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FIBERGLASS
CONSTRUCTION
AND FABRICATION
Step By Step

Simple Straight Forward Techniques Used


In Fabricating Parts With Fiberglass For
Full Size Marine, Automotive Or Hobby
Applications. Boat Hull Example Manual.
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Table of Contents:
LESSON 1: BEGINNING TH E PRO JECT: FRAME
CONSTRUCTIO N ............................................................... 4
A S IM P L E D E S IG N F O R S T A R T E R S ........................................................... 4
Fi gu re 1 : S crol li n g S aw ................................................................ 4
T R A N S O M , K E E L & C H IN E S ................................................................... 5
Fi gu re 3 : A li gn in g Part s ............................................................... 5

LESSON 2: COMPLETING THE BASIC HULL STRUCTURE:


FILLING WITH FOAM ....................................................... 6
F L O R A L F O A M I S E A S Y T O S H A P E ............................................................ 6
Fi gu re 5 : Fi ll i n g W it h Foam ...........................................................
Fi gu re 6 : H ul l S i des Tak in g Sh ape ..................................................
Fi gu re 7 : S i des Of Th e Hu l l Fi ll ed Wi th Foam ....................................
S H A P IN G T H E H U L L S ID E S ...................................................................

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7
8
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Fi gu re 8 : S h api n g Th e Hu ll Si des .................................................. 9


Fi gu re 9 : Th e H ul l Tak es Sh ape ..................................................... 9
N O W F O R T H E B O T T O M O F T H E B O A T ......................................................1 0
Fi gu re 10 : Fin i sh in g Th e Foam Fi l li n g ............................................1 0
A S IM P L E P R O C E S S ..........................................................................1 0

LESSON 3: PREPARING THE HULL FOR FIBERGLASS


APPLICATION ................................................................ 11
Fi gu re
Fi gu re
Fi gu re
Fi gu re

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12 :
13 :
14 :

Tapi n g Th e H ul l ..........................................................1 1
More Tape .................................................................1 2
Tape Det ail ................................................................1 2
Th e Next St ep PV A A ppl i cati on ....................................1 3

LESSON 4: FIBERGLASS APPLICATION ............................. 14


Fi gu re 15 : Ready t o Fi bergl ass .....................................................1 4
Fi gu re 16 : A pplyi n g Th e Fi rst Layer Of Mat .....................................1 5
Fi gu re 17 : Fi rst Layer Don e Ti me To Cu re ....................................1 5
A L L O W T H E F IB E R G L A S S T O C U R E B E F O R E M O V IN G O N ..................................1 6
Fi gu re 18 : Th e Fin al Layers Of Mat ...............................................1 6
K E E P IN G T H E H U L L E D G E S S Q U A R E ........................................................1 6
Fi gu re 19 : Mat I s Cu t To Fi t .........................................................1 7
Fi gu re 20 : Rol l in g On Th e Mat ......................................................1 7
Fi gu re 21 : S econ d Layer Don e & Cu ri n g..........................................1 8
W O R K IN G O U T T H E H IG H S A N D L O W S ......................................................1 8
Fi gu re 22 : El ect ri c S an der W ork s Fast ............................................1 9

LESSON 5: BUILDING THE DECK ...................................... 20


Fi gu re 23 : Trimmin g Th e Deck ......................................................2 0

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Fi gu re 24 : Removin g Th e Deck A n d Foam .......................................2 1


Fi gu re 25 : Removin g Th e Foam .....................................................2 1
Fi gu re 26 : S crape I t Cl ean ..........................................................2 2
A N O T H E R S I M P L E P L A N ......................................................................2 2
Fi gu re 27 : Framin g In Th e Deck ....................................................2 3
Fi gu re 28 : Foam I s A dh ered To Th e Deck ........................................2 4
Fi gu re 29 : Sh api n g W it h S an din g Bl ock s .........................................2 4
G L A S S IN G T H E D E C K ........................................................................2 5
Fi gu re
Fi gu re
Fi gu re
Fi gu re
Fi gu re

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31 :
32 :
33 :
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Gl assin g Th e Deck .......................................................2 5


