glue on deck without all those deck nails?

I'd like to glue on the deck of my West River without all those nails. Has anyone done this?

 Seems doable esp with the slow hardener I have with my MAS epoxy.  (which BTW I like)

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RE: glue on deck without all those deck nails?

I've used temporary screws, and filled the holes with toothpicks. But I've also used the ring nails, which are easier to install, don't require removal -- and I think the bronze heads look fantastic against the mahogany.



RE: glue on deck without all those deck nails?

That's exactly how i'm planning on putting the deck onto my WR18. It's also the way I put it onto my wife's CH16LT. It's plenty strong, especially if you then overlap the deck cloth onto the hull for at least 2 inches.

It's actually stronger than using nails because:

1. The stress is spread evenly along the entire bearing surface, rather than concentrating at the nails.

2. The wood fibers stay intact. (That also adds to the strength of the joint and deck.)

3. Metal fasteners expand and contract at a different rate than wood. After enough thermal cycling they'll start working themselves loose.

So there's no problem with nailless construction, it's actually mechanically better in many ways. It mostly comes down to whether you like the looks of the nails or not.

Have fun,




RE: glue on deck without all those deck nails?

As Laszlo says, the glass wrapped over the deck edge should ensure that the glue-only joint will stay strong. In most cases, properly made epoxy joints will be stronger than the wood itself. But wood is sometimes not strong enough alone. The metal bolts used to fasten wooden cleats to decks are needed to keep the wood itself from splitting.

Recently I encountered a less obvious example. There was a loud snap as I started to remove the clamps from the stifferners on a 16" radius bow hatch cover I had glued up. The surface veneer of the kit plywood had simultaneously broken and torn away at both ends of one of the stiffeners. The glue joint was perfectly intact, but the plywood itself was not up to the tension forces in those critical areas. Now I am going to install bronze ring nails near the ends of all my hatch cover stiffeners. Has no else had a similar occurrence?


RE: glue on deck without all those deck nails?

Thanks folks.  Will toss out 4 oz of pretty nails.  Me thinks I'll use strapping tape to hold the deck on.  Long ago I built a greenland s/g, whose deck I taped.  I can do it.  I can, I can.


Weird how I can't seem to stop building boats.  Built a Pygmy kayak in 2004 & another this spring.  Will need to start donating boats soon.


RE: glue on deck without all those deck nails?



You're absolutely right that ultimately a bonded joint is no stronger that the bond between the plywood layers. That's a big reason for paying extra for the BS1088 marine plywood instead of using. And if you paid that extra and didn't get the strength, sounds like you'd be justified in asking for a new piece of wood.

FWIW, it'd be reasonably easy to make a bonded cleat. It's just a matter of designing a bonded joint that converts tension into flexure (what the through-hole fitting does). With existing materials and skills it's faster and cheaper to use through-hole fittings, so that's why you won't see one on most boats. But for a good analogue, think of a cleat welded to a steel hull, with a reinforcement plate welded underneath.

Good luck with your  build.


Don't throw them out, they're useful for other projects.


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