First Time Builder - Gaps between Panels?

Hi -- I'm a first time builder working my way thru a Shearwater Sport.

I think at times some of the difficulty for first time builders (at least for me) is not knowing how fussy to be.

I have the hull stitched together and all is well with that - no gaps between any panels. But on the deck, it seems I may not have beveled quite enough and there is a "small" -- I mean "very small" gap in some places -- where the back of the deck is butting the back of the sheer panel.  This gap is very small in that you can catch your fingernail on it it, but cannot see light through it.  I do have a couple small spots around the cockpit hole where you can actually see a tiny bit of light but I would estimate the gap in those spots to be less than 1/16th.  In the aforementioned spots along the deck/ shear panel line the "gap" would be 1/32 or less.

My question is two fold -- how tight should the panels be?  And if they need to be tighter than I descibe -- any tricks to fix this without taking all the stitches out and going over the bevels over with a block plane?

Thanks again -- without this forum I'd be shooting in the dark.



2 replies:

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RE: First Time Builder - Gaps between Panels?

Hi Dave and welcome to kayak building!  The SWS was my first kayak too several years back.  We have many wonderful miles behind us, and I hope you'll enjoy yours just as much.

I can still remember asking those questions too.  There were many times I wished I had someone nearby who could just swing by my garage and take a look at something I was unsure about before making something worse.  Many of those times I just had to go with my gut, and in the end it turned out amazing.  Don't fret too much about the gaps.  At a 1/16" I'd say you're fine.  All those seams are going to be filled wtih thickend epoxy and covered with 6oz fiberglass on top, so joint integrity will definitely not be an issue.  Obviously the tighter the better, but don't make yourself trying to get it airtight.  

Should you wind up with a spot this just isn't acceptable, the trick is all in the loosening and tightening the stitches.  Sometimes you just have to play with the sequence and the tension.  I recall my worst spot was at the shear panel and foredeck near the cockpit.  I pull a few hairs there.  To be honest I never did get it perfect, but I'm the only one that knows.

Have fun!


RE: First Time Builder - Gaps between Panels?

   I've built one boat and I know of several imperfections. But when folks look at the boat, they are awed. They NEVER see the things I wish were different.

I'd move on and forget about it. 
one thing I had trouble with was wasting the resin. Think about how to make small batches. I wasted a bit of money on resin that ended  up in the trash from time to time. It is a ball to take my boat to the lake. I get mobbed by folks. You will be a rock star!



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