Category Archives: Boat Construction

Caledonia Yawl

Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building

Above: Students of the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building and the recently built Caledonia Yawl.

Students of the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building in Port Townsend, Washington, recently built the Caledonia Yawl, an Ian Oughtred design. The boat was commissioned by the Four Winds Camp on Orcas Island in Puget Sound and is the second one the school has built for them. Instructor Bruce Batchely believes this is the best built boat to come out of the shop so far. They modified the boat to suit the camp’s need for buoyancy and storage and made the spars hollow to keep the rig light. Continue reading

Golden Day 1976

Looking Back on Epoxy Technology

How WEST SYSTEM® Products Got Their Start

By Meade Gougeon — GBI Founder
Epoxyworks 28

Cover Photo: Top image – First GBI crew building GOLDEN DAZY in the early ’70s. Bottom image – The Gougeon Brothers, Inc. team in 2008.

 

2009 was the 40th Anniversary of Gougeon Brothers, Inc. 1969 marked a point in the Gougeon brothers’ careers when they applied all they had learned about wooden structures and epoxy technology to manufacture, for the first time, a product utilizing wood/epoxy composite construction. The full story of Gougeon Brothers, Inc. begins long before that date and is sure to continue well into the next 40 years.

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The varnished interior has 10 to 12 coats of Captain's Spar Varnish™ over the 105/207 epoxy coated surfaces

Building the Arch Davis Sand Dollar

By Nelson Niederer

Above: The varnished interior of my Arch Davis Sand Dollar has 10 to 12 coats of Captain’s
Spar Varnish™ over the 105/207 epoxy coated surfaces.

The Arch Davids Sand Dollar is designed as a row-able sailboat but, since my father, brother, and I have about a dozen sail and powerboats between us, mine would be a rowboat only. This meant I didn’t need to build a centerboard and trunk, a rudder, or a mast. The seats, bow deck, and gunwales are made of mahogany with Sitka accents. The lightweight Sand Dollar and its trailer tow easily behind a motorcycle. The interior wood was left natural—seats, bow deck and gunwales are mahogany with Sitka accents. The hull is painted with House of Color™ Midnight Blue Pearl.

We’ve had various types of boats in my family since the ’60s, beginning with a painted canvas and flat-bottom wooden canoe my father built which we used for bow fishing. My grandfather bought a 1959 Lonestar fiberglass ski boat with a 35 hp Evinrude outboard for his kids and grandkids, among the first seen on Sand Lake in northern Michigan. Grandpa never set foot in it though. He preferred his little 14′ aluminum rowboat powered by his trusty old outboard to take us fishing for largemouth bass and pike.

I have been using WEST SYSTEM® epoxy since about 1973 when my brother Randy and I bought a plywood hydroplane-style boat with a 90 hp outboard. As teenagers, we beat the hell out of it. We broke it on a regular basis and we’d glue it back together with epoxy filled with reinforcing fibers. We finally broke it beyond repair in ’76—it made a great bonfire.

Gluing the keel to the transom and aft bulkhead of the Arch Davis Sand Dollar.

Gluing the keel to the transom and aft bulkhead of the Arch Davis Sand Dollar.

Sanding begins on the coated hull to get it ready for varnish.

Sanding begins on the coated hull to get it ready for varnish.

I cut my boat-building teeth, so to speak, building a modified Optimist pram. I borrowed the patterns our local community sailing association (SBCSA) used to build their fleet and laid out the hull sides, bow, and stern with 3″ more freeboard. Rather than a sailboat, I intended to use it as a rowboat tender for my 30′ Sea Ray. With this project under my belt, I was ready to widen my boat-building skills.

While reading my favorite magazine, WoodenBoat, I came across an ad selling plans for the Sand Dollar from Arch Davis. I took a chance and ordered a set online. I studied the plans for a few days and decided this was a project I could build by myself in my garage, which is set up as a woodworking shop. I’ve built a lot of furniture—bed frames, tables, and clocks—which are in essence big square boxes with fancy trim. This boat would be anything but that. I found the plans, instructions, and video to be excellent and very helpful.

I started by building the stem. I laid out the pattern (which comes full size on Mylar™ film) over a 1″ mahogany board, then used a nail to poke holes defining the shape. It was easy to simply connect the dots and cut out the part. The rough shape was sawn from 2″×1″ thick boards laminated together. Next I built the transom from two layers of ¼” okoume plywood, also laminated together. I used the two-step bonding technique as recommended in the WEST SYSTEM User Manual for each of these parts. I coated each mating surface with unthickened epoxy, allowed it to penetrate, then mixed resin and hardener and thickened it to a catsup consistency with 406 Colloidal Silica filler. I applied the mixture to one of the surfaces and secured the parts together until cured. This does take more time but provides a more reliable bond by preventing glue-starved joints. gain, I laid out the Mylar film pattern and used a nail and hand pressure to create the shape. I’m apparently not as hard as nails because this really hurt my hands.