A pply i n g Mi crobal l oon s An d Resi n ...................................2 6
S pread Th e Mi x W it h A Fl at Edge Tool .............................2 7
S an di n g To A S moot h Fi ni sh ..........................................2 7
Ready For Pai n t ..........................................................2 8

MATERIALS LIST ........................................................... 29


RESOURCE LINKS: ......................................................... 30

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LESSON

Lesson 1: Beginning the Project:


Frame Construction
Every project has to be gi n wi th a fi nal product in mi nd. I have
buil t boats from pi ctures, drawi ngs and model s. Exi sti ng model s
are ni ce to use si nce they gi ve a 3D reference whi ch i s i nvaluabl e
when buil di ng a scal e model .

A Simple Design For Starters


For thi s boat, I have a very si mpl e desi gn i n mi nd. It i s goi ng to
be a small motor boat scal ed to fi t 12 fi gures. To begi n thi s
project, I have to draw out the deck outline on a pi ece of 1/8
mahogany door ski n. For the purpose of thi s buil d, the deck i s
si mpl y a reference that I will use to gui de my constructi on.

Figure 1: Scrolling Saw

Figure 2: Deck Material

I use a scr olling jig s aw t o cut out the outline of the deck and
all of my hull pieces. The deck outline was first drawn onto a
piece of poster board and then cut out with a pair of scissors. I
then trace the same half of the poster board cut-out onto either
side of a center line drawn on the mahogany. This method
insures symmetry.

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I like to use mahogany door ski n as buil di ng materi al because i t
i s durabl e yet easy to shape. Once the deck outli ne i s cut, I will
attach my cut out to a pi ece of ri dged 1 MDF board.

Transom, Keel & Chines


Wi th the deck cut out and secured to the MDF, I need to cut
pi eces that will gui de the fi nal shape of thi s hull . Important
pi eces are the transom, the mai n keel and the chines. These
pi eces need to be more ri gi d so they will be cut from inch
pl ywood. Just like the deck outli ne, these pi eces are all cut from
one pattern i n order to i nsure symmetry of the final product.

Figure 3: Aligning Parts

Figure 4: Epoxy Frame

I cut and then smooth the edges of these pieces with a belt
sander and then attach them to the underside of the deck with a
high quality hobby epoxy. I like to begin by gluing the transom
to the underside of the deck. As you can see in the picture
above, I use a piece of aluminum angle as an alignment jig.
This keeps everything square and tight while the epoxy is curing.
Note that in addition to tacking the deck to the MDF with staples,
I also use weights to hold the deck down to prevent warping or
movement.
Once the transom i s soli dly i n pl ace, the center keel and chines
can be cemented i nto pl ace.
Si nce I am buil ding thi s hull from scratch and thi s i s not i ntended
to be a hi gh speed or hi gh perform ance hull , I ali gn these pi eces
usi ng a combi nati on of a measuri ng tape, the eyeball method and
a 90 degree angl e rul er.
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LESSON

Lesson 2:
Completing the Basic
Hull Structure: Filling with Foam

Once the epoxy cures and the frame pi eces are securely i n pl ace,
I begi n to fill the framework wi th foam and begi n the shapi ng
process.

Floral Foam Is Easy To Shape


I use dry fl oral foam for thi s step because i t i s cheap, readil y
avail abl e, doesnt react poorl y to resi n and it shapes very easil y.
The foam bl ocks are attached to the deck of the boat with bondo.
Bondo i s an excellent adhesi ve as i t cures qui ckl y and i s
i nexpensive as compared to hobby shop epoxy.
When buil di ng a project out of foam, i t i s someti mes necessary to
attach two pi eces of foam to each other. If thi s i s the case, I try
to keep the bondo away from any area that I have to shape. The
bondo i s much harder than the foam and will not sand at the
same rate as the foam creati ng i rregul ariti es whil e you try to
shape the foam to the final product.

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Figure 5: Filling With Foam

Some foam is in place, it is overkill to use a hacksaw on the


foam but it cuts easy and gives a straight line. Serrated steak
knives are excellent for cutting foam as well.

Figure 6: Hull Sides Taking Shape

Adding mor e foam.

