New to Building - Tips and Q's for a beginner

Before you laud me for asking; and claim these have been answered already...

Yes, i know they all probably already have, but a did do a search, and after several pages of scrolling, didn't find what i was looking for in a reasonable timeframe.
So, please excuse my re-ask, of likely very old questions.

1) Epoxy application Temps
as it's winter, i'm super stoked to get started, and already have.
temps in my (unheated) garage average about 42-48F.
The epoxy seems very viscous at this temp when working.
YES - i store the jugs indoors about 68F overnight and when not working on it.
However, the temp drops over the few hours i'm out there, and it's thick to work with and doesn't seem to spready easy.
That MUSTARD consistency is either... honey slow-flow, or peanutbutter thick.
Any tips, other than to WAIT until temp warms up?
(NOTE: no, a heater won't solve the issue, the garage / work-space is 1100sq-ft with vaulted 20-ft ceilings (RV and other toys).

2) faying surface bonding (bulkheads, scarfs, puzzle-joints)
After mixing, i'm never sure i have either enough epoxy glue on, or i've done way too much, and the squeeze-out is incredible; resulting in hours of "clean-up" during clamping and/or after cure.
How much is the right amount (thickness wise, etc)?
And - how close should i get to the mating surface edges to keep squeeze-out to a minimum?


--Nate the new Dory builder
in chilly/wet Seattle.

18 replies:

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RE: New to Building - Tips and Q's for a beginner

Well howdy Nate

Simply put, your garage is too cold. Sorry. That doesn’t mean you are out of luck, here’s a few things to try.

Put your epoxy in a box with a low watt incandescent light bulb. The bulb will warm the epoxy without heating it too much.

You say your garage is too big to heat? Tarp off a section around the Dory, or drape the dory itself with a tarp. Place a small heater or once again some lights in the tarped off area. Just be VERY sure you keep fire safety in mind. You really need to bring the temp up around that puppy. I was able with 2 electric heaters to keep my garage in the vary low 60’s while building. My wife didn’t like the power bill, but I had no issues with my epoxy setting.

How much glue do you use in a joint, just enough. Yes, I know that is a horrible answer. I just had to experiment and learn the best amounts. As my build progresed my skills with mixing improved. What are you using to clean the squeeze out with? Cabinet scrapers work well. I found a good quality paint scraper, with a nice sharp edge, followed with a cabinet scrapper was the fastest way to get the results I wanted. Just be careful not to cut too deep with the paint scrapper.

I envy you living in Seattle, lots of water to float your Dory when you are done. What sail did you choose? The Dory is a fantastic boat, you are going to love it!!


RE: New to Building - Tips and Q's for a beginner


What Mike said +

Use a serrated adhesive spreader to lay down your glue with minimal squeeze out. I prefer a plastic one over metal, much easier to clean. If only metal is available, get a plastic putty knife and cut serrations into it. When you're going for minimal squeeze out, it's a good idea to paint both sides of the joint with unthickened epoxy to prevent starvation. Let it soak in for a few minutes before applying the glue.

Learn patience - you'll need it for finish sanding. Reading lots of search results is a good way to do this :-)

Expect little sympathy from those of us stuck with sharing a 360 square foot garage with the spouse's car for our workspace :-)

Expect even less from those of us who just went through an extended period of highs in the low teens :-)

Seriously, good luck with the build,




RE: New to Building - Tips and Q's for a beginner

And clean up the squeeze out before it hardens.  

RE: New to Building - Tips and Q's for a beginner


   Yah, you need to find a way to make a localized warmer zone to epoxy well.  Especially when laminating cloth, because it will spread so much easier without pulling on the cloth.  And it won't take forever to cure.  

I used quite a bit of builder's sheet plastic to keep pieces from sticking to each other or the floor or bench.  I left a tarp down on my floor for the whole thing, so I could roll it up and all the epoxy and paint drips just went away.  I'm not the neatest person.

Also, buy a contractor's pack of blue masking tape.  When you are doing joints, etc. tape can help keep drips, sags and misses off the surrounding areas.  I said I was messy.  I also wound up with little tags of tape all over as I was finishing to remind me where I needed to fill a hole, sand a sag, missed a spot, etc.  

