Skip filling the weave?

Hi all -- I'm building a shearwater sectional and would like to keep the weight down as much as is practical. One thing I'm considering is not filing the fiberglass weave in the cockpit and maybe even on the hull and deck above the waterline -- I actaully kind of like the industrial look texture anyway. So, good idea? Bad idea? I would still varnish it, of course. But I'm also wondering if the varnish itself will gum up the weave? 

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RE: Skip filling the weave?

No problem. Just realize that unfilled weave will scrape your bare skin off and collect dirt. A good compromise in exposed areas is to put on one fill coat and sand it down a bit. That takes off the roughest edges.

Have fun,



RE: Skip filling the weave?

Does look and fell good when done well. Mate of mine did this on the deck of one of his wooden surfboards.

RE: Skip filling the weave?

Other options:

You can add peel ply over the glass. This will slightly compress the glass (which is good) and fill the weave in your first coat. Downside is that if not done carefully it's possible to introduce an air bubble or two (which can be cut out and patched). You also need slower resin or more hands to get the peel ply applied within the fully-open working time for an entire hull.

Or, you can use a filler instead of straight resin for the weave fill, if you plan to paint. Filler (phenolic micro balloons) will stretch your resin by a factor of at least 2, with near equal savings of money and weight! Apply it at peanut butter consistency, with a drywall knife or wide stiff spreader, pressing down hard to just fill the lows and leave nothing extra on top. You'll probably want a coat of primer over this crazy-quilt looking jumble.

RE: Skip filling the weave?

my thoughts on the matter echo Laszlo...but i might frame it a bit differently.

if it is a section that somebody has to handle or potentially exposes their body to (e.g., the outside of the hull), i would do the fill coat and keep it smooth.  also, if it will be routinely exposed to dirt/sand, it is much easier to get it off a smooth surface than a rough surface.

the last thing you want is a kayak that somebody grabs or tries to do a rentry on and have it slip and abraid their hands or legs or torso.  (i can tell you a not so funny story of a lady friend (not my friend anymore) who fell off a sailboat who got a good scrape from the non-skid as she was pulled back on board.)

in my builds i limit unfilled weave to interior sections (front and back storage areas) and possibly some parts of the cockpit like under the seat.

if you are very concerned about weight, there may be more productive options than not filling the weave.  given that it is a sectional, you are already giving up some weight for the benefit of being able to carry it in pieces.   a couple days ago i posted some weight-saving tips some of which may be useful   there are more dramatic approaches to saving weight like doing a special 'light' build (3mm okoume and lighter glass layup schedule)....but not sure i would apply these techniques to a 'sectional' built kayak where the loads are more concentrated than a one piece hull.

best of luck.



RE: Skip filling the weave?

Hi gents - 

thanks for all the great feedback. I hadn't really given thought to how it would be more difficult to keep a textured kayak clean; that gives me something else to consider. Looking at all the pros and cons now I'm thinking that maybe just by being as neat as possible with my fillets and all I'll be able to keep the weight in check (as well as do a neater/cleaner build).

RE: Skip filling the weave?

   Rather than starting a new thread, I have a related question.


I am filling the weave and I'm having trouble in a few spots. Particularly, the epoxy doesn't want to stay on the steepest parts of the bow and stern. I've brushed, I've rolled, I've brushed over that and it still isn't filling completely.

any suggestions?





RE: Skip filling the weave?

   Skipping the weave will save you a few ounces of weight on a 40-lb boat.  Big deal.   And it will be ugly. Especially after it gets dirty.  Half the reason to build your own boat it to have a beautiful distinctive one and one that everyone thinks is wooden, even though it's really a wood-cored composite boat. Even with lots of fill coats and plenty of shiny varnish, it will be the lightest boat in your kayaking group.  If you want to display a homely  fiberglass boat (which is what unfilled weave will look like), it would be easier just to buy one. 

RE: Skip filling the weave?

i am not sure i understand your question.  when you say 'steep', do you mean vertical?

i have two suggestions.

1)  you can rotate the boat and put it on its side so any surface is horizontal and more likely to hold the resin where you want it.

2) you can rough sand between coats to begin to knock down the highs and give a rougher surface for the next coat of epoxy to fill into.  this can be done without going into the weave and it will expedite getting to a filled weave.

it is possible you have filled the weave already it just have a surface now that is patterned like the underlying glass....awaiting a sanding to bring it all down flat.  filling the weave does not mean you have a smooth surface, it simply means there is enough resin on top of the glass that if you sand it are not cutting into the glass.


hope that helps




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