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Building a Chesapeake Light Craft Wood Duck 14 Kayak

Tips & Observations

For the next kayak?

Tips

  • Buy many, many clamps. The cockpit for the Wood Duck 14 is huge and took over 25 clamps to secure the coaming. Home Depot has 2" spring clamps for $.99 each.

  • When first piecing together the various panels do your darndest to press the pieces down as hard and flat as possible. Two of my sections didn't get enough force during the glue up causing the "show" side of the wood to have a thick coat of epoxy that had seeped through the joint. This epoxy is mixed with silica and has a slightly different color than the straight epoxy coating the rest of the boat. I was very wrong to think that once the hull was glassed this extra amount of epoxy and silica would magically disappear. It didn't. Thankfully it was the bottom panels.

  • Give serious thought to building solid sawhorse cradles. Unencumbered access to all surfaces of the boat is a necessity once the wire stitching is complete. My rigged supports were bulky and unsteady, but ultimately did the job. Do so because knocking your boat over is a real joy kill.

  • Cheap wood shims worked well for the fillet work. Easy to whittle down into whatever shape needed. You can get a pack of 12 from Lowe's for $1.68.

  • Avoid really cheap brushes - they shed like a collie in August. During the glassing process loose bristles were especially problematic due to the thick epoxy. The inexpensive chip brushes from Harbor Freight were probably the worse, and the slightly pricier ones from Home Depot weren't much better. Apparently there's a method involving adding glue to the edge bristles to minimize shedding. A popular technique with other boat builders that should be considered.

  • Speaking of brushes, you'll need a lot of them. The CLC manual has a humorous section on cleaning epoxy gunked brushes by soaking them in vinegar. Didn't work. At all. Use them and toss them, buying the discount bundle packs from the big box store. WoodCraft has them as well (could they be better?).

  • For varnish, and possibly additional MAS epoxy, look to Amazon. CLC's prices were higher for both product and shipping.

  • Bought two quarts of Schooner varnish. Four coats each on the deck and hull took just a little over one quart. At four coats decided I wanted my garage back, which did mean having nearly a full quart of varnish left. And unlike the virtually odorless epoxy, this stuff's nasty. Don't attempt without a suitable respirator.

  • Perhaps you’ve already thought of this, but you’ll need a way to get your 14-foot kayak to the water. I have a short bed truck and didn’t want to buy a top rack (or wrestle it on top of the truck). Purchased a Darby Extend-A-Truck 944 4-Feet Truck Bed Extender from Amazon.com for $95. Works great, quick to setup, and stores in the cab. It’s also very handy for hauling lumber.

Observations

Footbrace - to drill or not to drill. Countless hours spent filleting, fiberglassing, sanding and sealing all in high expectation of a watertight structure. And once done you stand back and say, "Think I'll drill some holes through the hull". Not to worry, those screws are coated with silicone so it's not like they'll leak. I did not enjoy punching four holes below the waterline, and very doubtful I'll be happy with how they hold up over time. The optional footbrace mounting kit from CLC which doesn't require screw holes may be the better choice.

Epoxy dispensing - a tricky business. The provided epoxy pumps are handy; one squirt each of hardener and resin provides the necessary 1:2 ratio. Doesn't get simpler than that, unless of course it isn't accurate. And then it's a problem. Ran out of hardener while glassing the hull, likely because it wasn't metering correctly, requiring an additional purchase from Amazon. Frustrating and time consuming. And this stuff's not cheap. I gleamed from perusing the forum that it's common for first time builders to run out of epoxy. More experience results in less waste. Others noted that they didn't rely on the pumps at all and instead used measuring cups to mix the epoxy.

The included seat - is it really worth installing? Due to my apparent lack of visualizing skills I thought the flimsy foam and pad material referred to by CLC as the "seat" would suffice. It really isn't much and hardly worth the effort needed to sink four thick screws into the underside of the coaming, not pleasant due to the upside down location and thick coating of epoxy. Instead borrowed a folding seat from my canoe to set on top of a flotation seat cushion. Much better.

The epoxy landfill issue - is there a way to reduce waste? Disposable gloves, fillet sticks, mixing cups, mixing sticks, chip brushes, foam brushes, foam rollers, ziplock bags, sanding disks, empty epoxy containers and wads of paper towels. Filled many bags of trash through the entire process. Perhaps there are efficient methods for cleaning epoxy off tools? Would like to think that more experience would result in less waste material produced.