Get a HEPA filter for your vacuum, or get a new smallish ShopVac with the optional HEPA.  I used it when power sanding as a dust collector and also hand sanding, to keep the dust in the garage to a minimum.  

Get hand sanding blocks and big packs of sandpaper.  Hand sanding means I didn't oversand as much, it is quieter, and I could get the little corners and laps better.  I cut paper to size as needed. Vacuum the dust out of the paper every few strokes. Change the paper more often than you want.  It's not worth fighting with a clogged paper.

A Dremel tool on low speed with one of the steel cutting burrs is a less dusty way of cutting down and cleaning up epoxy ridges and bumps that have cured than sanding.  Best to get them cleaned off when still soft, but it won't always happen.

RE: New to Building - Tips and Q's for a beginner

Another tip for epoxy.

You can buy the fast hardener and with the temps you might get a decent cure time.

Also with respect to hardeners each one will give you a different CPS value when mixed.  Typically slow hardeners will create a thinner mix.  Fast will be thicker.

Another trick if you need epoxy to flow is to heat part A under a lamp prior to mixing.  Will be super thin and wet out nicely..but work fast.

RE: New to Building - Tips and Q's for a beginner

Thanks for all the tips.  Everyone here is so nice, and timely, that i'm just getting back to this (several days later).

I've been having a blast building so-far (even in the cooler temps), and have several joints glued up; so... hopefully they'll cure (eventually) even under those conditions....  Can't undo what i've already done...

To address a few of these...
1) Thanks for the masking tape idea. That should keep the stitch holes open.
2) I am currently using blue-tarp and canvas drop-cloths to "block-off" the shop portion from the remainder with the loft.  It's helped, but temps only skyrocket to a mere 53deg after 4 hours of two ceramic heaters running full-blast.  I'm afraid to cover/tent the work with a heater (fire hazard indeed).
i've purchased a double-head propane heater (30k-BTU) to warm up the space.
Epoxy activities have been halted until that arrives.
3) Spreading thickened epoxy has been a love/learn effort, and i'm "better" at it, with less squeeze-out.  I'll try the pre-coat nex time with unthickened for an initial "wetting" soak.
4)  Clean-up has been with a wood chisel on edges and inner corners, and with scrapers/sanders on puzzle-joints.
5) As for the sail option... i've selected only the ROWING version for now.  The intent is for crabbing/fishing in the Puget-Sound bay region, and i'm currently wanting to Car-Top it when we go camping.  Plus, i don't "really" know how to sail, YET. 
Yes, the Seattle area has lots of inlets and opportunities, if you don't mind forever frigid cold waters during beaching launch/retreival.
5) the fresh sand paper and desposable shop-vac are all wonderful ideas.  I was planning on using my sickly shop-vac with about 6" of water in the bottom, and making it a water-vac (inlet tube into the H20) similar to my grandma's Rainbow vacumn.  Possibly going to GANG (series) that into a secondary one with HEPA filter.

Thanks everyone.

RE: New to Building - Tips and Q's for a beginner

Oh, and on the garage size sympathy...  none expected.
The house came with it; and was the doings of the previous (motorhead) owner.
While it was a super bonus for me, (that has of course crept into both my mortgage and utility bills); the wife really wanted the living space and location.

If anyone is in the region and wants to stop by for a beer/cigar/whiskey/etc.
I'm happy to host.   

RE: New to Building - Tips and Q's for a beginner

You can use google to search a specific web site using the "site:" keyword. In the google search box enter the following to search this forum;


followed by your search terms. For example, try this;

site: epoxy temperature


RE: New to Building - Tips and Q's for a beginner

  Seriously consider researching use of a propane heater and what possible petroleum products might float out of the air to land on your boat and building materials.  An oily residue is a real impediment to epoxy joints and finishes. 

RE: New to Building - Tips and Q's for a beginner

Hey Nate (also my son's name),

Whereabouts are you at in Seattle?  I used to live on Green Lake and sail my Eastport Pram there every weekend and some weekday evenings.  Just went to the Seattle Boat Show for a couple of job interviews.  Looks like I'll be teaching for San Juan Sailing this Spring.  Good luck with the rest of your build.  I'm starting our Passagemaker in a few days.

