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Working With Resin

Jan 13, 2013
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Pretty soon I am going to be working with carbon fiber and resin. I've had some mis-adventures with resin in the past so am always a little cautious and spend a lot of time planning ahead. Here's an account of one of my first times working with resin and all the really dumbass mistakes I made.

[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]July 2010[/FONT]

Some out of states friends showed up, the writing should have been on the wall for the next morning. My buddies took off for a Red Sox's game and I started the rehab of the Mad River Malecite with a head the size of a hot air balloon. First thing off the router table and router I got for free from my buddy didn't fit the size of my round over bit. I had to make a new piece so the bit could move up and down through the hole. Plywood is my friend.

Ok, next I beg my beloved to help me with the gunwales, feeding them through the router. This goes fair to middling and I know I'll have some sanding to do but it's better than doing it myself. By now the pain in my head is like a low and never ending explosion so I decide the ol' Hair of the Dog theory should be employed. The first sip almost never makes it down but I manage to choke my through it. I deploy another and start looking over my task.

Next on the agenda is to lay a 1" wide piece of fiberglass along the top of the hull to cover the holes. I mix up a batch of West and have several pieces of cloth which I drop in one by one as I use them into the batch bucket. Ah yeah, they come out dripping all over my feet. Rule number 2: DO NOT wear sandals when messing with resin.

Ok, I have some rubber gloves on and the minute I start messing with the saturated cloth the fingers let go on the rubber gloves. Rule number 3: Get thick rubber gloves and don't rely on ones from a box lot from auction that the better half got. So now I am standing there with resin dripping off the cloth onto my feet and lawn, my fingers are exposed to all the resin as I run them down the length of the cloth trying to get the bulk of it into the bucket and not on my feet cause it's moving all over the place like a piece of spaghetti, and the gloves are still on my hands! Man, I'm thinking, this is a mess.

So, I successfully lay the first piece on and don't make TOO much of a mess on the inside. I put two more strips on and call it good. By now my fingers have taken on enough resin to fix the leak on the Titanic and manage to peel the useless gloves off my hands although it was a chore shaking them off my fingers into the garbage can as the resin was starting to setup. Lot's of swearing.

Now, my Hair of the Dog scheme had hit home and I had to take a leak. Although I wiped my hands repeatedly with a rag it just wasn't enough. Please, please, pay attention to Rule number 4: Never grab your pecker with resin on your hands.

There was some stickage, that was unpleasant. What was down right uncomfortable came several hours later as my appendage got sore and very red. My guess is from the chemical stuff from the resin. It is similar to one of those hot packs you put in your boots to keep your toes warm except it's on your most prized bodily parts!! Thoughts of ice packs kept cropping up but I didn't think that would work.

So, a few hours later I tip the canoe up as the resin had set enough. Sure enough I had missed step number -1. Rule number -1 is: Put tape on all the holes on the outside of the boat so resin doesn't drip through and down the hull. I go get some nail polish remover and do my best to scrub the drips off but it doesn't work that well, too much time had passed. All I could do was resort back to my Hair of the Dog Theory and hope for the best in the morning with my head and appendage. The boat is back in the shed, the gunwales are being varnished and I'm walking a might funny still. Pay attention to Rule Number 1.


Continuing on with the rebuild I carefully sanded all the rails as good as I can get them. Sanding is a task that is like watching the tides come in and out as it just never ends. At some point you have to say enough is enough and live with your results. Of course as soon as you start the next stage you will find many imperfections that will result in more sanding but one must stand strong and say keep moving on. Hell, it could be December and the gunwales would be a quarter inch thick and thin if one keeps that mind set.

Next I carefully measured out the center point on the gunwales and marked it on one. Make sure you mark it on both sides as this will come to kick you in the ass later when putting it all together. I also marked it on the hull but of course only on one side, another kick in the ass!

Since I wanted to try to get all the screws in from the inwales I started clamping in the inner gunwales to the hull. My Gawd, how they wanted to twist and turn and fought me every millimeter of the way. In the end I got my way but by then the neighbors were bordering on calling the police in for all my profanity and that was only one side of the freaking canoe! With it in place I opted to use a hand drill with a counter sink on it and went to town. I drilled every six inches…or so…and it was looking too good to be true. The truth would come later as I was to find out. Mistakes were made but that’s why they created resin and wood filler as well as spar varnish. A good old fashion drill press is the only way to go when dealing with sixteen feet of thin wood; it doesn’t have a wobble in it due to old eyes and an unsteady hand.

Now it was time to start the spar varnish treatment. Days upon days went by as I lathered five coats on sanding with steel wool in between each coat and waiting for the drying time. Twiddle your thumbs time. Late at night I would wake and stumble out to the shed to do a touch test…um…not yet, DAMN!

It was finally time and it was dejavo with the placement of the gunwales on the hull. This time I needed to add the outer gunwales as well. I went through several clamps as they broke under the stress of the bending wood. Beware, those damn things are like bullets when they let go, I’m lucking to be alive. Living in these gunwales are three drill bits that broke off and hopefully it will be a good omen. In the end I made them flush, the bond is good, and the seats and thwarts went in perfectly. The decks are still to come but they are cut out and curing so there will be a least another late night of shed stumbling and swearing to come.

Feb 1, 2013
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Geraldton, Ontario
Ha ha, you've had your trials! I've worked with a lot of resin, working on number 20 canoe right now, and I'm not careful, but I've never gotten it on my outboard motor (Johnson), although most other parts have had a smattering. Did you try nail polish remover on….um……your delicate parts or did you end up with what the ladies call a Brazilian"? Anyway, I better stop there, better luck next time!


Rule number 2: DO NOT wear sandals when messing with resin.

Rule number 2a: DO NOT wear Crocs when spray painting a large surface area. Think polka dot feet.

BTW, how’s your supply of disposable gloves? Chortle.