The Online Magazine For Amateur Boat Builders














by Rick Malagoti
Guest Columnist

PL Musings

Hi Chuck,

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.

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 12!

Rick Malagodi
Hollis, NH

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.