With both ends made, I started building the strongback from 1″×10″ clear pine. It is basically a long skinny box on sawhorses. After making sure it was level and square, I attached the frames to it. Next, I spray painted around the legs of the sawhorses so I could move the whole assembly and put it back exactly where I’d started if for some reason I had to move it.

 The first parts mounted to the strongback are the temporary frames, which help define the hull shape but will not be a part of the boat. I cut these frames from ¾” particle board, but this time I tried using carbon paper under the Mylar pattern to trace the lines instead of using nails. This was much easier and faster. I defined and drew a centerline and starting point onto the top surface of the strongback so I could position and layout the frames accordingly. I took care to mount them square to the centerline and perpendicular to the horizontal plane. I mounted the transom next, forming the last “frame.” Then I mounted the stem to the front of the strongback and extended it into the first frame. There are two bulkheads, one each fore and aft, both cut from ¼” okoume and framed with Sitka spruce. These were secured to the appropriate temporary frame and remain a structural part of the hull.

The lightweight Arch Davis Sand Dollar and its trailer tow easily behind a motorcycle.

The lightweight Arch Davis Sand Dollar and its trailer tow easily behind a motorcycle.

 At this point the basic shape of the hull was defined and it was time to mount the keel. I attached ¾”×5″ mahogany plank to the transom with epoxy and clamps, bending the plank across the frames and securing it to the stem, again with epoxy and clamps. Next came the Sitka spruce stringers—one on each side of the keel and three on each side, glued into notches in the frames.   With the “skeleton” ready, I installed the bottom and side planks which I made from ¼” okoume. The overall length of the stock needed to be 11’6″, so I needed to scarf the plywood to get there. The problem was I’d never made a scarf joint before. So I approached the tech guys at Gougeon Brothers, Inc. My brother Bruce, who is a tech advisor there, showed me a technique using a hand plane and belt sander. My first scarf joint turned out perfect, the last one—not so much. I pre-coated each plank with three coats of 105 Resin®/207 Special Clear Hardener ™, prepped them for installation and glued them in place. I used deck screws as temporary clamps until the epoxy cured.

Now came the character-building portion of the project—fairing the hull. My plan was for the outside hull to be dark blue, so it had to be perfect because any little divot or imperfection would stick out like a sore thumb. Fill and sand, fill and sand, fill and sand. Eventually, it was done to my satisfaction and the hull was ready to be flipped right side up. Now, I would never pretend to know anything about the experience of childbirth, but as soon as I saw the hull upright and it looked like a boat, all the pain of sanding and fairing was immediately forgotten. I had a new baby boat.

The interior wood was left natural. Seats, bow deck, and gunwales are mahogany with Sitka accent. The hull is painted with House of Color Midnight Blue Pearl.

The interior wood was left natural. Seats, bow deck, and gunwales are mahogany with Sitka accent. The hull is painted with House of Color Midnight Blue Pearl.

 The bow has lines of graphite-filled epoxy between the strips for that classic look. But when sanding the graphite mixture I learned dust would get in the wood grain and cast a gray shadow that took some doing to get clean. I asked my brother how I could avoid the issue and he suggested using a black paint pigment instead of the graphite. (see Epoxyworks 21) This worked much better for me and sanded out clean. It’s handy having family on the Gougeon tech staff.

I worked slowly and carefully to fit and install the trim because I wanted it to look like a piece of fine furniture. Once the trim was done it was time to paint the hull. I enlisted >the help and expertise of my nephew Alex, who worked at Psycho Custom Cycle, a motorcycle shop, prepping and painting custom frames and tanks. He arranged for the use of the shop’s facilities to spray paint the hull. We decided on House of Color™ Midnight Blue Pearl, which requires a four-step process: primer, black base coat, midnight blue, and four coats of clear. The paint is popular these days on cars—a “flip-flop” color that looks blue or black depending on the conditions at any given moment. The hull looks awesome and draws lots of oohs and aahs from many an admirer. Thanks, Alex. I took the boat home to varnish the interior woodwork, applying 10 to 12 coats of Captain’s Spar Varnish™ over the epoxy-encapsulated surfaces. You know what that meant more endless hours sanding between coats. I asked my pal J. R. Watson at Gougeon Brothers how many coats of varnish I should apply. He said three coats would be adequate, but just keep going until I couldn’t take it anymore.

After addressing a few minor details I was finally ready to launch my Sand Dollar. It rows great—easy and fast. In the end, with all my complaining about sanding aside, the boat was no work at all to build, just pure fun. I don’t know what I’ll do with it now that the building is complete. I’ll probably sell it (as of this writing it is for sale) and start another project. I’ve been eyeing plans for an electric launch. You know the story of the boatbuilder who won the lottery? When asked what he’d do with the winnings he replied “I guess I’ll keep building boats until I run out of money.” Smart man.

