Building a Fishing Kayak Cooler #9: Why Show a Fiberglass Intensive Project on a Woodworker's Site?

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Blog entry by DustyMark posted 05-05-2019 03:24 AM 559 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: Installing the Ceiling and Feathering the Fiberglass Tape Part 9 of Building a Fishing Kayak Cooler series Part 10: Making the Lid »

This is a site for woodworkers and it might seem odd that I would post a blog about making a cooler that involves so much fiberglass work. If you look at my projects profile, you’d see that I’ve made a houseful of high-end furniture over the past 33 years. I’ve also built 9 small boats.

My boatbuilding experience has taught me techniques that are handy to make something out of wood that can survive prolonged use in a harsh outdoor or marine environment. As I consider making something custom out of wood, I always consider all the construction and sealing methods in my arsenal and pick the one that is most appropriate for the task at hand. I’m hoping to spur some of you to consider some of these approaches in your own woodworking.

Another Example

A couple of weeks ago we tried out the upgrades I made to my Grumman Sport Boat over the winter. The trolling motor battery was secured well in a standard battery box in the middle of the floor. My thought was that my wife could place a foot on either side and be comfortable…not so much. I realized that my 35-amp-hour AGM battery could be laid on its side and just fit under her seat, if I built a custom battery box.

Here’s the battery box with the first coat of resin applied to the fiberglass cloth. It’s such a tight fit under the seat that I had to use 1/8” plywood for the floor of the box. Two of the fours seams are stitch-and-glue construction, while the other two are simply screwed into the adjacent 1/2” plywood. The heavily rounded edges make it possible to squeeze the box under the seat.

This was glassed with one piece of cloth. Darts were cut, the cloth was trimmed and folded over under the adjacent cloth. This should hold up to sitting in a puddle of water on the floor of the boat. I didn’t worry about sanding much of the overlapping glass since it’s just a battery box. I’ll paint it flat green like the rest of my boat accessories.

There’s a groove cut on the top edge for the trolling motor power wires. The hole below that is for an accessory plug to power my minnow bucket aerator.

The lid has to be bolted into place after the box is under the seat. When there’s a will, there’s often a way!

Learning to work with epoxy and fiberglass is a handy skill to acquire for any woodworker who might customize outdoor gear.

-- Mark, Minnesota

4 comments so far

View robscastle's profile


6011 posts in 2563 days

#1 posted 05-05-2019 01:14 PM

No different than the interest created from any surface finish of any kind I guess or even the stablising Process that Dave has been explaining lately

-- Regards Rob

View JimYoung's profile


324 posts in 1946 days

#2 posted 05-05-2019 01:35 PM

One thing to know about working with epoxy, is that it is not like paint so it works a bit different than paint/other finishes we typically use. The difference with epoxy is that until it is fully cured, it behaves like gradually thickening syrup. So if it is on a vertical surface, gravity is always working on it and you need to check back periodically for drips and runs and be prepared to sand them down. Multiple thin coats are best.

-- -Jim, "Nothing says poor craftsmanship more than wrinkles in your duck tape"

View DustyMark's profile


372 posts in 2429 days

#3 posted 05-05-2019 02:20 PM

You’re absolutely right on the vertical surfaces. I achieve thin coats by the squeegee technique. The drips aren’t so bad on the first coat, since so much is absorbed by the cloth. The second or third coat require more follow-up. I came back twice to check on the battery box and smoothed drips with the plastic scraper. Using fast-cure hardener would also reduce the amount of time for drips to form…

-- Mark, Minnesota

View Andre's profile


2570 posts in 2165 days

#4 posted 05-05-2019 09:01 PM

Actually great timing, I’m working on a light weight Cedar garden caddy that will be getting a glass finish so all the tips are appreciated!

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

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