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11. Working with Epoxy

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The best place to start applying epoxy is about two feet from the end of the kayak. This accomplishes several things:

  • It provides a reference point from which to go sequentially around the whole shell.
  • It sticks the cloth to the hull so that it doesn't slide around. The stems are too steep for this.
  • Management of the epoxy setting or 'pot life'.

    Find out more about epoxies on the Epoxy Test page.
Here, I am using West System epoxy with 'special coating hardener (207)'. I recommend that you mix small batches (3-5 pump shots)at a time for the first wet-out coat. It takes more effort and time to saturate the cloth and wood then the subsequent 2 to 3 filler coats.

It helps to apply the first few batches with a brush and then switch to a squeegee to spread the resin in flatter and horizontal areas.

Vertical sections such as the tips and the sheer are done best with a brush.
Don't fuss too much over any particular area. The important thing is to have enough epoxy on the surface for the wood and glass to saturate.
There is no need to rush things either. Having applied about three batches of epoxy I always come back to the starting point to iron out any problems. Big bubbles, dry patches or wrinkles should be addressed now.

As the wood soaks up the resin you may need to add more or redistribute it around with the squeegee. It is preferable to have more epoxy on the surface then not enough.

The dull looking fibers of the fabric will unmistakably reveal resin drought. Everything should be glossy with the completely transparent fabric weave showing through.

For the sake of sanity, it is equally important to keep the epoxy from dripping to the other side.

Having completed one half of a double I go back to see it it is time to squeegee the hull smooth. By the term squeegee, I mean removal of excess epoxy from under the fiberglass while pressing it tightly against the wood.

By now, the wood has had about 15- 20 minutes to saturate at the starting point. When the resin becomes very 'syrupy' it's time to commence. (How is 'syrupy' for a definition of viscosity?! Let's say cold motor oil.)

Starting to squeegee too prematurely leaves the wood too dry and weakens the bond between it and the cloth. De-lamination on impact is more likely to develop.


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Tel:  781-481-9261


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Last page update: 11 January 2020