but because of space considerations, Jon has since shortened it to 20′ (Photo 1, at top). Four rubber casters support it, one at each corner (Photo 2, below). Continue reading

Big Bicuspid

Signmaker Bill Boudreau of Maria, Quebec, uses WEST SYSTEM® epoxy to build conventional laminated cedar signs, as well as rather unconventional signs like the big bicuspid. He also uses epoxy for projects that go beyond conventional signmaking—like this 15 ½’ guitar and an 8′ tall tooth.

The monster molar was built of wood, chicken wire, insulating foam, fiberglass, and epoxy. It’s finished with polyurethane paint and has held up very well under conditions of extreme cold and a salty environment.

Continue reading

The Gougeon Brothers on Boat Construction

The Gougeon Brothers on Boat Construction, 5th Edition

Epoxyworks Special Edition

Cover Photo: The Gougeon Brothers on Boat Construction, updated and revised in 2005.

The 5th edition of The Gougeon Brothers on Boat Construction comprises a thorough review of best practices, 20% new and updated material, and a revised layout for easier navigation. Each chapter was reconsidered in terms of evolving technology, new techniques, and the successes and failures of over thirty-five years of experience. We believe that the updates and improvements will enhance the value of this reference text for amateurs and experienced professionals alike. Continue reading