View Full Version : Epoxy is Crap

John R Smith
05-26-2000, 11:43 AM
There seems to me to be something of a strange, blind enthusiasm for epoxy and CPES amongst the members of this Forum. I say strange because in other contexts, say relating to similar materials in fibreglass boats, there are howls of derision and derogatory comments like "snot buckets". Yet recently these catalytic resin compounds in a new guise have been hailed as the holy grail for wooden boat construction and maintenance.

I had thought we we had all been here before and seen the error of our ways. Some years ago, it was all the rage to slather the outside of elderly wooden hulls in resin and fibreglass mat. This step was many times undertaken as a last desperate measure to keep the old girl afloat for a few more seasons, or much worse, performed on a perfectly sound hull with reduced maintenance as the only object. I think almost everyone agrees now that this was an appalling thing to do, and far from prolonging life and reducing maintenance it has often pretty well finished off the boat it was intended to save.

So how come epoxy, CPES, and glass cloth are that much different? Aha, you say, but epoxy and CPES are far superior to polyester resin in this context. They bond to wood in a way that resin could not, and they are impermeable to water. And of course, you say, we are applying these techniques to new build, not bodging up an old clunker. Hmm. Here's why I don't agree:

I've probably told you before, we have this sweet little clinker 12 foot dinghy, only 5 years old. A while ago, I wanted to modify the rowlock points and fix an attachment point below the side-benches for a line to prevent the rowlocks jumping out of their sockets. To do this, I needed to drill a couple of holes into the stringer just below the side-bench. No problem, thought I, I'll just unscrew the side-bench, lift it out, drill the holes, and re-assemble. Duh... no screws. Looked underneath, and guess what? Yes, the side-benches, and ALL the thwarts, are epoxy glued in place. So that's why there are no knees. No possibility of ever dismantling, or repairing, the thwarts and side-benches on this boat without a chainsaw. Terrific.

Take this a step further with all-glued lapstrake ply construction or similar, and what do you have? An un-repairable boat, period. And don't try to tell me that it will never need repair - maybe not in your lifetime (you hope), but one day it will either be repair or Doc's marshmallow bonfire. One of the joys of wooden boats with traditional materials and construction is (should be) that such artefacts are infinitely repairable and re-buildable. If you glue the thing together with epoxy it simply defeats the object.

CPES doesn't sound much better to me. A lot of folks seem to be regarding it as some sort of maintenance panacea. Slosh it all over the dodgy bits, use it as a prep before painting, seal the planks and seams on new build. Well, if it penetrates and or sticks half as well as it's been hyped up to do, once again heaven help you if you need to dismantle that bulkhead or stringer some years down the line. You might undo the screws, but if the CPES has done its job it'll take a crowbar to move it.

The idea of encapsulating wood within any sort of layer of glass or epoxy or resin is fatally flawed. Why? Because the encapsulating layer is bound to be punctured eventually. When it is, water will penetrate and saturate the wood. Snag is, unlike paint which is always permeable and allows the wood to breath, the epoxy layer will trap and contain the water within the wood. You can then expect rot, delamination of the wood to epoxy interface, and resultant big trouble. The jury is out on this technique, because it is so new. Why is everyone so anxious to be a guinea-pig? Because they have been seduced by this nonsense of the low-maintenance wooden boat. If you wanted that, why not buy or build in fibre-glass?


Keith Wilson
05-26-2000, 12:17 PM
Well, I don't feel argumentative enough this morning to dispute this one. The point about repairability is well taken, that's certainly one of the advantages of a traditionally-built boat. Composite wood-epoxy boats can, of course, be repaired, usually by methods using lots more epoxy, but you can't unbolt and replace pieces. Some of us would argue that this is outweighed by other advantages of epoxified construction, at least for some applications, but to each his own. These methods are not exactly new, there have been cold-molded, sheathed-strip, and taped-seam plywood boats for at least twenty years. However, traditionally-constructed boats still work as well as they always did, so if that's what you like, that's what you should build (or sail). I kinda like epoxy, but gluing a thwart into a small boat is just plain stupid.

One point - CPES is not an effective adhesive, and won't stick things together even when slathered all over an assembly. It's supposed to be a sort of super primer/sealer, which penetrates the wood, reduces water absorbtion, and bonds chemically to the first layer of paint or varnish. We'll know in 20 years or so how well it really works, but it won't prevent you from disassembling your boat for repairs.

Epoxy softens with heat, BTW - you can use that fact to remove screws that are epoxied in, to scrape up hardened drips, and maybe even to take out that thwart without a chainsaw, if you can figure some way to get the glue joint up to 140 degrees F or so. Gluing it in was still a really bad idea.

Scott Rosen
05-26-2000, 12:20 PM
Kate kick you out of bed last night? This is uncharacteristically cranky of you, John, although you make lots of fair points that others have been debating without resolution for some time now.

I'm trying CPES for the first time on my Nutshell, which is a plywood clinker glued with epoxy. I can tell you this. The reason I'm building in these materials is because I don't yet have the confidence, or the time, to undertake more traditional construction. That will be for my next boat. I'm well aware of all of the limitations of epoxy, and I don't pretend in the least that my plywood clinker is in the same league as a traditionally made boat.

The jury's still out on CPES for me. But from what I've seen, it's going to live up to its promises when use with glued plywood construction. I don't think I'll try it on Patience's teak brightwork or on any kind of traditional construction with seams and joints that are designed to move and get wet. Although, there are some perennial trouble spots, like the quarter-round trim pieces that might benefit from CPES. I suppose when I wood the brightwork (might not be for years) I might consider CPES depending on how it held up on the Nutshell. I wouldn't hesitate to use it under paint on a stable piece of wood. I'd be reluctant to use it on anything under the waterline for all of the reasons you give. But lets be honest with ourselves. Our criticism is based in large part on speculation on our part. We really don't understand the chemistry of CPES, and other who have used it swear by (not at) it. I applied it to the Nutshell's white cedar seats and then varnished over it. It looks beautiful, and the sealing qualities probably saved me a couple of coats of thinned out varnish. In fact, it brings out the depth of the grain as good or better than varnish alone and even better than a wet-sanded oil sealer. It affects the wood color exactly as varnish would, so you can't tell there's anything but varnish.

There's nothing wrong with epoxy and ply, as long as you recognize its limitations. If you expect it to have the same qualities as traditional construction, you'll be disappointed. But if you're looking for a boat that a person with average skills can build, and that will handle the repeated wet/dry cycles that a tender or dinghy is subjected to, and that is very strong for its weight, then glued plywood is a good choice.

I think you're wrong on one point. Any thing that slows the absorbtion of water into plywood will extend its life. Once you are committed to glued wood laminate (plywood), you should treat it as glued wood and not pretend it's traditional. CPES and epoxy coating may not be perfect water barriers, but when it comes to coating and sealing plywood they're way, way better than nothing. In my experience, plywood treated with only with linseed oil, pine tar, paint, etc. will not hold up and will delaminate even faster than it will rot.

Some days I feel like a big ol' lunker just waiting in the weeds for the right bait....

Don Olney
05-26-2000, 01:17 PM
Epoxy is not Crap. Although I am not an expert in this field, I would say that Crap's composition is a bit different and its strength somewhat less. Notwithstanding its universal availability and attractive price as compared to epoxy, I would not recommend bonding two pieces of wood with crap---unless the customer requests so in writing.

Ian McColgin
05-26-2000, 02:31 PM
Nothing like a bit of stimulating debate, but it's better to tilt at windmills than straw horses, to wit:

- Regardless of the resin, glass over wood has been shown to be a bad idea (about 20 years ago) except in new plywood construction engineered for that. Epoxy has been well used to bed wood sheathing and judging from the excellent results of such hard ranging boats as the Carr's Cerlew is a good process.

- Epoxy encapsulation works fine if you understand that the stuff's not vapor proof and therefore your wood will gain some moisture content - easy to plan for - and you don't encapsulate existing rot.

- Epoxy splining & encapsulation have worked fine for Granna - She was built in '64, well rebuild in early 70's with epoxy & splines and the result is a good structure easy to maintain and easy to spot problems and repair.

- Even traditional boats have things that don't want to come apart, whether from wasted fastenings or because the deck was built after the engin was installed.

It's also true that 'traditional' methods are terrific in their place, though many of us super traditional types think anyone who uses metal fastening rather than trennels, who use dacron rather than egyptian long staple or flax, who have abandoned manila, who use a CQR or other 20th century anchor rather than a rock, who have electric running lights rather than parrifin . . . are betraying the highest traditions . . .

ah well.

05-26-2000, 02:43 PM
Flax? Manila? Parrafin?
"Hurrmph, newfangled nonsense" he says as he lifts a palm frond to the breeze while clinging to a driftwood log.


05-26-2000, 02:50 PM
...and Crap is King...

05-26-2000, 02:52 PM
Of course epoxy is not crap. But your sure got our attention, eh, John.

As to CPES, heck fire, there's not enough epoxy in it to matter much. It does seem to work as a sealer or "undercoat" for varnish, etc., but then so does thinned varnish or whatever for a give system.


landlocked sailor
05-26-2000, 03:29 PM
And boy, does it stink! CPES that is.

John Gearing
05-26-2000, 03:37 PM
John, when "Trimaran" Jim Brown (he of Searunner fame and a fervent adherent to wood-epoxy composite construction) wrote about wood-epoxy composite construction for Woodenboat a few years ago, he admitted that "you have to keep it dry", meaning the wood. Hence the importance of laminated, one piece structures with as few joints as possible. And fanatically sealing all surfaces and taking immediate action when the epoxy layer is breached. Also an excellent reason to keep epoxy away from traditionally built boats. They just weren't designed for it. Judging from Curlew and some other trad hulls that have been sheathed with epoxy laminations, this can work --at least over the timespans we've seen so far. However Dr Jagels' recent discussion as to whether epoxy bonds are truly waterproof should make any of us pause.

And lest we forget, John Guzzwell used resorcinal to cold-mold his big cruiser Treasure nearly 40 years ago and she's still going strong. Epoxy is not the only adhesive out there although it often seems that way. It is the most forgiving in terms of it's gap-filling qualities. In fact, Brown makes the point that epoxy performs better if it has a gap to fill (i.e. no starvation caused by tight joins). This has, IMHO, led to epoxy being seen as an antidote for lack of skill in working wood. This is sad, as it has discouraged many folks from learning how easy it is to build a basic boat, like a skiff, out of solid timber with all it's attendant advantages. But for boats where strength, light weight, and dimensional stability are important (e.g. kayaks) plywood and epoxy seems to work fine.

You are quite right about traditional boats being repairable and rebuildable. One thing that may be driving buyers to laminated hulls is the comparatively high cost of repairs. I could perhaps afford the $30K to buy the used boat, but if it needed an $80K rebuild in a year or two I would either have to sell her or go buy a bag of marshmallows and invite Doc over. When you buy used you are paying the labor rates of many years ago--when the boat was first built--but to have her rebuilt or repaired you have to pay current rates, which are higher than my wages as an experienced aerospace engineer. Of course, one can undertake the work oneself, but the rub is learning the skills, finding the time, etc. I think this is why so many shy away from traditional construction unless they are truly smitten.

Side note on trad construction and longevity. I read Roger Taylor's article about the English smack Boadicea, which was built in 1808 and was still going out fishing nearly 200 years later! She's said to be the oldest working boat in the world, and I wouldn't doubt it. Sure, she has been rebuilt a couple of times. Sure she probably started as a clinker hull and is now carvel. But she's still at it, and that's the point.

Scott Mason
05-26-2000, 03:49 PM
John, in spite of the name of this forum and in spite of the fact that most of us own one or more wood boats, I think what binds (dare I say glues) us together is more the types of boats (generally traditional, definitely not mass produced) than the material or the means by which our boats are fastened. So we all have different needs for our boats and we all have different boats, constructed by various methods. Glued plywood works for me in my circumstances but it may not work for you.

This is said so much better by John Gardner. In his last book "Wooden Boats to Build and Use" (Mystic Seaport Museum, 1996), John Gardner describes a lovely little 13'7'' glued plywood lapstrake Swampscott Dory that he provides plans and details for as follows:

"The boat we are considering here is an old-fashioned boat. The design is traditional and it is built largely of wood, the traditional building material per se. But wait - the wood is glued together, and with epoxy, no less. This is enough, I am afraid, to degrade and disqualify it in the eyes of the deep-eyed purists. So much the worse for them, I say. This boat is traditional and right in the things that count, in its shape, looks and the way it behaves on the water. What holds the wood together is hidden and out of sight, and if glue does that job better than metal fastenings, then, glue by all means."

I know you didn't say plywood is crap; but regarding plywood, Gardner says "I daresay Herreshoff would now be specifying Bruynzeel and similar high-grade marine plywoods if he were designing yachts today."

If you are a fan of Gardner's (and if you're not what the heck is wrong with you?) then his last book is a must. The title says it all and the first Chapter "The Future of Wooden Boats" drives it home. John believed that the future of wooden boats was in building AND using them, not in preserving them in museums. So although most of the boats covered in his books are traditional even to the purists, he used other methods such as plywood and epoxy when it made a boat better for its purpose and/or made a boat buildable by us lay folk.

P.S. AS you say, gluing the thwart to the hull eliminated the need for a knee, making the boat lighter and perhaps stiffer. Gluing the thwart was one of the many choices the builder made. It wasn't right or wrong, just the wrong choice for you and your needs.


05-26-2000, 04:08 PM
Hi John, another day when you didn't have enough to do?

James Word
05-26-2000, 05:58 PM
I could walk over to your wooden boat with the tools of one of my trades , say hog ring pliers,staple puller,webbing,stretcher,sewing machine,ect,and not be able to work on your hull.This meens I brought the wrong tools and knowlege,not that your wood hull is crap. thanks J.W.W.

John Weigandt
05-26-2000, 06:47 PM
I am indeed an expert in crap from all species,(That is All Creatures Great and Small... All things Bright and Beautiful... All Things Wise and Wonderful)

I've taken courses in comparative gasteroenterology, parasitology, epidemiology, and public health.

I can assure you after building my non traditional wooden boat, epoxy is not crap, nor is crap epoxy.

I can attest that the crap of some species sticks to things almost as well as epoxy (laundry in particular), so if you want traditional and organic, you may want to spread dung anywhere googe might have been called for.

Now then... last time I checked the name of the magazine was still not "TRADITIONALLY BUILT WOODEN BOAT MAGAZINE"

Theres room here for all.. and none of you have a purdier boat or wife than I do, for beauty is in the eye of the beholder. (no epoxy content in the wife however).

John T Weigandt Sailing Vessel "Herriot", Veterinarian, Non traditional boatbuilder, and know it all.

05-26-2000, 10:19 PM
John-o, I'm with you mate. Plywood and epoxy are the frozen burritos and Mama Celeste pizza of the boatbuilding world - hey, it's not really Mexican food, but, hell, I'm too busy making money and watching television to acquire the skills and take the time to actually cut up some onions and mash some avocados, and it looks like Mexican food (sorta), and it smells like Mexican food (a little)so, even if it's made of preservatives and doesn't taste like Mexican food, let's just stop quibbling and call it Mexican food... It's all food, you see, and people are very particular about food, and a lot of boaty people are really particular about food and insist that a salad with any other kind of lettuce than Romaine isn't a salad at all, and beefsteak tomatoes from the Giant Grocery Store aren't tomatoes at all, they taste like plastic, and you certainly wouldn't want to do swordfish any other way than to barbecue it in this marinade, and, my God, that's not Croatian wine you're drinking? In fact, they're so fussy about their food and the atmosphere in which it's eaten and the whole aesthetic gestalt of the thing that it's a wonder they ever get fed and they're certainly pretty smug when they see you sit down to your frozen burrito.

So, they should be able to understand it when those of us who prefer steak au poivre boats, asparagus-lightly-steamed-with-a-little-butter boats or pollo con mole boats sniff a little at their frozen burrito boats. Opinions are like ***holes, as me dear old pater used to say, everybody's got one and everyone but its owner thinks it stinks...

[This message has been edited by rickprose (edited 05-26-2000).]

05-26-2000, 10:49 PM
Awe now Rick, hit don't matter what cha eat. It all turns to crap in the end.


Jim Goodine
05-26-2000, 10:51 PM
John, At first I thought this post was a little rabid to be coming from you. But then I looked at your boat pictures again and thought about your great stories. Then it was clear to me that I'm taking part in this great hobby in a very different way than you are.
I could be one of the "enemy of traditional boats" given my history but I'll try to explain. I bought a classic little 16 foot daysailer that had been rolled upside down in a guy's backyard for a few years. He stopped using it when he moved to this area - too far from the water to let it swing on a mooring after taking up every spring. And, the mast was too tall for him to rig it alone. It also needed some repair.
I made a lot of calls, listened to cautionary tales, and went to work. Paint stripper and heat wouldn't touch the hull paint I ground it all off with a belt sander and did a little plank repair. Then the deck was stripped with a heat gun and it got a few new pieces. I then used epoxy and glass on both the hull and deck, then good marine enamel. I replaced the rub rails and cockpit combing, then spar varnished the interior. Next I took the handsaw and cut 8 feet off the mast and made a Gunter spar, and recut the sail. Finished it off with a custom full cover. After 3 years of living on the trailer and heavy summertime use, it is tight. And it takes me less than 1/2 hour to rig it alone at the ramp. Without epoxy, this boat would have been of no use to anyone by now - uh - except Doc with his marshmallows.
I also have a 14 foot glued lap ply canoe built to Tom Hill's plans. It has about a million miles on it and looks new. I was at Tom's shop when he was repairing one of his canoes that the owner had rolled in the surf. He didn't seem to be having any trouble with the repair and it was looking great.
Any chance that Cleek has stolen John's username? I wish I could keep a boat in the water and then I would try to pirate Lulu away to have for my own. But I need to spend 2 hours going 55 MPH directly upwind before I can even see a lake. I am a test case but for now, I'm satisfied that I couldn't be sailing in such style for less money.

