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Poor Man's Fiberglass

ErlerMeyer

Member
Jan 8, 2021
5
1
South Carolina
This is my first post on this forum. I actually joined after reading this thread. I am new to boatbuilding but have messed around with woodworking for sometime. I have used fiberglass in the past and really enjoyed the process. However the last time that I used it, I had an allergic reaction. I had been eyeing wooden boat plans for quite sometime and ended up buying some from Uncle John's. However, I was hesitant to build a pirogue or wooden jon boat because I did not want to chance having a worse reaction with fiberglass this time around. After seeing your results, @beekeeper, I think I am going to try the PMF method. Many people in the teardrop camper world seem happy with using this method for camper hulls. It will also be a safer way for me to involve my children in the boat building process as well. I want to thank you for putting this up, it has encouraged me to give it a try! I will take your advice on the humidity though, it has been a damp and cold winter here in SC. Will probably hold off until there is less humidity before I try it. At least it will give me some time to work on the build itself.
 

Kayak Jack

Well-Known Member
Aug 26, 2003
13,636
106
83
Okemos / East Lansing Michigan
Welcome aboard, Erler Meyer. Sorry to hear of the reacti9n. I hope you can protect yourself here.

I ‘m glad to read that you want to involve your kids in the project. Turns out that when you do that, you are not only building a boat with a kid. Even more deeply - you are building a kid with a boat! There are many, little tasks that young hands can help with. They will never forget it. Good on you, Dad!
 
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ErlerMeyer

Member
Jan 8, 2021
5
1
South Carolina
Welcome aboard, Erler Meyer. Sorry to hear of the reacti9n. I hope you can protect yourself here.

I ‘m glad to read that you want to involve your kids in the project. Turns out that when you do that, you are not only building a boat with a kid. Even more deeply - you are building a kid with a boat! There are many, little tasks that young hands can help with. They will never forget it. Good on you, Dad!
Thanks for the welcome, @Kayak Jack!

My oldest son is just as eager as I am to get started. We do a lot of bank catfishing together but wanted to make a pirogue and eventually a jon boat to get us out on the water. My father is from Louisiana and of course was very supportive of the idea of building a pirogue. It's looking like it might be three generations of us working on it together!

Very glad that I stumbled across this forum. I have only been browsing it for a couple of days but have been enjoying the content. Been learning a lot from these posts and am eager to learn more!
 
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Kayak Jack

Well-Known Member
Aug 26, 2003
13,636
106
83
Okemos / East Lansing Michigan
I had my 3 year old granddaughter spread her little hand on the floor of a canoe that “we” were building, and drew around her hand and each finger. Then painted it in. Next to it, is the date her name. As a 4, 5, and 6 year old, she rode along on our annual Geezer Run, a week long canoe and camping trip an Michigan’s Au Sable River. She would help make and break camps, gather firewood, etc. And, learned a LOT from that cadre of uncles and grandpas.

She’s a 20 year old coed now, and smiles at the memories, and hugs the guys whenever they meet
 

oldbuffpilot

Well-Known Member
May 13, 2014
357
9
77
Central Kansas and Central Texas
This is my first post on this forum. I actually joined after reading this thread. I am new to boatbuilding but have messed around with woodworking for sometime. I have used fiberglass in the past and really enjoyed the process. However the last time that I used it, I had an allergic reaction. I had been eyeing wooden boat plans for quite sometime and ended up buying some from Uncle John's. However, I was hesitant to build a pirogue or wooden jon boat because I did not want to chance having a worse reaction with fiberglass this time around. After seeing your results, @beekeeper, I think I am going to try the PMF method. Many people in the teardrop camper world seem happy with using this method for camper hulls. It will also be a safer way for me to involve my children in the boat building process as well. I want to thank you for putting this up, it has encouraged me to give it a try! I will take your advice on the humidity though, it has been a damp and cold winter here in SC. Will probably hold off until there is less humidity before I try it. At least it will give me some time to work on the build itself.
Erler,
There are some pretty good pirogues built without epoxy. My first two pirogue were hardware store kits, 14 inch ply wood, and pine chines. They were functional, and good pirogues. Admittedly heavier and maybe not as pretty as a cedar strip / fiberglass.While these boats probably don''t meet traditional criteria, I'm sure we have some traditional builders on here that can give some advice. Also we have built several plywood uncle john type boats with 4 H kids limiting the fiberglass epoxy to the seams . Good luck and welcome!
 

