Gougeon Brothers has composed a definitive safety guide for WEST SYSTEM epoxy users, called EPOXY SAFETY. The 12-page booklet contains general health, safety and environmental information, and explains basic precautionary measures for the typical epoxy user. It also covers some specific health problems that may result if these measures are ignored. Continue reading →
When it comes to meeting the challenges of the marine environment, no wood so nicely fits the bill as teak. Teak is a strong, hard, rot-resistant material. A naturally oily wood, teak will withstand the assault of the marine environment better than any other wood species. Teak is well suited for a variety of interior and exterior applications—from elegant teak and holly cabin soles to rugged toerails and handrails. Oiled, varnished or left natural, teak presents a rich, subtle beauty that is synonymous with traditional watercraft and quality. Continue reading →
Cover Photo: Wingspread, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed residence near Racine, Washington.
Wingspread, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed residence near Racine, Wisconsin, was in desperate need of stabilization. The roof and side walls were showing movement and cracks caused by extreme snow loads and previous remodeling. Because this house is on the National Register of Historic Buildings (NRHB), the owners and architects were restricted to stringent guidelines in making repairs. Continue reading →
As winter wore on, I ran out of things to do. There was no snow for skiing and no ice for ice boating. I figured it was a good time to make something fancy for the new catamaran. I reckoned that fairing the compasses that stuck up out of the deck would reduce windage and make everything look cleaner. I decided to make carbon fiber compass hoods with a clear finish inside and out. This was a good application for the matched mold technique of composite construction.
The appropriate laminate thickness for a particular application is difficult to come up with out of the blue. We have a “feel” for how strong something must be to suit our purposes. Our hands are fairly sensitive for detecting slight load increases, up to about 30 pounds. We can use them to evaluate a variety of materials. The only problem is, we don’t know the numerical equivalent of the pressure we’re applying. Continue reading →
In the past, we’ve recommended applying an alkyd base primer over well cured, clean, and sanded epoxy surfaces. We wanted to know how this primer compared to the newer, fast drying primers now available. We recently did a study of various house paint primers over epoxy to support the growing number of customers using WEST SYSTEM epoxy for building restoration. Continue reading →
A long time ago, I was building a 16 foot William F. Crosby design—a plywood, skiff-like sailboat. I was having trouble figuring out what to do because the plywood was only half as long as my boat was going to be. (Up to that point, all the boats I’d built were 8 footers.) I thought my prayers were answered when I heard that a distant lumber yard had some “special stuff” 16 feet long. But when I arrived at the yard, I thought I had been deceived. The “special” 16 foot plywood had been made that long by joining two standard 8 foot sheets, with a joint that looked pretty vulnerable and weak. I reluctantly bought the material on the assurance that it was plenty strong and I was not being deceived. Continue reading →
There are many ways to machine scarf bevels on plywood panels. The best method depends on how many scarf joints your project requires. If you need to scarf only two sheets of 3mm plywood, using a block plane and sanding block is a good low cost option. If you have a daily need to scarf many panels, a reliable machining method is a wise investment. This article reviews several popular scarffing methods and tools, to help you decide which is best for you. Continue reading →
A vacuum hold down feature can be incorporated into a table to hold individual sheets of plywood in place while you machine scarf bevels. This feature works especially well when using the router box technique described in the scarffing article. You’ll need a fairly large vacuum pump. We use an oilless rotary vane vacuum pump made by Gast, Model No. 3040-V115A. It generates 25 cubic feet per minute (cfm) at no vacuum and 5 cfm at 20″ of mercury. Smaller units may work, but lots of cfm and reasonably high vacuum are required when plywood is warped or rough. A vacuum table will work most efficiently holding down smooth, flat plywood panels. Continue reading →
Working with fiberglass fabrics can cause skin irritations ranging from minor itching to a serious rash. It’s caused by microscopic, needle-like fiberglass spindles of that prick your skin. It helps to protect your skin with gloves and long or disposable protective sleeves, but here is what to do if you’re faced with a fiberglass-induced itch. Continue reading →