05-27-2000, 01:34 PM
Bob Cleek lives within all of us...The Committee parcels out a ration of Cleek here-and-there in Its various Personnas from time to time To Suit Their Purposes.

This is obviously not a serious rant concerning epoxies ( and here let's have an aha, gotcha! for all who took it seriously ), but merely a gambit to evaluate the mood of the public on the subject. The Committee has Its Reasons and Purposes....

Further, let us remember that there are epoxies of varying qualities, just as the quality of oats varies. Prime quality oats cost a certain price, while those that have been through the horse cost a little less (getting back to the subject of the thread).

[This message has been edited by thechemist (edited 05-27-2000).]

05-27-2000, 05:55 PM
All hail the epoxy gods......I haven't found a better way to keep my 69 year old iron fastenings to keep from bleeding, than epoxies. West from time to time, and now I have great expectaions for CPES. As far as the smell of CPES, that might explain all the old hippies from my era hanging around my boat during the application. Seems we didn't even need a ladder...

Dave Hadfield
05-27-2000, 11:41 PM
John, I've enjoyed all your posts, even this one, which seems curmugeonly but gives cause for thought.
People have always tried to create beautiful boats (though beautiful is sometimes a personal aesthetic) as easily and simply as they can. Epoxy is just a phase of experimentation in a tradition that goes back as far as our relationship with things that float. Who knows what will come out of it? I expect epoxy will in time be discredited for some things and recommended for others. But your choice of methods, as a creator of wooden boats, becomes wider and wider.
Nothing wrong with that. You can still build any boat you like, any way you please.
And I hope you shall.

05-28-2000, 01:25 AM
As the old Scot said, "If it's na Scotch, it's cr-r-r-rap!"

Ergo, epoxy IS crap. But that doesn't mean I don't use it--I just don't drink it. It may be better on toast than marmite is.

[This message has been edited by Kermit (edited 05-28-2000).]

05-28-2000, 08:26 PM
Epoxy can't be crap! I would'nt spend almost $80 a gallon on crap! Although I once...

05-29-2000, 02:02 AM
If the builder had glued the seat in with resorcinal or even hide glue wouldn't it be just as hard or even harder to remove than the epoxy glued one. Has anyone had experiance with the new gap filling resorcinal when glueing plywood lapstrake ala Tom Hill's ultralights

05-30-2000, 02:10 AM
I just spent 8 hours of Memorial Day teaching my daughter to wakeboard behind my 1955 Century Coronado. As noted in previously in this forum it leaks a bit, but overall performs quite well. The bottom is original, and has not had so much as a screw replaced. In the early 80's I bought a Chris-Craft utility that had a single layer fiberglass bottom poorly applied to the waterline. Though I spent many hours repairing and maintaining the boat this ugly bottom never leaked a drop for over a decade.
While working on that boat my reading led me to believe that the "west system" epoxy bottom was the only way to go. Now any number of restorers either swear by epoxy bottoms or decry them as the worst thing that can be done to a classic boat. One of the major participants in this forum is a staunch advocate of what appears to be encapsulation or semi-encapulation with 3M 5200. The logic semms solid. It is obvious that the jury is still out on bottom restoration, and the only thing that seems to certain is that the person who feels there is only one correct way to redo a bottom is probably wrong.

Cedar Hill Boatworks
05-30-2000, 08:00 AM
Sounds like somebody woke up on the wrong side of the shop.
We seem to spend a lot of time tripping over the word traditional.
Traditionally, crafts and methods evolve, from birchbark and pine gum, to canvas and seam filler for example. Was Cutty Sark not a traditionally built ship because it used iron frames in stead of wood? I think not. Certainly the Herreshofs would be specifiying plywood by now. There is no reason that we should not take advantage of the advances in technology as they apply. If silicon bronze had been available a century ago would builders have insisted on iron fastenings? Shall we eschew the use of galvanised bolts because the material is not traditional..... you get my point.
Traditionally Ian Oughtred's boats have been built of plywood/epoxy. Nice looking boats most of them.
The point previously made about coming to the repair with the right set of tools and skills seems to wrap it up nicely.

05-30-2000, 08:49 AM
Do I hear some one say Amen!?

05-30-2000, 11:16 AM
I don't think any one has mentioned it but most crap floats...

05-30-2000, 01:13 PM
Since this subject matter seems to have a life of its own, one feels moved (pun?) to ask, why does the W'Boat Censor accept the C R . . . word and not the S H . . word?

If memory serves, I was about twelve when my father finally got tired of my constantly using the newly discovered C R word and asked me if I knew what it meant. My reply, naturally enough, was "Nor, sir." (Yes, best I used that Sir word) He told me what it meant, the S H word, which he proceeded to spell for me. Then he suggested rather strongly that I was not to use either word in his presence, else I wasn't too big to be reduced to doing either one in a standing position until my sit-down region healed.

One wonders!


John Weigandt
05-30-2000, 01:47 PM
Perhaps crap should be censored because it is derived from a proper name, Thomas Crapper, who invented the first practical and popular indoor loo.

To say crap is in a way a direct insult to a person and his memory...

Now, if I can just figure out why people go to the John instead of the Thomas....

John Thomas Weigandt (wouldn't help me either way)

Ian Wright
05-30-2000, 03:46 PM
Epoxy is crap?
Not quite, it's just a way of doing a bad job better.
There *are* uses for it, as glue and filler in a stitch and glue boat for example, but real traditional boats have no need of it. There are older, better more suitable and cheaper glues, fillers, primers and coatings than epoxies. You just need to know about them, know where to get them and acquire the skill to use them.
For non-traditionalists a boat sized autoclave would help,,,,,,

Just as only a "real" teak deck is real, only a *traditional* plank on frame or clinker boat is the real deal. Copies using ply and epoxy or strip and epoxy are simply less than the real thing, substitutes in fact. It may be all we can afford, or all we can manage to build, and any boat is better than no boat, but let us at least aim higher next time,,,,,,,
WoodenBoat does us no favours by pretending that wood reinforced plastic is any closer to traditional construction than glass reinforced plastic. It (often) looks better, but that’s it.


Bruce Hooke
05-31-2000, 02:31 PM
OK, I'll take the bait (and stoke the fire). Exactly what is it that makes a "traditional" teak deck inherently better than a teak over plywood deck because I find it much easier to come up with arguments in favor of the latter (less weight, fewer leaks, more strength, more rain forest left when your done...). The one argument I won't accept is "because its the traditional way to do it" because on that basis maybe we should all be building dug-out canoes!

On a more philosophical note, maybe where the real debate lies is in questions like, is one being visually deceptive (i.e. lying in a sense) when one builds a teak over plywood deck and makes it look like a traditional teak deck. That, to me, is a difficult question because throughout history our most timeless creations have almost always had a visual integrity that might be said to be lacking in a teak over plywood deck. A classic example of what I mean by "lacking integrity" is an architectural column that supports no weight. On the other hand, one could argue that when you build a teak over plywood deck you are not trying to imitate a traditional deck you are just trying to use technology to have the advantages of a teak surfaced deck without the disadvantages of a traditional teak deck. However, I don't completely buy that argument because it seems like most of the teak over plywood decks I have seen contain many details whose only justification is that they make the deck look more traditional. So, maybe if we are going to build boats with wood and epoxy we should lean more towards the aesthetic of that hot pink, ultra-streamlined iceboat that graced the covers of WoodenBoat a few years ago. I'm not sure what the 'best' answer is but it is an interesting point (IMHO) to contemplate. For better or worse I love that pink iceboat but I also love the designs of the likes of Albert Strange and I love thinking about how the two relate to each other.

One small note in closing. I would dispute the idea that WoodenBoat magazine is in any way "pretending that wood reinforced plastic is any closer to traditional construction than glass reinforced plastic." At least in recent years it seems to me that they have made it quite clear that the magazine is about building boats with wood, by whatever means, and not about building only "traditional" wood boats. I realize that approach on their part does not please some people, but I, at least, would rather read about all approaches and then make my own choices.

- Bruce

Scott Rosen
05-31-2000, 03:52 PM
Excuse me while I interrupt your mental masturbation for a moment.

Epxoy is glue. Boat builders have been using glue for all sorts of things for a very long time. Epoxy has different qualities than many other glues, which make it either more or less suitable for some applications. There are very few things now being done with epoxy that weren't already being done with some other kind of glue.

As you argue yourselves ever closer to the holy of holies in boat building, when you finally get there, please let me know if the name of your lord turns out to be "Tradition" and if the presence of epoxy will defile that most sacred of places.

Ian Wright
05-31-2000, 07:29 PM
>Excuse me while I interrupt your mental masturbation for a moment.<

You are excused,,,,

>Epxoy is glue. Boat builders have been using glue for all sorts of things for a very long time.<

Getting close to the point,,,,,,Epoxy CAN be glue, or paint or varnish, but it is not the ONLY glue, paint or varnish,,,,,,,,

>As you argue yourselves ever closer to the holy of holies in boat building, when you finally get there, please let me know if the name of your lord turns out to be "Tradition" and if the presence of epoxy will defile that most sacred of places.<

The Holy of Holies (?) is fitness for purpose, and God is in the detail.Build up to the highest standard and not down to a price or down to time and if epoxy is the answer,,,,,,, well fine, use it. Use it to make a boat cheaper and worse, or use it as a substitute for skill and you devalue the boat you build.
,,,,,,, and what's wrong with dug out boats?


Bruce Hooke
05-31-2000, 08:52 PM
Ian (Wright): I have no objection to dugout canoes, I just wouldn't want them to be the only choice in the wooden boat world.

Other than that I agree with you completely. If someone is using epoxy to build a boat cheaper, quicker or more easily that's fine as long as they are aware of the compromises they are making. On the other hand, if someone is using epoxy to build a boat of the highest caliber I see no reason for them to apologize for using epoxy.

- Bruce

05-31-2000, 11:01 PM
John posts an epoxy rant, then takes a powder. Whats going on? Was it Col. Mustard in the library with the lead pipe?

John R Smith
06-01-2000, 07:33 AM
Oh lord... I owe you folks an apology, I think. Smith has gone and put his big foot right in it, it seems. I stimulated some debate alright, but also upset quite a few people, some mightily. I even had a seriously outraged personal e-mail.

The background: it was Friday afternoon. I'd cleared my in-tray. I was bored. The Forum seemed a bit, well, sleepy. I was feeling depressed about the whole issue of traditional skills and crafts being neglected and disappearing. A red mist swam in front of my eyes, and almost without realising it I had composed my very uncharacteristic polemic. Perhaps the shade of Cleek hung over my shoulder. As I was about to post the topic I hesitated, realising that it didn't really hang together anyway, for all the reasons that various people have pointed out. Then I made the first BIG mistake. Knowing that probably no-one would read the piece if I titled it "Some views on catalytic adhesives" (yawn), I wrote "Epoxy is Crap". Ha, that'll get 'em going, thought I. Yes, well it did a bit, didn't it. As I went home I was already regretting it. The second BIG mistake was to post this just before I took 5 days leave, so I couldn't check on the result or enter into the subsequent debate.

Very silly title. Of course epoxy isn't crap, it's a really useful adhesive which I have used a lot for all sorts of things (though never on a boat). The chemist should have been the one who would be most affronted, but I think he understood that my tongue was firmly in my cheek when I wrote this. And of course I should have realised that I would really offend all those folks who are building or have built boats using ply and epoxy or similar techniques. To them I say sorry. I have never built a boat in my life, and I don't suppose I ever will. I have nothing but admiration and respect for those who do and have, no matter what you built it of or how. Brilliant, more strength to you.

Fortunately, this Forum is a broad church. One of its strengths is that it has room for all shades of opinion (even mine). It also has room for the occasional over-the-top rant which isn't too serious but was intended to stir things a little. I have certainly enjoyed reading the responses and debate anyhow, which as usual have been measured, informative, and often very witty.

So what do I know? I'll stick to my funny little copper nails with round thingies on the end...


06-01-2000, 09:16 AM
Ah, there your are John. Somehow I didn't think you'd kick an antpile and not hang around to watch the fun if you could. I hope the leave was satisfactory. Excellent choice of topic. Nothing to apologize for.a

"...seriously outraged personal e-mail." Good grief! Well, it's your's now to do with what you wish, right? How about sharing it with us. It should be worth some general amusement.

Best wishes.


Scott Rosen
06-01-2000, 02:19 PM
John, don't feel bad. We're having fun.

Epoxy can be paint or varnish?! The epoxy we're talking about here has no UV protection and is not suitable for an exterior finish coat. Plus it doesn't flow well and is extremely difficult to sand fair. In the most literal sense, it can be a coating, but it's a very bad one at that. Most of the two-part paint and varnish products on the market today are not epoxies; they are linear polyurathanes and other stuff like that, designed specifically for finish coating. Chemist described it in a different post.

Aside from all of the wood wasted during "construction", nothing's wrong with dugout boats that a little CPES and epoxy can't cure.

Oh my! Looks like I've been caught engaging a little of that mental self-stimulation, myself.

Ian McColgin
06-01-2000, 03:00 PM
'Course my use of epoxy to lubricate a trennel certainly falls in with the idea that this is becoming a self-abuse thread . . .

Ian Wright
06-01-2000, 03:38 PM
Ian, You will Never get that trennel out again,,,,,,not without a good auger anyhoo,,,,
and another thing,,,,, if I ever find out who first dipped a woodscrew in epoxy he is **Dead**, Dee Ee Ay Dee, Dead.

Ian W.

Ian McColgin
06-01-2000, 03:56 PM
You raise a couple interesting points but:

Trennels don't come out anyway - boring is pretty miserable since it's with the grain but anyway, trennels will out live me and my unborn children so what the hay . . .

Epoxy around a screw, depending on the application, is not always a bad idea. The screw can still be pulled out since epoxy's grip on the metal is pretty weak. I've seen it used ok as a dodge to avoid larger screws in places where the fitting has been put on and off a few times, like on a mast.

I've also happily used epoxy to settle bolts, especially ones that will be put in and out. I usually bore out enough to drop a nut in the hole, put a bit of slick on the bolt threads (but not the nut) with the nut near but not at the end of the threads, and let the nut & bolt set up in the hole with epoxy. Then the bolt can be easily extracted, fitting put on, and bolt threaded down with great security. Easier than the googe bros approach to drill and tap an epoxy plug and the metal of the nut near the bottom of the hole makes me feel better.

But maybe it's all a chemical dependency . . .

06-01-2000, 05:21 PM
You can remove an epoxied wood screw by heating it with a soldering iron, I've tried it and it works.


Ed Harrow
06-01-2000, 05:31 PM
You bet it works. My question is, if you've got some old keel bolts that don't want to come out, can you hook an arc welder across them to heat them up sufficiently that they loose their grip on the wood without needing Doc and his marshmellows.

John Gearing
06-01-2000, 05:35 PM
Well, John R, you sure swatted a hornet's nest, didn't you? If Bob Cleek were still among us I think he would tend to agree with Ian Wright. Bob and I used to have some Titanic battles over the issue of plywood or non-traditional construction vs. traditional. I always argued that there was a legitimate place for glued lap and sheet (e.g.) boats but Bob reminded us all that when all is said and done what you have in the end is a "plywood boat" that has very little resale value and cannot, on a the basis of craftsmanship and materials, hold a candle to traditional construction. I will go out on a limb and say that my interpretation of Bob's position is that there is an aesthetic value, an accomplishment of craftsmanship, a continuity with the best practices of the past, that non-trad construction methods just don't have. I'll concede that.

I have built some plywood solo canoes in my time, and they are very light and handy and cheap to throw together. And I have held a Culler-designed trad lapstrake double paddle canoe in my hands as well. There is no doubt in my mind that the craftsmanship in the Butternut (Culler) is on a plane above mine. On the other hand, my boats weigh half as much and were so cheap and easy to build that if they get smashed up it's no great loss. I built them with those limitations and benefits in mind. But I have to admit that my next canoe will be a Butternut.

06-01-2000, 05:49 PM
Ed, I would probably try a propane torch. As long as you cover every thing around the bolt with asbestos it should'nt take too long to transmit that kind of heat through the bolt. If you've ever held a bolt to a grinding wheel for any length of time you know what I mean. But you do bring up a good question, if you could run a current through the bolt like those fancy nylon rope cutters, theoretically it would heat the bolt in no time at all. I've always wondered how those cutters were wired, I'd like to make one for myself.


