Finishing the Hull

I settled on Brightside Hatters White for my upper hull color.  I think it will blend well with the bright finish I’ll be applying to the rub rails (yet to be installed).  After multiple coats and a few mishaps (articulated below) here’s what I got.  DSC00037Excuse the dust on the black paint.DSC00044 DSC00043 DSC00042 DSC00039 DSC00038Summary:

  1. After applying 4 coats of graphite epoxy to the lower hull section, I applied 3 coats of epoxy on all remaining hull pieces.
  2. I then filled any low spots with micro balloons.
  3. I then sanded multiple times until I was satisfied.
  4. I then applied 3 coats of Hatteras White to all lower sections.
  5. Then disaster struck.

At this point, I thought all was well and that I was almost done with this arduous process.  But, after looking closely, I notice spiderweb like wrinkles in the finish.  They were present in 3 or 4 locations, some of which were quite large…say basketball size.  I have no idea what caused them.  I ran it over and over in my mind never reaching a logical cause and effect.  After a discouraging night of sleeping on it, I knew they had to be sanded out.  So, I strapped on a new filter mask and sanded the entire hull (problem areas more thoroughly than others).  I then applied another complete layer of paint.  Looking closely this time for the spiderweb wrinkles, they were not to be found.  I breathed a sigh of relief and applied one more coat and called it good.

This is not a perfect job.  Those of you who are really gifted at finish work will readily notice flaws in my finish.  But I achieved the ‘ham n egger’ standard.  That’s all I can ask for in this build.  As my dad would say, “we’re not building a piano”.  

Final Coat of Graphite

The final coat of graphite went on at 4:00 am this morning.  It seemed to go on beautifully…quelling some of yesterday’s concerns.  I had to include a few more photographs of Shackleton.  Enjoy.DSC00040

DSC00036Notice the brush hair just off the drain hole.DSC00035DSC00039DSC00037DSC00035I gotta say thank you to those who encouraged this graphite finish for the lower section of my hull.  I love the heavy, solid look it portrays.  It should be tough, slippery and easy to maintain.  My idea was to wrap it up the sides approximately 2″ above the DWL.  This wrapped look seems to add a physiological feeling of safety to the hull.  Creating a feeling that all is well down under.  I’m really happy how this turned out.

Paint for the lower section arrived yesterday.  I can’t wait to see how the Hatteras White looks against the black.  But, first I need to epoxy and fair (the glass termination edge) the lower section.

Graphite Epoxy Hull

Having settled on a practical, functional graphite bottom for Shackleton, I begin to roll the thick black stuff onto the hull.  DSC00037After one coat, the hull looks thirsty for more.DSC00038After two coats, things are looking much better.DSC00040I don’t have a perfect finish here.  I got orange peel for some sections of the hull.  I’ve decided a workboat finish will have to suffice.  I want this baby in the water…I guess I’m to that point.  I hear everyone gets to this point sooner or later.  I’m feel like I”m getting there.


The idea of putting a small amount of colloidal silicon in the mixture to smooth out the graphite didn’t work for me, in fact I think it added a little texture to the epoxy.  My best results were simply using graphite alone without additives.  One more coat and I’ll be removing the tape.  This will be around 1:00 am this morning.  Wish me luck.

AfterAfter one

Sanding the Hull

I happen to love tools and I admit it.  They make the overall woodworking experience so much more pleasurable.  Yes, you could do this will fewer tools, but why would you?  The proper tools make every job easier, safer and more satisfying.  With that unabashed introduction, meet my new hand sander from Home Depot.  DSC00036This little gem made todays job much easier.DSC00037You can buy traditional sanding paper sheets and cut them to fit.  This large flat area afforded me great control over the sanding process.

One could spend as much time finishing the hull as they do the entire build.  The more I get into this, the more small imperfections I seem to notice.  At some point, not too far in the distant future, I’m going to call it good enough and move on.

DSC00036My hull after sanding off the fairing material.DSC00037DSC00038Notice the obvious line along both sides of the bow.  These area need another filling. They are concealing 4 wraps of 6 oz. glass across the bow.DSC00041Second filling of bow (before sanding).  This is looking much better.

What I learned:

  1. Run your electric palm sander first with 80 grit paper over all the filled areas.
  2. Buy a plastic squeegee ($0.49) at your local automotive shop (or use a leaf if you don’t believe in good tools) for applying the thickened epoxy 😉
  3. I mixed the epoxy a little wetter than normal…it flowed over the problem areas smoothly…like frosting a cake.  It spreads into all the low areas bringing them flush with their surroundings.  It’s really fun stuff to spread around.
  4. Filling and sanding your hull is addictive and the process is never quite finished.
  5. 150 grit paper cut through this stuff much better than 80 grit paper.  It felt like the smaller tooth of the 150 grit paper hooked up much better than the larger 80 grit.  This surprised me, but was true.
  6. After the electric palm sander, I used the hand sander shown above for final sanding.  It worked extremely well and produced more dust than my power sander.


Open a window in your shop, strap on the dust mask and git r done.  You’re shaping your future.

