Tag Archives: Tom Pawlak

scarffing plywood

Plywood Scarffing Methods

By Tom Pawlak

There are many ways to machine scarf bevels on plywood panels. The best method depends on how many scarf joints your project requires. If you need to scarf only two sheets of 3mm plywood, using a block plane and sanding block is a good low cost option. If you have a daily need to scarf many panels, a reliable machining method is a wise investment. This article reviews several popular scarffing methods and tools, to help you decide which is best for you. Continue reading

vacuum table

The Vacuum Table

By Tom Pawlak

A vacuum hold down feature can be incorporated into a table to hold individual sheets of plywood in place while you machine scarf bevels. This feature works especially well when using the router box technique described in the scarffing article. You’ll need a fairly large vacuum pump. We use an oilless rotary vane vacuum pump made by Gast, Model No. 3040-V115A. It generates 25 cubic feet per minute (cfm) at no vacuum and 5 cfm at 20″ of mercury. Smaller units may work, but lots of cfm and reasonably high vacuum are required when plywood is warped or rough. A vacuum table will work most efficiently holding down smooth, flat plywood panels. Continue reading

Relief from Fiberglass Irritation

By Tom Pawlak

Working with fiberglass fabrics can cause skin irritations ranging from minor itching to a serious rash. It’s caused by microscopic, needle-like fiberglass spindles of that prick your skin. It helps to protect your skin with gloves and long sleeves, but you still might be faced with fiberglass induced itch.  Continue reading

Specialty Tools for Fairing

By Tom Pawlak

The Fairing File

My son Matt and I recently built a small stitch-and-glue boat. While fairing the bottom we discovered that hacksaw blades can be modified and used for fairing.

The buildup of fiberglass tape along the chine and keel had caused a low spot in the hull all along the edge of the fiberglass buildup. Filling the low spot with low-density filler was easy, but sanding the cured epoxy with sanding boards was slow work. Experimenting with a new hacksaw blade, we found it easily cut through the low-density filler and occasional high spots in the fiberglass. Continue reading

Minimizing Amine Blush

By Tom Pawlak with Tim Atkinson

I recently built a double-ended paddle for my kayak. The blades were made of thin mahogany plywood coated with epoxy. I had coated all the paddle parts with two coats of epoxy the day before, and overnight a thin oil-like film had formed on the surface of the epoxy. This is amine blush. To ensure a good bond between the blade and the shaft, I removed the blush with water, dulled the surface with an abrasive pad, and dried the surface with paper towels. I’m confident using my new kayak paddle because the mating surfaces of the shaft and blade were properly prepared prior to bonding. Continue reading