Smoothing out skid plates

I bought a used canoe during the winter with kevlar felt skid plates already installed. They are quite rough. I thought of trying to smooth them either by merely sanding them or by troweling on a thickened epoxy and then sanding that. Any advice?



You could smooth them a bit and sand
the borders to chamfer them. If the smoothing doesn’t do enough to please you, epoxy could be pasted over. I might choose graphite powder as a thickening agent, though colloidal silica could work also.

either or both
A Dremel tool with a sanding drum or similar attachment works well to bevel the grunge plate edges if you have one. Superficial scratches on the plates might be smoothed out using sandpaper. Deeper gouges can be filled with thickened epoxy, then the plate can be sanded smooth.

If you like you could then mask off the canoe and spray paint the grunge plates with something like Krylon Fusion. The paint will, of course, be susceptible to scratching off. Alternatively, you could cover the whole plate with a layer of epoxy mixed with graphite powder, which will make it black and will be a bit more resistant to scratching off.

Angle Grinder
I’ve had success with an angle grinder. Eye protection is always a good idea. A belt sander would likely do the trick too. It sort of depends on how steady your hand, and how much you value the canoe. I used the angle grinder on an old beater and it worked really well, but I might not try it on something really nice.

I just did my swift ,but not the plate it’s self but the side of the plate. It was making a lot of could here water rolling off the rough edge.I used a steady hand and a DeWalt grinder,and then a file . Now it runs quiet .

If you sand it down you will be into the felt, and have to recoat.

Canoeing objective
The skid plates are not going to have much impact on the performance of the canoe. Maybe a smart poster could give the science on this, but seems like I remember reading that a slightly roughened surface has less drag than a perfectly smooth surface. So, I’m going to suggest you consider your objective for this canoe. Do you want to work on it or paddle it?

Hours in the shop, or hours on the water? I’d suggest you ignore the skid plates and go paddle. You could compromise and make it your objective to wear the skid plates smooth.

Have fun whatever you do. If you start sanding and grinding, be safe and resperate (is that a word? What I’m trying to say is try not to inhale too much epoxy and skid plate).


for all the advice. I had not thought about chamfering the edges, but I’m definitely going to that (carefully) as the boat is noisy. After that I’ll see what I think before going any further. I’ll get after this tomorrow as it will be raining. That way I’ll not be missing a day of paddling while messing around with the boat.


Mostly done
I did some work on the rough skid plates. I chamfered the edges and applied some thickened epoxy to the rest of them. I was surprised at how much sanding I had to do to smooth them out, but it worked. They are no longer rough to the touch. The material involved was about 1/3 cup of thickened epoxy. The added weight, after sanding, is negligible.

The final touch was a coat of green paint which failed to dry overnight due to cold temps in the garage. I’ll move it out in the sun today and hope to get a second coat of paint on it and maybe sea trials by tomorrow.

More to come.


Very sharp hand chisel…

– Last Updated: May-10-11 9:10 AM EST –

(de woodwoykin' kind) woyks well - no dust, no muss. Take it slow an' careful-like an' watch dat it dun't slip an' cut off some necessary appendage. "Sharp" be de key fer safety an' effectiveness.


Don’t know about chisels for smoothing
but a bullnose plane might be useful for getting the skid plate off altogether.

Ah’ but a sharp chisel does woyk…
ta flair an’ smooth skid plates. Ah’ knows ‘cuz ah’ been doin’ it fer many years.


Sea trails
have been completed. The boat is quieter with the smoother skid plates. Common sense tells me that there is probably a little less drag also, but I can’t claim to have noticed that.

I would do this job again, if for no other reason than it drove me nuts to look at those rough, raw kevlar felt skid plates. But, I would not use the thickened epoxy that I did. It did not trowel on smoothly and was a bear to sand smooth. I used it only because I had it on hand. Next time I’d buy some two-part putty, maybe MarineTex or (gasp) Bondo.

Thanks for the advice.


Almost forgot,
I’m not supposed to use sharp tools. : )


Elmo, I use a sharp 1/2" chisel to
neatly skim the vinyl off the ABS. Sharp chisels are fine, but there’s a reason chisels are put into housings called planes.

I like nothing better than a low angle block plane.