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Thread: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

  1. #1
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    Default Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    I'd like to try building a boat out of rigid blue foam, (I have lots of it) which would be wrapped in fiberglass, like they do with surf boards.

    The designs I favor most are the SoloSkiff and the Ambush. Ideally I'm after a skiff for two but solo is fine too.

    Wondering if others on this forum have done something like this.

    My biggest concern is the transom and how to build a strong one that will support up to a 6hp outboard, safely, if that is possible.

    Am I pipe dreaming or is this worthy of the experiment?

    If you know anyone who has tried this please point me in their direction

    thanks for your feedback, suggestions and comments.

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    I recon you are talking about building a foam core fiberglass boat.
    The cheap foam will not recover from damage from crushing,not stick well to resin, and will absorb water.
    Good foams are very expensive, more than good wood!
    I have stuck cheap foam on the bottom of existing ply boats for various reasons. mmmm but I do not recommend it.
    It is easy for a transom to carry an outboard, the trick is spreading the load beyond the transom.

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    You could cut some 2 x2 or 4x2 timbers depending on how thick you foam is and epoxy them end on to the transom which would then run longitudinal into the foam hull?

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    Foam-glass construction is always better with some wooden support, both internally (sheerwebs, beams, etyc.) and externally (bearing surfaces, high-wear surfaces).

    When laying plywood over form, scratch wood and foam up with 40-60 grit sand paper, and some deeper holes made with a "bed of nails" tool (say, a bunch of roofing nails hammered into a scrap piece of wood) will not hurt, then epoxy both sides liberally. Same for fiberglass-bearing surface, but remember that a tiny inattentive effort produces a big unwanted surface form in the foam.

    The wood and epoxy will be stronger than the foam so tear-out is possible in so areas were there no fiberglass wrapping, but a good fiberglass job will make a strong boat. Occasionally the glass may separate from the foam -- you will see a flat bubble. Easy to repair (drill two holes in bubble -- one for epoxy exit -- inject epoxy, lay plastic over, weight-down). Some of such separation comes from leaving the boat in the sun, so plywood surfaces along the tops of gunnels and white paint helps out. You know about surf-board repairs already, so there is little worry with larger dents, easy enough repairs once again leaving a fair surface.

    Foam over glass is often used in making amas (outrigger floats) in outrigger canoes. Most of these are strengthened with a plywood sheerweb (vertical panel between the foam layers, to which are attached any wooden connection struts) to which on the bottom might also be glued a wooden protection strip for beaching. They have worked quite well in a boat where light weight and survivability are valued. Gary Dierking's outrigger canoe site and his excellent book on construction and plan talks about the method as used on amas.

    I am not a materials snob -- I love wooden boats but in the end believe in the ancient proverb, "The boat that you build and use is the best boat" -- but having made one foam-and-glass ama and now starting a contoured foam bottom on a plywood hull, I can say that you may at times wonder why you didn't build a mostly wooden boat. Unless your skill in automobile body work or surfboard construction is already considerable, you may find that making a NICE foam hull can be a painstaking effort. Designing and cutting wood is hard, but shaping foam well can be infuriating because you need to SLOWLY remove that foam and keep sighting along the curves, and use some kind of form templates to judge -- not to mention the piles of toxic waste produced.

    All this would not prevent me from continuing to use the method, but I just want to caution, nobody should use this method if they think they will be producing a fine result with amazingly less effort than wooden boat. Less effort, yes, but not as less as sometimes imagined. And epoxy costs, though cheaper than wood no doubt, will add up more than one thinks (and sometimes the weight -- hold those bottles in your hand, their weight will be in the hull).

    Of course, the method is good if you have well-planned a somewhat sophisticated hull-shape that would take considerable skill and cost to achieve in wood (and not to mention guaranteed safety even when broken). -- Wade

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    Rigid blue foam has very little strength.
    It is not very strong in attachment to glass (you have to use epoxy) which results in suggestions like sand with 60 grit and poke holes in the foam.
    The problem is that neither improved the strength of the foam to epoxy since the foam is so pitiful.

