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Duct taping -- not stitching?

Discussion in 'Strippers, Stitch-n-Glue, and Other Wood Composite' started by Bill Whalen, Dec 18, 2004.

  1. Bill Whalen

    Bill Whalen Curmudgeon

    Duct Tape (rather than Stitch) and Glue FAQ

    My son Ted and I built two Chesapeake Light Craft Cape Charles kayaks. During the planning phases we read a letter to WOODENBOAT suggesting that using duct tape rather than stitching would be a more efficient method.

    Here are some of the frequently asked questions about our experience:

    Did the tape hold the seams together where the plywood is stressed?
    Yes, the tape held very well. You have to make sure that the surfaces are free of dust. Dust will coat the tape and keep it from sticking. In the areas of stress, where a lot of pulling is needed the tape was wrapped all the way around the hull and back onto inself. The tape became a whole-hull clamp! We put some extra spacers (or forms) in some places to keep the tape from "over deforming" the hull. Even where the hull is stressed the most, tightening the tape will never tear a hole in the plywood like an overtightened wire loop will!

    Was there any problem with getting the tape off?
    No, the epoxy did not stick to the adhesive side of the tape. There was very little adhesive left on the hull from the tape itself. A little solvent took it right off.

    Did the tape seal the seams well?
    You bet! In fact that is one of the benefits of taping -- the seam doesn't leak during the filleting process. When the tape is removed, the outside seam is almost smooth enough to use in places -- it still needs fairing over the whole length though.

    Did you have to tape the seams with one long piece of tape?
    No. The taping can be done in short increments. Some parts will be easier than others and the length can be increased, but you can work with whatever length you are comfortable with.

    Should you use the cheapest or most expensive tape?
    It's up to you. The cheap stuff has the strength but the adhesive sometimes isn't so great. If you are bringing the tape around the hull and back onto itself, (for clamping purposes) then the cheap works as well as the expensive. To seal the seams, you have to have good adhesion.

    How much tape do you need?
    You can NEVER have too much duct tape around. Buy a lot of rolls. Keep one left-over roll in the boat. Put one in the car. Apply for Possum Lodge membership. If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.

    How, exactly, did you tape a seam?
    Put the two panels in place. Use 6-8" pieces of tape about every foot to hold them roughly in position. Run tape along seam -- start from middle of boat and work toward ends. Seal seam right over the small pieces. During the sealing make sure that the panels are overlapped correctly. Where there is need for more force to hold panels together, use longer strips perpendicular to the seam, or go all the way around the hull. Once you have a couple of tape loops around the hull you will be able to turn it over for the filleting and 'glassing.

    What's the best part of tape vs wire?
    Well, I keep hearing about the problems with the wire after the fillet and glass has been applied. What do you do? Heat the wire and pull it out? Clip off the wires and leave them in? Sounds like two more ways to screw up a job...... Heating and pulling a hundred or so wire stitches doesn't sound like fun. Leaving the wires in means somehow smoothing off the nubs left when they are clipped off..... oh good, not just more sanding, but difficult sanding! Taking the tape off was like unwrapping a present! Dropped the big ball of used duct tape in the trash, wiped the hull with a little solvent to pick up the adhesive here and there, and in 10 minutes we were ready to get on with the outside fairing and 'glassing.
  2. JEM

    JEM Canoe and Kayak Designer

    Great post! I like to use plastic zip-ties and dothe tack-weld method. You stitch things up, fill in the spaces between the stitches with woodflour thickened epoxy, let cure, then remove the stitches, fillet, and tape.

    Takes a little extra time but produces nice results.

    I've tried duct tape and even rope. Works good. Only draw backs is in situations where you have tight twists.

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