finish on pygmy kayak

I put three coats of system three varnish on the kayak and lightly sanded between coats,but when I got it out in the sun I could see brush marks.thought about sanding with 400 grit and using a buffing compound on it to get a real slick look and feel.whats the best way to go about this?

thanks Jeremy

I don’t worry to much
about getting a perfect finish. I usually can’t wait to go paddling. My kayaks aren’t perfect and thats okay for me but I sure do enjoy seeing others kayaks who have taken the time and work to make their kayaks look like furniture. Do what works for you.

Jeremy, I didn’t know you were
building a boat. That’s great! How are things over in 'Bama?

Check out…
I am new to boatbuilding, so I cannot help you.

Although you may get a specific response to your question on this site, I would HIGHLY recommend your posting the same question on where you will get many responses from experienced builders.

Which Pygmy did you build and how do like it’s handling?



Buff it…

– Last Updated: Jun-02-06 1:16 PM EST –

I‘m just finishing up my refinish job. Basically I did what you are thinking about. Sanded with 400 then POWER buffed with a medium compound and then again with a fine compound. If you do only a fine compound you would want to sand again with 800 then 1200 grit before buffing. I find that the two buffings are easier than all that sanding. If you are in the sun a lot you might think about a few more coats of vanish. I am in Florida with year-round sun so I do between 5 and 8 coats of varnish.
It comes out awesome.

Hey Jeremy, glad to hear you’re
building a Pygmy. You’ll have to bring it up when you’re finished so we can see it.

The finish on varnish is difficult to get smooth and glossy with no blemishes, at least for me its difficult. And yes, I’m particular, after all the work of building I want a pretty finish. You said you had brush marks. First of all, you do need a MINIMUM of 4 coats of varnish and as stated above 6+ coats is better. The best luck I’ve had was to sand the next to last coat and yes, you can use 400 or even 600 grit. Use wet/dry sandpaper used for autobody work get a bucket of water dipping the sandpaper and rinsing often. When its smooth as a baby’s butt, wash it down good removing all residue and wipe down after its dry with a clean cloth. Then wipe it down again. Then apply the last coat of varnish, roll it on with a foam roller then come right behind with a DRY 3" wide foam brush just VERY LIGHTLY and quickly slide the brush “tipping off” the varnish you just rolled on. Overlap the strokes like mowing grass. This breaks up bubbles and smooths the surface. You’ll only be able to do about 3 ft. at a time, then feather in another 3 ft. with the roller and lightly tip off with a foam brush and so on. On the Pygmy, I’d do one half of the deck down the center line to the shear line, then do the other side of the deck. That way if there is a visible seperation between the sections it will be on the seam of the panels and less noticeable. That’s how I’ve done mine and I got an acceptable glossy finish with only a few blemishes. I wondered about power buffing with compound when I built my Redfish but was reasonably satisfied with the finish using the above process. NOT totally satisfied, I’m beginning to wonder if there is a possibility of getting the PERFECT finish. I’d be VERY interested if you use compound and a buff as to the results. Hope this helps.

When you’re done and have acheived the perfect finish take the boat out, bang it against the car while loading then paddle across a bunch of rocks and bang the deck with your paddle a couple of times!

BTW are you building an Arctic Tern or Coho?

hey string
I am hoping to make it back up your way soon,but the way (reconstruction) as they call it goes at work its hard to make plans in advance. I was working 60 hours a week the first few months of the year so I took some of that extra money and bought me a coho. been wanting to do one for a while,it handles a whole lot better than expected.

took it to Florida a few weeks ago and she tracks great even in the wind.going to do a little bit to the backband to make it more comfotable and come to Jocassee to see if I can keep up with those QCC.


You guys are nuts.Slap a couple of

– Last Updated: Jun-02-06 2:48 PM EST –

coats on and go paddling. All the plastic boaters will be in awe.
Jeremy, nothing I've seen will blow the doors off a QCC 700, but you can keep up in a Coho.Holler when you can come back.

Nevermind, I see a post that
wasn’t there when I asked. So a Coho, very good. I look forward to seeing it. Pay no attention to String’s “advice”. You spend hours and hours to build something nice (not to mention about $1000) then, “slap on” some finish. That’s why String is so “pretty” in the morning. He just “slaps on” his face and goes. Besides, a bunch of drips and runs will create drag and slow you down. You won’t keep up with anybody. Take your time. Get a pretty finish, you’ll be glad you did. String just doesn’t want your boat to look better than his.

Just finisihing my first boat
An Arctic Tern, and hope to have it on the water in a week or so. The instructions say take it on the water first, then varnish it later. How much weight will the varnish add to the boat? And do I need to buy more than a quart?

I believe what Pygmy wants is that you give the epoxy time for a good cure before you sand and varnish. The final sanding will remove more weight than the varnish will add and a quart unthinned should give you three coats.

Heres a thought
If you want a professional look - - do what the pro’s do.

Every woodworker took the hint from the car folks, and went to spraying on the finish.

Now I don’t know any kayak builders, and haven’t seen one of the Pygmy or CLC boats. (hec I don’t see any other kayakers at all) but I was thinking this would be a better way than brushing it on.

If you have a buddy into Auto Body work, see what he thinks.

Did you check
A bunch of paddlers have been building Terns and Coho’s and posting at that site. It may have the best photo documentation of s&g building available. Lot’s of similar questions have been posted there. Some cool ideas. Lot’s of folks are working through similar issues and getting advice.

You sort of have to wade through some of the stuff as there are only so many photos of butt joints and keel seams that really matter in life but I would suggest that take a look and post your question there.

Use a sponge brush

BTW… buffing compounds

I found “Aqua Buff” at my local fiberglass shop. I use 1000 and then 2000 to finish varnish. It’s used on gel coat by most of the boat detailing pros around here.

The store was surprised when I told them I was using it on varnish…