Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Scraping the bottom of the...




As you could see in the picture from yesterday's post, the canoes were 'glassed on the outside. The next step is to pull the boats off the forms and to scrape and sand the interior in preparation for more fiberglass. This is one of the parts of the process that I always enjoy - when the canoe comes off the form, it is fairly flexible and is amazingly light in weight at this point in time. Students are always in awe of how light they actually are. It's fun to watch their faces.

This is also the time that you find out how good a job you've done taping the forms. Either the boat comes off the form easily, or a bit of "finagling" is necessary. Usually there is one or two small spots where glue or epoxy has bonded the boat to the forms. A sharp utility knife usually fixes this.

In lots of respects, it is a good thing that they're in a good mood and are feeling confident, because the scraping and sanding of the interior really isn't too much fun. It's just one of those steps you need to go through to finish the canoe. We had some very nice sanders at WoodenBoat - some of the Festool random orbital sanders with individual vacuum systems. They were very nice to work with, but with three sanders with nearly the same RPM working at the same time, the harmonics were a bit interesting.

Scraping removes a majority of the high spots and glue that remains and the sander gets rid of the tearing and bruising from scraping. Perversely, the part of the canoe that you as the builder and paddler sees, usually gets the least attention.

We finally finished up the scraping and sanding the interiors just after lunch time and got the shop and boats cleaned up again. 'Glass was draped in the hulls and wet out from the center towards the ends. When near the ends, I simply cut the fiberglass as close as I can to the inner stem - usually within about an inch. I try not to wrap fiberglass over the inner stem because I don't find it necessary for strength and the cosmetics aren't really acceptable.

The remainder of the day was spent finishing prep of decks, thwarts and rail stock.

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