Ian Wright
06-01-2000, 06:22 PM
Wood screws and epoxy,,,,,,,,it gets worse,,,, If those screws are cross head types and if they were put in by a careless hand using a power driver that was permited to over run and burr the slots and they were dipped in epoxy,,,, then getting six of them out can occupy a boat owner for two full days, I know this to be true,,,,,,,,,


06-01-2000, 06:27 PM
Sounds like a job for a hammer and a plug cutter. A hammer for the careless buffon that stripped the screw and a plug cutter for the screw(s). Then you can epoxy your trennels in place! http://media4.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif


John R Smith
06-02-2000, 04:04 AM
Well, Scott and Norm and all, I'm glad you guys are having fun. That was exactly what I intended. I wasn't apologising for what I said (as usual I am completely unrepentant) but for the fact that the way I put it upset some people. In fact, the e-mail I got was from a very well respected member of the Forum whose expertise and knowledge has many times enhanced these threads. I was pretty concerned that anyone would have taken my comments so personally. It's one thing to bash each other round the head a bit in public like this, because we all have the right of reply and hell, we know it's not too serious. More like a bunch of friends swapping outrageous views in the bar of an evening after work. Our common love of boats is a lot stronger than any differences of opinion about the way to go boating. But when someone mails you personally with comments like:

"I think that the other posters on the Woodenboat Forum have been entirely too nice to you, considering your sanctimonious

I get a little worried. And hence my apology.

Oh - and by the way - what does "take a powder" mean, for a confused dyed-in-the wool traditionalist?


[This message has been edited by JohnRSmith (edited 06-02-2000).]

06-02-2000, 07:56 AM
I don't know who emailed you & it may be better to not know. Perhaps they were having a bad day. There is a bit of sanctimoniousness here occasionally. The format, the faceless anonymity of the medium seems to bring that out in us occasionally. Don't let it get you down. Your posts are always entertaining and/or interesting.

To "take a powder" is to leave, to make one's self absent. The last time I heard it in a sentence was in an old gangster movie. I've no idea of the derivation. Perhaps it comes from the way women used to leave one's presence to go to the "powder room." (yet another euphimism for the loo) Who knows?

Scott Rosen
06-02-2000, 08:12 AM
Epoxying screws is one of those things that nobody wants to talk about, but everyone does it.

My experience is that a little epoxy in the screw hole won't do much harm, but I'm not sure it does much good either. A goop like polysulfide would work better at keeping water out and would make it easier to remove the screw, as it will stay flexible. On the other hand, I've never had great difficulty removing an epoxied in screw.

The Right Ian hit the ring nail right on the head when he alluded to the problem of epoxy in the slot. I you're using plain slotted screws, you can, with some difficulty and damage to the surrounding wood, knock the epoxy out of the slot and remove the screw. If, however, you should find epoxy in cross-slots, phillips head, hex slots, etc., you'll spend many hours cursing the **** fool who put the stuff there and contemplating the best method for his slow and painful death. You'll spend a lot of time ruining good wood and a few screwdrivers as well.

06-02-2000, 09:04 AM
Re welder and heating bolts. Might work but don't over do the work cycle of the welder. The trick is used to unfreeze water pipes.

Epoxy and screws: Gougeon Bros tecnique of using machine screws (Don't know what are they called in the UK) in place of wood screws by setting the screw in googe in a hole larger than the screw has much more shear resistance according to their test data.

Stripping the head slot on installation does not reduce grab for removal. A little valve grinding compound in the slot increases the screw drivers bite tremendously, so I've read. um, well yes, after the epoxy is cleaned out of the slot.

Bull crap sure makes the tomatos grow! We're gonna have a great crop this year.

To John's e-penpal: Don't sweat the little stuff, okay.

Joy, all.


Ian Wright
06-02-2000, 11:47 AM
I try to dip any screws I use in grease, lanolin if I have it to hand, otherwise anything else. Most of the screws holding the interior cabinet work together on Patience were dipped in Black Bison Wax Polish (!) 'cos, like Everest, it was there,,,,,,
The grinding paste trick is a good one, a better is a screwdriver or several with the tips impregnated with diamond dust. I borrow those belonging to a rich friend,,,,,

BTW,,,,,,,, anyone seen a set iof 'driver bits for use in a hand brace? My old ones, made by my blacksmith Grandpa', were stolen last year and I need to replace them.

,,,,,,,take no notice,,,,,,,,


Ron Williamson
06-02-2000, 12:42 PM
It turns out that epoxy is crap.
SWMBO's uncle, a former bigwig at Dow Chemical,told me that epoxy resin ,was essentially a petrochemical waste product (for them) and has turned into a high profit cash cow.He also said that they have to test every batch,and if he'd known that I had been using it at the time,he'd have given me the test gallons.They'd just mix a couple of ounces and the rest would go back unless someone wanted it.

06-02-2000, 02:14 PM
"taking a powder" Fell asleep watching old ganster movies the other night you doity rats!

Bruce Hooke
06-02-2000, 03:28 PM
Ian - I searched all over, including at used tool stores like Maine's Liberty Tool Co., for driver bits for my brace without success. I even had a catalog that listed them but when I called they said that they had been discontinued. What I did find at Jamestown is a device that is designed to fit into a brace and accept those ubiquitous hex driver bits that are available at every hardware store in the land. It lacks some of the appeal of the old individual bits (not to mention your handmade ones - what a shame someone took them) but it does have the obvious practical advantage of interchangeable tips so I promptly ordered one for myself. Jamestown calls the device a "Hex Auger Driver".

- Bruce

Ian Wright
06-05-2000, 12:04 PM
Thanks Bruce, an idea worth following,,,,, thanks again.
and then I wrote,,,,,,,
Trouble is,the bits that Grandad made had that "cabinet screwdriver" shape that the replaceable bits you describe don't seem to have, AND they fitted the slots of standard woodscrews perfectly which the newkids in town don't. I wonder if I can buy 'blanks' and get a local 'smith to fashion me a few more,,,,,,,,,?

[This message has been edited by Ian Wright (edited 06-05-2000).]

Tom MacNaughton
06-05-2000, 07:08 PM
Very amusing. Obviously we should all build and have what we want. I do think we seriously need to look at the repair issue. I have heard a number of people claim that repair is more difficult with wood/epoxy composite construction. It certainly can be if the construction was overly cute. The same thing can be said about some traditional construction that is a an awful pain to work on. However by and large repair of good wood/epoxy construction is not really more difficult, just different. You have to learn the best repair techniques exactly as you need to in traditional construction.

Tom MacNaughton
Naval Architect http://www.macnaughtongroup.com

Ian McColgin
06-06-2000, 10:24 AM
Repair on wood epoxy hard?

Well, some years ago a local bad boy borrowed my dory Leeward & didn't remoor her correctly. A good so'wester put her hard into the riprap at high tide and the waves splintered the starboard garboard, cracking three frames right where they landed at the center of the garboard, and dinging up the seam batten and seam between garboard and center strake.

I swam her back through the moderate surf to her mooring and left her awash and splintered till the storm abated. Did a bit of weeping that night.

In the next day's sun, I brought her up on the beach, got her on a trailor, and took her to a friend's garage. A bit of slash and dab with my favorite japanese pull saw, some planeing, patches of new plywood, a bit of epoxy (actually a good bit of epoxy), and a week later she was back tending Goblin looking spiffy.

I've also done impact damage repairs on cold molded just by planing out the worste splinters, putting a good bevel on the hole, and laminating in new.

Frankly, it's easier than similar repairs on plank on frame boats.

My latest project, just coming to fruition, has been to finally add an inner deck to Leeward, 3-1/2" foam between it and the inside of the hull, and a pair of spiffy elvstrom style bailers so she'll shed rain and spray from her interior. I spent all weekend bottom up with my nose close to curing epoxy - maybe this is just those loose keytones talking . . .

06-06-2000, 11:37 AM
Yup. Then there was this friend's kayak, which, improperly tied to the top of his car, blew off at sixty five per. Broke right in half. Twas a nifty little CLC thing made from 1/8" okome. Carefull fitting of the splintered pieces, a ply of glass and goo on the outside and two on the inside sanded nicely, revarnished and she's as good as new. Ya gotta know what to look for to tell it took a flying header on I-29.


Now if there had been a semi on his tail....


06-06-2000, 01:48 PM
Ian- As I recall, Garrett Wade had screw driver bits for a brace. 1-800-221-2942.

Ian Wright
06-06-2000, 04:12 PM
Ta, but US freefone numbers don't work from the UK, got a web page?


Cedar Hill Boatworks
06-06-2000, 05:10 PM
There used to be a kick ass hardware store,sorry ironmonger, in London over by the Post Office Tower. Something Brothers. They might have brace bits. They had everything else under the sun.

06-06-2000, 06:55 PM
After a frustrated search of local and mail order hardware sources I did a search on e-bay and found some drill bits for my brace. You could always try that as a source of last resort. I bought a set of seven in a nice round storage box.


Ian Wright
06-06-2000, 09:00 PM
Thank you Gentlemen,,,,,,,,,

06-06-2000, 11:20 PM
Gentlemen? (as I quickly glance over my shoulder)

06-07-2000, 10:41 AM
Ian, your comment about getting a blacksmith to reproduce those bits is not far off. The men that still do that kind of work are very talented. If you're serious, I would make a clay impression of the head of the screw you were describing and shape a piece of steel rod to fit that shape. You can then have the smith shape the back end to fit your brace and harden the tip. I looked in the auction yesterday (up to 12 pages) and failed to find bits like you describe.


Cedar Hill Boatworks
06-07-2000, 03:02 PM
Gentlemen indeed!
Remeber Gentlemen, epoxy is crap.

06-07-2000, 04:00 PM
Sorry IAN-- called Garret Wade for you, no luck. Also called a few other places with the same lack of results. I get 4 billion wood working catalogs, you would think one of them would have these doo dads. You have whetted my appetite and I want some too.

Still have a few messages out there, maybe we will get lucky- or may be someone will have the bits.


06-07-2000, 07:36 PM
On another forum (where it's ok to use plywood) someone was looking for the square screwdriver bits to fit a brace. The best response was to call A.J. at a mom and pop hardware store at 1(405) 372-2644 . They take Master and Visa and will ship. Can't remember the name of the store, or where it is, but I did copy the phone number and seem to recall $3.50 each. Can't vouch for anything, sorry if it's a cold lead but so far no one has come up with any better.

Happy hunting and let us know

Don Danenberg
06-07-2000, 08:45 PM
"Gentlemen indeed", I'm just glad you've all been using the pernicious plastic for the last 20 years because I restore boats and I just bought a new house and shop (70ft long grated floor drain-1,800 sq/ft 2nd floor glass carving and sculpture studios to be added to one side next month) and I need to know I have "Restoration and Repair" in my future (the Bank Manager is convinced). Epoxy is the money tree.

06-08-2000, 08:34 AM
I think you will find what you need at this site:

Happy screwing!?


06-08-2000, 08:36 AM
Oops-- That should have read:

Ian, I think you can find what you need at this site:

All the rest of you are on your own.


06-11-2000, 03:00 AM
Lee Valley is the place I got those brace chuck fitting hex bit drivers I use. They are 5 or 6 bucks, and worth having. I particularly like them for removing screws because I seem to ream out the little boogers when misapplying a cordless in such an operation. I just like being able to feel what's happening when applying torque to screws. As a wee brat I got yelled at for "buggering up" screw heads.

Injecting an element to the crap discussion. Years back I was discussing the ordering of a flintlock fowler with a custom 'smith, and asked him if he "glass bedded" the barrel or tang. He wrote me a one-line letter in answer. "I've never seen any 18th century epoxy." That about sums it up for me. If you seek some sort of historical or artistic or aesthetic purity, them by all means eschew epoxy. Otherwise, if you have a situation where it makes sense both now and for the future of the project, then stir some up. Every decision is a compromise.

06-14-2000, 08:14 PM
Thanks JOHNRSMITH!--your stating "Epoxy is Crap"
and getting many responses was wonderful--it brought a lot of forumites to life!--and I benefited by all there knowledge--free!
They like to say "Epoxy is not CRAP"!---right--- rather I say "Epoxy is SNOT"!
--which is another way of saying epoxy is
indeed CRAP!-- who needs the stuff---a new wood boat can be built without it that will last many years---and old boats, ---forget it.
If you are going to use it--build a "glas" boat.
Preventing rot in wood boats is mostly a function of GOOD CONSTRUCTION DESIGN--(no sliding window tracks for example) --correct use
of wood species--black gooy stuff and red lead--good paint--silicon bronze fasteners---proper maintenance---period.
OLD HOUSES(I am living in one that's 150 years old) that are in good shape today
have good design--right use of woods--quality
paints and proper maintenance--no rot in sight---and not a drop of snot anywhere.

[This message has been edited by norske (edited 06-15-2000).]

04-18-2002, 06:42 AM
A fun thread...

Thaddeus J. Van Gilder
04-18-2002, 07:59 AM
a very good thread.

And true too...

Epoxy IS crap! :cool:

04-18-2002, 08:16 AM
Yes there is a place for epoxies. As a follow up to my contribution to this thread two years ago. I have only good to say about cpes. Since using it over my wooded, iron fastened hull, there has been no, I repeat NO, bleed through. This year I will use it under varnish to hopefully prevent peeling. A never ending chase. I'll get back to you in a couple of years. However I also belive that a traditionally constructed boat should not rely on epoxy to hold it together.

Wild Dingo
04-18-2002, 01:17 PM
Well better late than never with me own comments :D

I will be using whatever method the designer deems is most appropriate to the vessel as designed...

No its not a cop out... rather sayin if I go ahead and build a Peterson Coaster and the design calls for traditional methods then that is how she shall be built... even down to the brass fittings... if however I get all hippyish again and decide to go for a Wharram... heaven forbid with the price of ply around here! :eek: ... then following the designers methods she would be ply and epoxy... end of story... horses for courses.

Must admit though some designers seem to hedge their bets by giving you a choice traditional or ply epoxy... or even whatever you can get your hands on ala Beuhler...

I dont think it matters tiddlysquat... its getting on the water that matters... in a woodenboat of course!!!

Im not getting into the crap subject... It all stinks... although I think its the quiet silent farts that are worse :eek: I mean crap you can see... its there... it stinks... but at least its obvious... them farts that sneek up on you and blow the tears out of your eyes and make breathing an impossibility without a by your leave... now them I dont like!

Take it easy

The Schooner Etain
04-18-2002, 01:45 PM
I won't go as far as to say that epoxy is crap, it does have some very good uses. However, there does seem to be too much of it used with not enough disscussion about it's many failures.


Wild Dingo
04-18-2002, 01:49 PM
Hey Chris!... hows the concrete removal going?

Say gidday to the lovely sidekick and the smudge mate

Take it easy

Ian McColgin
04-18-2002, 01:59 PM
It's all the result of the decline of political civility caused by the unification of brown rice natural fiber tree hugging green party hippies joining with right wing neo anarchists to decry everything post 19th century except cool new large electric band saws vs. a bunch of technowhiz atari democrats who think if you blow enough $not at a problem it will go away vs. some vitriolic piston heads who figure it's all about that stain on Monica's dress . . . .

Oh. Ah. That's better.
I just got an epoxy fix.
I'm ok now.
I didn't mean it. . . .

04-18-2002, 02:21 PM
yet another good use for epoxy.....vapors anyway.

Frank Wentzel
04-18-2002, 02:30 PM
I am probably starting up another battle, but - epoxy does not fail. The inappropriate use of the epoxy is what fails. Many of the so called failures I have seen have been caused by assumptions that have no basis in fact. For example, I have seen people say that they had failures in the bond between teak strips epoxied glassed plywood decks. On further investigation it turns out they had used 3/4" inch thick teak. They heard of the technique and assumed that thick teak would work as well as the teak veneer specified. The Googe brothers say clearly that the teak should be no more than 1/4" inch thick. Epoxy cannot take the stresses imposed by the expansion and contraction of 3/4" teak against a stable surface. No one would argue that screws are useless because #6 screws won't hold down a 3/4" teak deck. It would obviously be a case of misusing #6 screws. Just as it is a case of misunderstanding the properties of the material when epoxy "fails".

/// Frank ///

04-18-2002, 03:41 PM
I can't believe that we've dug this old dyno out of the tar pits.

If you're gonna use epoxy, then use it. lots of people have so far.

If you're not, then don't. None of the people above will mind.

(God, I'm starting to sound like Jim Roam. Somebody shoot me.)


Ian G Wright
04-18-2002, 05:14 PM
Those screwdriver bits for use in a brace, remember? I solved the problem by buying a half dozen screw point auger bits and persuading a blacksmith to re-shape them.
,,,,,,,,, sheer joy.

04-18-2002, 07:39 PM
Well said Mr. McColgin!...you hit the nail on the head..I couldn't agree more...

Sorry, Mr. Beowolf...I was bored and falling asleep redface.gif ...and I like Dynos :D ..the way they can stir up the sleepy forest/jungle..
excuse my ignorance but whose Jim Roam?

