How to build your own fibreglass canoe

Written by alex zang
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How to build your own fibreglass canoe
Fibreglass canoes are lightweight and sturdy. (Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Early canoes were carved out of wood by Native Americans, who usually hollowed out a fallen tree. Today, modern technology allows canoes made out of wood and fibreglass. While fibreglass canoes can be expensive, easily costing over £650 as of February 2011, with a canoe mould and some time on your hands you can build your own simple fibreglass canoe.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Canoe mould
  • Soap
  • Car wax
  • Rag
  • Fibreglass gelcoat
  • Brush or roller
  • 28.4 g (1 oz) fibreglass mats
  • Resin
  • Hardening agent
  • 56.7 g (2 oz) fibreglass mats
  • Scissors
  • Clamps
  • Spreader
  • Sabre saw

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Use soap and water to clean any excess dirt off of the canoe mould. If any dirt is left on the mould, the integrity of the fibreglass will be compromised.

  2. 2

    Flip the mould so that the hull is upside down.

  3. 3

    Rub car wax onto the mould using a rag and a circular motion. The car wax will help you remove the fibreglass canoe from the mould after the fibreglass has set.

  4. 4

    Apply a layer of fibreglass gelcoat onto the mould. Let the gelcoat dry for about two hours, then apply a second layer. Gelcoat is what gives fibreglass its shine.

  5. 5

    Set a 28.4 g (1 oz) fibreglass mat on top of the mould. The mat should be long enough to cover the entire mould, with an extra 2.5 cm (1 inch) hanging off the sides to cover for shrinkage. Use scissors to cut off excess fibreglass. Use clamps to hold the fibreglass flat against the mould. The amount of fibreglass you use will be dependent on the size of the mould.

  6. 6

    Mix resin with a hardening agent in a bucket. Don't mix all of your resin and hardening agent at once. Instead, work with small amounts so that you don't have resin that hardens before you can use it.

  7. 7

    Pull up a section of fibreglass mat and brush resin on the mould underneath it. Press the section of fibreglass back down, and brush resin on top. You'll know you've applied enough resin when the white in the fibreglass mat is gone.

  8. 8

    Rub a spreader over top of the fibreglass to remove any air bubbles. You may have to do three or four passes.

  9. 9

    Repeat steps 6 through 8 until you've completed the first layer of your fibreglass canoe.

  10. 10

    Lay sections of 56.7 g (2 oz) fibreglass on top of your first layer of fibreglass. These should be laid perpendicular to your first layer. Your first layer should have been laid lengthwise, running down the entire mould. These sections of fibreglass should be laid width wise.

  11. 11

    Repeat steps 5 through 7 onto your new layer of fibreglass, then let it cure. Lay a second layer of 56.7 g (2 oz) fibreglass on top -- this time lengthwise down the canoe, then repeat steps 5 through 7 again. This time, do not let the fibreglass cure before moving to step 12.

  12. 12

    Lay a final layer of 28.4 g (1 oz) fibreglass onto the canoe, also running lengthwise, similar to the first layer. Apply the resin and let the fibreglass cure overnight.

  13. 13

    Cut any fibreglass that extends past the mould with a sabre saw.

  14. 14

    Apply another layer of gelcoat on top of the cured fibreglass by using a brush. Allow this to cure.

  15. 15

    Remove your fibreglass canoe from the mould. If you applied the car wax in step one, the mould should slide right off.

  16. 16

    Use sandpaper to sand any rough edges of your canoe down.

Tips and warnings

  • It's better to use too much wax then not enough.
  • Wear a respirator and work in a well ventilated area. Inhaling the fumes from the fibreglass or resin is harmful to your lungs.

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