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Figure 7: Sides Of The Hull Filled With Foam

The process continues. I r ough cut some of the foam bef ore
attaching it to the deck. The perimeter of the hull was filled with
green foam blocks.

Shaping The Hull Sides


For thi s project, I el ected to fi rst fill the si des of the hull with
foam and shape them wi th a sanding bl ock pri or to filli ng the
bottom of the hull wi th foam. I li ke to sand thi s foam with 60 gri t
paper that I had l eft over from my bel t sander. I support the
sandpape r wi th a bl ock to ensure a fl at surface.

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Figure 8: Shaping The Hull Sides

The sanding b egins.

Figure 9: The Hull Takes Shape

When the sid es ar e sand ed dow n to contact with the wooden


frame pieces, this is what I am left with - smooth, well shaped
nearly flawless lines of my newest boat hull.

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Now For The Bottom Of The Boat


Now I turn my attenti on to the bottom of thi s boat. After
examini ng the hull at thi s point of the buil d, I deci ded to use
foam sheets to shape the bottom area. Thi s way seemed more
effi ci ent si nce it will use l ess foam. The foam sheets were
attached to the keel and the chi nes wi th bondo.

Figure 10: Finishing The Foam Filling

Filled With Foam and Shaped . In the photograph above, you


can see that the bottom has been filled with foam and shaped
with a sanding block. I made the sanding block from a piece of
plywood that I attached a piece of sandpape r to with spray
adhesive.

A Simple Process
Just li ke the si des of the hull , the bottom of the hull i s si mpl y
sanded down to the l evel of the wooden frame.

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LESSON

Lesson 3:
Preparing the Hull for
Fiberglass Application

Now that the hull i s shaped, I can prepare i t for fi bergl ass
appl i cati on.
Thi s preparati on i nvol ves removi ng all of the foam parti cl es that
are l eft from the sanding process. Thi s i s best accompli shed wi th
an ai r compressor.
Once the outer surface i s cl ean, I will cover the foam wi th
maski ng tape. Duri ng thi s process, I am careful to l eave the
wooden formers exposed because I want the fi bergl ass to sti ck to
that part of the structure.

Figure 11: Taping The Hull

I just use regular m asking tape for this step. This step will
make for a clean interior of the final hull. The tape keeps the
resin from adhering to the foam and allows the foam to release
easily after the fiberglass has cured.

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Figure 12: More Tape

You can see th e wooden fram e has been left un covered .


This was done intentionally because I want the fiberglass to
adhere to the frame.

Figure 13: Tape Detail

I also left the edge of the underside of the d eck uncovered.


Just like the frame, I want the fiberglass to adhere to the deck.
You can see that the tape doesnt have to lay perfect.

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Figure 14: The Next Step PV A Application

Brushing on a coat of PVA will insure a very easy release


of the foam blocks from the fibergl ass later on. Just like the
tape, I keep this stuff off of the frame.

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LESSON

Lesson 4:
Fiberglass Application

Wi th the hull now prope rl y prepare d, i t i s time to cover it wi th


gl ass. I use 1 ounce chopped mat and I will start by appl yi ng
just one coat of resi n and one l ayer of mat to the surface of my
boat.

Figure 15: Ready to Fiberglass

I have s ome r esin catalyzed w ith MEKP i n the cup, a pi ece of 1


once mat and a brush. That i s enough to get me started.
Layi ng fi bergl ass mat on top of the foam i s just li ke worki ng wi th
any other fi bergl ass proje ct. The longer the mat i s exposed to
the resi n the easi er i t i s to shape to your project . Parts of the
mat that dont want to coope rate can be encouraged wi th
addi ti onal resi n. Thi s i s especi ally true with corners. Fi bergl ass
never likes to make 90 degree bends so you have to be pati ent
wi th i t.

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Try not to all ow the resi n to pool . Pool i ng resi n adds wei ght and
doesnt do much for the strength of the final project.

Figure 16: Applying The First Layer Of Mat

Applying resin with a brush. Thi s can al so be done with a


small roller as you will see i n l ater pi ctures. Use the brush or
rol l er to push the resi n through the mat and onto the surface of
the tape covered foam.

