On Wednesday I had Connor, one of my older Pathfinders come to the house and help me fiberglass Miss Nancy, the canoe I’ve been working on since last autumn.

Before we added glass, I wanted to put her name on her. I borrowed a Cricut, which is essentially a programmable paper cutter, and used that to cut out her name from a sheet of white vinyl shelf liner. I hand cut the flame logo (since our club is called the Central New Hampshire Flames).

I stuck it on, and then we laid the fiberglass over it. That label is not coming off, unless someone goes through the enormous amount of labor required to strip off the fiberglass like I did, but I don’t see that happening.

Miss Nancy gets a label

Miss Nancy gets a label

We draped the glass cloth over the boat and then began applying the epoxy. Connor got good at this fast. I wanted him to know how to do this so that I’m not the only one connected with the club who has that skill.

Connor helping me add a layer of glass

Connor helping me add a layer of glass

Early on we ran into a bit of trouble. The resin pumps are supposed to meter out the exact amount of epoxy – an equal number of squirts from the resin, and from the hardener gives the correct ratio. With this stuff, if you get the ratio wrong, it just doesn’t cure. Ever. SO it’s critical that it be correct.

When the pump started misbehaving, I knew what was wrong, because I feared it would happen. I had poured resin from my nearly empty can into the new can (that stuff is expensive – about $60-70 per gallon), and when I did it, I noticed hard lumps in the old resin. Groan. Those lumps were getting into the pump and messing it up. I figured we should pour it all back into the old can, and then strain it into the new can through a piece of cheesecloth. Only it was taking forever. That’s when Connor said “It’s too bad we can just attach the cheesecloth to the pump’s intake.”

That kid is a genius. I went down to the basement and grabbed some zip ties. In short order we had fastened the cheesecloth to the pump’s intake, and voila. Problem solved. The pump behaved perfectly from there on out.

It took us pretty much all day to get two layers of epoxy on the glass. I picked him up at nine, we stopped to get some latex gloves, and started mixing epoxy at about 10:30 or eleven. We had to let the first layer cure for three hours before adding the second coat. After each coat has been on the boat for 20-30 minutes, you have to use a squeegee to squeege it off again. We finished squeeging the second coat at about 7:30pm. I took him home, and then at 10:00pm, I went out and added the third coat. Each coat takes less time than the previous one, so I was done with that one at about 11:00.

In the morning, the boat looked great, and I could tell that it was orders of magnitude stronger. It was at this point that I knew Miss Nancy had been saved. The rest of the work is important too, but this was critical.

I turned my attention to the next task, which was to smooth the interior of the hull. Here’s my weapon of choice:

My violin plane

My violin plane


This is a violin plane. I made it myself about 10 years ago when I decided I wanted to build a violin. I never got around to building the violin, but this plane is nothing short of fantastic for smoothing the inside of a canoe. Its sole is curved in two directions – side-to-side, and front-to-back. A flat-soled plane is worthless for this job, but this plane made short work of it. I still have lots of sanding to do, but not nearly as much since I hit it with this plane.

Here are two shots so you can compare Miss Nancy’s progress:

Miss Nancy: Before

Miss Nancy: Before

Miss Nancy: After

Miss Nancy: After

What a difference! The next step was to remove the top two planks. She’s going to have a little less freeboard than before, but those planks were pretty well rotted out, and I don’t have a mold for this boat, so replacing them was not going to be easy. I decided to just make her a little shorter. I cut them off with a coping saw and then planed them smooth.

Looking Good!

Looking Good!

Hopefully I can have the interior ready to glass sometime this week. We’ll see.