In my (admittedly biased) opinion, PL construction adhesive has
revolutionized home boat building. If not quite a revolution,
it has at least made home boat building much more approachable
for the weekend warrior. One trip to the home center for a few
sheets of ¼ luane plywood, some #2 pine and a few tubes
of PL and for under $40 you have all you need to whip up a nice
little boat like the Tender.
Grab one of those nifty power
caulkers you carry in the Duckworks store and PL-ing
is a down right pleasure.
I think if I were forced to use epoxy and pay the
relatively high expense associated, I’d be reluctant to
use luane plywood for the hull. After all who wants to see their
2-part, liquid-gold epoxy mated to such lowly material as luane;
which then forces me to buy marine plywood (more dinero). If I’m
gonna shell out the dough for epoxy and marine ply, then I’m
not using #2 pine for the trim – I’m going to use
a real yacht-type wood for that nice, warm feeling. If I am going
to all this bother and expense, I’m not going to waste my
effort on a stinky little tender; I’m going to make a nice
sail cruiser with a cabin (and enclosed head). These materials
will make my little boat beautiful and long lasting, which is
good because I’ll be living in it after I lose my house
because I had to quit my job to be able to finish the boat in
my lifetime which meant I couldn’t afford the second mortgage
I had to take out to build the thing in the first place. Now the
good news is I won’t need much room, nor will I have many
possessions after the divorce so living in the boat will at least
be theoretically possible….perhaps I should stick to the
PL (pun intended).
Despite my zealous PL advocacy, I must admit that from time to
time I have some tiny nagging voices in my head. Some of these
voices whisper PL horror stories. I’ve come across stray
web tidbits that discuss the possibility of failure of PL in some
circumstances. I have taken to using ring nails on all my external
chine PL adhered bottoms, but still I wonder if a joint may work
loose someday or if an entire boat will disintegrate under me
in the middle of a lake while I’m showing off my considerable
boat building skills to my wife.
Here’s an article by David Beede on his “Simplicity”
site on the topic of PL reliability:
Misgivings aside, I’m going to keep using PL on my little
projects and hope for the best. What gives me pause, however,
is that I’m beginning to think about using the stuff on
“real” boats like Jim Michalak’s AF3
or the Mixer
12 – both of which I have plans for. These real boats deserve
to stay together longer than it takes to build them. To PL or
not to PL…that is the question. Whether it is nobler in
the minds of men to continue to use cheap adhesive or must one
leap into the great yaw of expensive and messy epoxy.
To that end, I’d like to propose a Duckworks sponsored,
quazi-scientific test on the reliability of PL. I’d be happy
to participate in the study, but I think some technical direction
is needed to establish the parameters. I’ve seen boiling
PL sample joints as a test but I’m not sure what 210 deg
water has to do with situations that rarely see water temps higher
than 80 deg. It’s a bit like tossing a PL-glued sample into
a fire and then expressing concern on the reliability of the adhesive.
Maybe boiling means something – I just don’t know.
Maybe we need to expose samples to UV for a period of time. Maybe
we have to place a PL sample in the same room as Jerry Springer
to see if it cracks under the stress – know I would.
I wonder if there are any chemists out there in Duckworks Nation
who may be qualified to recommend a testing program that some
of us Duckworks loyalists could participate in. Maybe the manufactures
are a place to start, but they may be a bit biased. The results
could be published and afterward we’d all have the confidence
to PL-away on even the fanciest projects – like the Mayfly
Long Live Duckworks!
Editors Note: Anyone who would
like to comment on Rick's idea or volunteer information or time,
please write to him at:
This sounds like it would make
a good winter project the results of which would be very useful
to boat builders everywhere.