[ 04-18-2002, 07:46 PM: Message edited by: norske2 ]

The Schooner Etain
04-19-2002, 10:42 AM
Ok Frank, I'll work with you on this.

Like I said, epoxy does have it's place, and works very well doing what it should be doing. Epoxy tends to fail when people use it in ways that it is not really well suited for, even though the epoxy manufacturer recommends it's use in that area.

Epoxy is not waterproof, it is not heatproof, and it degrades under UV. As long as we keep this in mind when we use epoxy, we won't have nearly as many problems.


John R Smith
04-19-2002, 10:55 AM
Oh Lord, it's not fair, it really isn't. I KNOW I posted this in a fit of madness. It was a long time ago (well, it seems like it). And I am sure that it is all I will ever be remembered for . . .

Seems like your past just comes back to haunt you smile.gif


Ian McColgin
04-19-2002, 11:40 AM
I was just in Truro last weekend and didn't see Mr. Smith.

Perhaps 'cause it was the Truro with the Pamet River. Where my ansestors rowed right across Cape Cod to escape John's ansenstors and throw off the yoke of colonial oppression.

They were able to do that because they made ultra light boats with a glue derived from barnicles. Very strong but it really looked aweful - looked like 'the pox, see.' That phrase was corrupted to the name we know today. So, it's really a traditional material and deserves a place in the traditional boat pantheon.

Dave Hadfield
04-19-2002, 12:09 PM
Poor John R Smith. Let's take pity on the man and let this thread die (or someone else start a new similar thread under a different title).

I don't want to jeopardize our source of Lulu stories and Kate watercolours.

Bill Perkins
04-19-2002, 12:11 PM
And CPES was originally known as Pee-Pee .

Ed Harrow
04-19-2002, 12:21 PM
Originally posted by Ian McColgin:
... 'the pox, see.'...Goan... ROTFLMHO... smile.gif

Frank Wentzel
04-19-2002, 12:47 PM
Hi Chris!

You have it exactly right! Epoxy is not the Grail! It will not make a new boat out of a derelict or correct careless craftsmanship. Epoxy is a “tool” and as with all tools it has it’s limitations and it’s strengths.

- Epoxy is not completely waterproof as a wood encapsulant, it just beats the tar out of whatever encapsulant that comes in second (no organic compound is truly impermeable to water vapor).
- Epoxy is not waterproof as an adhesive, it is just more waterproof than any other adhesive except properly used resorcinol.
- Epoxy softens under heat (a property that can be useful if you ever need to remove an epoxy coating or an epoxy-bonded part).
- Epoxy, in common with all organic compounds, breaks down under ultraviolet light, athough this degradation can be retarded with the addition of the proper pigments i.e., make it a paint.

Epoxy is only one possible means to an end – it is neither the true religion nor heresy. :D

/// Frank ///

Scott Rosen
04-19-2002, 12:47 PM
Speaking of barnacle glue.

Do any of you remember the old Odd Couple episode where Felix and Oscar, at the suggestion of their dentist, invested in a new product--barnacle glue?

The show was hysterical. It ended with Felix and Oscar giving a presentation to corporate board or something and Felix's fillings started falling out. It seems that the glue only worked when wet. Felix got nervous, his mouth dried out, and they lost their shirts.

Never underestimate the power of a bad idea.

09-23-2002, 08:51 PM
Where can you buy this poly sulfide? I'm currently building my first boat now. I have put epoxy on a lot of screws already but they will need more to finish out. I just have a basic hull now using Dave Carnells 200.00 sailboat.

09-23-2002, 09:02 PM
3M 101 and Boatlife Lifecaulk are both polysulfide, and there are some two part polysulfides that are supposed to be better, but I've never used them

10-27-2004, 10:17 PM
Maybe what John really meant was we're all traditionalists except when we're not. None of this stuff is essential to wooden boat maintenance, and it seems hypocritical to call yourself a wooden boat lover and then use all this stuff that's so characteristic of fiberglass.

Bob Smalser
10-27-2004, 10:57 PM
What would life be without a nice topic about Epoxy on here? Its been a while, don't you think Smith sounds like my kind of guy.

Or is it the late JR Smith because everybody ganged up and killed him?

Dave Fleming
10-27-2004, 11:17 PM
We lost a 'Bright Light' when John R. left us.

All one has to do is read the LULU Saga's to see what I mean.

See People and Places for JimH's fine compilation of the LULU sagas.

Hopefully John, his dear lady and LULU are fine.

Tom Lathrop
10-28-2004, 10:53 AM

Surely you needed an exhumation order from a judge (Cleek don't count) to dig this one up again.

10-28-2004, 12:05 PM
John, I spent my childhood to the tender age of 8 in Bristol, R.I., down the street from what I was told was a company called Pearson Yacht COmpany. My eldest sister worked there for a while as a secretary, and I remember the smell of feberglass and epoxy. I realize these wren't wooden boats back then, but it bribgs me to my point. At the ripe young age of 38, I made a smallish flat bottomed kayak from 1/4" plywood and epoxy with glass cloth. It took me all of 12 hours to build between furniture projects. It served him as a 10 year old when we went back to New England from Ohio, on Lake Champlain, as well as the choppier water in Briastol. It has spurred me on to want to make a "real" wooden boat, lapstrake fo course. But I think I'd still use epoxy as an adhesive. I've read seven different books on making stitch and glue boats, etc, using glass cloth and epoxy resins to make the plywood, or in some cases real wood, more structurally rigid and more resistant to damage.
Even strip built canoes seem to be getting made this way now. :eek:

Paul H
10-28-2004, 02:19 PM
I didn't get a chance to wade through all of the old posts. It did make me reflect upon boat construction, and all of our own personal biases.

I think for some folks, owning and working on a "traditionally" built boat, whether 100 years old, or 1 y/o, is what is most important. Others main desire is to have a boat to be used extensively on the water, and the fact that it is of wood construction isn't necessarily the most important point.

I can understand the consternation of traditional boat fans, when an old classic boat is "fixed up" on the cheap by slathering glass and epoxy over the hull, instead of taking the time and expense to do a proper restoration. Afterall, what is the point of having a classically built hull, if you turn it into a bastardized wood/composite hybrid.

Asside from that, I don't understand the nose in the air attitude towards stich and glue, or other "modern" wood composite boats. Not everyone has the time, skill or desire for a classically built boat. Many folks want something they can put together in months vs years, and that will spend most of it's time on the water, with occasional touch up here and there. If you'd rather be choking on sawdust and varnish, opposed to wiping salt water from your face, so be it, but dont' disparage those who have the opposite opinion.

I like all types of boats, and boaters.

Carl Simmons
10-28-2004, 03:11 PM
I built my lightning using modern techniques: Sawn Frames, Marine Plywood with a layer of fiberglass to bring it up to one-design thickness and add strength. Of Course, I used a lot of epoxy. It took me about 18 months to build the boat working on it in the evenings and on weekends. I am just finishing my second season sailing it and I would guess that if I used traditional methods of construction - steamed frames and planks it wouldn't be done yet. My point is we live in different times with busy schedules and using short cuts like epoxy to allow someone with average skills to build a boat versus buying one is a blessing.

10-28-2004, 08:11 PM
No Mike, I wasn't referring to you at all. It's just that a wooden boat loaded with the latest epoxies is sort of like a woodgrain dashboard. It's an aesthetic statement, who cares what it's really made of? Like so many things in our society, appearance is everything - in many cases it IS reality. So if a boat has wood in it and looks like it's made of wood, well then, heck, it must be a wooden boat, right, even if its construction and maintenance techniques are more characterstic of fiberglass.

I share John's view about CPES. It's been treated like ketchup around here - put it on anything and everything. And the result, at least for me, is about as satisfying as putting ketchup on a really good steak. Either you don't really need it or you need more than it can do.

Mine is a 1960 lapstrake with some kind of glue between the strakes. Otherwise there's no plastic in it at all, except for some epoxy I smeared to stop some small leaks. The beauty of this boat to me is that, although at the time she was built she was a cheapo utility sold through the Montgomery Ward catalogue, her workmanship is superior to anything you see today, even in the high-end yachts. And her performance is just as good as any other 19-foot long, 6-foot wide runabout.

Every time I buy varnish the guy in the store makes a point of telling me it's not really varnish, meaning the formula has been updated. I'm not sure I care whether I'm using the same formula as Joshua Slocum. I just don't see the point of using fiberglass construction techniques in a wooden boat unless it's a clear improvement over what was used before. As someone pointed out in this thread, techniques evolve.

[ 10-30-2004, 10:22 AM: Message edited by: Victor ]

Bob Cleek
10-28-2004, 09:37 PM
All things in moderation, guys. That's the ticket. We've had these arguments before. As with most arguments, they boil down to semantics. A little more history is in order, perhaps. Remember that guy named Clark that did the "Connections" show on PBS where he'd start with something that happened a long time ago and trace the technology up to some present day thing like the telephone and it would always be a surprise? It's sorta like that.

Once upon a time in the early seventies, there came on the scene a magazine called, as I recall, The Wooden Boat. In short order, it became WoodenBoat and maybe even WoodenBoat Magazine. It touted itself as the magazine for wooden boat owners, builders and whatever.... Now in the early seventies, fibreglass was king. Those who don't remember those days won't remember the incredibly low prices that real classic wooden yachts were going for. People couldn't get rid of them fast enough for want of the latest plastic boats. There were a very few afficionados and the rest of us in the wooden boat crew just plain couldn't afford a new fibreglass boat. We had a big inferiority complex, for which we compensated by the taking the attitude that our wooden boats were somehow more noble, better looking, honest, environmentally friendly, historical and well, you name it. It seems we were right to a large extent. Thanks in large measure to WoodenBoat magazine's centerfold "boat porn," a whole generation of armchair wooden boat sailors came on the scene. Justifiably, they wanted classic wooden boats, but they were all chopped up by then, or snagged and restored by guys like me who couldn't afford fibreglass boats at the time we found them. The only solution was building them yourself. That required and still requires a lifetime of study and experience. You gotta love it. Becoming a master tradesman in any craft is an arduous task and much more so when there aren't any apprenticships around anymore. Wooden boatbuilding is one of the most complex crafts around, since there are so many trades and disciplines to learn; everything from wood butchery and foundry work to wire rope splicing and canvas work. Thus, folks who tried but didn't know what they were doing came by their disability honestly. It was WoodenBoat that gave them that "little bit of knowledge" sufficient to get them in trouble.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, new epoxy adhesives were coming on the market and, as adhesives, they were a darn big improvement. They were never intended to replace traditional joinerwork. They were just intended to stick stuff together better.

Back at the WoodenBoat editorial offices, despite their wonderful articles on construction and repair, or perhaps because of them, they started running out of new stuff to write about traditional wooden boats. (Check the old issues and you'll agree! Good as they were and still are, how many articles on lofting or planking could they print?) Once they got to the point of devoting a cover article to Venitian gondolas, it was time for WoodenBoat to begin to expand their editorial horizons.

The "wooden boat" they first addressed was generally traditional construction. As demand for "wooden" boats outstripped the boats available and the people with skills to build them, shortcuts to build "wooden" boats were developed. Folks who lacked the patience to learn traditional ways, perhaps because they wanted to get on the water sooner, a valid excuse, still made up a good segment of WoodenBoat's readership. Eventually the pressure of that interest developed to the point where WoodenBoat now apparently defines a "wooden boat" as any boat that has more wood in it than anything else, no matter how it's held together. I guess that this is as good a definition as any if you are in the business of selling a magazine called "WoodenBoat." Certainly, there's no arguing with their success and more of it to 'em.

In this way, one man's wooden boat has become another's epoxy monstrosity. Time was a wooden boat was a traditionally constructed vessel. Today, a wooden boat can also be a vessel that is made of wood held together with epoxied glass cloth.

As the man said, there's no accounting for taste. A good boat is an absolute. A boat is either good or it ain't. If it's a good boat, any other consideration really is a matter of taste.

So... that's why the guys who have been in the game for a long, long time and have learned the crafts necessary to build and maintain traditionally built wooden boats look down their noses at the guys who call boats made of bits and pieces of wood held together with googe and glass "wooden boats." It's snobbery, really, but... as long as it still gets a rise out of the youngsters, it's good clean fun.

Hell, as long as your having fun, does it really matter?

10-28-2004, 10:10 PM
I like epoxy

10-29-2004, 12:04 AM
Well said Mr Cleek.

martin schulz
10-29-2004, 04:52 AM
Well Bob, you are certainly right.

But I often get the feeling that with plastic-boats, laminated boats and traditional wooden boats there is also a big amount of mistrust among boatowners.

Of course most plastic-boat pwners think that they are better off with their boats than us poor wooden-boat owners. I was on a boat-trade show in Hamburg last weekend and saw a demonstration on osmose-restoration - thank God I don't own a plastic-boat.
But then those boat owners MUST somehow justify their expensive boats, especially when comparing their boats with more beautiful wooden boats (you won't believe the compliments I am getting for my little wooden 24 feet boat). So for them a wooden boat is:
1. too time consuming (coming from people how don't sail, but often sit in their cockpits the whole weekend)
2. too risky (wooden boats often sink, because they have planks that can spring ;) )
3. too slow (again, coming from people who start the engine at 1pm to get back to the marina)

With epoxy-laminated wooden boat owners I experience a similar attitude. But with them its a bit different. They do feel superior to plastic-boat owners, which is understandable (so do I), but they also tend to have a slight haughtiness towards traditional-wooden boat owners. Often their "haughtiness" is based on the same assumption as the arrogance of the plastiv-boat owner.
1. a traditional boat is too time consuming (caulking, woodworking, paintjobs)
2. too risky ("isn't that quite risky with such an old boat? What if a plank is rotten, or there is a bolt loose somewhere" a guy with a nice shiny wood-laminated boat with an aluminum mast once told me)
3. too slow (of course traditional wooden boats are 99% longkeeland, often gaff-rigged and therefore slow. But I always thought "the journey is the reward")

What is very frustrating is that somehow nobody, except the wooden-boat owner believes in the woodworking skills of our elders. No matter for how many centuries boats have been build in traditional ways somehow most people believe that a plastic-boat is much safer, faster and easy to maintain (I could accept the last argument).
Man - even here I get wry looks when I post that I have traditional rope stays (although Columbus sailed with those to America). And when I want to discuss the use of coal-ashes with linseed oil and tar as proper paint for my hull I am afraid people here will regard me as a fruitcake.

[ 10-29-2004, 05:54 AM: Message edited by: martin schulz ]

10-29-2004, 05:42 AM
And when I want to discuss the use of coal-ashes with linseed oil and tar as proper paint for my hull I am afraid people here will regard me as a fruitcake. 'Barking mad' was the phrase that sprang to my mind smile.gif

A lot of hopeless romantics pine for a fictitious past in which everything was good and wholesome, when men were men and women pretended to do as they were told, and old salts would sit around on the wharf and lie about the 'good old days' that never were. Sounds like fun :cool:

The Wizards First Rule (from the book of the same name) is 'People are stupid'. The masses know nothing about anything. Anyone that tries to transcend the superficiality of conspicuous consumerism is invariably considered a nutter. Get used to it. Come out of the closet and proclaim to the world "I'm a raging wooden boatie, and I'm proud!"

Diversity is a good thing. If someone's preferred flavour of watercraft is sinew-lashed withies covered in oak-tanned hide, then good for them! There's another folksy, craftsy thingie that won't die out for at least another generation. If someone prefers wood reinforced plastic, then good for them too! Whatever floats your boat. I firmly believe that there's room at the dock for every kind of boat and every kind of boatie. Even the armchair variety!

martin schulz
10-29-2004, 06:09 AM
Originally posted by Aramas:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr /> And when I want to discuss the use of coal-ashes with linseed oil and tar as proper paint for my hull I am afraid people here will regard me as a fruitcake. 'Barking mad' was the phrase that sprang to my mind smile.gif </font>[/QUOTE]http://www.tallship-fan.de/images/segl241e.jpg

ANA, a 1994 built cutter, along the plans of Colin Archer (YES he didn't only design double-enders). This boat certainly laughs about most plastic-boat owners prejudices. It's traditionally built, long-keeled, faster than most boats her size (even plastic-boats) and safer than every other boat I have been on.


VALDIVIA, a 1886 built "Newfoundland-style" Yacht, totally (traditional) rebuilt 1978. Very fast, a bit wet when pressed hard, but still a nice sight

and both boats were painted with a mixture of tar*, linseed oil and coal-ash, like they have done it for centuries.
The advantage of this is that the planks start to darken in their fibres and that, even in a strong sun the "paint" won't crack, but stretch with the wood. I am not one of those who think that "back then" everything was better. But before I believe the advertising of the chemical-industrie for their "superior" products I go and ask traditional boatbuilders how they do it.

* by the way. Teredo, algea, fungus and other "unwanted" stuff don't like tar.

[ 10-29-2004, 06:14 AM: Message edited by: martin schulz ]

Ian Wright
10-29-2004, 07:04 AM
Boats built using epoxy can be, often are, very nice indeed, but,,,,,,,,,,
,,,,, real plank on frame boats are just, well, better, and, if you search your soul you know it.
If it makes you feel better to think of me as a trad boat snob, then fine, but come on, we both know the truth. There are real wooden boats and there are substitutes.

