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Moccasin 2 Journal

Tom Gomm

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I'm new to this forum, but I've read many of the current posts and I think this is a great way to share knowledge.  I just ordered the Moccasin 2 plans and I plan to document my boat project on this forum to help all those who follow after me.  As well, along the way I will ask many questions of those who have already gone down this path.

I love woodworking, but I have never built a boat and I am excited to start my project.  If all goes well with this one, I may decide to graduate to bigger and better things (like the Diva).  My first two questions for the 'experts' are:

1 - I see that a keel is optional for the Moccasin 2 and I was wondering if anyone could provide insight on how this boat handles with and without a keel?

2 - Aside from the epoxy used for filleting, fairing, and taping, are you supposed to epoxy all surfaces of this boat?

Thanks and I look forward to your responses.


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Today I spent a couple of hours cutting out the pieces for the 'butterfly'.  It took about two hours to mark and cut.  The first problem I ran into was how to draw the curve for the bow/stern.  I made marks where the plans said to and then tried to use a thin piece of wood and a small pvc pipe as a batten.  I could not line up all of the marks so I played dot-to-dot and free handed the curve.  It turned out pretty good.

The second choice I had to make was how to cut it out.  I've read info online saying that using a circular saw works best, but I opted to use a portable jigsaw/sabersaw for two reasons.  One a circular saw is not very forgiving if you stray from your marks.  Second the jigsaw has a smaller kerf and therefore if you waver from one side of your marked line to the other, the error is smaller than a 1/8 inch blade.  Once I cut the parts out, I had to spend an hour or so sanding the edges (with all four sides clamped together) to make them identical.  I laid the pieces out and had to make some minor adjustments to get all of the pieces to fit well and then sanded the bevels on all joining edges.  I used a random orbit sander and 60 grit sand paper to do this.

I then mixed up 3oz of epoxy and epoxied and fiberglass taped the side pieces to the bottom.  I put some 4 mil plastic down before doing this to keep the pieces from sticking to the floor.  I'm using a slow hardener so I don't know how long it will take to cure, but I plan to give it a couple of days before I flip it over and tape the other side.  I found that once I had wetted the tape on the top and squeegied the excess out, the edges of the tape would either curl up or were thicker than the middle of the tape.  Does anyone know why this happened? 





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Tom it looks like you are progressing well.

I want to give you a heads-up about turning the boat over with glass tape only on one side. A glass butt joint is very strong when the glass is on the tension side of the joint but it is very weak when the glass is on the compression side. Because of the panels large and floppy nature it is very hard to turn over without breaking at the tape which is why I encourage builders to glass both sides at once. Before turning over; if you have enough clamps, you need eight, you could clamp a piece of wood about a foot long across each joint before turning, being careful not to bend the joint inwards towards the glass.

The selvege edge of glass tape is usually tighter than the rest of the weave which can cause the glass to pucker along the edges. If this is your problem then you could cut the edge strand with scissors at 3"-6" intervals which will eliminate the puckers. 

Another bonus when glassing both sides at once is that the plastic covered clamping boards squashes the glass very flat and thin requiring much less fairing.

The keel is not essential for tracking. I put it on to help protect the bottom of the boat.

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Tom, enjoying your journal.  Thanks for taking the time to document your build and please continue.  I really learn a lot from these.  Get your experience and the  advice from others that have been through it before.  This is really great stuff!  I haven't found anyone around where I live that is into boat building, least not in my small sphere of friends so this is where I learn and ask questions.

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Well, today I flipped the 'butterfly' over and thanks to Graham's insight (clamping boards across the taped seams) I didn't break anything.  So I taped the other side and thanks to input from Bill B, I put plastic over the seams and put some weight on top.  I mixed a small amount of epoxy with some wood flour and used it to fill a few small gaps where the mating edges were not completely straight before taping over the seams (see photo - I took this before scraping the excess 'putty' from the seams).  There are three things I still would like to know.

1 - How is it possible to tape both sides at the same time?

2 - Since the entire boat is to be coated with epoxy (2-3 coats), at what stage in construction is the best time to apply these coats?

3 - When is the best time to drill the holes for the wire ties (I'm afraid I should have done it when I had the sides stacked up and clamped together for sanding)? 




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Taping both sides at once-

put down a smooth surface- either the concrete or a chunk of ply. Put a piece of plastic on that. I like visqueen, not waxed paper.

Wet out your tape and lay that on the plastic.

Put the pieces of wood on top carefully so nothing slips around.

wet out and apply the remaining tape, then put on another peice of plastic and weight it down

All done ;D

Actually it isn't difficult, just needs care in aligning everything. I use a chunk of railroad rail as a weight. You can actually do a stack of parts like that if you are really careful to not let things slide around underneath. Here's the two sides and bottoms of a Core Sound 20 being taped on both sides all together- four pieces of tape all told.


I wait til later to epoxy coat- after the filleting is done.

DON'T drill all the holes at once- they won't necessarily line up once the parts start to assume the curves. You can drill holes in one side, then do  the other holes to match as you go. Except along the centerline- then they'll match up if you drill them together, but the sides to bottom joint often will not.