    You can make a glass on foam boat, just don't expect it to work for long or well.
    If you put a 6HP on it expect something to rip up unless you use really heavy glass laminates - which will defeat the purpose of cheap foam.

    Sorry.

    Make some test pieces and then tear them up. Convince yourself one way or another.

    OH, and wear a life jacket if you put that 6HP on the boat.

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    thanks wizbang
    I had a good opportunity and bought two skids of blue rigid foam in pieces 24" x 29", I have about 100 pieces this size. That is why I'm considering a foam construction, that and ending up with a light boat that I can back into my Mazda B3000 truck or put on my motorcycle trailer with the extended tongue.

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    wow, all great information I need, thanks so much for the input,
    lots to think about now.
    I've done a plywood canoe 20' flat bottomed, an 18' skin on frame kayak and a few other skin on frame water craft.
    I was probably seeing foam in a better light than then it is but then I have about 100 pieces of blue foam 24" x 29" x 3" thick.

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    All good, thanks and no worries I'd not planned on going to far from shore when testing (:

    Perhaps foam laminated to vertical, same size strips of plywood would improve the strength and saftety factors.

    Or I build something like the Saw fish or Battle Yak (Foam Kayaks) and put on it my small trolling motor if I get tired of paddling or want to troll.

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    Quote Originally Posted by sdenault View Post
    I'd like to try building a boat out of rigid blue foam, (I have lots of it) which would be wrapped in fiberglass, like they do with surf boards.
    ...
    If you know anyone who has tried this please point me in their direction

    thanks for your feedback, suggestions and comments.
    There was a "redneck river yacht" or a "disposable enigma inspired fishing boat" talked about on the Enigma sailboat yahoo group a while ago in Sept. 2016.

    You'll need to join that group to read the posts but it was made from 3/4 inch foam that had canvas glued on as a skin using Titebond II. The builder used a Werner wallpaper tool to make holes in the foam for the glue to hold better.

    As far as I can tell, that boat isn't finished yet but there was some pictures of it floating in a swimming pool. Light enough to pick up with one hand.

    Sea Dreams A.K.A. Brian

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    My experience is that the two do not bond particularly well. The finished epoxy/glass matrix breaks away alarmingly easy. And the typical cooler foam, worse.

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    While it has NO structural value, the blue foam can still be useful in another way.

    It can be used as a form over which you can lay up glass-epoxy composite.
    You might stack up your foam and carve/sand the form of your boat and then lay up glass over it.
    The foam mold can be removed by dissolving it with acetone, by sheer violence or by first applying packing tape and wax, from which the epoxy will release.
    The resulting shell will be very floppy and need lots of internal structure.
    Your foam might be used to form internal seats, flotation or stringers. For them, you might leave the foam inside.

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    A fellow in the Watertribe organization built a small trimaran out of foam (aluminium cross-beams), complete with a sleep-aboard cabin. He sailed it successfully on a 300 mile Everglades Challenge, twice I think. I cannot speak to any other use he may have put it to. Suffice to say, he is an experienced sailor (owns other boats), but this was his choice for recent races. The name of his boat is "Finger Mullet" and if you search around you may find some information about its construction method. I recall looking at a blog at some point (check out Watertribe.org site and click on its blogs link?). His watertribe name (they all have nicknames) is "Danceswithmullet" I think. -- Wade

    PS -- Here it is. He used 3 pound foam in the hull, and 1.5 pound foam (Home Depot) in the amas. Very little wood (transom and center stringers in the two amas). http://www.duckworksmagazine.com/13/...m#.WJ8pstIrL3j
    Last edited by wtarzia; 02-11-2017 at 09:27 AM.

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    I am hearing that foam covered in fiberglass would not be stronger enough for a small skiff so I'm thinking about vertical 12" panels of plywood epoxied to rigid foam layered to get to get the width of boat I need? But the real challenge will be building a strong transom for ac 6 HP motor. Where are the majors stresses on a transom?

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    How about building a wooden cockpit "box" that will take the strain of your motor, but epoxying foam to the bottom and perhaps the bow area to form the complex curves that would be challenging to get out of wood? But then, I guess if you are going to motor rather than row, you are seeking a planing hull, which is a simpler shape. Even so, you get a light hull with safety margin, and you can add a self-bailing feature since probably the cockpit sole will be above the water-line.