Glassing Planks 1 & 2

After glassing the hull, I’m now ready to glass the planks.  I chose to glass the hull in one piece, followed by plank 1 & 2.  The plans only call for plank 1 to be glassed, but I had the glass and just felt better about also wrapping plank 2.

With the hull epoxy still green, I laid the plank fiberglass into position (the overlap onto the green hull held things in place).  It was just tacky enough to stay put with a light touch.

This was harder than I expected.  The plank joints were difficult to get right.  Fix the top joint…pull the lower joint…Fix the lower joint…pull the top joint.  I finally got a system that worked fairly well, but the joints are not perfect.  Some small air bubbles exist.  The radius is just too sharp for proper glass adhesion.  I plan to sand through these areas to remove any potential future problems with water being trapped behind the glass.  DSC00039The hull chine has 2 layers of glass on all edges.  The bow has 4 wraps of glass over the plank 1 joint.  DSC00040I wrapped the glass 1″ over the the plank 2/3 joint.  DSC00038

What I learned:

  1. The glass takes more epoxy than expected to properly fill the weave (I almost ran out…this would have been disastrous).
  2. The sides took more time than the hull, due to the lap joint.
  3. The lap joint didn’t want to lay down properly (there are a few air spots that refused to conform)
  4. A squeegee is a must to work the lap joint.

I feel a little uncertain as to the proper steps in fairing the hull,  Any and all suggestions are welcome.


Fiberglassing Hull

Fiberglass finally arrived…glassing the hull begins.  After positioning the glass several different ways over the hull, I settled on the approach that made the most sense to me.  I would glass the entire hull panel first, without any seams, and then glass the plank panels.

DSC00037DSC00039The 50″ glass covers all edges with a 2″ or more overhang on all sides.DSC00038Cut out for the CB slot.DSC00040The blue tape line shows where I stop the overlap. This provides a strengthening wrap of glass over the hull chine on all edges.DSC00041DSC00044DSC00042 The overlapping glass around the stern and panel #1 joint.DSC00035Tape removed and excess glass trimmed off.  DSC00036Overlapped edge after trimming glass with razor blade.


I like the 2″ wrap concept.  It adds an extra layer of glass over all the hull chine seams.  I will now wrap planks 1 & 2 (with one strip of glass), overlapping this hull chine seam.  I’m amazed at how much epoxy this step took…it seems I’m always ordering more epoxy.  After finally inspection I did notice a few waves in the glass.  They were not there after the first coat of epoxy, but after coming back 8 hours later for the second coat, I noticed them.  I suppose there is nothing to do now but sand after filling the weave.

  It’s all good.

Glassing Transom/Plank Joint

In preparation for glassing the hull, I decided to reinforce a few key areas.DSC00035DSC00036I placed (2) 3″ offset fiberglass strips down the garboard plank junction.  DSC00040 Rear transom/plank junction sanded and ready for fiberglass cloth.  DSC00035DSC00038DSC00039After rolling out the fiberglass, I learned I am way short of completing this next step.  So, I now wait for the additional glass to arrive.

The Redemptive Qualities of the Shinto Rasp

I’ve said it before, now I’ll demonstrate it.  Check this out.DSC00062 Huge ugly fillets around the seams.  DSC00064Epoxy piled a mile high.  It looks like my 7 year old did this.  DSC00028 Remember, It has to look ugly before it can look beautiful.  

Now for the Shinto Rasp Redemption:DSC00031Notice the slight glow being given off from Shackleton’s hull?  It’s almost like it has been redeemed from the “Fall of Adam” and now finds itself in an exalted state. DSC00032DSC00037DSC00036DSC00032DSC00036 I don’t know how I would’ve done this without the Shinto Rasp.  Buy one today.  Actually, buy several.  Give them away to your dearest friends after showing them your boat.  I also think they would make tremendous wedding presents.  After all, who needs more towels?

This build is getting very exciting…can’t you just feel the energy?

Next up:  Glassing the Hull

My Birthday Wish

I really wanted to have the boat turned over for my birthday.  Well, tomorrow is my birthday and would you look at Shackleton.  Flipped and ready…waiting for proper care and feeding.DSC00032I didn’t install the back rest or transom cap, feeling it would be easier to turn the boat over before completing these steps.  So, after turning Shackleton back over, I will add these pieces.DSC00030Who engineered these straps?  They ought to loosen incrementally (as they do when tightening).  Would this be too much to ask?  This would give one perfect control.  Oh well, I had several buddies come over and help me set the boat down onto sawhorses.

DSC00035I started cleaning up the edges (couldn’t resist).  I think this will go faster than I anticipated.    In this photo, you can see my first mistake with this build.  Notice the notch outs in the hull?  These were suppose to face upward.  This was an easy fix.  If you build any wooden boat, you will make mistakes.  Remember, the secret is to work through the mistakes and not get discouraged.  You can fix anything with wood and epoxy.  Though you might need a file and block plane.  DSC00034I screwed 2/4’s onto the top of wooden sawhorses so that they would span across the deck (from gunwale to gunwale).  I also placed stone blocks with a wooden shim under the mast box.  This prevents the boat from rocking forward (which it wants to do).  Now it feels secure for confidently working on the hull.

Next step:  Fillet the planks, smooth the fillets, epoxy and glass the bottom.