Building The Prospector Canoe, Part 3



Hello, dear reader.  It has been a looooong time since last I spoke of any progress on our canoe.  I initially decided to build a canoe so I would spend more of my free time out on mountain lakes fishing, camping, and exploring.   I’ve been swamped with work and free time has been in short supply.  I get to it when I can but am encouraged when other boat builders tell me it took them years to finish boats.  My hull has been hanging from the ceiling for almost two years now…


You can see how we got to this point here and here.


Once the hull was stripped it was time to clean the glue squeeze out and fair the hull.  I spent many hours with my dad (shown here) and other helpful hands sanding.


sandinghull3 sandinghull2

So much dust.


hullfillAfter the squeeze out has been sanded back it’s time to fill and voids between the strips with epoxy and dust and fairing compound.


After the sanding and the filler, we needed another round of filler here and there, but ended up with this.  Smooth satisfaction.


I decided to put a keel on my canoe.  I’ve heard it helps the canoe track more straight in the water, which can be a great thing in windy waters.  The keel will go the length of the boat, from one stem into the next.  This requires a 14 to 15 foot board…  OR you can make a scarf joint.  I opted for the scarf joint.  Our boat’s keel is ash.


Scarf joint glue up.


We cut the stems to accept the keel.


Then fit the ends of the keel.


The keel is then attached from the inside of the boat with screws.


This was the boat the night before we moved on to fiberglassing the hull.  I was really nervous about fiberglassing and epoxying the hull.  It was something I had never done before, but I had dad on my team and he’s done it quite a few times.


This is the boat in it’s fiberglass ghost costume with Lucy the Wonderdog, faithful springer spaniel companion to my parents.  Unfortunately since this picture, Lucy has passed away.  Lucy was a rad dog.  She could jump pretty much straight up and was always in good spirits.  Rest in peace, Lucy.  You were a damn good dog.


Fiberglass followed by brushing on the first heaping coat of epoxy…  the weave and the wood just soaks it up.  We’re trying to get the weave to sit flat on the wood.  You don’t want to lift it with the brush…  and it starts slowly curing…



Next, you squeegee the epoxy.  I had a hard time getting my technique down, but dad was a champion.  You wet out the weave then time it about 10 to 20 minutes to come back and squeegee off the excess.



When you get to the end of the canoe, you sort of pull the fiberglass tight past the stem, trim it, and let it soak into the wood.  If you didn’t cut it, it would fold over strange and be very weird and hard to remove later.



My mom is taking pictures and stirring batches of epoxy.  It really helps to have a third person help you with timing the epoxy curing and making fresh batches.  This is a pretty great shot, eh?  Nice job, mom.


This is what it looked like after the first coat.  You can see the weave through the wet epoxy.  That’s AOK.  The next couple of coats will fill that in.


The cedar really shows itself off with the wet epoxy on it.


After that first coat, we re-attached the keel.  It’s best to apply all three coats of epoxy in one day, otherwise you have to sand back the epoxy after each coat has cured, making the process take days and days.  If you apply all three coats in one day, you have to wait just long enough that the epoxy is starting to cure, but not too much…  you will be able to touch it but it will be kind of tacky.  We had to wait about four hours before we could apply the second coat.  We had a few beers in those four hours…


Coat two we rolled on and brushed on.


As I said earlier, we had beers…  so I don’t have the best selection of pics for the other two coats of epoxy, but honestly it’s more of the same and would make for a rather boring blog entry.  You get the idea.

trimming epoxy

After the epoxy had cured for two weeks, I trimmed the weave that was hanging below the full.  And then I began sanding with a random orbital sander hooked up to a vacuum.  Epoxy dust is some seriously gnarly stuff.  Don’t breath it in.  Use a vacuum.  Wear a respirator.  For real.

sanding epoxy




After many hours sanding, the glossy, rippled cured epoxy was sooo smooth.

sanded This will be our future canoe.  I don’t know how many hours are into it, nor do I know how many more there are to go.  I do know that I’m on my way down the hill now.  In the next post, we’ll flip it and sand the inside.  Be patient, dear reader.





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5 Responses to Building The Prospector Canoe, Part 3

  1. Nate says:

    Looking really great – makes me want to make something to try using fiberglass.

  2. Katie says:

    Damn, it’s looking real good Ben! Keep at it. She’ll be one helluva boat when you’re done. Can’t wait to see more progress.

  3. James says:

    Geat Blog. I am just getting ready to start a prospector of my own. It has been 23 years since I built my last canoe. (It was a Redbird.) Im going to reduce the rocker a little on the prospector because now days most of my paddeling is in lakes or slow moving rivers. The main issue now is that I have to gather all of the tools and supplies. Not to mention finding good cedar where I live (in PA) is difficult. Looking foward to your next post.

  4. Pam Savage says:

    This is so beautiful- such craftsmanship and love together. But my favorite part is you working together with your parents. Passing along the skill and art, creating together. Love it!

  5. Phil says:

    Hi Ben,

    What sanding grit do you use on orbital sander for before epoxy and after epoxy?

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