    A lot of people building outrigger canoes and small trimarans do the foam-bottom thing -- I am doing it now. However, I have seen a sail-and-oar monohull made entirely of foam and glass with perhaps some wood trim where extra strength or wear resistance was needed -- it was actually quite a nice shape; it looked like a Whitehall kind of design. I believe I saw this on the Duckworks on-line magazine (sort of a DIY place), where foam boats are occasionally featured.

    I have also seen an outrigger canoe built at the "Instructables.com" DIY site. It was a fairly long paddling OC'er, and a project with a nice result; recommended to check out. -- Wade
    Last edited by wtarzia; 02-14-2017 at 12:37 PM.

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    The main problem with foam coring in a composite structure is that the usual structure tends to put the foam in shear. This means that low-strength foams, such as the blue foam you mention, tend to crumble under the internal loads when a bending force is applied. Structural foams are much stronger, and can be integrated in a very strong, light structure. Unfortunately, these foams, (such as Arex foam), tend to be fairly expensive. It is possible to make a structure with the exterior glass-fiber laminates so strong that the interior foam is mainly a spacer. but then it ends up quite heavy. Bottom line is that you need to design a system as a whole to make it work well.

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan McCosh View Post
    The main problem with foam coring in a composite structure is that the usual structure tends to put the foam in shear. This means that low-strength foams, such as the blue foam you mention, tend to crumble under the internal loads when a bending force is applied. Structural foams are much stronger, and can be integrated in a very strong, light structure. Unfortunately, these foams, (such as Arex foam), tend to be fairly expensive. It is possible to make a structure with the exterior glass-fiber laminates so strong that the interior foam is mainly a spacer. but then it ends up quite heavy. Bottom line is that you need to design a system as a whole to make it work well.
    --- To my knowledge, the method seems to work well with outrigger canoe amas. An ama say 11 feet long and 10 inches in diameter (or less) would seem to be in the kind of stress you mention here. The foam may well be delaminating under the glass, but it seems to work anyway. Or maybe it is not. In Gary Dierking's method, two layers of 6 oz glass form the skin (wet on wet), with a plywood sheerweb (vertical) inside. I suppose test pieces might be made and abused then cut open to test this notion.

    Note that Channing Bosworth's method for his 16 foot foam trimaran may get around the sheer problem: drilled holes filled with epoxy before laying on a glass skin. -- Wade
    Last edited by wtarzia; 02-14-2017 at 12:34 PM.

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    I'm trying to do a rough sketch to show how my thinking is developing put it may be kinda like what you are suggesting.

    I would make a rectangular 12" x12" by 8' tube made of 1/2" plywood. The rear end of which could become the frame work for a transom.

    Once I have a decent sketch and figure out how to put it here I'll show you what I mean.

    thanks
    Steve
    Last edited by sdenault; 02-14-2017 at 02:11 PM.

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    My God! It's come to this... The WoodenBoat Forum discussing foam-cored fiberglass boatbuilding. I always knew it was a slippery slope once people started talking about fiberglass-sheathed plywood boats and it seems we've finally reached the bottom of the hill. What more is there to say?

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    Foam boats using the cheapest foam is horrifying to me.
    I'm not a die hard classic style construction guy, but this is the lowest strength, lowest quality boat building I can imagine.
    I'd be afraid to take it out unless there were no wind or waves - which you can't guarantee once you are on the water.

    Sorry but this is like making a boat out of a foam ice chest.
    To get equal strength to even plywood construction the cheap foam boat will be heavier, less space inside, and float upside down when capsized.

    Horrifying. But what do I know.

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Cleek View Post
    My God! It's come to this... The WoodenBoat Forum discussing foam-cored fiberglass boatbuilding. I always knew it was a slippery slope once people started talking about fiberglass-sheathed plywood boats and it seems we've finally reached the bottom of the hill. What more is there to say?

    +1 on that.. Exactly what I was thinking!
    Now is a good time!


