laminating veneer onto fiberglass?

Discussion in 'Fiberglass and Composite Boat Building' started by ruriksson, Aug 18, 2013.

  1. ruriksson
    Joined: Aug 2013
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    ruriksson New Member

    Hi All,

    I'm a nascent boat builder. Long story short: I had intended to build a Haven 12.5 but found a Carl Alberg Bristol Corinthian on Craigslist, so I decided for my first project it might be easier to restore than to build from scratch. With her curving shear lines and full keel, she has the silhouette of those Victorian to pre-WWII era boats that I like. (I was actually looking at a John Alden wooden boat on Craigslist, but was advised against trying to restore a wooden hull for my first project boat.) So John Alden's protegé was the next best thing.

    As such, I'd still really like to have a classic wooden boat look. Is it possible for me to laminate wood veneer onto the fiberglass (after it's been sanded and prepared etc.) I'd like to veneer the transom and the cabin. (I'd really like to experiment with some marquetry for the transom, in the very least the name in a contrasting species.) I'd be willing to lay glass cloth over it as added measure. I also want to cover the deck with teak but will likely buy the prepare teak decking and just cut to fit the shape rather than spring plank. (I read in some yacht design book, that for boats under a certain length the decking should run straight anyway.) The last bit would be to take off the plastic rubrail and replace with teak somehow in small lengths so I could swap them out as they got dinged. I wouldn't try to laminate the hull, it would just get a new gel coat.

    Do you think this extra decking material and the veneering will add significant weight to the boat? There isn't all that much deck any. But I don't know what that pre-fabbed decking weights. I read somewhere, that the backer is some sort of cement board like the stuff used in bathrooms? Is that true?

    Thanks for any advise you can offer. Is this something I should ask in the wooden boat forum?

    Best,
    Tom
     
  2. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    Do some googling and you will find many companies who prefab teak decks. You supply the templates and install.

    You could easily veneer a fiberglass transom. Teak face marine ply will work. I dont know what your boat looks like but you would most likely have to paint the topsides after wooding the transom in order to blend in the trasition from transom to topsides.

    How much weight dont know. The decking company will give you a weight per sq meter installed.
     
  3. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    The problem with veneering 'glass boats, isn't the bond, which can be addressed but the edges. 'Glass boats pop out of molds, so all transitions in surface directions, like the cabin sides to the deck, the corners of transoms, etc. will have generous radiuses to contend with. Making pleasing terminations in these areas, will test your imagination and skill considerably.

    I'm not sure what size boat you're talking about, but yes, veneers will add some weight, but veneers are thin and if you don't go crazy and your boat has some volume to her, you'll likely be okay.

    The reason smaller boats don't have "sprung" deck planks is because the curves are too "quick" to do reasonably. You can't spring veneers anyway, they have to be cut, which will cause lots of grain "runout" which will look terrible.

    I've added veneers to 'glass transoms with success. The best approach is to make a faux hull planking line, around the transom with thickened goo, of the appropriate thickness for the scale of the boat. Inside this newly created hollow are (the thickness of the veneer and goo) the veneers. To make them look right on a curved transom, they shouldn't be straight planks, but actually curved a bit, so they look straight when sprung in place. Make a template and lay it on the transom, so you can play with the amount of curve you'll need.

    The photo shown is a wooden build I did a few years ago, but it's done the same way. The edges look to be 1/2" planking, but in reality they are 1/2" strips of veneer, filled and faired into the side planks, so they look continuous. The veneer is then laid inside this perimeter and finished as desired. A 'glass boat will need this treatment, as the corners of the transom are rounded. You don't need to apply 'glass over the veneers, but if you must, it needs to be 4 ounces or less or the weave will be visible.
     

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  4. ruriksson
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    ruriksson New Member

    PAR,

    Thanks for the info.

    I actually thought about using solid lumber for the corners and routing out with a radius or V bit then round over the outside edges, then sand and sand it all smooth and flush with the veneer. Or maybe steam the veneer try to glue the curves with the veneer grain running parallel? I'll need to build some boxes and rounding over the edges and practice how I might do it especially the intersection of three sides. I at least want the companion way hatch to be "wooden"

    The faux planking line is a great idea. I was planning on using a single large sheet of veneer and hadn't even thought about the curve of the transom's effect on the wood grain. Thanks for point that out!

    I guess, I'll buy the pre-fabbed teak decking sheet and just cut to shape glue down and grout. It's only 1/4 in thick. However the width of the deck on either side of the cabin is only about 6 inches so not having a curve would look bad. Maybe just continue the trim/border down from the bow section? This section is probably straight enough to spring so the grain will run along the board as opposed to cutting the shape out of ply.

    The boat is 19.5 ft LOA and 6.5 beam so not much decking would be added, mainly the bow and lazarette. The original cockpit is already teak and the cabin doors and splash guard are mahogany. I wanted to extend this to the rest of the boat.

    Thanks for the input. It's given me much to think about.
     
  5. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

  6. Herman
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    Herman Senior Member

    Keep the veneer some 1" short of the sides, and do not bother to veneer below the water level. For a novice this is more than doable.

    Once you get the hang of it, you can veneer whatever you want. Attached some pictures of a fiberglass boat. (still in epoxy, so no showroom shine)

    Shown is a 1/16" thick veneer, vacuum glued in place. (I must admit vacuum does make a difference. A vacuum pump does not set you back much however)
     

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  7. rwatson
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    rwatson Senior Member

    Nice job Heman.

    On a bit of a tangent, would 'veneering' developable, flat panels of f'glass (laid up on a smooth table) on a hull using a vacuum, be a way of getting a smooth finish without the usual backbreaking fairing and sanding.

    I suspect a bit of 'filler' in between the layers would be needed, of course.
     
  8. Herman
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    Herman Senior Member

    No. The hull needs to be perfectly fair before veneering. It can be course, but it should be fair. It depends on the thickness of the veneer how course it can be.

    With course I mean the surface courseness, but also imperfections, like popped bubbles, streaks from applying the fairing compound, etc.

    There are no shortcuts for a job of that quality.

    Also remember that you only have very little play. You cannot just take grit 36 and sand your veneer fair.
     
  9. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    What was the viscosity of the epoxy used for laminating the veneers onto the surface
     
  10. Herman
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    Herman Senior Member

    Laminating epoxy with a pinch of cotton flock. (yoghurt consistency). This saves you from rolling the back of the veneer, which can be cumbersome, especially when larger slabs are taped together.
     
  11. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    And you finished the veneer edges with a router before layout ?
     

  12. dinoa
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    dinoa Senior Member

    Won't teak face marine ply lines look curved when applied to the rounded transom?

    Dino
     
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