I started to make the side panels before I decided to cut out all the parts and store them away. You can still see the sheets of ply on the floor in the background while I worked on these panels.
First I glued the puzzle joint on one side panel, using a saw horse as a strongback to support the joint, weighted down with rolls of lead to keep it nice and flat.
I propped up the ends of the panel with the other saw horse and some offcuts on the two collapsible tables, like this.
I used too much thickened epoxy and made a shocking mess! I used this Bahco scraper and Shinto saw file to clean up the cured joint. I had previously purchased them from Fyne Boats to clean up the squeeze out on the keel and centre board assembly. The saw file in particular is excellent for removing rock hard lumps of epoxy. But as the guys at Fyne Boats said, the best way to get rid of this sort of mess is not to make it in the first place …
Because I don't have enough room or work surfaces to work on two panels at the same time, I then glued the other side panel on top of the first. There is plastic sheeting between the panels so the squeeze out does not weld them together.
Both joints worked out fine.
then I 'glassed the inside face of one side panel. Actually it doesn't matter which side you 'glass, as long as you 'glass its mirror image on the second panel.
I had some teething troubles laying out the glass cloth but got there in the end. The wallpaper brush is a great help when smoothing it out, and I found a decent pair of dressmaker's scissors are perfect for cutting it.
Again I used a disposable roller to wet it out with clear resin, and it worked well on this large area. With the roller I can saturate the cloth but still lay down a thin coat, leaving the weave prominent to fill with two more coats of resin.
I used graduated measuring cups to achieve the 2 to 1 resin to activator mix. I keep the epoxy in an insulated box which I store in the airing cupboard in the house so it is always warm, and I mix it well for at least three minutes before application. It works beautifully and I don't fret about the epoxy any more. And I just move pieces into the house to finish curing. It just takes as long as it takes!
Someone on the PocketShip forum recommended that I use an old credit card to spread the epoxy. I tried it but it was way too small to be effective. But I do now use plastic decorator's scrapers. I trim the edge with a sharp craft knife or my block plane to get a clean straight edge, and they work very well. I can quickly cover a large area with a nice thin coat. Here is the epoxy tool set.
When cured I sanded the panels to a matt finish ready for the next coat. Here I am half way through sanding one of the two 'glassed panels.
It took me nearly six hours to sand both panels, and it was at this point I realised that the Rotex 90 is just too small for these large areas. So I purchased a Rotex 150, which is intended for large surfaces and is a lot more powerful. It can be switched between random orbital and geared rotary sanding, and it is an awesome piece of kit!
Then I applied two more coats of resin to each side panel, sanding with P80 grit after each coat and finishing off with P120 grit to leave a smooth, matt, paint-ready finish.
The Rotex 150 just ate this up, taking just two hours to do both panels. Here is one side panel, partly sanded.