How much to fuss about puzzle joints

I actually committed epoxy yesterday!  Started piecing together the bottom, side and sheer panels on my Shearwater Sport.  Per the assembly manual, I laid a strip of fiberglass tape over the epoxied joint and wet the strip with epoxy.  Then covered with plastic and some gallon water jugs for weight.  Peeled off the plastic today.  The joints were kind of raggedy looking - the epoxy was pretty rough.  Smoothed it out pretty well on the untaped outside.  But since there is only the one coat of epoxy on the glass tape, wasn't sure how much to obsess about smoothness on the taped side, which will be the inside.  If I really sand it smooth, seems like I'd be getting into the tape.

I'll be putting more coats of epoxy on later in the build and probably another layer of fiberglass, since the manual calls for glassing the inside of the cockpit. 

Appreciate any advice.



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RE: How much to fuss about puzzle joints

   Congrats on getting started. You are correct, the taped inside of the joint will be glassed over again, so just sand the edges of the glass smooth. This way the next layer of glass will make a smooth transition from the wood with no glass to the the area with the glass tape.

Keep biulding!


RE: How much to fuss about puzzle joints

the most important element is that the non-taped side of the joint is flush/smooth.  this way when you prep that side for its covering, you will not sand through the veneer to get a smooth joint.   

on the inside, there will be a slight bump representing where the tape is.  as joe indicated, its good practice to sand the edge of the tape so the layer of glass that goes over it makes a smooth transition from the un-taped to the taped surface.   

sounds like you are moving along.....have fun


RE: How much to fuss about puzzle joints - question

   Just received my Chesapeake 17LT kit and was surprised that puzzle joints are now part of the hull panel assembly (as opposed to scarf).  

Meanwhile, adding fiberglass tape to the inside-joint sounds like a good idea, but is not part of the build description in my assembly manual.   Does anyone know if this missing step is by design for Chesapeake kayaks?  I have not started yet, and if suggested, will not hesitate to add tape to puzzle joints.


Larry Mundy


RE: How much to fuss about puzzle joints

If the joints are tight enough, the wood thick enough and the surface will be glassed anyway, the glass strip is not necessary. "Thick enough", BTW, doesn't necesarily mean thick wood, just wood that provides enough gluing area to handle the stress at that particular joint.

The hull curves on the Chessies are much less extreme than on the newer designs, so the joints have much less stress. It'd be reasonable not to tape them.

Here you can see where the bulkhead joint on my 18-ft. schooner is taped but the puzzle joint isn't. It's a much bigger and heavier boat than a Chessie, but the hull curve is even less so the tape wasn't nexessary at the puzzle joint. The boat's survived just fine for 3 years now.

Have fun,



RE: How much to fuss about puzzle joints

Thatz helpful.  Thanks


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