    Steward of MAKOTO [WB Magazine #232], and Honored Member of the LPBC

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    I'm not quite sure how to respond to these last couple of comment. Perhaps your mother said it best "if you have nothing good to say, then don't say anything at all".

    The biggest obstacle to discovery is NOT ignorance, its is the illusion of knowledge.

    nuff said

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    No it is ignorance. And mindless support of ignorance.

    Everyone's opinion does not equate to equal quality.
    Somewhere facts need to play into a discussion.

    Should I say nothing when I am convinced such a boat is unsafe?

    But I am finished, no-one can save another person from themself.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Cleek View Post
    My God! It's come to this... The WoodenBoat Forum discussing foam-cored fiberglass boatbuilding. I always knew it was a slippery slope once people started talking about fiberglass-sheathed plywood boats and it seems we've finally reached the bottom of the hill. What more is there to say?
    More than two decades ago, I took my fiberglass-sheathed plywood boat to a "wooden" boat festival. I was shunned and sent away because my boat was deemed not a wooden boat but a "bondo boat"

    It is amazing how times have changed. Nowadays bondo boats are quite common at the "wooden" boat festivals.

    Not saying it is good or bad but just observing the evolution.

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    Most of the strength comes from the double later of glass skin, and, on an outrigger ama, from the solid struts attached to the plywood stringer inside. However, I have heard of foam-cored leeboards breaking, so thatis where I draw my line. -- Wade

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Mo 'Poxy View Post
    More than two decades ago, I took my fiberglass-sheathed plywood boat to a "wooden" boat festival. I was shunned and sent away because my boat was deemed not a wooden boat but a "bondo boat"

    It is amazing how times have changed. Nowadays bondo boats are quite common at the "wooden" boat festivals.

    Not saying it is good or bad but just observing the evolution.
    --- Another way of seeing it is that boats have often been composite of different kinds of materials. Adding glass and foam is just another iteration of a phenomenon. Look how often we hear about carbon masts in the hallowed pages of Wooden Boat. An, um, Dacron???? -- Wade

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed


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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    The sketch represents a plywood cockpit and potential motor mount. To this plywood frame work would be adhered blue foam. The hull and deck would then be covered in fiberglass and epoxy.

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Cleek View Post
    My God! It's come to this... The WoodenBoat Forum discussing foam-cored fiberglass boatbuilding. I always knew it was a slippery slope once people started talking about fiberglass-sheathed plywood boats and it seems we've finally reached the bottom of the hill. What more is there to say?

    Traditionalist! Just because this is a wooden boat forum? I will respectfully disagree to some extent with Bob about the preponderance of wood/composite construction here, but not in this case. This is not to embrace ignorance, but there are forums such as www.boatdesign.net/forums that are more open to alternative materials.
    Quote Originally Posted by JimConlin View Post
    While it has NO structural value, the blue foam can still be useful in another way.
    It can be used as a form over which you can lay up glass-epoxy composite.
    Styrofoam can be used as a male mold, and no harm in leaving it in as flotation or insulation. It will delaminate, so use enough glass to live without the foam. I have sailed a 9' Styrofoam dinghy that had no fiberglass skin at all. It lasted for many years, and looked like a golf after the red oak dropped a ton of acorns on it. On further example of why you should not only avoid using red oak in the boat, but you shouldn't even use red oak near the boat. I had to mention wood. The foam boat did have wooden thwarts and a wood motor mount on the transom.
    Management is the art of counting beans. Leadership is the art of making every being count. --Joe Finch

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    I have been proven wrong. Go to this thread, http://www.boatdesign.net/forums/mul...cat-57272.html look at post #5, the second video.
    Then look at all the videos based on making small powered cats.

    It obviously works - no glass.

    Just not something I'd do, still.

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    With ref to my crude sketch if were to put a transom board over the back with knees and reinforce the box at intervals will it support a three horse power motor. Or what would a good way to make this a strong light transom?

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    With ref to my crude sketch if were to put a transom board over the back with knees and reinforce the box at intervals will it support a three horse power motor. Or what would a good way to make this a strong light transom?
    Also keep in mind that my watercraft is primarily for fishing and exploring, it would not be docked for more than over night.

