The Online Magazine For Amateur Boat Builders

by Laszlo Morocz
Guest Columnist

Feedback to Buehler

I guess I'm one of those "epoxy boys" that George Buehler goes on about (against?) in his 'Simple and Inexpensive "Composite" Planking' article. I can see exactly why he distrusts epoxy so much. Trying to apply it to wood that has already been exposed to tar is a great way of guaranteeing that it won't stick.

And why would anyone staple glass to the wood? That was a great idea from Allan Vaitses back in the days of covering old wood with polyester resins, but with today's epoxies on new construction it's just a waste of time, labor and a way to add weight and rust to a boat.

What I take away from George's article is the he doesn't understand epoxy - either how it works or how to use it. With a proper marine epoxy (and I'm sorry, but you DO get what you pay for), properly applied to clean, properly prepared good quality wood, I've never had a joint break before the wood did. On the other hand, if I had a penny for every nail or screw that has pulled out of a frame, I'd wouldn't need to be coming in to work.

And speaking of frames, a properly designed monocoque hull can get by with a lot less framing because the skin becomes a structural element, rather than just a covering. Those sailboats with 4-ft frame spacing that he accuses of being operated in blissful ignorance, are actually designed with exactly those forces in mind and it is no accident that they hold together.

So I guess my reaction is that George should stick to his traditional hull styles, which he understands so much better than modern monocoque composites. While I applaud anyone's attempt to expand their horizons, they should certainly not write with an expert voice until they've actually learned what they're writing about. And editors who put these articles in the way of impressionable newbies should really have some kind of warning label :-)

Seriously, though, good magazine and I'll be sending you a submission about building composite masts soon.

Have fun,