What to use as a filler?

Discussion in 'Wooden Boat Building and Restoration' started by don4465, Feb 2, 2010.

  1. don4465
    Joined: Feb 2010
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    Location: Elliottsburg, PA USA

    don4465 riverman

    I started building my first boat a few weeks ago and should be ready to bend the sides around the form this weekend. It is a slightly over 15' chessy skiff built from plans from the 50's. It is of plank construction. I used atlantic cedar for the planks but white pine for the ribs, chines, stem, and transom. I also laminated 1/4" plywood over the 2x6 boards to add some backbone to the transom. Mixing the pine with the cedar may not be ideal but finding thick kiln dried cedar just was not happening. I plan on using white oak for the keel and oar blocks. This boat is for fishing with my two kids, 9 and 11, since they grew up the old 11' semivee was just too small. It will see use about once a week and goes on vacation for two weeks a year. The botton is horizontal planks where I also plan on using the cedar and backing it up with some thin plywood on the interior. I plan on coating everything with epoxy resin but probably painting it also.
    I need some recomendations on what to use to cover the screw heads and fill in tiny cracks between the planks. Can I just use wood putty since it will be covered with epoxy or should I mix sawdust with epoxy resin or use some other type of filler with the epoxy?:confused:
    Also I am still little way off from needing the epoxy, but I see quite a difference in price on one supplier on ebay and another with their own web site compared to more know name brands like West Marine. Is there a big difference here?:?:
    When I started this I thought this would be one time thing, but I am not even half done and thinking about a kayak in the future and someday that houseboat!!!!!!!!! Sorry I was daydreaming again.:rolleyes:
    I have been reading a lot of the posts over the past month and have soaked up all the knowledge I can along with reading a few books in the past on boat building. After the weekend hopefully I will have some picks to post that look like more than just parts.
     
  2. alan white
    Joined: Mar 2007
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    alan white Senior Member

    You've got a planked boat and it will be unnecessary and even inadvisable to coat those planks with epoxy. Epoxy seals very well, but can you guarantee that the entire piece, edges, ends and all, will be sealed? Or are you thinking of coating the completed planking job?
    Even screw holes are subject to water ingress.
    Now the second question--- once the water gets in (which it certainly will do if you do not seal the planks everywhere including the screw holes prior to fastening), what will that trapped water do to the wood? This is exactly the environment that rot loves.
    On the other hand, you've got a boat that was designed to absorb and release moisture without problems. It is meant to "settle in" to the environment it has been put in. It will, if built to the plans, "take up" each time it's launched. It's the kind of construction that depends on good fits and natural expansion to stay afloat.
    A long time ago, boatbuilders figured out that plank on frame methods would only ever produce boats that required water to expand the planks until they (like cotton duck for example) sealed completely, or at least would if properly maintained.
    Another building method was required to allow occasional wetting of the hull, one that used materials that did not expand when put into water, and could therefore be glued or sealed together at every joint. This meant plywood or glued strip or cold molding.
    When epoxy came into popular use, especially with the addition of fiberglass, it became obvious that neither plywood nor fiberglass could stand up to the inexorable expansion of solid wood planks. Eventually, the bond suffered because the wood and the material covering it did not move together when wet, but fractured and seperated as the wood with its greater expansion potential took on water.
    Here's the bottom line: The best advice is to seperate solid wood and plywood UNLESS the solid wood pieces are quite small, and even then those small solid wood pieces should be completely encapsulated in epoxy.
    So covering a 1 1/2" x 5 1/2" transom plank with plywood is a no-no. The bond between will tear, the gap within will invite rot, and your boat will be junk in no time.
    Am I suggesting you totally encapsulate all solid wood and plywood and frames and stringers, and so forth?
    No. Do that with your next boat, and only if it's made from plywood or glued strips or some similar method. You've got plans for a planked boat. Build it in the old way, following the instructions. Forget the epoxy because it will either vastly increase the work you do or (if not done to that ridiculously scrupulous degree) it will ruin your boat far before it's time.
     
  3. don4465
    Joined: Feb 2010
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    Location: Elliottsburg, PA USA

    don4465 riverman

    Thanks for the advice. I can easily remove the plywood I laminated to the transom. I will go with the old fashioned way of giving it a good soaking the first few times out and allowing the swelling to fill the small gaps. From what you are saying I should just paint it and forget about varnish too or is varnish an option? Not using epoxy or varnish cuts my costs a lot and will bring in my whole build around $400. Thank goodness for a bilge pump the first few times out instead of the old bailing way. So far my fits are pretty tight with the planks anyway.
     
  4. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

  5. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    gonzo Senior Member

    In a boat that size 2X6 on the transom is already overbuilt. 1/4" plywood is likely to rot and cause other problems. Changing a design is something that requires a fair amount of knowledge and experience. White pine is a poor choice for framing and timbers because fasteners don't hold on it well. What did the plans ask for?
     
