Fiberglass DIY Step-By-Step Guide

Fiberglass DIY Step By Step GuideWorking with fiberglass is not so difficult as many people think and it if usually very fun to do. A lot of people has asked me how to do it and where I have learned all the stuff I do with fiberglass and where an individual can find these information in order to learn to work with it. Every time someone asks me about my work I take some time to explain to them how the whole process looks like.

Usually I get asked where I have learned all this stuff but there is no simple answer to that. I can tell you about many online tutorials that I have used to learn how to work with fiberglass but at the end you must try it on your own skin to learn how to master the technique. I read a simple fiberglass guide written by Drew Wilson at Explorer Forum. It gives you all the basics that you need to know when you decide to work with fiberglass.

After I read this great fiberglass tutorial I bought a very cheap fiberglass kit which included some fiberglass resin and mat. It was enough to try to start building a inflatable boat steering console for my first boat Lean I. I had no knowledge on the topic despite reading an article about it.

Since the fiberglass kit was cheap I decided that I can waste some money to try something new and so I read the instructions on the fiberglass kit box and started working. I build a wooden mold for my console which I then coated with one layer of fiberglass mat. The kit I bought was just enough to cover my console with one layer.

After my first layer dried I went back to the supply shop and bought some more materials, that is about 5 kg of fiberglass resin and about 3 kg of mat. I then applied another 5 layers over the first layer and let it to dry. When it dried I removed my wooden mold and what was left was my custom made fiberglass mold for inflatable boat steering console.

I then used some molding wax to wax my console mold form the inside and when it dried I applied white boat epoxy paint. I then fiberglassed the inside of the mold with fiberglass. You should apply about five layers of fiberglass to get a strong steering console. I also fiberglassed in a piece of plywood that was later used as a mounting for steering mechanism and steering wheel. And that was it. I had a brand new custom made inflatable boat steering console and it was a lot cheaper than if I had bought it.

Working with fiberglass

A few basic concepts are known in fiberglassing. I you master them you will be able to create almost anything. This means that the same techniques are used to build a steering console and for building an entire boat.

Which materials to use

If you want your project to look good when finished you should always use good materials if not the best ones. First you will have to locate a local supply shop for fiberglass materials. If you live in an area where this kind of shops are rare you can find some great resources online. Just remember that the cheapest materials are often not so good to work with.

The place where you buy your resin from should also have chopped mat to sell. You can get fiberglass mat in many different weights. Different weights mean that the heavier weights are stronger and the light ones are weaker but easier to use around corners. You can also buy fiberglass woven matting which will add some strength to your product but it must be within the two layers of fiberglass mate.

You will also need some protecting gloves and suit to cover your body and clothes from getting into contact with fiberglass resin.

You need to apply fiberglass resin over your fiberglass mat with a paint brush by just pressing it into the mat. If you would like to cover large areas you can use a paint roller but the roller must be a special one. Don’t use foam rollers because they will melt because of the heat. Fiberglass produces a large amount of heat when it starts to harden because of a intense chemical reaction. So beware of the foam paint rollers.

When you finish applying fiberglass resin to you surface be sure to check it for air pockets. If there are any air pockets in fiberglass layer, water can start getting inside and it will begin to fall apart. So use your paint brush to fill any air pockets with additional fiberglass resin.

Fiberglass resources:

  • http://www.explorerforum.com/fiberglass/fiberglassing.htm
  • http://www.caraudiohelp.com/newsletter/fiberglass_fabrication_basics.htm
  • http://www.the12volt.com/installbay/forum_posts.asp~TID~74519~PN~1
  • http://www.rqriley.com/frp-foam.htm

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,