A final thought from Arch Davis for the amateur builder: “Don’t point out your mistakes and nobody will ever know.”

The bow has lines of black pigment-filled epoxy between mahogany and spruce accent stripes for that classic look.

The bow has lines of black pigment-filled epoxy between mahogany and spruce accent stripes for that classic look.

Nelson's completed Sand Dollar

Nelson’s completed Sand Dollar.

Marquetry Made Easy

By Al Witham

There is a simple way for those of us who may be “artistically challenged” to produce easy marquetry inlaid furniture, jewelry boxes, canoe decks, trays, etc. with a modest investment in equipment and materials, in a reasonable period of time, and with eye-pleasing results. I have no formal training in making marquetry inlays but have found a method that works for me. I showed this method to a friend who is a shop teacher; he now has students as young as ten incorporating it into their school projects with excellent results. My method is adaptable, user-friendly within limits, and forgiving of minor cutting errors. Even novices can produce great-looking marquetry. Continue reading

Both wood/epoxy and traditionally built canoes and kayaks were on display.

Small Craft Builders Rendezvous

By Tom Pawlak — GBI Technical Advisor

Above: At the Small Craft Builders Rendezvous, both wood/epoxy and traditionally built canoes and kayaks were on display.

In July 2008 I attended the Small Craft Builders’ Rendezvous in Peterborough, Ontario at the invitation of Ted Moores and Joan Barrett. Their company, Bear Mountain Boats, was one of the sponsors of the gathering which included modern wood and epoxy constructed boats as well as traditionally built wooden canoes. Those attending ranged from professional builders to serious amateurs. Continue reading

Their vacuum infusion project is still in the tooling stages. Shawn Hanna fairs the hull plug—a labor-intensive job and a tough one to get the students to focus on.

Bates Technical College Builds Boat Builders

By Mike Barker

Above: At Bates Technical College, their vacuum infusion project is still in the tooling stages. Student Shawn Hanna fairs the hull plug—a labor-intensive job and a tough one to get the students to focus on.

Boatbuilding instructor Chuck Graydon of Bates Technical College sent these photos of some projects that its students have been working on using WEST SYSTEM® Epoxy.

Bates Technical College is located in Tacoma, Washington. They offer several boatbuilding and repair programs designed to prepare students for apprentice-level employment in the boat building industry and ultimately fill positions in shipyards, marinas, and private boat building companies. Continue reading

One reason people build boats is that they give you the opportunity to find beauty in otherwise inaccessible places. Paddlers in a 16' Prospector check out an amazing faulted rock formation in northwestern Quebec, September 2008.

Why People Build Boats

By Ron Frenette

Above: One reason people build boats is that they give you the opportunity to find beauty in otherwise inaccessible places. Paddlers in a 16′ Prospector check out an amazing faulted rock formation in northwestern Quebec, September 2008. Continue reading

Building a Pair of Chesapeake 16 Kayaks

by Chris Jacobson

Above: A pair of Chesapeake 16 kayaks built by Chris Jacobson.

Epoxyworks 27

Cover Photo: Paddling the south shore of Ontario’s Lake of Two Rivers and into Pog Lake.

It all began when we went camping in Algonquin Park in 2005. We rented a couple of plastic kayaks and the kids loved it. We came home with the intention of buying a couple of kayaks but while on the internet we saw these stitch and glue make’m yourself boats. I purchased the books “The New Kayak Shop” and “Kayaks You Can Build. ”

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A Quick Fix to a Broken Spinnaker Pole

By Meade Gougeon — GBI Founder

Above: Meade fixes his broken spinnaker pole with a blend of WEST SYSTEM 105 Epoxy and fast curing G/5 Five-Minute Adhesive.

Adagio, our 35′ trimaran, was already off to a bad start in the 100th anniversary of the first running of the Chicago to Mackinaw race with an over-early call by the race committee. Everything went downhill from there when we had to deal with a broken spinnaker pole. Continue reading

Gougeon 12.3 canoes on display.

The Gougeon 12.3 Canoe

By Tom Pawlak — GBI Technical Advisor
Epoxyworks 29

Cover Photo: A small sampling of the Gougeon 12.3 canoe family. Robert Monroe’s cold-molded canoe (foreground) came from a half-mold that eventually resulted in the a 12.3 mold (object directly behind first canoe) which has been used since 1989 to produce dozens of offspring that reflect a wide raged of tastes and technology.

Above: The latest generation of employees and their Gougeon 12.3 canoes.Building a Gougeon 12.3 has become a rite of passage for new employees. 

The Gougeon 12.3 canoe represents several decades of experimentation by employees of Gougeon Brothers, Inc. Dozens have been built but no two are exactly alike. The evolution of the Gougeon 12.3 parallels our love of boating, passion for innovation and desire to build better boats—all of which contribute to the products we produce today.

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