  6. don4465
    Joined: Feb 2010
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    Location: Elliottsburg, PA USA

    don4465 riverman

    There is not any mention of caulking in the plans except for using candle wicking when attaching the sides to the stem in the rabbet joint. The instructions called for squaring the planks and clamping them tight together while attaching the ribs which I did and there are no visible gaps in them. I had thought of using one of the 3m caulking products but after hearing some feedback on them from other members, I did not hear anything too positive about their results. I was really the most concerned about doing something as I put on the botton planking.
    As for my choice of white pine, the plans gave a choice of pine or white oak for the transom, stem, ribs, chines, and skeg/keel. They also gave a choice of cedar or cypress for the planks. I plan on using the white oak for transom knees and braces, the keel, gunwhales, and sheer clamps. As I previously stated the plywood on the transom is out now, following both Alan's and Gonzo's recommendations.
    As to the overbuilt transom the original plans call for 1 1/4" thick wood and the kiln dried 2x6 boards measure less than 1 1/2" thick before a little planing and sanding so I will end up pretty close to the original plans thickness. The plans do call for plywood splines 1/4" x 5/8" between the boards which is what prompted me to put the plywood over all. I had thought about tongue and groove on the transom boards but figured it might be trouble after swelling. Should I use white oak strips for the splines or stick with the plywood strips? I guess I had better hit the books for the right way to plank the botton and caulk. Thanks for all the help.
     
  7. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    gonzo Senior Member

    If the plans call for pine, it should be fine to follow them. Splines and tongue groove are pretty much equivalent. The boat seems to be built strong and a bit heavy. Nothing wrong there if it can take some abuse. Show some photos
     
  8. don4465
    Joined: Feb 2010
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    Location: Elliottsburg, PA USA

    don4465 riverman

    img003.jpg Here are a few photos of what I have completed so far, one side, a transom I need to do over now, and the stem. I also have all the ribs done and chines but did not take photos yet. The other side is half way done and should be completed by the weekend. I also scanned the basic plan diagram. You can double click it to enlarge it for viewing.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2010
  9. don4465
    Joined: Feb 2010
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    Location: Elliottsburg, PA USA

    don4465 riverman

    Here are two more pics of my progress. winter 2009 046.JPG bow

    winter 2009 047.JPG stern I am fortunate to have a lot of room in my basement and a 40" door to take it out when done. There is an archery target in the back of the first photo, I have a 25yd indoor range. It is still a bit cold but at least I can have a heater on and work when it snows or rains.
     
  10. don4465
    Joined: Feb 2010
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    Location: Elliottsburg, PA USA

    don4465 riverman

    After some delay due to the snow, I was able to get the sides bent around the form and the transom attached this weekend. Since there is a limit to the amount of photos and I wanted to share my build with other builders, family, and friends, I created a web page to document my progress and post photos as attachments. Here is the link
    https://sites.google.com/site/donsprojectpage/home/topics
    I am very please with the look of the boat so far and hope it meets my needs of being flat enough to drift the shallow Susquehanna river and rugged enough for when the Canadian lakes get whipped up a little.
    If you visit the page the photo attachments are at the bottom.
     
  11. TollyWally
    Joined: Mar 2005
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    Location: Fox Island

    TollyWally Senior Member

    Hi Don,
    Pretty wild looking couch in your shop space there. Your boat looks like it might end up a little heavy but oh well. What matters is what your learning and what kind of adventures your kids have with the boat the old man built them! If you choose to build another down the road it will turn out even better, if not the kids will get a full measure of memories regardless. Carry on.
     
  12. don4465
    Joined: Feb 2010
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    Location: Elliottsburg, PA USA

    don4465 riverman

    Thanks for the encouragement Tolly. That wild looking couch is for the dog. She keeps looking at me like I am nuts when I work on the boat and chews up the scraps of wood if I do not keep them cleaned up. The boat may end up heavier than I wanted, but the cedar is very light in weight and I think the whole boat should stay under 200# which makes it light enough for me to drag off the rocks or jockey into position on the trailer. I am pretty sure next winter will be a build of a canoe or kayak before moving on to that houseboat I always dreamed of. As someone who once lived at the beach for 7 years, I can really enjoy your quote about tourist season! The kids are really looking forward to fishing out of this boat since the old 11ft one was getting a little cramped.
     
  13. barr5150
    Joined: Oct 2009
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    Location: Romeoville,IL.

    barr5150 New Member

    Nice job so far. You're in the same boat as me ( excuse the pun ). I have a couple jon/semi-v hull boats as well. My boys are 6 and 9 and we ran out of space. We needed to upgrade and anything in my area in the 14-16' range was way to expensive so I decided to built one. I searched all of the plans available on line and I printed out a bunch. I have plans for the boat you are building but I was scared of the lap strike for a first build. I wasn't sure how it was going to work. I figured I would go ply over frames covered in cloth and epoxy. It seemed a little more fool proof. I started right around Thanksgiving and the hull is finally now complete. I have to finish the inside yet but I will be ready for open water. I'm just outside of Chicago so I probably have another month or so. I can definatly say it's been a *****'n project and I wish I would have done it sooner. Congradulations and Good Luck!
     
  14. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Nice project
     

  15. don4465
    Joined: Feb 2010
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    Location: Elliottsburg, PA USA

    don4465 riverman

    Almost finished planking the bottom yesterday. Used 3M 5200 adhesive caulk so I am hoping this baby is going to last a long time. I really like the beauty of the wood and am still contemplating varnish instead of paint. Varnish made from tung oil seems to be what most builders favor. If anyone has a brand they have used on the outside of a hull and are happy with please let me know. I have no experience with varnish but have read a lot of do's and don'ts from previous posts here. It will extend my project about 4 weeks to do it right. I do have a lot of experience with paint such as cars, motors and have a good sprayer set up. I really just want the most durable finish, so I spend more time on the water and less time refinishing.
    https://sites.google.com/site/donsprojectpage/home/topics
     
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