ErlerMeyer

Member
Jan 8, 2021
5
1
South Carolina
Erler,
There are some pretty good pirogues built without epoxy. My first two pirogue were hardware store kits, 14 inch ply wood, and pine chines. They were functional, and good pirogues. Admittedly heavier and maybe not as pretty as a cedar strip / fiberglass.While these boats probably don''t meet traditional criteria, I'm sure we have some traditional builders on here that can give some advice. Also we have built several plywood uncle john type boats with 4 H kids limiting the fiberglass epoxy to the seams . Good luck and welcome!
Thanks for the info and welcome, @oldbuffpilot! I was actually planning on going the 1/4" plywood route myself. After reflecting more on the build, I will probably only use the PMF on the butt joints and outside seams. I am planning on using a either latex exterior paint or spar varnish on the rest of the build.

I have an interest in working my way up to building a pirogue in the more traditional way. I read Nicholas Allen Porte's "Cypress Pirogue Plans" cover to cover. However, sourcing cypress timber in my area looks like it will be a difficult task. Also I don't feel quite as bad making mistakes with plywood as I have it readily available.

Depending on how the pirogue goes, I am hoping to try the Uncle John's jon boat plan next. I do a lot of catfishing on the river and would like to have a vessel more suited for current and with enough space for two adults and a child.
 
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beekeeper

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2009
1,602
27
Thanks for the info and welcome, @oldbuffpilot! I was actually planning on going the 1/4" plywood route myself. After reflecting more on the build, I will probably only use the PMF on the butt joints and outside seams. I am planning on using a either latex exterior paint or spar varnish on the rest of the build.

I have an interest in working my way up to building a pirogue in the more traditional way. I read Nicholas Allen Porte's "Cypress Pirogue Plans" cover to cover. However, sourcing cypress timber in my area looks like it will be a difficult task. Also I don't feel quite as bad making mistakes with plywood as I have it readily available.

Depending on how the pirogue goes, I am hoping to try the Uncle John's jon boat plan next. I do a lot of catfishing on the river and would like to have a vessel more suited for current and with enough space for two adults and a child.
Welcome to the madness. Lots of boats built without epoxy/fiberglass.
I have only built the one boat using poor man's fiberglass. I did not use it as a structural component and do not know how strong it is for that application. Without testing or some other information I could not recommend using it for a U J type build.
I am not familiar with Nicholas Allen Porte's plans, but if they are for plywood and chine log construction that would seem to be your best bet. Simply substitute pine or some other wood for the cypress. Boat may be a little heaver but painted and not mistreated it will last a long time.
Please let us know what you decide or if any more questions.
 
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Gamecock

Well-Known Member
Jul 17, 2012
150
4
Thanks for the info and welcome, @oldbuffpilot! I was actually planning on going the 1/4" plywood route myself. After reflecting more on the build, I will probably only use the PMF on the butt joints and outside seams. I am planning on using a either latex exterior paint or spar varnish on the rest of the build.

I have an interest in working my way up to building a pirogue in the more traditional way. I read Nicholas Allen Porte's "Cypress Pirogue Plans" cover to cover. However, sourcing cypress timber in my area looks like it will be a difficult task. Also I don't feel quite as bad making mistakes with plywood as I have it readily available.

Depending on how the pirogue goes, I am hoping to try the Uncle John's jon boat plan next. I do a lot of catfishing on the river and would like to have a vessel more suited for current and with enough space for two adults and a child.
Hey Erler, check out Joey Dupre and his Danish oil-mix coatings for boats on this forum. And welcome, Dave.
 
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jdupre'

Well-Known Member
Sep 9, 2007
2,143
10
South Louisiana
Erier, I'm with Beekeeper on the structural use of PMF. I wouldn't be comfortable that it would take the place of fiberglass, especially on the chines of an Uncle John's pirogue. You can make a sturdy, long-lasting wood chine boat with only paint as a covering. That's a lot faster, simpler and lighter too.

I think too much emphasis is placed on making a boat that will last for decades with little or no maintenance. Unless you use a boat every weekend for years on end and don't ever clean it or let it dry out, painted ply works amazingly well. Every couple of years, a quick scuff down and a fresh couple of coats of paint will give you a boat that will last until you get tire of looking at it!