Take care,



RE: New to Building - Tips and Q's for a beginner

   Plus one million for not using propane for heat.  It can and eventually will contaminate your layup.  Clean heat is the only way to go 

RE: New to Building - Tips and Q's for a beginner

Nate said:

4)  Clean-up has been with a wood chisel on edges and inner corners, and with scrapers/sanders on puzzle-joints.

Cleaning up squeeze out from puzzle joints is really hard, especially if they aren't perfectly flat and half of them have a puddle.  I eventually gave up, sanded it flat, and varnished over it.  In the year since i've had the boat no one has ever looked at it and asked me who made the mistake.

I also highly recommend using a medium-ish block plane, really sharp, to get rid of bumps / drips / squeeze out.  The Stanley No. 60 1/2 is perfect, or if you can't find one, these are pricey but otherwise the same.  

Also, separate tip, if you have aforementioned sharp block plane, i've found they work really well (much better than sanding) to cut the bevels on the daggerboard / rudder.  

RE: New to Building - Tips and Q's for a beginner

Yep, Lie-Neilson planes are works of art... I asked my wife for one Christmas before last, waiting to start my first build before putting an edge on its iron.

Don’t need such artful creations though if you have a low-angle block plane with a decent sole. Just need the patience to learn how then keep the plane iron razor sharp AND adjused to work best for the task at hand. Great tool for a multitude of purposes, great skill knowing how to sharpen edged tools.  

RE: New to Building - Tips and Q's for a beginner

i don't have Stanley plane, and decided to try my luck with a Harbor Freight low-angle small hand-plane. 
i sharpen knives regularly, so keeping the iron sharp shouldn't be too much trouble.
anyone have comments about the Harbor plane...?
(i'm not to that point yet, just getting started on puzzle joint clean-up)

RE: New to Building - Tips and Q's for a beginner

  Pull the iron out and flatten the back side on a known flat surface like a table saw bed. 120 grit will flatten it quickly.  Then 400 and on to 1000.

Proceed to sharpen the cutting edge using the same method.

Reassemble with the blade retracted.  Then follow the same procedure on the face of the planet.  120, 220, 300 until it's perfectly for. No valley's near the mouth or tail.

Lastly take a file to all edges of the face to knock down any sharp edge you created by sanding.

At this point it will work as well as anything on the market (aside from ones that are adjustable).

RE: New to Building - Tips and Q's for a beginner

I have found a few good quality hand planes at antique stores. Both needed a good sharpening and a bit of work cleaning rust. Both are Stanly planes. And both were only in the $20.00 range. When I started my Dory build I found a brand-new Stanly in its original box in my father’s shop. I brought it home and gave it a good sharpening as well. The older planes from the antique shop fit my hand better and seem to hold an edge better than the newer plane. I also found in my father’s shop an old wood body plane that was my great grandfathers. Unfortunately, it is not in good enough shape to use, but it makes a great keep sake.    

RE: New to Building - Tips and Q's for a beginner


Planes lacking in ‘adjustments’ (i.e., screws) are meant to be adjusted with careful, purposeful ‘knocks’ from some kind of mallet.

I use a handy piece of oak I’ve had for maybe 20 years or more.

You get the wedge properly tight with a few taps, then set the iron with a few more: strike the iron’s rear to increase depth of cut, the plane’s sole back end to decrease.

A good whack on the iron’s but will loosen everything up for a quick dressing of that keen edge.

Need a bias between deeper cut on the left than the right? Tap the iron - lightly - on it’s right side rear edge. Opposite to cut deeper on right.

Get a feel for this & you’ll lose any favor for ‘adjustable’ planes and the lost motion those screws inevitably present.

RE: New to Building - Tips and Q's for a beginner

   A lot of great tips here.

One of the best tips I got was to wear multiple rubber gloves.  If one gets messy you just pull it off and keep working.  This keeps the boat and tools cleaner, (also, glasses, hair and tool boxes as you rummage for something you forgot) especially when cutting cloth or doing fillets.  On a long involved session I could have as many as 4 gloves to start.  Eventually I would put more on my dominant hand as that got dirty quicker.

That leads to: think each session through, layout and precut everything you'll need.  I also went through a pack of single edged razor blades; they are great for scraping drips and flattening bubbles during the finish process .

Good luck and enjoy the build



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