IanW smile.gif

Ian Wright
10-29-2004, 08:02 AM
Originally posted by MIke:
tongue.gif[/img] :D It's OK, Patience will be back in the water next week. The yard is fine, right next to the Company Shed and so handy for oysters but there's no place like home port and your own place at the bar,,,,,

10-29-2004, 08:29 AM
hello all,
this is my first post here at the wb forum, which by the way, seems very addictive ( except for all the political talk-"everybody's talking, nobody's listening" as Mason Smith says) anyway, i thought maybe i'd chime in on the epoxy quandry. i tend toward using epoxy as a means of material conservation ( i know, i know, there is great contradiction with using a product that uses massive amounts of energy in production, metal container fabrication and transport), but somehow i feel a little better about being able to yield every bit of usable wood from any given board. I finished planking up and 18' rangeley lakes guideboat awhile back and i got fanatical about plank repairs/scarphing to stretch out my white cedar planking stock (what do you think, that stuff just grows on trees?).i tend to not believe that wood is a legitimate renewable resource, at least not the way we harvest and consume it now. anyway, in my shop i do a fair number of W/C restorations i try to scarph/dutchman new wood wherever i can to save tossing something that is probably otherwise usable, stopping short of using epoxy as a fastener between otherwise mechanically fastened members. So there it is. I guess i am just another dirty madison hippie (although soon to be a dirty duluth hippie), but i tend to rationalize the introduction of "inappropriate technology" in traditional construction and restoration as a means of forest stewardship. oh yeah, and to plug at least one of the holes in my argument, i reuse all my glue pots, brushes and gloves-not only to cut down on waste, but that stuff gets expensive. anyhow, i look forward to following and hopefully contributing to what seems like pretty bitchin' dialogue here at the WB forum.

John Hastie
10-29-2004, 09:10 AM
I hope I am not the last word on this subject, but "I would like to say this about that"...

I am now 60 years old. I owned the same 16' Carvel planked wooden sailboat for 30 years. I now know more about varnish than I ever wanted to know.

So let me share a few thoughts.

I wonder how many of you (not trying to be haughty here) have grown up in the days when you had to take your boat down to the sea to sink it for a week to swell the seams?

Have you ever had to deal with the water under the canvas deck cover and the resultant mildew that creeps up? More over, have you had to refinish your boat over 30 years and wonder if there is a better way?

Come on, folks, the holy grail is to get out on the water.

So, what has resulted from 30 years? I am a computer guy. I bought a fiberglass sailbboat so I can sail, not maintain, maintain, maintain. All the work was fun when I was younger. Hey, great varnish parties, turnover the hull over get togethers, and wet sand, west sand, wet sand.

Did I mention git-rot? How about shaking your head more than once for stupid traditional design? How do I get rid of that damn water and all that goes with it.

Oh yeah, caulking irons, seaming cotton, polysulfide caulk, etc. Oh joy!

Let us not get caught up in all this. John's rant was one many of us have shared over the years for one reason or the other. I still love to see the Heritage when I sail by. Yet, I am a cheap Scot and not well healed for throwing that money into that hole.

Now I restore and build furniture in my wood shop for fun. My wife says I should go into this business when I retire. Why ruin a good hobby?
I guess I did get something out of all this. And, yes, I still sail.


Bob Smalser
10-29-2004, 10:31 AM
I'll just add one point that's been missed.

My only real objection to epoxy and plywood it that it is expensive.

Last I checked, my time between 5pm and 5am and on stormy days wasn't worth much money. In many areas, a modest investment in a small sawmill means folks seek you out to provide free trees...sometimes on shares....and more often merely to get rid of them.

Low cost wood means you can be lavish with it, and the major cost becomes hardware, cordage and sails, with a little cotton, glue and paint thrown in.

The hardware and some cordage prices you can ameliorate by setting up a commercial account with a local hardware jobber. Surplus paint...copper, epoxy, lead, poly and alkyd... at a fraction of the price of new abounds out here and I've never had a problem with it. These days Ebay has a surprising amount of inexpensive salvage bronze goodies and more than all the required tools if you are diligent and resourceful.

And I still can't think of anything that provides as much bang for your buck than traditional linseed and tar for some non-fancy applications.

Doing it the traditional way takes longer, but can still be done inexpensively...

...not to mention just how much more durn fun the entire process is.

[ 10-29-2004, 10:57 AM: Message edited by: Bob Smalser ]

Scott Rosen
10-29-2004, 11:02 AM
There are two sides to every story.

I've been painting and varnishing my boat every year, and some years, depending on the weather, I dont' get the boat wet until June.

A number of years ago, I painted the transom and rudder with Sterling LPU. I also painted my cabin sides and top with the stuff. I can go five years or more on those areas without having to repaint. And the stains--diesel, dirt, etc.--just rinse off. It's really amazing.

The rest of the hull gets painted with oil/alkyd, which looks real nice and is easy to apply, but needs repainting every spring.

Next spring, I've decided to paint the entire hull with the Sterling. the paint will cost me a couple of hundred dollars, but if I can get two or three years before repainting, I'll be thrilled. That'll get me in the water a couple of weeks sooner.

And another thing. My cabin tops are plywood. The overhead was always painted with alkyd or one-part poly. Every spring, the paint would be cracked, chipped, mildewy and peeling. It couldn't withstand the constant wetting/drying cycles because of the condensation. A couple of years ago, I stripped a section of the overhead (again), an unpleasant job if ever there was one, and applied CPES followed by a couple of coats of Interlux 401/404 epoxy primer. As of now, that base has held up perfectly. Sometime before the spring, I'll strip the rest of the overhead, put down the same base and then recoat with Sterling LPU.

Contrary to what I used to think, I've since learned that it's okay to use LPU on your carvel hull. If you want to know why, just ask.

Using the LPU doesn't make the construction any less traditional. But it makes using the boat a lot more enjoyable. Sometimes newer is better.

10-29-2004, 11:35 AM
O.K. .....I guess it's time for me to jump in and try to stir things up a bit......
I guess 'cause I izzint a perfessional boatbuilder I don't know much...But...fasteners corrode....most of the problems that I have encountered on wood/fiberglass boats wuz from fasteners loosening....wood moving too much....leaks forming...and rot....
There izzint one square inch of fiberglass in my boat......there is epoxy....and kevlar....Tana Mari is strip planked using bead and cove strips..two layers if you count it that way...glued together.....who really gives a hairy r$%#ts behind whether the glue is plastic resin.....resorcinol...or epoxy.....drywall screws held the basic parts together until the glue set.....then were removed...holes drilled to 1/4 inch and a piece of kevlar rod with double spiral grooves was inserted after being wiped with more glue...epoxy......there is no fiberglass or plastic fabric between the layers, just glue....then cold molded two layers of 1/8th inch veneer...in glue.....the cabin framing is sorta traditional...but the deck beams are laminated and could have used plastic resin, resorcinol or any other glue but I chose epoxy. The house is strip planked.....another traditional method...no nails..it's glued together...does it matter as to the chemical formulation of the glue.
Traditionalist would have covered the decks with paint and canvas....as did I.....but does it matter whether the canvas was blue or white or nylon or cotton.......I hope not....and the paint etc to cover the boat to protect the wood....I betcha there are "Traditionalist" out there that use modern Kirbys or Imron or whatever to make the boat look "yachty".......as I said...all spars and boat is wood.......no fiberglass anywhere....are we getting so technical that the glue formulation is now a matter of debate? Next someone will holler that my 13.5 foot long rudder shouldn't be made from solid rosewood...it ain't traditional...you shoulda used oak..or fir..or something else.....it just so happens that where the boat was built rosewood wuz cheeeeper than lumberyard fir.........wood izz wood no matter how you fasten it......... :confused:

Jim H
10-29-2004, 11:37 AM
In the end , it comes down to your specific situatuion. If you have no choice but to keep your boat on a trailer then I think that composite construction would be favorable. If, like Bob, you have access to relatively inexpensive quality lumber and water, then by all means traditional construction is the way to go. John was dead on to say that epoxy construction is less friendly to repair, though it can be done, it's a bit more complicated. OTOH, traditional construction lends itself to easy repair/replacement of parts, of which the USS Constitution is a good example. I look forward to the day I have a chance to build a traditionally constructed boat but until then I'll build to fit my needs.

John Hastie
10-29-2004, 11:54 AM
Jim -

Are you kidding about the "Constitution"? Did you read what it took to straighten the keel?

Now, who in the world has the facilities or resources to do what was done to this venerable old craft.

I mean, climate controlled humdity, salt water spray, hydraulic rams for realigning the keel, donated wood, shop tools big enough to build "Hoover Damn", and finally, gobs of money?


Jim H
10-29-2004, 12:12 PM
Originally posted by John Hastie:
Jim -

Are you kidding about the "Constitution"? Did you read what it took to straighten the keel?
I read the article a couple of years ago in WB but I don't remember anything about them having to straighten the keel (I might have missed it). I do remember them stating that there was just a couple of small peices of the orginal lumber left on the ship.

10-29-2004, 01:10 PM
Jim..what makes my boat composit...did you use the fasteners of your choice when you stuck the boat together...what did you use...glue (resorcinol, plastic resin) or nails, screws, trunnels......bronze, stainless, iron or wood...over the years all these materials have been used as fasteners...the vikings used iron nails.......and wood trunnels......and resin to plank their boats, they wired them together with vines...and sometimes rawhide...when a better or more readily available material came along it was used...
If you intended to create an exact replica of a boat...a particular boat, and intended to use the tools of the time you would be required to do very extensive research...lets say you duplicated a portuguese caravel...1475 time frame and the exact same boat plans were available in 1503....how would you build the boat?....not the way and with the same materials used 28 years later.......
A viking boat of 890 and one of exact size (beam, draft,length) of one from the same area in 1090..virtually no time has passed (culteral anthropologically speaking) so what would be the different methodologies and materials used to construck the vessels. They would definitely be different.......
and I will give one clue.....
"It's cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey"..........
Incidentally....go to the maritime (national) museum in Reykjavik Iceland.....downstairs (basement) and take a peak at the longboat models and the drawings they were made from. I didn't make the models, but they were made from drawings that I did nearly 30 years ago when we disassembled the remains of a viking longboat...in less than 100 years between boats in the same village area there were many changes in the materials used in the boats although they were build (by eye) to basically the same design. The national language is still spoken in exactly the same form as it was 1000 years ago...and in central finland that same dialect is still spoken...from the times when all Scandanavia was under one king...(Hey Y'all, gonna become Christians now or lose your head...over the subject....) that's why Erik Thorvaldson left for Iceland, and then to Greenland...(pappy of Leifur Erikson) Also I did the paintings in the National Bank and several other places around the area based on the tales of Erik the red and his son....
I guess that's why I am a little looney....spent two years in the basement drawing pictures.... :D

Paul H
10-29-2004, 02:28 PM
One thing I seldom see mentioned when discussing "traditional" building techniques vs "modern" building techniques, is that at one point in time, "traditional" techniques were "modern" techniques. Just as today, craftsmen of yesteryear had budgets and schedules to meet. If they had had tools or techniques available that would improve their final product, they would have used them.

There was also an accusation that because epoxy can tollerate less than perfect joinery, that somehow it makes people that build with epoxy sloppy workers. That is silly at best. Good craftsmanship is just that, and it has nothing to do with what tools or materials are used. The same argument can be used against power and handtools. One can make beautiful joints with either, and conversely can butcher stock with either. A good craftsman does good work whatever tools or techniques he or she uses.

A faired, square and true hull is just that, despite the path or raw materials used to get there.

God willing I'll have the time to try many different forms of boat building in the future. I'd even like to find a use for the case of resourcenol I picked up on clearance for litterally pennies. I don't begrudge those who calk their seams, nor those that sheathe in glass. I'll appreciate those hulls built by master craftsmen, as well as those made by rank beginners that are building to the best of their ability.

Fair seas to all.

Jim H
10-29-2004, 05:43 PM
Originally posted by paladin:
I guess that's why I am a little looney....spent two years in the basement drawing pictures.... :D Damn! Some people have all the fun! :cool: You are right of course, "composite" is a relative term. I've always been fascinated by the Viking long boats, maybe I'll get a chance to visit Reykjavik in the future.

John Blazy
10-29-2004, 11:57 PM
Epoxy is plastic. So is paint, varnish, Linseed oil, tar, and pine pitch for that matter. The most primitive construction will use what was once considered a "newfangled hi-tech polymer" at some point in history. Other than that, I really don't know why I beat this dead horse further.

One final word tho - Thank God for epoxy.

10-30-2004, 07:07 AM
I'm building out of wood and copper, for a couple of reasons.(The boat is a 10 ton 34' cutter.)

Firstly ,its cheap.I can buy good hardwood here in Australia for very little.It's good boatbuilding timber but its no good for epoxy, too hard, too dense...epoxy can't penetrate and in the sizes I'm using it wouldn't hold anyway.I could buy western red cedar but the stuff is horribly expensive and the epoxy alone for the project would cost more than the wood and copper for the "traditional" way.I'm going to have a 34 foot hull...no deck etc for around $6000. The deck will very likely be an EPOXY and timber cold moulding job...cos it won't leak and I have enough old growth oregon stashed for the job.I'll probably fake a trad deck with grooved first layer and dynel on the top.Should work out OK.

The second reason is that I don't really like working with the stuff.It works ,its good for the right job but as I'm building this boat for the pleasure of it....and its the only way to get the boat I want, I'd prefer to build it the way I want and I LIKE big lumps of wood and copper fastenings.

If I was building a dinghy that was going to spend its life on a trailer or upside down on my deck I'd probably build an Ian Outred clinker ply job and think she was just lovely....in fact I'm going to ! :D

Will Wheeler
04-18-2006, 01:52 PM
Bump. A classic thread that worth reviving for the new forum.

04-18-2006, 04:05 PM
Okay, I've logged on late but-------- CPES does have a place in traditional construction and that would be sealing end grain on frames.planking, whatever- it works better than red lead and does not "glue" anything together. On most of my restorations the end grain and fastenings have caused the most problem.

Thad Van Gilder
04-18-2006, 07:06 PM
ah hah...
4 years later, and I still think epoxy is crap!!!!!!!!!!!

04-18-2006, 07:18 PM
Wish it were crap when it got on your glasses,in your hair,on your tools.BTW,take your gloves OFF before taking a pee.

If epoxy is crap, what is polyester?

I guess all you "epoxy is crap people" will relinquish any secret supplies stashed away?
Pls send to: Woodboats,
WithAbitaPlasticonEm road,

BTW- I read somewhere that the haughtyness of a boatbuilder is directly proportional to how well he hides his epoxy. Musta been from a N.A...................doesn't make much sense!

Vernon Hunt
04-18-2006, 07:44 PM
Holy Smokes.... Epoxy is crap! Life's a BITCH... Then you DIE !!

04-19-2006, 02:38 AM
Epoxy promotes bad craftsmanship? I had to do it right first and then make it wrong enough for epoxy. There is engineering considerations in using epoxy, beyond an obvious perfect fit joint.
As far as craftsmanship is dead with the modern ways,butchery has been around forever as I used to uncover quite a bit left behind by the old world craftsmen and not just in boats. Seems that faster ways to a needed paycheck has been around alot longer than glue.
Getting glue out of screw slots works if you heat the bit up first and wallow it around in the slot a bit. Screw heads buggered in tightening will still usually have the meat left for loosening,especially with square drives.
I can appreciate both old and new and I wish I could have free mooring and haulout at any marinas around here.Or to have time to dread and procrastinate scraping barnacles again. I work on modern boats and am lucky to have the composite one I have and I certainly have plenty of plastic boats to snob off at.
Ok,I pledge to build a traditional constructed boat when they get close to extinction. What more can I do? :)

Great thread,btw.

04-19-2006, 06:54 AM
Damn, I wish somebody had told me :-(

Obviously that nice lightweight engineered plywood/epoxy structure that I have in the garage is a waste of time, because it wont last forever, and the world is swamped with "real" wooden boats that I could fix if I could just win the lottery.
Guess I had better start on that hollowed out log so I dont have to use any of them new fangled copper rooves. I reckon a bear skin sail should do good - I hear that linen stuff rots out real fast. And naturally I will use vines for the standing and running rigging - vines are so much faster to make than that manila stuff, and dont stink when they burn like those synthetics.
I had better fire up the steam traction engine too, as the little japanese car wont have a hope of towing the solid wood behemoth.

Just because some plonker glues frames or whatever into a traditionally planked hull with some adhesive does not make the adhesive crap.


Tanbark Spanker
04-19-2006, 02:30 PM
I'm looking for a place to build a twenty-five foot sailing cruiser. I've owned four or five plank on frame boats and wish I had the skill and quality resources to build one for my self. I've refastened, replanked, caulked, replaced keel bolts and ...a bunch of other stuff. I really like the idea of glued plywood lapstrake over well placed bulkheads. I can see where traditional construction can be less expensive, provided you don't have to pay an arm and a leg for good lumber.

