Paper Meche boat

Discussion in 'Materials' started by Dave T, Jan 31, 2014.

  1. Dave T
    Joined: Sep 2011
    Posts: 250
    Likes: 14, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 158
    Location: Anamosa Iowa and North Buena Vista on the Mississi

    Dave T Senior Member

    As kids I'm sure we have all probably built something out of paper meche which simply consisted of layers of paper soaked in paste to build up a shape of some kind. What I was thinking was using newspaper and high gloss polyurethane. The way it would be done you would build a simple frame from wood in the general shape of a boat and then use 1/4" mesh hardware cloth stapled to the frame to shape the hull. Then a coat of polyurethane and a layer of paper then a coat of urethane rolled on with with a paint roller to completely soak the paper then another layer of paper and urethane, build up about four layers and then maybe a layer of fiberglass cloth or fiberglass screen then more layers until it was about a quarter of an inch thick. The reason for using polyurethane, it is much cheaper than say epoxy, much thinner to soak into the paper can easily be thinned if needed, is waterproof, is aerobic so any left over can be simply poured back in the can and you don't have to mix it. I'm not sure how this would compare to plywood as far as strength and weight and cost but it would be much easier to form curved surfaces and I think would be worth while experimenting with. As soon as I get time I'll build up a test panel and see how it compares to plywood.

    Dave T :?:
  2. jehardiman
    Joined: Aug 2004
    Posts: 2,982
    Likes: 504, Points: 113, Legacy Rep: 2040
    Location: Port Orchard, Washington, USA

    jehardiman Senior Member

  3. Petros
    Joined: Oct 2007
    Posts: 2,936
    Likes: 148, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 1593
    Location: Arlington, WA-USA

    Petros Senior Member

    I did something similar with correlated cardboard ("fiberboard"). use Tightbond III glue thinned so it can be painted on. I put a thin layer of cotton fabric over the outside with the tightbond III glue, and than put six layers of paint over it. it actually held up well. most important you make it completely water tight, you can not tolerate any moisture soaking into the paper fiber core or it will eventually dissolve it.

    this is actually a more labor intensive way to build up a hull as compared to most other methods, so the material cost savings is not enough to off set the other costs and labor effort. Do it as an experiment if you want, but traditional skin on frame, or stitch and glue plywood (even strip built) makes a more durable hull for much less effort.
  4. waikikin
    Joined: Jan 2006
    Posts: 2,378
    Likes: 147, Points: 73, Legacy Rep: 871
    Location: Australia

    waikikin Senior Member

    I've heard of brown paper & varnish being used in the making of model race yachts, not sure about the durability as they probably only spent an hour or so in water once a week.
  5. Dave T
    Joined: Sep 2011
    Posts: 250
    Likes: 14, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 158
    Location: Anamosa Iowa and North Buena Vista on the Mississi

    Dave T Senior Member

    Thanks jehardiman for the link to the magazine article on paper boats. I thought it was likely someone had used this idea before I'm surprised that somebody on this forum hasn't tried it or maybe they have.

    Dave T :)
  6. Waterwitch
    Joined: Oct 2012
    Posts: 108
    Likes: 19, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 20
    Location: North East USA

    Waterwitch Senior Member

    I see that excerpt for paper canoes was from the 1940's I asked around locally once for the price of a small roll of brown paper it was staggering. to the point I did not pursue the project further.
  7. rwatson
    Joined: Aug 2007
    Posts: 5,868
    Likes: 301, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 1749
    Location: Tasmania,Australia

    rwatson Senior Member

    Quite some years ago, I saw someone was building quite large sailing boat from papier mache.

    His article mentioned that he found that cross layered newspaper was a very strong material, and could be made very waterproof.

    I wish I had followed the guy up .

    For now, this guy has pictures


  8. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
    Posts: 15,194
    Likes: 927, Points: 123, Legacy Rep: 2031
    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    gonzo Senior Member

Forum posts represent the experience, opinion, and view of individual users. Boat Design Net does not necessarily endorse nor share the view of each individual post.
When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals. Your circumstances or experience may be different.