Epoxy and Fiberglass Basics
In our boat building method, the resins and fiberglass are much more important than the plywood. You can use cheap plywood and still get a good boat with the proper resins, not the other way around.
All materials used in this tutorial can be found at boatbuildercentral.com
Boat Plans are available at bateau.com
Our stitch and glue tutorial shows the assembly sequence
of a small boat but does not provide many explanations about resins
and fabrics. We received a good number of questions like: what is
epoxy? and fiberglass? how do you use that stuff? Here is a very
basic tutorial for those who have never seen resins and fiberglass
but want to use them for boat building. Sorry if it looks simplistic
to those who have experience with these materials but it is intended
for people who know absolutely nothing about composites.
The two major components used to build a "fiberglass" boat or to build the seams on a stitch and glue boat are:
Fiberglass and Resin
The resin is a thick liquid, of a viscosity similar to paint. Here, the resin containers are fitted with plunger pumps for easy handling and mixing. The tape shown is standard 4" woven fiberglass tape used in small boats. The fillers (micro balloons and silica) are mixed with the resin to make putty.
Fiberglassing or laminating ( we use these two terms) means to impregnate the fiberglass fabric with the resin in order to produce a hard, strong finished product. The person on the left is laminating a wide panel with a roll, the one below is doing the same with tape in one of our boats. Each applies resin on the fiberglass, with a roller or a brush.
The resin will cure (harden) and the result, seam or panel, will
be a strong, hard fiberglass part. That is all!
Epoxy & Fiberglass basics
Let's look step by step at the building of a fiberglass-epoxy seam:
coat with resin build putty fillets apply fiberglass and resin
The first step is to mix the resin. It is very simple, just mix the two parts in a small container, see our video clip of mixing a small batch.
The resin is then applied on the plywood with a brush or roller. As you can see, it is just like painting (note the gloves).
We need some putty to fill the corner first. The putty is made very easily from resin mixed with a filler: micro-balloons, wood flour etc. It can be applied with a spatula but we describe better methods in our "Stitch and Glue" manual. Note that all surfaces are pre-coated before the application of putty or fiberglass.
Lay the fiberglass tape on the wet putty.
Wet the fiberglass with the resin. It will become transparent while absorbing the resin.
Use a squeegee to remove the excess resin and eliminate air bubbles.
That's all! Your fiber glassing is complete, just
wait a couple of hours for it to cure. Now that you learned how
to make a fiberglass seam, it is a simple matter to use the same
technique to fiberglass large areas like the bottom of your boat.
To make it really easy, use one of our kits. Our kits include all
what is needed to start building right away: resin, fiberglass,
fillers, pumps, cups and gloves and even the Epoxy Book!