04-20-2006, 12:12 AM
I have long loved boats; I have recently come to love woodworking -- with handtools, not because they work as fast (they don't), or produce a better result (they don't), but because I don't have to work fast, and what I enjoy is the process, in my quiet, sweet-smelling, ten-fingered shop by the ocean on an island.

So building wooden boats seemed to combine the best of two loves. There was a problem, though. Most of the boats I read about building involved messy, smelly, and maybe even hazardous work with some really foul gunk. I'd rather have somebody else do the smelly work, and buy a f****g**** boat.

But recently -- largely thanks to you guys, and the books you recommended -- I've leared about a marvelous new epoxyless process! It's called "carvel construction". It may well take longer, and the boats may leak a bit, and probably won't last as long as if I did it all in glass and epoxy. But I actually enjoy the process. It's fun. I'm gonna do it that way, whatever you guys say...

Bob Smalser
04-20-2006, 12:30 AM
.... and (traditional carvel) probably won't last as long as if I did it all in glass and epoxy.

Don't buy into the plywood and goo industry propaganda floating around. The same party line also says you don't have the joinery skills to build traditionally, yet fitting softwood planking stock is actually easier..and certainly more pleasant....than accurately beveling their hard, crumbly plywood edges.

Your traditional boat of prime British Columbian stock will likely live at least twice as long as one made of glued plywood. It won't delam, scrapes are less likely to rot, it has higher dollar value, and it's infinitely more repairable.

And that's especially true with today's plywood.

Plywood and goo got its big boost when all the good boat wood was overlogged during WWII. Plywood was cheaper than quality solid stock, and was made to a high standard from prime woods like old-growth Doug Fir "peelers". Polyester and later epoxy with fiberglass fabric did a better job of protecting the fragile surface lam from moisture and wear and tear than linseed oil and paint....and they, too, were cheap when oil was cheap.

Today the situation has completely reversed itself:

The forests have all grown back, sawmill technology has progressed to where there's a portable mill connected with almost every arborist firm, good plywood is difficult to find and very expensive, as are all the products made from oil like epoxy and the various fabrics. You can build a more valuable, longer-lived, easier-to-repair boat less expensively if you build traditionally. Especially an amateur not counting hours, because all plywood saves you is a little time.

Traditional construction is the future of economical and ecological boatbuilding, not plywood and goo.

04-20-2006, 12:32 AM
Stat with mortise and tenon joints to hold you're planks together. Then you can frame the inside of the boat using trunnels to attach them. Go bleed out a tree to get some sap to goo up the seams and you'll be able to say you're boat is "Traditional". Anything beyond that is some new fangled process invented by some new age revolutionary whose processes you don't understand. And if someone else uses a part of the new process they just don't know what they are doing.
All things have there place. Epoxy used wrong is not good but used right has a place in proper boat construction. Crap goesin the toilet. A toilet full of Epoxy just wouldn't flush right.

04-20-2006, 12:49 AM
Your traditional boat of prime British Columbian stock will likely live at least twice as long as one made of glued plywood.

I do really know that, Bob, I was being disingenuous. But my point remains: even if all the arguments for expoxy were good arguments, I wouldn't use it myself because IT'S NOT FUN -- for me, anyway. The smell of red and yellow cedar shavings in my breeze-swept shop (amazing how different those two cedars can smell!), and with the sour smell of white oak recently added to the mix; all the windows open because IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT TEMPERATURE IT IS for carvel construction -- to be able to work in that environment, with no masks, no chemical smells, no toxic solvents -- it's heaven! If carvel construction in old-growth BC wood also lasts longer -- well, that's a bonus.

Of course I don't want to diss anyone who uses the stuff (or power tools, either). If I had to make a living with my so-called boatbuilding, I'd starve -- and I'd undoubtedly starve a whole lot faster without epoxy or powertools. The true amateur has all kinds of advantages; he can just pick what's "fun". There's no inherent advantage in "efficient fun" (though there obviously would be in "efficient work-for-pay").

04-20-2006, 02:10 AM
The new woes of repairability for traditional construction are beyond the ease of taking it apart. If you have to keep your traditional built boat in the water,it better not be at a marina because they wont allow you to work on your own boat in most places.You have to use their labor and materials. I dont trust anyone to even work on my cars, nevermind my boat.I had to build something I could keep at home under watchful eye. Even if kept at the high and dry ,the monkees that put them away, damage stuff often. One also has to be able to use the traditional boat often enough to keep it somewhat wet periodically.It's all good and there is no way with modern considerations, that I can be convinced that one is better than the other. Why not just buy a FG boat? Ever seen the finish on even the high priced ones? It's an insult to pay that much for such crap.100 ft finish beyond the gloss of them. All wavey and puckered on the sides.

Traditional boats may be cheaper to build but if you consider mooring fees alone,the boat will never be paid for unless you are one of the fortunate few who own waterfront property.In a short time,you cancel the savings. Seems that every method has it's advantages/disadvantages.

Paul G.
04-20-2006, 06:54 AM
Well, after having got Sheryl delivered into the driveway and having a good looksee at her I discovered the rudder has been glassed over but the glass had split. So I started peeling it off wondering why someone would glass a solid rudder hanging off the end of a full length keel. The glass peeled off ok but after the easy part where the wood was damp underneath it kept on peeling taking the top layer of timber with it. So now I have to strip it all back...grrrrr. Thats not all, when I went to remove the bronze heel bearing/foot that supports the bottom of the rudder someone has bedded it all in epoxy, This means the half dozen bronze screws and bolts holding it on are well nigh impossible to remove without rounding/stripping/breaking. It such a big heat sink I'll have to get gas to soften it all up to get it off.

Now for a contrast, she had an ancient copper plate grounding pad about a foot square on the keel, I think for and old ssb radio. I undid the 20 screws (stainless) around the edge and peeled the plate back away from a layer of painted felt revealing a section of the original (60 year old) paint in superb condition, damp but no rot at all. Sure wish that rudder fitting was bedded in felt and paint!

Verdict....epoxy is crap on a trad boat if used indiscriminately without thought for the next man to work on it.

04-20-2006, 07:12 AM
Yep, all that modern stuff sure is crap- like nylon rope (what "real" boat man would have it anywhere near his boat?), GPS (no "real" boatman ever gets lost), PFD's (any "real" boatman would rather drown than wear one-they're for sissies!).

Matt J.
04-20-2006, 08:56 AM
Ahh, the classic WBF. I thought I responded to this. I so heartily agree with JRS's original sentiments, as well as with those in general agreement with him.

EPOXY is CRAP! It lends itself to the "do your best and caulk the rest" line of thinking.

It DOES have a place, and there are nice boats built with it. BUT that doesn't mean it's appropriate in many forms of "traditional" construction (Let's call that plank on frame). Example: who has looked on yachtworld.com to find boats, search "wood" hulls etc... and found many, many boats that "match" your criteria? Who among those folks have clicked the "back" button immediately after finding some yahoo sheathed his carvel hulled boat in fibreglass?


To me, I like "traditional" plank on frame carvel and lapstrake boats. I like boats with strictly mechanical fastenings. I like that our boat has only a plywood deck, diesel engine, and an electrical system as a nod to the modern world. Different from her original 1933 design in few ways, she makes me happy. I really do love this little boat. I love that, normally, working on her means paint and varnish (traditional oils from Kirby's and modern Epifanes, respectively). I love the fact that she IS repairable.

Note our boat needs reframing. Her frames were likely undersized when she was built - keel laid 28 years ago. I'm in the process of replacing approximately 22 frame pairs and then the interior. We're likely to be 2 seasons out of the water, though it should have been only one. We hired some schmucks in Oxford, Maryland to "repair" the frames, and they lived up to their name: Cutts and [Repl]ace. They used so much g$%damn EPOXY that much of my efforts will go into removing epoxy from where it doesn't belong - they actually glued the frames to the dry hull planking!! Well, "do your best and caulk the rest" indeed.

Further note: I LOVE the fact that the one boatfull of jerks in our marina - who rarely failed to make commiserating comments about how poor pitiful Rarus required so much work - are on the hard next to Rarus. Their boat, which we call "Teakdex" because of their beloved faux teak decks, has hull delamination. She's gained too much weight, has lost too much hull integrity, and will cost sooooo much to "fix" that they are unsure if they'll be in the water again.

I hear they lit up like Christmas trees when they heard they were right about our boat - poor old wooden boat failed. Perhaps our poor, pitiful wooden boat will see water sooner than their plastic fantastic?


(Oh, and we have two plywood stitch and glue boats and a cedar stripper. I hope never again to mess with such boats. My next one is either a skin on frame kayak or a proper lapstrake pram.)

Thad Van Gilder
04-20-2006, 09:35 AM
I must also say, that there is nothing better to repair a glass boat with, and it times it may be an appropriate adhesive, but not always.

And it is crap because it encourages crappy workmanship.


Bob Smalser
04-20-2006, 10:20 AM
Why not just buy a FG boat?

Building with plywood, fabric and goo.....or solid wood saturated in epoxy before glassing....

...you are buying a fiberglass boat.

The difference between ply-glass-goo construction and the older plywood and balsa-cored Bayliners is almost zero. Bayliners don't last very long under average care, either.

04-20-2006, 10:56 AM
My two cents.

I have built exactly one boat, a Pooduck skiff, using epoxy and plywood. I am not a woodworker and have used only hand tools and a borrowed table saw to build this boat. It has plenty of small faults, but, I built a boat and I could have only done this using epoxy and plywood. Now that I have built exactly one boat I am encouraged to build another, of traditional construction, using real wood and fasteners. Epoxy /plywood construction may permit rank amateurs to call themselves boatbuilders, but that is exactly what we need, more people getting over the hump from no experience to having built a boat and being in a position to appreciate what that really means. Epoxy has its place, we should be encouraging its appropriate use if we want more people instead of fewer to be part of this experience and this community.


Tom Lathrop
04-20-2006, 11:30 AM
The difference between ply-glass-goo construction and the older plywood and balsa-cored Bayliners is almost zero.

Bob and others,

If you don't like epoxy and plywood, just don't use them. I and others that do appreciate their virtues will use them and not rant about your chosen boatbuilding materials and methods.

I guess I just don't understand your problem. The above quote is not only B.S. but is an insult to many excellent craftsmen who build excellent boats in ways that you don't approve of. Look at Whio on the cover of the current WoodenBoat. High tech in every way but still built of wood, an exceptional performer and beautifully classic besides.

I also place myself in this category that you are defaming. My boats draw admiring looks and compliments everywhere they go and win prizes among all types of WOODEN boats at shows. They are WOOD boats, even if augmented with glass, googe, synthetic materials and LPU paints. I design and build them this way because it is the BEST way to get the results I want, not because I lack the skills to do it YOUR way.

Get over it. All this whining is unbecoming to anyone of your unquestioned talents.

I appologize for this rant but the s**t (or crap) was getting too deep.

sv Lorelei
04-20-2006, 11:47 AM
Well said, Tom!

I find it unbecoming when a craftsman blames a material for an undesirable result rather than placing the blame for poor results squarely where they belong...with the user. Woods and plastics are just structural materials, and when mis-used will result in ugly, or structurally unsound elements. This doesn't make one or both of them endemically unsound.

I once had a pretty little Alden sloop I was starting into a restoration on. I had her stored on a trailer beside an industrial building partially shaded by a line of old maple trees. The owner of the building hired a couple of yahoos with a chainsaw to take down some of the trees. One dropped squarely amidships smashing its way down through the cabin and breaking the boat's back and ending the restoration quite prematurely. I suppose I could blame wood for ruining my boat, but I know it was really the idiots with the chainsaw.

04-20-2006, 12:00 PM
Who would glass and epoxy a solid wood boat? Bayliner has never been a good boat. They were known for being cheaply constructed or rush built.Wasn't that polyester and glass over garbage plywood?Those boats weren't even attempted at longevity. They were designed to be cheap for the gotta have it now,vinyl siding crowd.They got what they paid for and had no right to complain.
Bayliner has always been the laughing stock of boats as long as I can remember. Still is,although I can't see much difference between them and their double priced companions these days. I owned a traditional built boat before in the form of a flat bottomed net skiff and I was constantly retightening screws in thwarts and frames but it served it's purpose.
Some people that would glass and epoxy solid wood boats or their components,really aren't capable of building in either form. That's a general DIY'r that has watched too many HD how to videos or someone that had to do it that way because people dont really want to pay what it's worth to fix it right. As far as the repair yard that glued up the repairs on a traditional boat? Where were you when this job was taken on and why was it accepted? Why wasn't it known to the yard,that this was not acceptable before it was even done?There should have been a contract that stated that there was to be restorative repairs in the manner that the boat was constructed. I see that as being at the very least a 50/50 customer/contractor miscommunication.
How many times a customer will bring in a cracked,improperly built(cheap) aluminum structure and ask to weld the cracks over,being told it will crack again but that the cost of reinforcing it properly will nearly cost what a new properly built one will,still opts for the cheap way out. I often refuse or hate to repair it that way. The whole time saying to myself,it's going to break again. Is it their fault? Yeah,but thats not what they tell everyone after they conveniently forget what they were told.They can't admit that they chose the bargain way out so is easier to blame the weldor.I end up assuming responsibility for the original damage,even tho I didnt build the damn thing.

On most of the boats I see pictures of here,whether traditional or not,you can tell that most could do as good a job in either method,maybe not as fast but the end result is the same or even better than normal.Some are quite amazing being first attempts at even using "basic" power or hand tools.

Epoxy and plywood are here to stay. So lets make the best of it and through the trials and errors of processes being developed even here in this forum,promote quality practices that can last the worth of the time put into each and every project.

04-20-2006, 12:01 PM
Don't buy into the plywood and goo industry propaganda floating around. The same party line also says you don't have the joinery skills to build traditionally, yet fitting softwood planking stock is actually easier..and certainly more pleasant....than accurately beveling their hard, crumbly plywood edges.
Not that Bob needs my support for his statements but I find this to be a particularly salient point. I’ve only built two boats so far: a glued lap plywood canoe and a clench nailed solid cedar lap canoe. I can attest to the fundamental difference between building these two boats and the exponential increase in pleasure I got out of building traditionally.

I enjoyed my first build but I don’t think I’ll ever go back to ply as a planking material.

Matt J.
04-20-2006, 12:11 PM
Well you know what they say about opinions, eh?

Lorelei, that analogy doesn't hold water. It might have had a bum leg to stand on if you'd said you could blame the chainsaw rather than the chainsaw weilding yahoo. (did they really destroy an Alden sloop? ouch).

Epoxy is a tool. It can be a very useful too, and it has a great many applications. In the right hands it can fix many problems and resolve many flaws and inefficiencies.

The problem is it does invite too many woodbutchers like myself. i built that first cedar strip boat almost 10 years ago with nearly zero skills and more nearly zero knowledge. After 4 years the problems crept up, and I've been fixing them since. Now the boat's solid and does a nice job, and it gets compliments always... but I don't like it. I don't like that it's a wannabe wooden boat. It's not a whitehall, it's not a proper pram, it's nothing but a cedar cored fibreglass hull. It's NOT a wooden boat, though it has a grain pattern, in my opinion.

The people at the once-good yard hired some young guy with no boat knowledge but cabinetry experience to "fix" our boat. They handed him som tools, some oak, and lots of epoxy. He made so many STUPID mistakes and errors in "fixing" our boat that COULD NOT have been overlooked or missed if he'd been doing things traditionally, that I find myself even more disliking the epoxy/panacea mindset.

Epoxy lets too many people of no skills make up for it with "do your best and caulk the rest." I am, sometimes, one of those people. I'm more rank amateur than anything, but I appreciate skills more than production, and strive to make my work last. Even if it means doing it twice (or thrice :rolleyes: ) to get it right, I don't like to use epoxy to fill gaps and hide flaws.

Why not call them glued wood boats, or fibreglass-wood boats? I don't see that cedar stripper out back, or that CLC pram, or the CLC kayak I'm building, as wooden boats. I see them as wood cored fibreglass boats. They're prettier than simple 'glass boats, but they're not wood boats. The kayak and strip boat in particular, would remain intact without wood if the skins were preserved - the wood's only a core.

Matt J.
04-20-2006, 12:22 PM
...As far as the repair yard that glued up the repairs on a traditional boat? Where were you when this job was taken on and why was it accepted? Why wasn't it known to the yard,that this was not acceptable before it was even done?There should have been a contract that stated that there was to be restorative repairs in the manner that the boat was constructed. I see that as being at the very least a 50/50 customer/contractor miscommunication....

You are right concerning the written contract; when I hired them I didn't believe that to be necessary... personnel changes ensued, and things got out of hand quickly. I partially documented my troubles on this forum. Long story short, I didn't accept the repairs. Our insurance paid the yard and we got our boat back after a lost season. I could not get our boat out of their possession in a timely fashion while starting a lawsuit. I accepted it as a lesson learned. I never accepted the repairs, and neither would they, had the the cajones to admit it. The kid was canned and the job was ignored amidst a mess of changes in the organization. If I can, I'll further document the final repairs to this boat, in pictures, in writing, and in print if at all possible. Since that yard always runs a small ad in our forum sponsor's magazine, I wonder if it'd ever make publication?