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    Some expert opinion,

    "The construction of a Boston Whaler is unique in the boating industry. The process that gives the hull its combination of strength and light weight depends upon the integrity of the "uni-bond" construction. The hull, foam, and liner must remain bonded as a single structure. The number one problem to avoid on a used Boston Whaler: delamination of foam-to-hull or foam-to-liner bonding. Number two problem: foam core saturation with water. These problems result when owners have neglected to maintain the gelcoat or laminate integrity.Integrity of the foam to laminate bond was carefully checked on every Boston Whaler hull as soon as it left the molds. This was accomplished by tapping a small plastic mallet against the hull and liner, listening for a "dull" thud. This process was used over the entire hull and deck areas, and any defects were immediately repaired. When considering any used hull, this should be your first concern. Tap and listen for any dull responses. Test the hull by pushing against it with your hand; there should be no movement. Delamination can often be seen visually by looking for waviness in areas of smooth gelcoat.
    Another source of delamination is improper mounting of large and heavy items to the hull or interior. The recommended way to secure any object to the boat is to locate it in an area that has backing material (wood, whale-board, aluminum, melamine) embedded underneath the laminate and to use an appropriate number of smaller screws to distribute the load. Fasteners that are screwed or glued only into the thin laminate can pull the laminate away from the foam, causing delamination and weakening of the structure.
    A related problem to delamination is water retention in the interior spaces. Any damage to the hull or cockpit laminate should be repaired immediately to prevent water ingress. If the interior foam has been soaked with water two effects will be noticed. First, soft spots in the hull will occur. Any softness or sponginess in the hull should be considered a serious defect and a major reduction in value. Second, the hull weight will climb significantly if there is retained water. This will affect the performance of the boat and its reserve flotation. A boat with retained water in the interior may be difficult to dry and repair. This is a major defect.
    Also, water can seep into the encapsulated wood in the transom area, seriously weakening it. Any holes that penetrate the transom area should be inspected for proper sealing. These include the engine mounting bolts, the engine well drains, any transom mounted accessories like depth sounder transducers, swim ladders, and especially the cockpit sump drain. The outlet of the drain is always underwater and should be properly sealed to the hull. Check this closely!
    Boats that have spent a great deal of their life in the water are most at risk for water retention. Boats that spent most of their time on a trailer are less likely to have water retention. In either case, check the hull carefully for any possible damage that could have permitted water to enter."

    http://continuouswave.com/whaler/reference/buying.html

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    Quote Originally Posted by sdenault View Post
    With ref to my crude sketch if were to put a transom board over the back with knees and reinforce the box at intervals will it support a three horse power motor. Or what would a good way to make this a strong light transom?
    Also keep in mind that my watercraft is primarily for fishing and exploring, it would not be docked for more than over night.
    --- Well, anything can be made strong with enough glass/carbon/kevlar and epoxy, thoughtfully engineered. You might just go ahead and try -- there is some adventure in experiment. The lessons learned would be a valuable education.

    But adding more wood structural support might provide the needed strength and replace some of the need for glass and epoxy. You can tell perhaps I favor my approach of wood cockpit basic structure with foam bonded to the bottom for the safety and hull-contour needs. Good quality marine plywood can be light as compared the the more familiar fir stuff in the Big Box stores. And amazingly light plywood boats have been made with thin plywood (say 4mm) covered with 4 oz glass and cleverly supported. Your motor-adapted hull could be pretty simple to make, and the toxic waste would be much reduced. Remember, the labor of shaping foam is not an order of magnitude less than a plywood hull of flat panels. --Wade

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Cleek View Post
    My God! It's come to this... The WoodenBoat Forum discussing foam-cored fiberglass boatbuilding. I always knew it was a slippery slope once people started talking about fiberglass-sheathed plywood boats and it seems we've finally reached the bottom of the hill. What more is there to say?
    3D printed boats, that's what....progress.

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    Default Re: Fiberglass over Foam micro skiff build support needed

    thank you, all good info

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