Duckling: Best "fix" for missing chunk at edge of panel?

I'm just getting started on a Wood Duckling 8.  I was eager to do some test runs with epoxy and applied epoxy/glass to a pair of hull bottom panels before removing the nubs along the edges of each of the panels.

I had good luck removing nubs with a bonsai saw but somehow managed to mangle one of the two panels in the puzzle joint assembly I'd already done (the last nub, no less!).  Sadly, this missing chuck is on the side opposite the fiberglass and would therefore be on the outside of the hull and would probably make for a highly visible blemish with a bright finish (my goal).  The missing chunk is roughly where the front bottom panel meets the middle bottom panel (where the bottom/top panels meet).

Given that I want a bright finish, it seems like the best path forward is probably to redo the puzzle joint to move the blemish to the inside of the panel (after beveling the inside of that panel as recommended in the manual, the chunk would barely be visible, I think).  This would involve using a heat gun (or blow dryer) to remove the fiberglass/epoxy, sanding (or using cabinet scraper) to remove excess epoxy, and then flipping the panel over and fiberglassing the other side.

Any thoughts on this approach?


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RE: Duckling: Best "fix" for missing chunk at edge of panel?


RE: Duckling: Best "fix" for missing chunk at edge of panel?

Apologies for the sloppy 3-part post.  I'm trying to get the photo hosting sorted out (should have used the post preview).


RE: Duckling: Best "fix" for missing chunk at edge of panel?

Hi Herbie, 

very clever and it certainly would work.   i have done something similar - undoing puzzle joints and glass reinforcement from a partially built kit i bought where the panels were just terribly misaligned (not flat) and they put the bevel on the wrong edge it all had to be disassembled and reversed.  it was very easy using a heat gun (that had a controllable thermostat) and i had it apart and cleaned up in 30 minutes or less.

the important thing, in my book, is to be careful bringing the heat up to ensure it is hot but that you do not burn the wood.  the most important rule is to keep the heat source moving. 

also be careful with your cabinet scraper to not accidently chip the wood again.  fwiw, i used a 3/4 inch sharp chisel at a very flat angle for removing the softened epoxy. i liked it better than a scraper becuase it immediately lifted the softened epoxy away from the wood vs potentially pushing it back down/spreading it.  i did not even sand after this step as the chisel did such a clean job of lifting the epoxy and leaving me with clean wood.


RE: Duckling: Best "fix" for missing chunk at edge of panel?

I wouldn't bother taking the joint apart and re-assembling it. It's a lot easier to just patch it and paint the bottom. I had something similar on my WD12.

The crack is actually on the outside of the side panel. The veneer cracked while I was closing the stern. It's actually in a much worse position visually than yours.


Running the epoxy/graphite bottom coating 1/4" up onto the side panels covered the repaired crack and provided abrasion protection for the seam. I used the stitch holes as a guide for the fine line tape. The coating covered them, too.

The dark black bottom works really well visually with the bright varnished wood. Epoxy/graphite provides scratch protection and in the instances where the scratch is just too bad, it can be easily touched up or repaired.




RE: Duckling: Best "fix" for missing chunk at edge of panel?


Thanks for the encouragement on the adventurous option (redoing the joint and moving the fiberglass to the other side).  I hadn't considered using a chisel, but it sounds likely to be cleaner and less risky than using a cabinet scraper.  Having destroyed a veneer-top dining table years ago by sanding unevenly / too aggressively, I am paranoid about sanding/scraping through the outer layer of the plywood.


Believe it or not, I had already admired your WD's hybrid finish (as one of the few examples of WDs with paint only on the lower ~1/3) while pontificating about my predicament but didn't know that you were inspired by a similar blemish.  I had strongly considered some combination of cream/white/pink for the duckling as it's for my 5yo daughter.  I will weigh the practical benefits of a graphite coat on the bottom panel (or maybe just a bit higher as in your case) against the aesthetic appeal of a ~white set of lower panels (and against the joint-redo option).


It's good to hear that both options are viable paths forward.  The risk-averse side of me (which is a big side of me ;-) ) believes that redoing/flipping the joint might be more likely to create a bigger problem (for example, mangling the surface of the plywood).  The perfectionist side of me, on the other hand, wants to minimize flaws so I can finish it how I please.  The key, I think, is that I haven't even decided what kind of finish I would prefer (if the kayak were flawless)!

I was a bit worried that a small hole in the hull (to be filled by wood dust and epoxy, I assume) might be likely to result in a catastrophic weakness or a leak at some point, but that seems unlikely.

RE: Duckling: Best "fix" for missing chunk at edge of panel?

I opted to try the more adventurous route (redo the epoxy/fiberglass) but in a matter of seconds managed to create a nice little ribbon of plywood (on the fiberglassed side, thankfully) with my new chisel.  This is a pretty clear sign that my extreme lack of woodworking skills should confine me to the easiest construction path available.  I will leave the gouge on the outside and will plan to paint the bottom (as Laszlo suggested) in the interest of minimizing my opportunities to completely destroy the boat!