Oh - and that puckering tape selvage? Stretch the crap out of the tape edge before you wet it out. I sometimes clamp one end in my shoulder vise,  stretch the tape out across the shop , wrap the other end around a dowel and stretch the bejesus out of it. Won't stop ALL the puckering but it'll help. I always lay the tape so that one selvage edge is in the easiest position for scraping and sanding- makes it simpler to deal with. And a surform plane will make short work of it , particurlarly if you get to the tape while the epoxy is still somewhat green.

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Today's update - I began to stitch up the boat today.  No major issues.  I did find it difficult to 'eyeball' where to drill the holes.  I'm considering making some type of jig to line up the holes at precise intervals.  I began to stitch one of the sides along the chine, but I found that at the end of the chine I was unable to tighten the zip ties completely and therefore still have small gaps there.  Is this common or is there something I need to do to correct this?



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Help!  Today I stitched the sides, but I ran into two problems.  First, I discovered a crack at the end of one of the cuts in the butterfly.  What can be done to correct this?  Second, once the sides were stitched, the ends did not quite meet in the middle.  One side has about a 1/4 gap and the other has a 1/8 gap.  I can get the tops to touch, by lifting one side of the boat, but there is still a gap at the bottom.  What can I do about this?






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If you study the pictures on the CD most of the questions will be answered. By your pictures it seems that your ply has a slightly thicker core than the outside plies and therefore stiffer across the sheet (cross grain). To prevent the split from continuing you have to reduce the stress. This can be done by placing 1 1/2" square pads of ply inside and outside at the stress point and draw it all together with a screw.  If you only have 4mm ply use two pads on the inside so that you wont strip out the thread. 


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The butt join is a very important part of building to get right because it sets the sheer line. You will notice that when viewed from the side that when the butt seam is open at the top the sheer line will peak up at the butt, when you push it down the seam will close ans the sheer line will look fair.

At this point in the build I like to put in the breast hooks to set the bow angle and give the bow some strength. I then like to temporally put on the gunwales both at the same time so that you will not flatten one side of the boat. Put a screw through the gunwales at one end into the breast hook then start clamping the gunwales to the sides down both sides. When you get to the middle of the boat you need to level the sides at the butt join and tighten the joint, then continue to the other end of the boat. Putting on the gunwales pulls the boat into shape when looking down from the top and helps to set the butt seam. It is possible that because of slight building errors the could be a little long or short at the top or bottom or both. This is where the art comes in but the gunwales should tell if and where and if you need to adjust the butt seam. What you are looking for is a nice sweet sheer and chine line without peaks or dips.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've made some progress.  I've installed the breasthooks and epoxied and taped the butt joints.  I solved the crack problem by drilling a hole through a one and a half inch square block (3/4 thick) and a hole at the end of the chine where the crack occurred.  I screwed a wood screw  throught he two holes and into another block on the outside.  The block with the hole in it acted as a washer and tightened the other block against the outside of the hull very nicely.

Per Graham's instructions, I fabricated and installed the breasthooks.  I was surprised at how much this tightened the angle of the bow/stern.  As a result, the gap at the butt joint was narrowed greatly and the top of the joints touched but the bottom of the joints still had a quarter inch gap.  I first wet down the outside of the butt joint with epoxy and placed the fiberglass tape on the outside (and wetted it down). Then I filled the gap from the inside with thickened epoxy (I used wood flour). Finally, I epoxied and taped the inside of the joint over the filled gap.  I clamped two plastic covered blocks to the joint. I lowered the outside block slightly to ensure that the outside seam and the bottom of the boat were in perfect alignment.

I also ripped down the ash and began to splice the pieces together for the gunwales, inwales, and keel.  I marked the angle on each piece (6 inches long....8/1 rule=6/.75) and used my disc sander to sand down to the marks.  This worked rather well and saved me from having to create a special jig to cut these.

I'm now at a point where I'm not sure what to do next, do I install the gunwales and then inwales then fillet and tape then install the doubler ????  I've also read that you fillet and tape the inside and outside before attaching the gunwales and inwales.  I'm hoping someone can help me with the correct order of these steps.







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Glue on the gunwales first and then inwales. The inwales give you a ledge for spreaders to take the props which push the doubler down against the bottom. Propping the doubler down is the last final step in shaping the boat, it is for this reason that you should not do any glueing or glassing of the stem or chine joints until the hull has reached its final shape.

How far do you prop the doubler down? Until the bottom is straight along the centerline. When I cut my spreaders I make sure that when they are in place, the boat has the right beam.

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Once I spliced the solid stock for the gunwales and inwales, I rounded two corners each using a 1/8 inch round-over bit.  I then fit each gunwale by counter sinking two holes in each end where it attaches to the breasthook.  I used a larger bit to drill throught he gunwale and a smaller bit to drill the pilot hole through the outside of the boat and into the breasthook.  This allowed me to cinch the gunwale tight against the outside of the boat (the threads of the screw did not get hung up in the gunwale but pulled it tight to the boat....like it was a washer).

