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Kayak Building Part 11 – Decking the Hull!

This is part 11 of a multipart blog . . . Read Part One here,  Part Two herePart Three herePart Four herePart Five herePart Six herePart Seven herePart Eight herePart Nine here, Part Ten here.

Deck the Hull with more epoxy, fa la la la la, la la la la (sorry, I couldn’t help it!).

At this point, both the inside of the hull and the inside of the deck are fiberglassed, and it’s time to put them together.  The outside seam is easy; the inside seam is another story.

Day 48: 7/24/12 2.5 hours

I flipped the deck back onto the hull and taped it down again.  To make sure the bow butt seams stayed aligned, I rewired the holes to keep the deck in place.  I used a razor knife for adjustments, especially near each end.  Taping down the deck is easier with an extra hand, so Mark volunteered to help again.  One of us would hold the deck in place, while the other taped.  Next I added a strip of blue painter’s tape close to the seam to catch any drips. The last step for the night was to squeeze a bead of epoxy in the seam.  I finally broke out a new syringe – it’s amazing how much easier it is to work with a new one.  The tip is still small because we haven’t cut it yet to allow for the epoxy thickened with wood flour.  The new rubber on the plunger makes it much easier to control than ones that have been through many epoxy and acetone treatments.

The deck is taped to the hull

Attaching the deck to the hull with a bead of epoxy.


Day 49: 7/25/12 1.25 hours

Now that the boat is glued together, I removed the fiberglass tape.  I had to fill the gaps left by the tape with epoxy.  I also added a bead of  epoxy thickened with wood flour to the entire seam.


Day 50: 7/26/12 2.5 hours

Tonight I started on the inside seam that holds the deck to the hull.  Keep in mind that now there is only the cockpit hole to work with, and I need to fill the entire inside seam of a 17-foot boat.  I wish I was taller!  In any case, the instructions have you make an extender for the syringe.  Basically you tape the syringe to the end of a 6-1/2′ stick.  Then you screw two small eye screws to the stick, one 4″ from the syringe and the second one at the other end.  You insert a 1/4″ wooden dowel through the 3/8″-diameter eye screws until it butts up against the syringe.  Since Dan has made at least ten boats by now, I figured he already had this contraption – which he did.

Four foot stick to extend syringe that Dan made in the past

Syringe taped to end of stick

Dan showed me how to prop the boat up with a stick so that the seam was horizontal to the floor and the epoxy wouldn’t drip.   Once I filled the syringe with thickened epoxy, I had to wedge myself into the cockpit as far as possible to try to reach the ends.  I also had to fit both arms in front of me and control this long stick with a syringe in the end.   I probably picked the hottest day of the summer to work on the inside seam.  In addition to the heat, I used a small lamp to see inside the boat which took the temperature up 20 more degrees!  This was a horrible process – and I couldn’t get to the end of the boat with it.  Dan said that, in the past, he never was able to reach the ends of the boat, but that was okay.

Boat propped up for filling inside seam

Nancy struggling and sweating inside boat to fill inside seam


After filling the seams, I cut a piece of fiberglass tape and layed it on the seam as far up as I could reach.  Then I painted over it with clear epoxy using a small disposable glue brush.  I also added another bead of thickened epoxy to the outside seam that was now on top of the tipped boat.  I was happy to leave the boathouse that night, and Dan was probably happy to have silence instead of listening to my complaints!

Fiberglass tape on inside seam

Painting epoxy on tape on inside seam


Day 51: 7/27/12  .75 hours

The next day at work, I read an email from Pygmy Boats that advertised their boat building class.  The class is only six days long on-site and you get a lot of the boat done.  You don’t leave with a finished boat, but you get pretty far.  They have found several ways to speed up the build time.  I thought for sure they’d have a better way for filling the inside seams so I called them.  Although they have improved some processes – such as taping more and drilling and wiring less, they still used the stick contraption to fill the inside seams.  Pygmy also suggested that I try harder to reach the ends.  It was time to make a longer stick.

As usual, I trotted down to our Product Development department with my request.  I am now known as the one who comes up with the most outrageous requests for tools.  Although we didn’t have any long dowel rods around, George handed me 6′ metal shelving standards.  I dug around the office and found three large binder clips.  I taped the clips onto one standard and slid the other standard through a space in the clip. This enabled one standard to slide to push the plunger on the syringe.  I thought it might work!

George found some cabinet standards that might work!


I showed up at the lockmaster’s house that night with my new contraption, and Dan rolled his eyes as expected. I checked out the stick I used the night before and realized it was only 4′ long.  Turns out that Dan had used a 4′ stick instead of a 6 1/2′, stick and the dowel rod was only 3′.  Since Dan has built his last boat, Pygmy updated their instructions to a 6′ stick.  Dan read the instructions for the new boat he was using and realized it said use a 6′ stick and get to the ends.  Anyway, I taped the syringe onto the end of my new metal syringe extender.  It worked SO MUCH better!  In fact, the metal shelving standards were very light and had a nice bend so that the syringe hit the seam at a nice angle.