RE: Duckling: Best "fix" for missing chunk at edge of panel?

Upon further reflection, I think my mistake was probably trying to lift the epoxy off with the chisel before it had fully softened.  Regardless, full steam ahead on the patch and paint option.  :-)

RE: Duckling: Best "fix" for missing chunk at edge of panel?

   You know, looking at that divot, if you have some scrap okume, like the fillet tool kits that they put in the bonus box for some of their specials (what? you didn't buy it during the bonus box special!!)  or other filler bits (I don't know if there are any on the Duckling) like are in the bulkheads, or for that matter, the cut off nibs if they are still lying on the floor, then a little careful work with a sharp knife should yield a little tapered plug (I forget the wood working term now...) about the same shape as the divot. It will have the same okume surface and the grain isn't strong on most of the veneers anyway.  Clean the divot up a bit w/ knife, then glue the plug in like a veneer, using filled epoxy to take up any gap on the inside.  Sand and finish as normal and somebody would have to get really close to find it, even though you know it's still there.

RE: Duckling: Best "fix" for missing chunk at edge of panel?

"Dutchman" is, I believe, what a boatwright would call a piece shaped to fill in a divot like that.  Not that I've ever done that, mind you--more of a boatwrong than a boatwright, myself.  Too much reading, not enough time in woodshop in my youth, I guess.  <;-)

Anyway, great suggestion there, Mummichog.


RE: Duckling: Best "fix" for missing chunk at edge of panel?

Thanks for the suggestion, Mummichog (and for weighing in, Gramps).  I'm a novice woodworker, but a plug/"dutchman"(?) seems like something I could attempt multiple times and possibly even get right!  I do happen to have not one but TWO of the filleting kits (which I purchased at full price, sadly), so I've got some scrap Okoume I could try to use for this purpose.

Presumably the other standard approach would be to fill the gash on the edge with wood flour + epoxy, but I understand that this would look a bit ugly given that it would be significantly darker in that spot (while the plug/dutchman would be ~color-matched).

RE: Duckling: Best "fix" for missing chunk at edge of panel?

Hi Herbie, 

i am sorry that the approach i suggested didn't work out.  you are correct, the epoxy needs to be soft and a consistency not much thicker than cheese.  the chisel needs to be relatively oblique and while sharp, perhaps not honed to a razors edge.

while my first idea clearly didn't work..and sorry for that. i would offer the following:

even a boat finished bright can have imperfections and still look great. 

while i was trying to give you a recipe of how to make the defect totally disappear (e.g., reverse the pieces) your defect, in my view, is not that serious. as the builder, you tend to exagerate how bad it is relative to what others will see because you know where to look and are focused on it.   consider the following, your defect will not be noticed when on the water becuase it will be below the surface.  most people on land will be looking down on the boat and will not see the lower chine, they will see the deck.  if you are standing on the right side of the boat, your defect is not visible at all. 

you can continue on with a bright finish and see how you like it becuase you can paint over varnish. so you can move forward with a bright finish and if you are disatisfied you can swap to a painted hull or like laszlo suggested, do a bottom color.    there are a lot of example of exquisitely beautiful ducklings with painted hulls.

the picture below, for example, is a boat that i built last year that started with the idea of a full bright finish.  but we were dealing with some old parts with stains that when we finished it up, just didn't think hit the mark.  so we put a tapeline down and painted the hull.   it looks great.

you will find lots of example of great looking wood ducks with painted hulls of all colors.

my last thought is simply this... part of the process of being a builder is managing through imperfection as you work your way through the building process.  it builds character and like children you raise, they have their little nicks and and idosyncracies that make them who they are.  we can then have the pleasure of pointing out these badges of honor to friends who don't see them (e.g., did i ever show you my scar...) or regaling others with the stories of the crazy things we overcame while birthing the boat that they now admire.

anyway, apologies again for the advice that went wrong.  i think you will overcome this problem and are going to have a beautiful boat.


RE: Duckling: Best "fix" for missing chunk at edge of panel?


Thanks for being generous enough to post such a detailed and thoughtful reply.  And don't sweat it - I think your suggestion to remove the epoxy with a chisel was great.  It's just that I'm too unskilled to execute without stressing myself out and risking a catastophic bull-in-a-china-shop moment (as you implied, my brand new chisel was probably too sharp too).

I agree that a bright finish is still possible given that the blemish is pretty small.  I have come to realize that no non-virtuoso builder's kayak is going to be flawless (though it may *look* flawless to a casual observer).  As you noted, that's what makes each build (and each kayak) unique.

I certainly don't consider painted kayaks to be 2nd-class citizens.  Case in point: your green-bottomed kayak (night heron?) looks really classy!

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