Figure 17: First Layer Done Time To Cure

At this stage, the fi rst l ayer of fibergl ass has been appl i ed.
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Allow The Fiberglass to Cure Before Moving On


I all ow thi s l ayer of gl ass to cure overni ght. Once the hull has
cured, i t will be durabl e and abl e to move on to the next step in
thi s buil d. Wi th the hull i n a rough state, I use a sandi ng bl ock to
smooth the surface. I dont need i t to be perfect at thi s poi nt,
just good enough to l ay a fai rl y fl at second l ayer of gl ass.

Figure 18: The Final Layers Of Mat

The hull is pr epar ed and ready for the s econd layer of m at.
In addi ti on to the second l ayer of mat, I will al so appl y a final
l ayer of veil . Veil will smooth over the fi bers of the chopped mat.

Keeping The Hull Edges Square


For thi s second l ayer of mat, I cut the mat to fit the hei ght of the
si des of the hull and the span of the bottom. I do i t thi s way to
keep the edges of the hull square. Appl yi ng too many l ayers of
gl ass over the corners wi ll round them out. Any extra mat will
not be rol l ed over the edges, i t will be all owed to cure as i s and
then sanded down.

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Figure 19: Mat Is Cut To Fit

Pi eces of mat cut for the si des of the hull .

Figure 20: Rolling On The Mat

The hull i s being supported on i ts si de whil e I use a roll er


to saturate the mat wi th resi n. It i s hel pful to fi rst cover the area
of the hull that you are worki ng on wi th resin so that the dry mat
sti cks to i t and hol ds i n pl ace when you are rol ling more resi n
onto the mats surface.
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Figure 21: Second Layer Done & Curing

T his is the hull with t he second la ye r of mat and veil applied. You
can see that there is excess mat e xten ding over the hull sides that I did
not try to roll over the bottom edge of t he hull. Once again, this helps
keep the edges sharp and clean.

Working Out The Highs and Lows


After the second l ayer of chopped mat i s appli ed and cured, I can
use my el ectri c sander to smooth the surface of the hull to
perfecti on.

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Figure 22: Electric Sander Works Fast

Sanding smooth. Make sure to w ear a mask. Fi bergl ass dust


does nasty thi ngs to your l ungs.
I use 100 gri t sandpaper for thi s step. Any deep fl aws will be
filled wi th bondo and sanded smooth. Essenti all y thi s step
i nvol ves filli ng sandi ng filli ng sandi ng until the surface i s
ni ce and smooth.

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Lesson 5:
Building The Deck
Wi th the hull smoothed out, I rem ove i t from the board and turn
my attenti on to the deck. I begin by drawi ng a li ne around the
peri meter of the deck that will be my cutti ng gui de. Then I use
my Dremel tool to cut the i nsi de of the deck out. See pi ctures
bel ow.

Figure 23: Trimming The Deck

Deck is cut.

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Figure 24: Removing The Deck And Foam

Lifting the cut piece off the d eck. Now that the i nsi de of the
deck has been removed, I can begi n removi ng the foam. The
foam comes out easy by hand and putty kni fe. Basi call y I just
chi p i t out, pry i t out and li ft it out. It all works.

Figure 25: Removing The Foam

Removi ng the foam from the hull .


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Figure 26: Scrape It Clean

Thi s hull i s cl ean of foam.

Another Simple Plan


I have a si mpl e pl an for the deck that will make a ni ce cl ean
fini sh. The process for bui l di ng the deck i s the same as the
process that I outli ned for the hull. I begi n by buil ding a frame
out of scrap w ood. I epoxy the wood i nto pl ace maintai ni ng the
same di stance between the frame pi eces as the wi dth of the foam.
Thi s just makes the buil d go faster.

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Figure 27: Framing In The Deck

Frame pi eces i n pl ace and ready for the addi ti on of foam.


Wi th the frame pi eces securel y i n pl ace, I can begi n to attach the
foam. In orde r to save ti me duri ng sandi ng the foam to shape, I
cut the foam to si ze before attaching i t to the frame wi th bondo.