This incident as much as any prior leanings has soured me on epoxy-in-traditional-boats forever.

sv Lorelei
04-20-2006, 01:12 PM
Lorelei, that analogy doesn't hold water. It might have had a bum leg to stand on if you'd said you could blame the chainsaw rather than the chainsaw weilding yahoo. (did they really destroy an Alden sloop? ouch).

Whether is does or not, it is a delicious bit of irony, isn't it? Yes they really did destroy that boat. And I learned a valuable lesson about free storage being worth what you pay for it.

Personally I try and choose building materials and methods based on what I feel will give me the best structrual integrity, and what fits with the spirit of the job. Certain materials lend themselves to certain designs, others don't. Summarily rejecting a material because it is possible to create a big slimy ball of crap from it makes about as much sense as rejecting screwdrivers because they can slip off the head of the screws and mar the surface. You can always find a way to get the job done...it might or might not be the best way though.

For me, the use of epoxy is (most often) a belt and suspenders measure, not a way to make up for my shoddy workmanship. I don't view it as a panacea, but as a material which can potentially be the best alternative for a particular job. Don't throw the legitimate uses out because of the potential abuses is all I'm saying.

Bob Smalser
04-20-2006, 02:14 PM

I'm just enjoying making the old arguments, and have nothing at all against plywood boats. After all, 3 out of 4 of the boats I've selected in the past couple years for restoration have been plywood, mostly because of more bang for the buck.


I realize not everyone lives in the middle of forests chock full of good boat wood or has the approximately 30% more time it takes to build using airdried stock...but if you do, all my real points are valid.

Plywood and goo got its big boost when all the good boat wood was overlogged during WWII. Plywood was cheaper than quality solid stock, and was made to a high standard from prime woods like old-growth Doug Fir "peelers". Polyester and later epoxy with fiberglass fabric did a better job of protecting the fragile surface lam from moisture and wear and tear than linseed oil and paint....and they, too, were cheap when oil was cheap.

Today the situation has completely reversed itself:

The forests have all grown back, sawmill technology has progressed to where there's a portable mill connected with almost every arborist firm, good plywood is difficult to find and very expensive, as are all the products made from oil like epoxy and the various fabrics. You can build a more valuable, longer-lived, easier-to-repair boat less expensively if you build traditionally. Especially an amateur not counting hours, because all plywood saves you is a little time.

Traditional construction is the future of economical and ecological boatbuilding, not plywood and goo.

George Roberts
04-20-2006, 02:18 PM
Tom Lathrop ---

I think many "wooden" boat "builders" have a problem with accepting epoxy because it requires more skill than "traditional" methods.

Yes, anyone can build a poor quality boat using epoxy. The real test of skill is building a high quality boat using epoxy.

Texas Boater
04-20-2006, 03:25 PM
I really shouldn’t be jumping into this WoodBoating Smack Down, but I just had to state the obvious!

It seems that this argument can be divided into two main categories. Those who are restoring/repairing/maintaining old boats and those that are building new boats.

These two categories can then be subdivided into boats either previously built or in the process of being built without the use of expoies or other new “chemicals” (lets call them traditionally constructed boats) and all other “wooden” boats of alternate construction (non-traditionally constructed boats).

With this in mind it seams like this debate all started because John S, attempted to repair/modify a boat he thought was of traditional construction only to discover it was not and it could not be easily modified due to the epoxy used. This doesn’t imply that all non-traditionally built boats are bad – no more than one can generically state that Hondas are crap compared to Mercedes (there really aren’t any hand built cars any more!). They each have their place and value in the market.

Where I take sides is the practice of restoring an old traditionally built boat, with “old world” quality not found any longer, by smearing it with quick fix repairs, such as epoxy and fiberglass, simply because the restorer didn’t want to take the time, spare the cost or worse because he wants to cheaply put it back in the water so it can be sold off so some unsuspecting buyer. Now I will agree, not all things old are necessarily worth saving. Junk built in 1940 is still junk today! I am addressing the old “quality boats” of their day, Chris Craft, GarWood, Century, etc.

My opinion (and we all know what that is worth!) is that there are so few old wooden boats left in this world, or at least in my world along the Gulf Coast, that it seems to be a sin to not do everything possible to preserve them in as close to the manner in which they were constructed as possible. If what you are after is a unsinkable painted boat, why not restore any of the millions old fiberglass boats from the early ‘60s that were made to mimic the wooden boats they were replacing? These old boats are everywhere, and at the rate of fiberglass decomposition they will most likely be around for a long time to come.

I just can’t help but compare slapping epoxy and fiberglass on a proud old wooden boat, to taking a classic car and having it “pimped”.

Now that I have shoved my foot in my mouth as far as I can, I will step back…….

04-20-2006, 03:56 PM
"Yes, anyone can build a poor quality boat using epoxy. The real test of skill is building a high quality boat using epoxy."

Couldn't agree more. It is easier and quicker to miss out important steps using epoxy/wood, your shop really should be temp./ humidity controlled,the chemistry of the stuff varies considerably for particular applications, to name a few. Not hard to screw up.

"The forests have all grown back"
For a traditional boat, in New Zealand, I would have to build in kauri,
exotic would be unthinkable, and our forests have not grown back as yours have. Kauri's don't crown until 100yrs and the timber,imo,
does not become optimum until 300yrs of growth. I have 500+ on my property,
biggest 3' diam. which I estimate to be about 250yrs. I talk to them, but they don't grow any faster! Besides (small point), its illegal to mill them.

This whole build /rebuild thing has been huge learning curve for me
and when finished the current project will re-evaluate the methodology of the next one!

Bob Smalser
04-20-2006, 04:18 PM
....our forests have not grown back as yours have.

The hottest portable sawmill technology in the world right now is in the hands of your own Carl Peterson up in Rotorua.

They must be cutting something.

04-20-2006, 04:59 PM
"They must be cutting something."
I was talking mainly about kauri forests.

In terms of kauri I would suspect only old growth windfalls,swamp and the odd stand where permission has been obtained.Kahikatea ain't a patch on kauri but still seems to be available.

Still a lot of native trees that are sought after by the building industry
tho' including cattle farmers stands of macrocarpa. Also, their could be a demand for those rigs in the pacific islands where the logging laws are sketchy and mills scarce.

Bob,I have a DVD of a good size kauri log being sawn. If you are interested I could upload/or mail you a copy. It has a real parochial
flavour to it, music an all! lol. bit of a hoot. Shows the difficulties with aged technology.

Frank E. Price
04-20-2006, 06:17 PM
Lots of crap is popular, and being popular doesn't make it not-crap. Epoxy is the particular crap that has helped make amateur small boat building so popular, and make big boat building with labor a lot less skilled than it used to be, profitable. It's still crap.


Tom Lathrop
04-20-2006, 08:32 PM
Mister Devlin, meet Mister Price.

capt jake
04-20-2006, 08:53 PM
Funny Tom. I was thinking the same thing.:D

Of course Mr Price is into 'old' things (judging by the profile). ;) None of this new fangled stuff. But wait, he has a computer???? LOL

Presently, Devlin is building a gem out of epoxy and plywood. Almost one million when completed.

Clinton B Chase
04-20-2006, 09:24 PM
I decided to go back to school to learn to build boats. My learning platform is a 27' "glue boat" as my instructor, former traditional boat builder, calls them. I knew from previous, truly amateur work of mine that epoxy is wonderfully forgiving...heck it can fill a gap up to 1/4"! Glue joints in big boats need not look pretty if they are not seen...as long as you don't break the 1/4" rule! However, using epoxy is an art form unto itself...being clean, getting just the right amount of squeeze everywhere along a glue joint, and backing out faying surfaces to make a pocket for the epoxy. Scrape filling surfaces with epoxy can result in extroardinarily smooth, fair surfaces when the paint goes on. In small boats where glue joints and structural joints are visible and part of the aesthetics of the boat being an artist with the epoxy and making excellent glue joints is even more and art form. Epoxy is wonderful stuff. Aside from sheetrock screws, I don't know of a more important material for a boatbuilder.

One time epoxy was crap when we had to take apart a laminated sheer clamp that was caked with too much epoxy (we were not being artisits!) and it was kicking off. That sucked.

Wild Wassa
04-20-2006, 09:54 PM
I find the comments implying that epoxy is responsible for shabby workmanship very interesting and that if traditional methods were used instead of relying on tacky epoxy, better quality results would have been realized. I though they were very interesting comments ... but ordinary workers are ordinary, no matter what they use, ply or plank, oil based paints or rocket skin polies or epoxy resin over that traditional stuff that leaks.

I like that the threads "Epoxy is Crap" and "Epoxy is King" are side by side in the index at the moment, the scales could tip either way for me ... but I might go and open a thread called "Epoxy is the King of Crap" or "This stuff sticks like epoxy to a blanket (or do I mean ship?)."

The old King is dead, long live epoxy and talking of death, I know that using epoxy is killing me ... but it sure is a fun way to die. If epoxy is crap? then I've been smearing crap for the last six years. When people in mental institutions do this ... do psychiatrists call it 'Epoxy psychosis'?


Jay Greer
04-20-2006, 10:27 PM
Epoxy has it's place in boat building. I don't use it for setting plugs or
laying up spars. But, when mixed with red micro balloons it is a tenacious fairing filler. And, if you are looking to save a bit of rotten wood till you have time to replace it, penetrating epoxy will buy you time. If you are into getting sticky and breathing foreign fumes, not my bag, it does work for building light laminated epoxy saturated hulls.

Tom Lathrop
04-20-2006, 10:35 PM
I'm making a couple Windsor chairs for SWMBO at the breakfast table. Cherry and ash. Doing the spindles and legs on a home built shaving horse with a draw knife. No sandpaper in sight. Joints all wedged with not only no epoxy but no other glue in sight. Not sure about that though.

Different strokes for different tasks.

Gad! I forgot which side I'm on.

The side of reason I hope.

Bob Smalser
04-20-2006, 11:57 PM
.... a good size kauri log being sawn.

Kauri: ;)




Doug Fir:




04-21-2006, 12:12 AM
Definitely not juveniles :)
Took a pic of the kauri coming outa the deck here but its too big (kb's) to post. :mad: dunno how to shrink.
Kinda nice living in a forest.......except when the cones are exploding!

Peter Malcolm Jardine
04-21-2006, 12:21 AM
Frankly, I think this thread belongs in the bilge, because it's more about wooden boat correctness and the politics of wooden boats, then about the boats themselves.

I don't have an opinion on epoxy. Why would I? It's a widely used adhesive, that I have used, will continue to use, and maybe someday even build a plywood boat with. It works well, has a guideline of applications, and requires skill to determine proper assembly methods. I don't use a lot of it, but I don't think it's crap either.

The idea that somehow an expoxy and plywood boat is somehow inferior to something else is a theory put forward by people who want to spoil someone elses enjoyment of boating, and boatbuilding. I have marvelled in these pages of all the great designs being built in plywood and epoxy, boats that are functional, pretty, and relatively easily built. There are literally thousands of people who have boats built by their own hands as a result of this explosion in both design, and in epoxy technologies. That is absolutely wonderful to me. I like nothing better than seeing a relative newcomer to this forum display a newly completely skiff or pram proudly. They should be proud. I'm happy for them.

There's a lot of posturing bull**** on this forum about the name of your designer, the yard you had your boat restored at, the age of the material you bought, the builder of your boat etc etc etc etc. ..... it's like watching fat old women compare the labels on their clothes, or the quality of their jewelry at some charity ball. I had some arse, after I expressed a desire to build the marquetry hatch I just finished, tell me "It's just a Chris Craft". Sometimes this place gets good at sneering at people who are just trying to have fun with boats.

I like this forum because there are a lot of skilled people here, who have a lot of experience to offer ME in my desire to improve my ability to work with, and on, wooden boats. I hope I'm helpful and encouraging to people who come here with projects, even if I can't answer their questions.

I have a boat because I like to get out on the water, and get away from my life on shore for a while. A vast sanctuary of water and sky. It doesn't matter what kind of boat, fibreglass, plywood, carvel , steel, aluminum, inflatable whatever... I think all the people interested in boats feel the same.

You don't like epoxy? Who cares? ..... You have snooty opinions on what kind of boat qualifies for admiration? KISS MY ASS.

04-21-2006, 12:35 AM
A spade is a spade is it not? ROTFLMAO :D
good on yer mate!
RIP....Epoxy is crap

By the way, how doya get rid of the senior member thing........it makes me nervous.

Wild Wassa
04-21-2006, 03:01 AM
"By the way, how doya get rid of the senior member thing........it makes me nervous."

Puka, what are you going to change this most honourable title to? ... I was thinking the same thing perhaps. 'Senior Member' although this sounds very worthy and infers good loyal service to the Forum ... I think I prefer 'Big Member' or even 'Captain Epoxy'. Captain Epoxy sounds very cool.


04-21-2006, 06:24 AM
If you are Capt. epoxy I hope mine isnt too insubordinate.;)

04-21-2006, 07:59 AM
EPOXIFER....I think I will have to refer you to the ships chaplain.We cannot have this. You will have to be rechristened. A heretic on board?
BIG MEMBER....south-by-west and we'll have the tops'ls.

God save our gracious queen, long live our noble.........

Hey wassa, no offence mate. First up best dressed :D

Tom Lathrop
04-21-2006, 08:13 AM

Good 'nuff!

04-21-2006, 01:33 PM
Damn! John I'm sorry you spilled some epoxy down your shorts

Jay Greer
04-21-2006, 02:27 PM
Years ago, we layed up some special hulls for Disneyland. Epoxy had just come on the market and one of our guys came down with an allergic reaction. His privates swelled up like a socker ball and he spent several weeks in the horsepistol. After that, our guy couldn't even smell the stuff without breaking out in hives. We learned the hard way. We always wear gloves and chemical masks now!

Frank E. Price
04-22-2006, 02:29 PM
My opinion of epoxy is based on using it to build a few small plywood boats for my own use. Built the first one in 1975 and the last one in about 1999. Using a little epoxy will extend the life of a lightly built and lightly used boat a little, but it is very expensive and very nasty to work with. It is my opinion that the increase in expense, in time, and in general hassle is greater by far than the small benefit. A small boat's life can be extended greatly be using two or more layers of fabric and lots of epoxy, and if you use enough of the stuff you can even increase strength. But then you've got a plastic boat built with a little wood to provide the matrix for laying up the plastic. I've had a couple of plastic boats, but probably will never own another one. If I build another plywood boat (I really like the Nutshell Pram and will probably build another eventually), I will use epoxy for glue and to seal the ply edges, but will not coat or sheath the boat with the stuff.

The most recent boat I've built is a sharpie skiff built of scrounged lumber and galvanized nails and bolts. No plywood, no glue, no resin. The boat was far cheaper, more enyoyable, more healthful and much quicker to build than the ply and epoxy boats I have built. It went together considerably faster than the smaller ply and epoxy boats. The boat is used harder than my earlier boats and I believe will live longer. That's why I think epoxy is crap, despite having its legitimate place.

And this computer ain't mine. It belongs to the library. Around here, having an internet hookup at home that works is a little like using epoxy. A lot more money for the convenience of not going to the library. Fine, if you've got lots of money and nothing better to do with it. But I do have a computer at home. It was a gift. Got my first computer in 1986. Popularity doesn't make crap into something else, it just makes it popular crap.


Frank E. Price
04-22-2006, 02:31 PM
P.S. Just what is a "senior member" anyway?

Tom Lathrop
04-22-2006, 02:43 PM

You are absolutely correct.

Crap is crap!

Fortunately, many here are able to recognize it.

Will Wheeler
04-22-2006, 05:24 PM
I must say this has been entertaining. I stumbled across this classic thread from the old forum, and it generated much more heat than I'd expected. Like a fine wine, it has just gotten better. It has Rosen, Cleek and even Norm Messinger. Now if only I could find the China Diesel thread....

Frank E. Price
04-22-2006, 06:38 PM
Hey, I'm not saying you shouldn't try it. I tried it for several years. Being a bit thick-headed it took me that long to learn that the benefits are not worth nearly the cost, time and hassle. Therefore it's crap. Doesn't mean I don't think you can build a good boat with it. Just that a lot of the cost of your good boat will have been spent on crap. I've done the same thing. I sure wouldn't base my decisions on what materials to use on a web forum, and I don't expect anyone else to either. Just thought I'd chip in my two-bits worth of experience with this crap for the general entertainment. That is the title of the thread. Sure wouldn't be any fun if we all agreed. Don't take it so seriously. Have fun, and stay in the boat til you get to port.


04-22-2006, 08:50 PM
OK OK You can't build using Epoxy. So do it the old fashioned way. No one will hold it against you. But if you do use the miracle elixer use it sparingly, for Dutchmen, scarfs, and small repairs. Laminate large pieces that nature can't provide. Design new boats with the new materials. But when some knothead slathers Epoxy on an old hull, or glues sister frames into a carvel planked boat, don't blame the Epoxy. Some people are as dumb as a post and it's not Epoxy's fault.
Saying Epoxy is crap shows almost as much ignorance as the guy globing it on a planked hull. It's all in how you use it.

