Every now and then, John and I do things that normal people do, like go out on a Friday night to see our
Johna and I took advantage of the suddenly warmer weather this weekend to start fiberglassing the boat that we (by which I mean John) have been building in the basement. (Yes, the secret is now out. We are building a small trimaran in the basement/garage and plan to learn how to sail this summer. Eventually we will get around to writing up the whole process here.)
The process of fiberglassing itself is pretty simple. You cover the your surface area of interest with a layer of resin, lay down the glass cloth, use brushes and paint scrapers to smooth out all bumps and wrinkles and to make sure that the cloth is completely saturated, and then you walk away and leave it all alone for a while (1-2 hours) until it has finished curing. Then you can trim the edges of the glass cloth, smooth them out with a bit of sandpaper, and move on to the next surface.
Glass cloth looks and feels like high-quality satin – heavy, smooth, nice sheen – and handles like silk – doesn’t stretch or give. It feels really neat. It also itches like crazy if you get any of the tiny fibers stuck to your skin. Which I guess shouldn’t be too much of a surprise since it is fiberglass after all.
Methyl ethyl ketone peroxide, the primary catalyst in the resin, is pretty vile, nasty, toxic stuff. So even though we really only use a very small amount of it at a time, this part of the build process is taking place in the garage, with the garage doors wide open, and several box fans blowing, all to ensure that we have maximum air-circulation and ventilation.
Some tips… Do wear disposable gloves. Besides being nasty and toxic and a skin irritant, the resin is super sticky, doesn’t really wash out, and will stick to everything that it comes into contact with. For similar reasons, do wear old clothes, do mix the resin in a disposable cup, do watch where you put things down, and do plan on discarding any paintbrushes you use to apply the resin after each use. (Just buy the cheapest brushes you can find.)
We managed to get one of the pontoons completely glassed. Now all we have to do is sand it down, apply another layer of resin to smooth out the surface, and bind the corners.
Then we get to do all of the above again to the second pontoon, and then to the hull.