I am not the perfectionist as some are on this site. Not my thing. Nothing wrong with building the "perfect" boat, just not practical to my way of thinking. I've observed that, the more perfect and pristine a boat is, the less it's used. After spending a hundred hours ( yes, some people do) sanding and re-sanding and varnishing, sanding, varnishing, sanding ad nauseum, people are somewhat reluctant to actually use a boat like it was meant to be used. Loading and unloading dings, boat ramp scrapes, anchor rope scuffs, hidden stump gouges, etc. are part of boating. If you wince more than a little at every new scrape, you might not be enjoying the boat as much as you could. End of rant. Ha!!!
 

oldsparkey

Well-Known Member
Aug 25, 2003
10,188
70
77
Central , Florida
www.southernpaddler.com
Well darn Joey , don't hold back and be bashful about using the boats , tell it like it is. As you said if your boat doesn not suffer from " Loading and unloading dings, boat ramp scrapes, anchor rope scuffs, hidden stump gouges, etc. are part of boating. If you wince more than a little at every new scrape " you have it hanging on the living room wall.
I like to toss in there , muddy feet from launching. I can launch from a pristine sand beach and there will be muddy foot prints inside with me. No they are not left from the last trip , I do rinse out my boats when I get home.
 
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ErlerMeyer

Member
Jan 8, 2021
5
1
South Carolina
Thank you gentlemen for the welcomes and great information! I appreciate the insights and advice. I can say I am definitely off the PMF idea for a UJ pirogue altogether now.

I more of a utilitarian than a perfectionist myself. As long as the boat floats and doesn't leak, the looks don't matter much to me. But I do have concerns about the structural integrity and I will concur that PMF wouldn't be well suited for an UJ build after reading about the shortcomings of it.

I am planning to really dig into the archives on here as I have a bunch of questions, particularly concerning types of glue that I would imagine have already been answered. @beekeeper thanks for mentioning using pine! I have located boards of 1x12x16 that I should be able to plane down and use for the sides. It might not have the same characteristics that make cypress so desirable for these builds, but it is readily available.

I am glad to be on here and I truly appreciate the conversation and interactions. Sure beats most of my experiences on social media these days!
 

beekeeper

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2009
1,602
27
I did not realize you were building a plank pirogue when I mentioned pine instead of cypress. I would guess it will be ok for that. If you want to build a plywood pirogue without epoxy check out these plans https://www.cajunsecret.com/. I have never used their plans but the build http://discussions.texasbowhunter.com/showthread.php?t=649887looks looks like traditional plywood/chine log construction. No epoxy would be needed
I have a question for the epoxy/fiberglass builders. Before epoxy wasn't "polyester resin" used to build boats? Would it cause the same allergic reaction as epoxy.
 
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beekeeper

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2009
1,602
27
A possible easy solution for your need to avoid epoxy would be to use outside chine logs instead of the cloth and epoxy seams. Since you have the UJ plans you could build it to plans up until the bottom installation step. Glue some 1" X 3/4" strips along the side edges (Chine logs) and plane/sand then flat. Attach the floor onto the boat as per the plans but glue and nail/screw it to the log.
Outside logs will avoid having to notch the ribs and detail fitting work at the stems.
 

ErlerMeyer

Member
Jan 8, 2021
5
1
South Carolina
A possible easy solution for your need to avoid epoxy would be to use outside chine logs instead of the cloth and epoxy seams. Since you have the UJ plans you could build it to plans up until the bottom installation step. Glue some 1" X 3/4" strips along the side edges (Chine logs) and plane/sand then flat. Attach the floor onto the boat as per the plans but glue and nail/screw it to the log.
Outside logs will avoid having to notch the ribs and detail fitting work at the stems.
@beekeeper I like that idea and I think I am going to plan on doing just that! I had a similar idea about putting the chines on the inside but it would make it much easier doing it on the outside as you suggested. I greatly appreciate the post!
 

jdupre'

Well-Known Member
Sep 9, 2007
2,143
10
South Louisiana
One possible negative with outside chines. Where they meet at bow and stern, they leave an awkward not-so-streamlined shape. Not necessarily a game changer, but maybe something to consider.