I then attached the clamps working from the anchored side of the gunwale toward the other side.  I used the cut PVC pipe method.  I cut the 'slices' with my miter saw and then cut each piece with my jigsaw.  They worked very well for clamping purposes.  Once I had the gunwale dry-fitted, I removed it to apply epoxy to the boat and the gunwale then re-attached and clamped it.  Then procedded to do the same thing with the other side.  Once both sides were 'glued' I tied a rope (tautline hitch...I'm a scoutmaster so I use the basic boy scout knots) around the center of the boat and tightened it to make the beam exactly 33 inches while the epoxy cured.

Once the epoxy was cured (24 hours), I found that one of the splices had popped loose, so I re-epoxied it and clamped it back together.





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Once the gunwales were on, I began work on the inwales.  I cut the ends at a 45 degree angle for a perfect fit into the breasthook.  I found that I had to use my sander to adjust the ends of the inwale to get it to fit just right into the breasthook.  I then dry fitted the inwale by clamping it, working from one side to the other. once it was clamped, I marked the exact length then took the inwale back off to miter that end.  Once again, I had to adjust the other end to get it to fit properly.  I had to clamp and unclamp it (and sand the ends) many times to get the fit just right.  I then epoxied it and clamped it in place.  Once this was cured (24 hours) I repeated this process on the other side.

Once cured, I  cut the excess stock from the gunwales and rounded the point at each end.  I then removed the clamps and began to sand the breasthooks and the tops of the gunwales/inwales to 'blend' the surfaces together.  The random orbit sander made this a slow process, but with a small belt sander, I was able to make quick work of this.  There were still some small gaps where the plywood was slightly below the gunwales and inwales. so I filled these in with some wood flour thickened epoxy.

It's starting to look like a real boat!





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wouldn't ya love to meet the guy who dreamed up the PVC clamp idea?  I'd buy him a CASE of his favorite beverage, for sure.

Man I have two five gallon buckets full of those in 2, 3 and 4 inch sizes. Those and dry wall screws have SURE made certain things simpler.

Boat's looking good Tom

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Amazing how us old Scouters end up building boats. The boat is looking great!

Now I understand about the paint questions. Ultimately, it is your decision regarding how much work and money you want to put into your boat, finish included. You have to make yourself happy with the results. So far, you are looking good. Keep up the good work.


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OK....I've completed a number of steps this week.  Starting with installing the doubler.  I marked the doubler on one of the remnants of plywood then stacked the other three under it and put some wood screws through the plys to hold them together.  I then cut the doubler(s) out with a jigsaw and cleaned the edges up with a small belt sander.  I then 'dry fitted' all four pieces and found that I had to modify them by just a little more than the side wall thickness.  I did this on the table saw using an auxillary fence and cut the long straight edge (middle of the boat) of each doubler.

Once I got all four to fit snugly, I ripped down a 2x4 to 1 1/4 width and cut two 6 in pieces to act as the packing blocks.  I screwed these to the two 2x4s I had supporting the boat on my saw horses.  Once I put the board in the center and put weights in the boat, I found that the two side 2x4s were bending in the middle so I cut two braces the same height as the saw horses and slid these into place under the center of the 2x4s.  It turns out that the 2x4s were bending about 3/8 inch in the middle, but the center was not bending at all since it was not a green as the other two.

I then mixed some thickened epoxy (using wood flour) and 'pasted' the doublers in.  I was surprised at how much 'glue' I used.  I think I mixed 4 or 5 six ounce batches.  I then put the weights in....I used two bags of water softener salt, two bags of play sand, some weights, and anything else I could find to ensure that entire surface area of the doubler was touching the bottom of the boat.






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Today, I removed the weights from the doubler and filletted and taped the inside seams.  I thought through the steps I'd need to take to do the first seam so I could prep everything necessary before mixing the epoxy.  I cut the fiberglass tape to length and then mixed 6 oz of thickened epoxy.  I then mixed another 6 oz of non-thickened epoxy....I figured I could wet down the wood then fillet the seam and if I didn't have enough thickened epoxy, I could quickly make some more. 

What I didn't realize is how fast that much epoxy will begin to cure.  I used the thickened epoxy and made the fillet then went to dip my brush into the epoxy and got a big surprise!  It was solid on top!  So I picked it up...which was a mistake...it was almost too hot to handle...I had to hold the cup up by the rim to not burn my fingers.  I quickly dumped it out onto a piece of plastic, but by then it was too late....I made my first epoxy popsicle! :o

After this learning experience, I continued with the other seams and didn't have any other major problems.  Now that the seams are hardening, I do have one question though.

--What is the best way to remove the zip ties?  ???

I tried to remove a few tonight but they just broke off and would not slide out of the fillet now that it's hardened.  Is there a trick to this or should I just cut them off and epoxy and tape over them?





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just cut 'em off with a sharp chisel or sand 'em away, then glass over them- you can't get plastic ties back out once the epoxy has set- wires you can get out easily- plastic ties don't need to come out really.

And if you keep building boats, that won't be your last epoxy popsicle ;D ;D

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