Nancy using new metal syringe enxtender for inside seam

Inside the boat using the metal syringe extender for inside seam


Day 52: 7/30/12  2 hours

Today I showed up ready to hit the other inside seam with my new invention.  I handled this one like a pro!  I tipped the boat the other way and easily filled the inside seam with a bead of epoxy all the way to the end.  Then I laid out the glass tape and painted it down as far as I could reach over top of the recently epoxied seam.  Finally I hit the top seam with the second layer of thickened epoxy.


Day 53: 7/31/12  3.25 hours

Now that the deck was securely attached to the hull, I could scrape off the epoxy on the outside seam and use the required force without harming anything.  Since I know one of my weaknesses is hand scraping these seams, I recruited my husband Mark to help again.  I showed up first and started to take the edge off the seam with the yellow sure form shaver that has been one of our primary tools.  Then I used the paisley shaped cabinet scraper to remove the rest.

Yellow shaver - used a lot in this project

I was busy working my way down the first seam when Mark arrived in the shop.  I showed him the tools and the steps, and he went to work.  Having him help that night was a fantastic idea!  He finished all four seams by the time I finished one!  We finished the whole job in one night!  Woo hoo!!

Mark and Nancy scraping off outside deck seams

Gary and Dan were working on the inside of Dan’s deck while we were scraping away.

Dan Jones and Gary Murphy working on the inside of Gary's deck


Day 54: 8/3/12  2.5 hours

I made it back to the shop on Friday to sand the deck and prepare it for fiberglassing!  With Dan’s help, we moved the boat outside and I broke out the Festool Rotex Sander and Dust Extractor.  I used 220-grit sandpaper.

Festool sander on deck

Nancy sanding boat with Festool Rotex Sander

Also sanded below the seam to prepare for the fiberglass overlap

When I finished sanding, I vacuumed off the dust, brought the boat inside, coated it with epoxy and smoothed out the bubbles with a foam brush.  Wow – does it look great!

What a difference a layer of epoxy makes!

Used a foam brush to remove any bubbles from the epoxy coat.

Wow!  This boat shines now!

Total time in: 108 hours

Next steps in Part 12 – Fiberglassing the hull!




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Comments (4)

  1. avatar
    Frank Donahue, August 24, 2012
    WOW !!! What a great boat you will have when it's done ,... Thanks for shareing the project with us now that I have read your blog and lots of other reviews I think that I might be able to build my own kayak from a kit like yours Reply
    • avatar
      nancy, August 25, 2012
      Thanks Frank! I'm really excited to get that boat in the water. Then when people ask if I made that boat, I can say yes! I guarantee that you can build one too. I outlined every little step in this blog, so along with the extremely detailed directions that you get with the kit, you can follow along with the blog and pictures, and you'll be fine! Good luck! Reply
  2. avatar
    Stan Richards, August 25, 2012
    I am really enjoying your blog. I am working on my third and fourth build and have learned much from your blog. My first build was a two year project building an Ebihen 15, then a 3 1/2 week build for a Duck Punt, and now I am working on two CLC Koholo SUP's. Both of these are in the hull fiberglassing stage. I own a few scrapers, purchased this year from Woodcraft, but have yet to ever use them. I have always sanded my excess epoxy with a Festool Orbital sander and have always been happy with the results after a few hours of work on the entire hull. I am rather shocked at the effort and time that is required to do a proper prep job using just a scraper. I have previously accepted that I will be removing some wood when sanding the epoxy and use 80 grit for epoxy removal and a light pressure on the tool (always on the orbital mode). I finish with 120 grit for a flat finish. I keep the tool as flat as possible when grinding down the epoxy. I guess I won't be winning any quality contest with my current methods, though I have always been pleased with the results. I will try the scrapping method on my next project to see if I have the necessary patience. Reply
    • avatar
      nancy, August 27, 2012
      Hi Stan, Thanks so much for your comment and for reading the blog. It's great to share the methods that Dan has used to build a boat and good to know that reading my execution of his direction is helpful! I can tell you that I have sold Dan on the use of the paisley shaped scraper. The trick is to keep it sharp. Dan still sharpens it on a coarse stone. The one I initially used was too fine and didn't seem to work, so then I bought the veritas burnisher but it doesn't work well with the curved scrapers. So - try the coarse stone for sharpening. Also, before using the scraper, we used that yellow micro shaver to remove the roughest parts. Also, keep in mind that I don't have the same strength or experience as my husband, Dan or Gary. They complete that process much faster than I do. I recently sanded the epoxy to prep for the varnish (still a few blogs away) and I used 120 grit paper. I didn't finish with anything higher than that and it came out great. Dan is going to sand his epoxy with 220 grit but he has a lot less drips and imperfections than I did. Dan would have rolled over and fainted if I would have used 80 grit. That's cool that you are working on two more boats! Good luck with it all! Send pictures! Nancy Reply

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