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Figure 28: Foam Is Adhered To The Deck

Foam i s i n pl ace and ready for shapi ng.


Once the bondo has cured an d the foam i s secure, I can begin
shapi ng i t wi th sandpaper and a bl ock. Be careful wi th thi s step,
foam cuts qui ckly wi th 60 gri t paper.

Figure 29: Shaping With Sanding Blocks

Shaped and ready for fi bergl ass.


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Glassing The Deck


Wi th the deck shaped the way I want i t, I can cover i t wi th two
l ayers of 1 ounce mat. For thi s step, si mply foll ow the
procedures as de scri bed earl i er i n thi s manual .

Figure 30: Glassing The Deck

I used brushes and a small roller to smooth the mat onto the
decks surface . Once thi s cures, I will cl ean up the excess mat
wi th my electri c sander and begi n the fi nal steps of thi s project.

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Figure 31: Applying Microballoons And Resin

With the d eck trim med, I do a qui ck once over the hull and
deck wi th a sanding bl ock. Then I mi x a pasty mixture of mi croball oons and resi n, catal yze it wi th MEKP and proceed t o use thi s
mixture to smooth out the i mperfecti ons i n the surface of my new
boat.

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Figure 32: Spread The Mix With A Flat Edge Tool

I use a plastic spreader t o fill t he shallows of the hull.


Once the mi xture of mi croball oons and resi n has cured, I use my
pal m sander to smooth i t out. As wi th most projects, I need to
fill / sand fill / sand several times to get the smooth surface
that I desi re.

Figure 33: Sanding To A Smooth Finish

Sanding the deck and hull is nearly complete.

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When I thi nk that I am done sanding, I take some time to i nspect
all the surfaces for defects. I want thi s boat to be perfect! After
all , when some guy at the boat pond asks me where I got thi s
boat, I want to be abl e to hol d my head hi gh and say I made i t!
and actuall y be proud and confi dent of my work.

Figure 34: Ready For Paint

Here is the fina l p roduct, I wi ll paint it and call it done


Figu re 35: Painted and Po li shed Read y Fo r Dri ve & Radio

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Well , thats it. There i s my fi ni shed boat hull , not i ncl udi ng the
i nteri or of course. That i s another proje ct enti rel y.
Check the follow ing 2 pag es for a materi al s li st and resources
where you can fi nd si tes I use to purchase materi al s and tool s.

Materials List
THIS IS A LIST OF THINGS THAT YOU WILL NEED TO MAKE A FIBERGLASS
HULL OR JUST ABOUT ANY OTHER PROJECT WITH SIMILAR SURFACES.
1) Laminating Resin: This is the basis of any fiberglass project. You will
use this for both your mold and the pieces that you make with your
mold. Resin is usually bought by the gallon but can be purchased in
smaller quantities.
2) MEKP: This is what catalyzes or hardens the laminating resin.
3) Fiberglass Mat: This adds strength and form to the resin. Mat is
bought by the yard and comes in many different weights.
4) PVA: This is sprayed or wiped onto the plug or mold cavity to prevent
the resin and gelcoat from sticking. PVA goes on after the mold release
wax.
5) Rollers & Brushes: Used for applying and spreading resin and gelcoat.
These should be disposable as they are very difficult to clean.
6) Fume Mask: Keeps you from becoming horribly ill and full of cancer
from your materials. A fume mask is a must.
7) Latex Gloves: These keep your hands clean. I use a lot of these.
8) Acetone: Used to clean up your tools after you are finished. This stuff
cuts right through both the resin and the gelcoat.
9) Bondo: This is regular old body repair filler.
10) Microballoons: These are mixed with resin into a paste like
consistency and used to smooth over the surface of your project.
Materials and Tools Resource links on the next page . . . .

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Resource Links:
www.uscomp osites.com
www.dmc-ca.com
www.fib erglassflor ida.com
If you have not yet purchased the 4 Manual Set on Fiberglass Molding you
may want to check it out here: http://www.FiberglassMoldManual.com
Theres fabrication of fiberglass and then theres MOLDING Fiberglass:

Everything You Need To Know About How To


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or Full Size Car, Boat, Plane Parts
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