Staining a wood kayak - seek suggestions

Hi all -

I have an S&G Petrel kit on the way…yea! Tore my hair out for a month deciding between this vs. the strip-built version, but the latter has to wait for a time when I have more time. It will happen!

Anyway – I want to stain this boat a uniform color that is as-of-yet undetermined. As research, I’ve watched Nick Shade’s staining video (in which he treats a strip Petrel once the boat’s assembled), read his useful article on the Guillemot site, and watched various YouTube vids on the subject (*unfortunately, this forum’s software doesn’t allow the inclusion of hyperlinks).

I need to account for the long lines of thickened-epoxy fill between stitched planks, which isn’t addressed by any content I’ve encountered to date. Namely, if I stain the ply but do not somehow color-match the epoxy used to fill the keel and chine seams, I’ll be left with – racing stripes?

My initital thought was dye the epoxy, but what about the thickener? Typically, I’ve used wood flour as thickener; my understanding is the MAS system used by CLC employs silica for this task. Regardless of the material, any addition effects color.

My question is whether this is counter-balanced this simply by adding more color additive to the epoxy?

Other suggestions or feednack from the sages on this fourm are greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance…

colored varnish
I’ve not done a S&G boat, though have quite a few strippers and SOF’s. You might think about colored varnish instead of stain, the color then is in the finish not in the stain. And the color of the epoxy shouldn’t make a difference in the overall color.

You can tint varnish with artists oil paints, works quite well.

Experiment on the color on test pieces first though, it is a bit time consuming to find the color and depth of the tint you want.

Bill H.

You can somewhat adjust the filler color by mixing in different fillers. I used West and micro balloons would darken and microspheres would lighten.

I wouldn’t worry too much

– Last Updated: Feb-11-16 2:33 PM EST –

about getting an exact color match, because you won't. But despite that, if you are careful the contrasting "stripes" won't look bad.

Realize that not only are the epoxy fillets between the panels going to show, so will your wire "stitch holes" unless you use a stitchless construction.

Silica gel powder is widely used as a thickener to make "epoxy glue" and it is very good for that purpose. But you don't really need to use it to bond your panels together or fillet the joints. You might want to thicken the epoxy for the fillets just a bit. If you do I would suggest using either micro-balloons or wood flour for that purpose. Micro-balloons impart a dark reddish brown color to epoxy. Silica powder will lighten the epoxy mix.

Neither of the stitch and glue kayak kits I built came with silica powder (1 CLC and 1 Pygmy). Both included wood flour. The Pygmy kit instructions only recommended thickening the epoxy with wood flour for the internal fillets and end pours.

Actually, non-pigmented, unthickened epoxy fillets cure pretty dark. If you watch this video featuring Pygmy kayaks and look closely, you will see how dark unpigmented epoxy fillets and stitch hole fills look. So your fillets may blend in with your stained wood panels very nicely:

I did not thicken the epoxy for the external fillets on my Pygmy Osprey and they look about as dark as those shown in the video.

If you plan to stain your panels very dark and are afraid that the fillets will show up much lighter, you could try pigmenting your epoxy by adding a very small amount of acrylic paint. If you do you will need to be very consistent in how much paint you add to your epoxy batches.

Actually, you have a much bigger worry than pigmenting the epoxy for your fillets. I am sure you realize that any staining you do must be done before any epoxy touches the wood. Epoxy-treated wood will not take up stain. After you bond your panels and fillet them, you will want to radius the fillets so that your external fiberglass cloth wraps over them smoothly. When you do this you will need to be extremely careful not to sand through the stained wood at the edge of the panel adjacent to the fillet. If you do, that is going to show up much worse than the epoxy fillets.

I would suggest allowing the epoxy of your fillets cure to a "green" state, then going along and trimming any high points off with a scalpel or Exacto-knife. If you need to sand the fillets to radius them, mask the edges of your stained panels with painter's tape. In fact, it is probably a good idea to mask them before you fillet the joints.

Nick Shade has a forum and you might seek additional advice there.

Stripes good
Why try to hide the nature of the boat.

If you really want to, you could try to inset matching edge banding.

I think doing so would be really difficult to do well.

Stripes are OK in my opinion
I have matched color fixing dings and holes in surfkayaks, surfboards and waveskis using model airplane paint mixed with the epoxy and the microballoons to tint, I doubt you want to do this on something as big as a kayak.

I use epoxy to laminate wood layers like bamboo and hickory to make English longbows for traditional archery; sometimes I use fiberglass backing with epoxy on flatbows that I make. I think the epoxy looks fine on the wood, or in layers, I don’t think I would worry too much about color matching. As stated elsewhere your biggest problem is not getting any epoxy where you want to stain the wood later.

I don’t think…
…staining a boat hides its nature. Among the most fascinating aspects of wooden boat building are the boundless creative possibilities that exist with both form and function.

For what it’s worth…
…I was handed a solution on the CLC builder’s forum, which is to stain the thickener. Add stain a little denatured alcohol to a cup of wood flour or silica, let is dry, et voila. Pigmented thickener.

Experiment with the color on a scrap piece before you put it on the boat. Staining the filler might work for you, might not, only one way to find out and you might not like it on the boat, scrap is cheap.

Bill H.

I put my name and contact info inside the hull with a Sharpie before final glassing, under seat, under deck, rear bulkhead. Never know it may help it to come home someday.

I’ve seen some beautiful wood burning designs done before glassing.

What color stain are you doing?

Cut a bevel on the edge of the planks
with a sharp block plane before you wire them together and they will look like they grew there and the seams will not show. You can Heat the wires with a torch or a soldering iron and pull them out with needle nose pliers after you put the fillets in if you want a really neat look.

If the wood is pretty, why stain at all.
Wood boats are eye catching and get a lot of complements.

But looking at old pics of my 14yo little Tern the wood has lightened and the grain has faded. Though it still looks good.

Then again Paul may have scared the h*ll out of it by taking it surfing for a few years.