07-30-2006, 11:49 AM
Now here is a thread that most all new and old folks can agree on, in this section of the board. :p Take some time out from the wooden screw thread to carry on this hot topic that seems to be a given once or twice a year. Thanks John and hope you are doing fine, whereever you are now. .:)

Memphis Mike
07-30-2006, 12:00 PM
I really can't see using the more expensive epoxy when polyester resin is just as good.

07-30-2006, 11:41 PM
I don't think any one has mentioned it but most crap floats...

Only if it has too much fat in it. If it does float (your crap) you should talk to your doctor. You'll probably have other issues to go along with the floating crap anyway.

08-04-2006, 10:49 PM
I think epoxy has its place I recently restored a Windmill built in 1963 and repaired the hull with epoxy it was the logical way to go. I am getting ready to start restoration of 1962 teak on oak Cheoy Lee Frisco Flyer(Pacific Clipper II) epoxy would be a very last resort. too much good workmanship that has survived for 44 years with out epoxy to entomb it with chemicals now.

08-06-2006, 11:17 AM
Has anybody here beside me, built anything out of crap? I'm using it for chinking on this barn we are building. We're mixing it with a bit of mortar. Has this been attempted with boats? I think epoxy smells worse. I'll use whatever it takes to get the job done.

08-06-2006, 12:30 PM
An epoxy boat will still be there to repair.

At Boeing I used to glue parts (nacelles, door and window frames, etc.) , bag them and run them through giant autoclaves. We would sometimes take them apart. Either with our industrial strength hair driers or with dry ice. Then we would clean them off and reassemble.

Nothing beats old time fiberglass for 100% repairability.

Matt J.
08-07-2006, 09:39 AM
Epoxy is crap. Anyone who says otherwise is uninformed :p ...

The only thing worse is GPS with a Chartplotter! Those things are worse than crap - they are evil imported direct from Hell! :mad:

08-07-2006, 09:52 AM
I've stayed out of this discussion so far but I'm feeling a little flushed at the moment and feel somebody has to offer a balanced, rational opinion when it comes to this sort of crap. Any two part crap requires careful mixing. If you don't get the crappy components measured just right the crap can indeed turn out crappy thereby giving the crap an undeserved bad reputation as being a crappy product. So let's cut the crap. Ninety nine percent of all failed crap applications are due to an error on the part of the crapper and not a fault with the crap itself.

Gary E
08-07-2006, 10:16 AM
Ninety nine percent of all failed crap applications are due to an error on the part of the crapper and not a fault with the crap itself.

If that is true, then it is crap, I mean if it takes a chemist or lab tech to use it it's crap... Whatz wrong with Elmers glue?

I said years ago that the stuf wuz invented by a lazy guy who got tired of waiting for his model airplane glue to set.

08-07-2006, 11:25 AM
I read the thread with interest, then saw the post date and realized that this argument goes back for ages. Let me be the first to say that Traditionally built boats are, in my opinion, the most beautiful you will find. Having said that I will also say that I make no apologies to anyone for building my own cabin cruiser with epoxy and ply.

In the end, what should be understood is that regardless of method, all of us are building our own boats or maintaining our own boats and frankly, that's more than most people will ever do. I doubt anyone could be more proud of their boat than I will be the day I float mine for the first time.... in large part due to the fact that I built her myself :)

08-07-2006, 11:43 AM
I have a great fondness for a traditional boat,but ,I also like a modern built boat built with modern technology.If I am investing all the time and money in building my OWN boat,I want it built using EVERYTHING I can to make it last.I have no problem with cutting down future maintenaince time too.Call me lazy if you wish,but I think there is plenty of room in the hobby/craft for both camps.

Tom Lathrop
08-07-2006, 12:07 PM
If that is true, then it is crap, I mean if it takes a chemist or lab tech to use it it's crap... Whatz wrong with Elmers glue?

Does that mean that it takes no learning curve, skill or attention span to build in the "traditional" way?

Calling any material that has been successfully used in building boats, be it walrus hides, paparus reeds, hollow logs, steel, aluminum, "real" wood, epoxy, fiberglass, pig bladders or whatever, crap says a lot more about the speaker than the material.

Gary E
08-07-2006, 12:33 PM

I was responding to THIS........

Originally Posted by JimD
Ninety nine percent of all failed crap applications are due to an error on the part of the crapper and not a fault with the crap itself.

If that is true, then it is crap, I mean if it takes a chemist or lab tech to use it it's crap... Whatz wrong with Elmers glue?

Gary E
08-07-2006, 12:34 PM
So maybe it's just sensitive crap.......

08-07-2006, 05:18 PM
So maybe it's just sensitive crap.......

Yes, it is. And you've hurt it's feelings and made it cry, you big meanie.

Gary E
08-07-2006, 05:29 PM
Awe.... tellit to get ready to have an anchor dropped onit....

I used Glovit on the decks, and I think it's poxy of some sort... but mixed in the gal can all at one time with a lectric drill, so no little measuring cups to fool with.

08-07-2006, 08:03 PM
I ain't pushing T-88...but for gluing it's really good and a 1:1 mix by volume.....virtually idiot proof....

Bill Perkins
08-07-2006, 08:59 PM
T-88 is the amber , viscous sap of the petrochemical industry ; like the navel stores of old really , the trees are just allot older .

08-07-2006, 11:18 PM
Those shellbacks really like their maintenance don't they.


08-09-2006, 08:03 AM
The hottest portable sawmill technology in the world right now is in the hands of your own Carl Peterson up in Rotorua.

They must be cutting something.

Mainly in Australia I think Bob .NZ timber is a bit thin on the ground ,other than p. radiata

08-09-2006, 11:02 PM
Side note on trad construction and longevity. I read Roger Taylor's article about the English smack Boadicea, which was built in 1808 and was still going out fishing nearly 200 years later! She's said to be the oldest working boat in the world, and I wouldn't doubt it. Sure, she has been rebuilt a couple of times. Sure she probably started as a clinker hull and is now carvel. But she's still at it, and that's the point.

The Boadicea:


John Gearing
08-11-2006, 12:13 AM
J.S.B., thanks for the fine pics of Boadicea! As for the epoxy issue, yes you can build perfectly good boats with it...and without it. Back when Woodenboat started there were darn few wooden boats being built at all. They helped start a revival, beginning with traditional designs and methods (most all of which were in grave danger of being lost). This mission being largely accomplished, and more and more people getting involved with designing and building wooden boats, the technology of wooden boatbuilding began to evolve. Epoxy-ply, cold-molding, glued lapstrake are the results. I say let method follow function. If you live on or near the water, go ahead and build purely traditional, if that's what floats your boat. Try lapstrake if you have to trailer for moderate distances. But the person who must dry-sail with every use might be better served with, say, glued lapstrake. Traditional building requires fairly precise fits to be successful, and that is where the pride of the craftsman takes umbrage at those who favor a few sheets of ply, a quick skooge of googe, a bit of paint and onto the water. There is a point where boat-building becomes like making fine furniture. And that esthetic is not for everyone. But we should acknowledge the beauty of it, the skills required by it, and support (if only morally) those who strive to preserve them.

08-11-2006, 01:31 AM
It should not really be classed into different groups. I am betting that most here and with the pictures seen of various member boats that have been shown over the years, could do both types of construction equally well.Now whether you can make a living at it might be the deciding factor but how many are making a living building wooden boats these days. There's a few ofcourse but I am betting Joe Furnituremaker or Timmy Trimcarpenter or Peter Perseverence could build which ever they wanted to as long as it's what they wanted to do bad enough and most can build anything they put their mind to.Every aspect of this hobby/profession deserves an honorable consideration and no type of chosen construction should direct any opinions that might sell one short.There are no Pariahs in a community of dedicated people that build things of hand and that admire/appreciate the creations of others.

08-11-2006, 12:48 PM
It should not really be classed into different groups. I am betting that most here and with the pictures seen of various member boats that have been shown over the years, could do both types of construction equally well.Now whether you can make a living at it might be the deciding factor but how many are making a living building wooden boats these days. There's a few ofcourse but I am betting Joe Furnituremaker or Timmy Trimcarpenter or Peter Perseverence could build which ever they wanted to as long as it's what they wanted to do bad enough and most can build anything they put their mind to.Every aspect of this hobby/profession deserves an honorable consideration and no type of chosen construction should direct any opinions that might sell one short.There are no Pariahs in a community of dedicated people that build things of hand and that admire/appreciate the creations of others.

I don't think any of the crappers or crapees can argue with that statement. Boat building or restoring I believe for most people starts out a passion "Boatstruck" and the techno "crap" comes after. You build by the technique your most interested in. The great sevice this forumm forum provides, is there is room for everybody.
Ps: I do believe my own crap!

Bob Adams
11-08-2006, 11:18 PM
My God, the names....and Norm. 1999.

11-09-2006, 02:27 AM
Wow look at this.

A whole bunch of blokes doing complicated repairs with epoxy and a whole other bunch of blokes who reckon it can't be done.

"AW, Geez Mavis, you know you just can't do that."

My money is always with the blokes who can do it.

And for you others - Whatever happened to that old "can-do" spirit?

At the beginning of the year I had to do a major bottom replacement on a couple of racing boats built of ply/epoxy without fastenings.

The ply that their bottoms had been made of had lots of voids and the owners had put their feet through.

Did the worst boat first - set the router to the ply depth and routed along the lines of all the internal structure. The remnants of the bottom fell to the ground. Quick blast with the belt sander to fair things up and glued a new bottom on - sealing the inside face with three coats pox at the same time as gluing. So inside of boat completely sealed.

Waited to late afternoon, pulled out all the temp fastenings, filled the holes, routed out the centreboard slots. 3 coats epoxy wet on wet.

They were racing the next day.

Repairs to epoxy boats are fast and efficient and terribly, terribly strong.

And the two little boats come out at 55lbs - or a 16 footer at 125.

But if you aren't open to the methods then there is little point in me posting here.

Ah - I'll leave it here - makes me happy enough.


Caleb Chia
11-11-2006, 03:34 AM
I think epoxy is great for ply boats. It has about the same traditionality level as ply and ply must be sealed. But its a waste to put it on wood boats. There are better goops for wood than crap. Wood swells and shrinks. That kind of crap, when mixed correctly, is rock hard.

Frank E. Price
11-11-2006, 04:26 PM
Some people make a logical and reasonable in their circumstances choice to build with dung and straw. It's still crap, whether it's right or not. Like fiberglass: everyone knows it's just frozen snot. It is what it is, whether you're offended by the nomenclature or not.


11-11-2006, 08:30 PM
Thankyou Frank for such a balanced appraisal.:rolleyes:

11-11-2006, 09:08 PM
Anyone with excess epoxy, or unused epoxy, I recycle it, saving the enviroment and keeeping wives from complaining about the ruined clothing that is found in the laundry from using it, too. I pay shipping costs, too, within the continental U.S. as long as it a full container, with lids intact and sealed. PM if you have some.;) :D

11-12-2006, 12:12 PM
I started working for wood epoxy boat builders on Harkers Island NC about 10 years ago. We built plank over fram and plywood cold mold sport fish (Carolina Custom). We also had a rail way in one yard, I worked in. We hauled out all sorts of wood boats from 60 year old work boats to the lasted million doller sport fish.
I've crawled all over wood epoxy boats that repersent the evolution of degree of enciplation of wood. Most of the older boats were not coated on the inside under decks etc. The builders belived the the wood needed to breathe. WRONG. Allowing the wood to breathe allowes water and air to enter the wood and promote rot. You'll find rot anywhere fresh water water is allowed to come in contact with wood that is NOT coated with epoxy.
Do your own research. The Captian Stacy Fishing Center on Atlantic Beach NC has a dozen or more plywood epoxy head boats that or old, work hard and are put up wet. Orgen Inlet has forty plus charter boats almost all wood epoxy.
After 10 years of building and repairing wood epoxy boats I'm convenced.

11-12-2006, 12:13 PM
I started working for wood epoxy boat builders on Harkers Island NC about 10 years ago. We built plank over fram and plywood cold mold sport fish (Carolina Custom). We also had a rail way in one yard, I worked in. We hauled out all sorts of wood boats from 60 year old work boats to the lasted million doller sport fish.
I've crawled all over wood epoxy boats that repersent the evolution of degree of enciplation of wood. Most of the older boats were not coated on the inside under decks etc. The builders belived the the wood needed to breathe. WRONG. Allowing the wood to breathe allowes water and air to enter the wood and promote rot. You'll find rot anywhere fresh water water is allowed to come in contact with wood that is NOT coated with epoxy.
Do your own research. The Captian Stacy Fishing Center on Atlantic Beach NC has a dozen or more plywood epoxy head boats that or old, work hard and are put up wet. Orgen Inlet has forty plus charter boats almost all wood epoxy.
After 10 years of building and repairing wood epoxy boats I'm convenced.

Tom Lathrop
11-12-2006, 12:46 PM
Mulletbucket (love the name),

You are convinced, I am convinced and so are many others. Some here will argue that only unwashed low lifes would consider building in the way that we know works. That is OK, let them deal with the stuff of their choice. Fortunately most just have an honest difference of opinion and express it honestly so that we both learn something.

A few (fortunately very few) carry what should only be a technical argument to a personal level. I don't mind being a heretic as long as they don't get the power to put us on the rack. The main weapon they use in their argument is long obselete. It worked well for Samson against the Philistines but is only an annoyance in this case.

11-12-2006, 01:51 PM
have we not all seen how unprotected wood surfaces, especially those where wood meets wood, create conditions ripe for rot?

How many production wood boats from the past were built with the idea of preventing rot? None, their building techniques did nothing but encourage the eventual destruction by rot of all those boats. Probably actually wanted this to occur, use poor wood choices and building techniques so that they could keep on selling new wooden boats.
Oh, they were solid when new, but aged poorly.

Come on, take a plank, mate it next to another and against frames, put nothing between the wood as in a protective coating, red lead, epoxy, etc... let the rain soak the wood, rot is the eventual result.

Even water straight out of the air as in condensation can give the rot moisture enough.

The people coating glass and epoxy on the outside and doing nothing about the inside just make a nice humid rot home where the rot flourishes.

When building a wooden boat, the idea should be to make it as durable as you can, and also make it as resistant to owner neglect as you can.
There was a lot of good reasons the production builders moved onto glass from wood.

capt jake
11-12-2006, 03:16 PM
To me, this is simply two schools of thought on boat building/maintenance. Those who know and love the old traditional way of construction and those who know and love the newer process(es).

Keeping to one side of the divide or the other would lesson the degree of disagreement. ;)

Bob Cleek
11-12-2006, 03:24 PM
I doubt many minds will be changed here. It's sort of like "garage bands" versus the "symphony orchestra" "is it music" debate. LOL

Myself, as most probably know, hew to the traditiional, but use epoxy as it was intended as an adhesive.

One point that hasn't been mentioned over the years is that one major contribution of epoxy have been specifically that it opened a lot of boatbuilding doors for those who otherwise wouldn't have walked through them. (Not unlike the plywood trimarans and ferrocement crazes that I suppose many are too young to remember!) This is good. Boats are like waffles. You have to throw out the first couple of attempts before they start coming out like you want them.

The expansion of interest in boatbuilding of any kind benefits us all. Without the economy of scale that marketplace demand creates, there would be even fewer parts and materials available to us all. So much of what we go hunting down to complete a project was once commonplace and cheap. Now it is scarce and expensive. The more people who buy bottom paint, for instance, the cheaper it gets. Now, if we could only increase the demand for good bronze hardware...

11-14-2006, 01:18 AM
To me, this is simply two schools of thought on boat building/maintenance. Those who know and love the old traditional way of construction and those who know and love the newer process(es).

Keeping to one side of the divide or the other would lesson the degree of disagreement. ;)

That's one way of looking at it - but for me - despite that I tend to use the dreaded 'pox - if you look at history it is a continuum.

Anyone who fails to see that is suffering from myopia.


11-14-2006, 09:51 AM
Building a wood/epoxy boat is similar to building any other composite boat. I like to think of it as building with wood fibers instead of glass, carbon or some other synthetic fiber.

Maintenance and repair of a wood/epoxy boat is certainly different from a traditionally constructed wooden boat, but it’s not all that difficult. For example, I can refinish the top sides of my 15’ runabout with clear epoxy in one day.

With that said, I must add that I love the beautiful lines of a traditionally built boat. The natural shape of wood gives a traditionally built boat a certain organic appearance.

Come to think of it, I love just about anything that floats. I don’t care if it’s made of wood, steel, plastic or any combination. :)

donald branscom
11-16-2006, 06:56 PM
What do you do if you have a trailer type boat? Wait for all the planks to swell up with pumps running for 4 days before you can take out?

Frank E. Price
11-18-2006, 04:58 PM
Crap is easier to type than epoxy.

There is a Cheoy Lee Lion for sale by a west coast broker for $13,000. Pictures are just pictures, but she looks near perfect. Built of teak and ipol 43 years ago. I wonder what it would take to bring a 43-year old crap-slathered boat back to new condition.


Mike Vogdes
11-18-2006, 05:07 PM
My latest crap slathered boat is 5 years old now and looks as good as the day it was crapped, with reasonable care theres no reason it need to be "brought back"...