Finished Oxford wherry and my experience

  • I finished up my Oxford Wherry a few weeks ago. I worked on it off and on since late October. This is the first stitch and glue boat I've made, so take any "tips" I may have with that in mind. I purchased the full kit with pre cut wood, build materials, and plans. I thought the plans and directions were well put together, even for a noob like me!

    Some observations that may help others just starting out:

    For sanding, I used an orbital sander for just about every sanding step. I found I could hold it very carefully to both make short work of excess epoxy, but also avoid removing too much excess wood. It may have helped that I was using an older cordless one that wasn't very powerful compared to corded ones.

    I poured the epoxy on when glassing the inside hull and found later that areas when I let it sit for maybe a 30 sec to a minute or so "soaking in" before I started spreading it ended up leaving what almost looked like water stains on the wood. You can only see it at certain angles so not a big deal. However, I minimized this on the exterior by spreading epoxy a bit quicker.

    I added too much epoxy when glassing the hull in places, which I think made the fiberglass float a bit, which then led to slightly wavy surface (and more work later when fairing). I should have gone easier on that first epoxy application. I'll know for next time.

    When you're mixing epoxy for fillets, and if you're like me, your first few batches won't be thick enough, and they'll end up slumping/running after application. If you're a first timer, you may need to add more wood flour and silica dust than you think you will. Go for a truly thick pasty peanut butter consistency.

    It's totally possible to glue the gunwales on by yourself if you have a few height adjustable "rest stools" to let the length hanging off to sit on. And you'll definitely need all 30 clamps. No skimping there.

    As above, after glassing my boat and then when moving on to the sanding and fairing step, I think portions where I floated the glass caused subtle waviness in the hull surface. This was impossible to just "sand out" as I'd sand down to fiberglass weave after not too long. Thus, I purchased Total Boat's fairing compound. You mix it to a light green color and apply it. (Now I tried making my own fairing compound with epoxy and lots of silica but even with large amounts of silica it ended up not holding and running downward.) I ended up applying the Total Boat product essentially all over the exterior.

    I think I saved a decent amount of time by using a carbide bladed cabinet scraper, rather than a sander to take off the majority high spots of the exterior fairing compound and some epoxy. It also makes a perfect flat surface. And it's relatively quiet and creates shavings rather than dust, so slightly less messy. I still used an orbital sander after the scraper did the first largest portion of work.

    I determined the waterline mark with a (cheap Amazon) horizontal laser-line level that shot a red line from bow to stern, one side at a time. It worked well and was easier than an icy cold winter pond.

    I painted the exterior with topside paints from Kirby Paints, brushed on and then tipped out. Kirby paints was an easy company to work with and matched a yellow/gold to a local University color that I wanted. I put 5 coats of varnish on the inside from Interlux Schooner.

    All in all, this is doable project. My only other boat building experience was a few skin-on-frame kayaks, constructed with my dad as a teenager. This was quite a bit different from that. You'll have excellent product quality and support from Colin.

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