Frej XS

BigandSmall

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A build thread for a Bjorn Thomasson Frej XS.

This project has been a long time in coming. I first bought plans for an Isfjord Mini in 2015 and picked up all my materials from Rod Tait at Orca Boats shortly thereafter. Life has a way of getting in the way and the materials sat for a long time. In that time Bjorn Thomasson shrunk the design of his Frej down for smaller paddlers offering a new Frej "XS". Since my wife is XS and prefers a loose hull with handling over speed this one sounded pretty darn good. Choosing a boat design is difficult. A lot of kayak builders I've seen are woodworkers as opposed to kayaking enthusiasts. Hard to trust a reviews from a first time paddlers. Fortunately John Abercrombie did a solid review of the full size Frej and knowing his background with multiple kayaks he sold me on this design. I bought a new set of plans and made up a new set of forms. My build got pushed aside again for my daughter's Arctic Tern 14 Capstone project for another 2 years.

Well as of this winter our Frej XS build is well underway. I'll add updates to the thread as I make progress. Yes my shop is always a mess. Too many hobbies and not enough space for all the stuff.
 

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BigandSmall

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Well that's where we're at as of today. My plan was to blacken the hull with graphite powder but we'll see though as I might try something different now instead. Unfortunately I wasn't kind with the stapling and not overly picky about the strip fitting since it was going to be covered by the black. I used it as a learning experience and learned that "perfection" is very hard to achieve with wood. To be honest "acceptable" was hard to achieve with wood. Rod Tait and Nick Schade make it look so easy in their videos.
 
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AM

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Wow…how many hours in total do you think this project will be? Impressive commitment!

Cheers,
Andrew
 
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paddlesores

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Thanks for posting your build. I'm really looking forward to watching it come together. I've never built a strip kayak but keep threatening to do one. Keep the pics coming. It looks like it's taking shape nicely.
Doug
 

BigandSmall

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I've always enjoyed watching everyone else's builds so I thought I'd share too. I'm sure Lila needs another boat Doug...

Once I get started on something I usually work pretty quickly but I have no idea on hours. I've read 300 for a stripper? Fun project when it's too cold out so I'm not concerned about time spent. I find doing something for the first time usually takes me 3 times as long as the second. Lots of that time is spent looking on the internet to see how to do things. Or trying to think of a way to correct the mistakes I've made. You can see in the pics that I failed trying to laminate a tight curve, next time I'll use steam. After some XC skiing tomorrow I'll mix up some expoxy with low density fairing compound. Fill in some bad shaping I did on the inner stem and get to sanding. I was surprised how quickly the bead and cove came together though. The strip method I used trying to fit up to a keel a strip was not a good idea. Next time I would over strip one side then cut out for the keel strip, strip the other side to that and trim again for the keel strip to drop in. That would have saved a lot of finicky time and likely been a lot cleaner. I wanted to learn though and the results were so so. It won't change how it paddles though. I'll try to track the next build time wise for you Andrew. I actually have enough material on hand for two boats. I stopped by Orca Boats again last spring when I was down and picked up a second load of wood and epoxy. I really caught the building bug helping with my daughter's Tern. I'm hoping to get this one done before the nice weather gets here.

1st goal of this project is that it be solid/tough. Using 4oz S-glass inside/out with West Systems epoxy and 1/4" strips.
2nd goal is weight, I'd love to see it under 35lbs with hatches. I won't skimp on rigging though so I expect to see closer to 40lbs.
3rd goal is to try to make it look good.
 
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BigandSmall

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Today was a two steps back kind of day. I put a bunch of staples back in and broke out my flush cut tool and chisel. I removed the cedar keel strip and replaced it with walnut. I also filled the gap in at the front stem with epoxy and low density fairing compound. I read that it's as strong structurally as wood flour but the micro balloons don't absorb epoxy so it's much lighter as a filler. Tomorrow I'll try to make some sawdust/glue filler up for the gaps.
 

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BigandSmall

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Hopefully this post is a distraction from a terrible news day.

Put a lot of time in today. The glue had dried and the epoxy set.

Planing the walnut was fun, like chocolate ribbons.
 

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BigandSmall

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Got to sanding after planing. I wanted to make some wood flour so I clipped my dust collector pouch on my sander and began making a mess. My whole shop is filthy now with a light layer of cedar dust on everything. Once I had two cups of cedar wood flour I connected my powered dust collection system, what a difference. I use a Festool ETS 125 sander with as soft interface pad and a CT15 dust collector. You still have to wear a dust mask but barely. It keeps the shop clean and the work clean. Sanding walnut I was worried about the dark brown sawdust contaminating the cedar. With the powered dust collector there was no dust present. Money well spent and it makes the sand paper last a lot longer too since it doesn't clog.
 

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BigandSmall

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I spent a long time with 60 grit getting everything as level as I could without a long board. Once I finished it was time to make some filler with the wood dust. I saw Nick Schade show how to make this on one of his many great videos. He adds a bit of low density fairing compound to keep the filler from being darker than the wood. So wood flour, some LDFC and wood glue. Mix it up and apply. I filled all my bad joints but my wife said not to fill the staple holes. She said it will look better distressed. I also made up a test panel. So now it has spackle all over it, we'll see if this was a good idea.
 

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BigandSmall

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Well the way I applied that filler was a mistake as I'm sure some of you already knew. It was surprising more durable than I thought it would be. Took me two hours to sand it all off with 60 grit. I even took off the soft interface pad to get more bite. I then made two passes over the hull with each grit with the interface pad back on, 80,120,220. It did fill in the gaps nicely where I had strip issues. I included the worst spot picture as an example. You can see the mix of dried glue and the filler I added after.
 

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BigandSmall

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So my original plan was to do the hull in black and the deck in cedar with a couple of accent strips. That's why I wasn't overly concerned with gaps in the strips and small tear outs. As it came together I decided to try something different and try dying the wood. That's why I swapped out the keel strip to walnut. I made the test pieces to see if a rag or a foam brush will work better for uniform application. If it looks terrible with the glass application then the fill coats will be black and the walnut will only be visible on the inside. I'm hoping it works out though. Unfortunately my dye order got cancelled, the email went to my spam folder and I missed it. Ordered from Amazon instead but it likely won't be here until late tomorrow. Still need to do a wet down to raise the grain and then one more 220 pass. After that I'm on hold waiting for the delivery man.
 

mick_allen

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Yup, it looks good. What I like is that the colours of the woodstrips are all similar to give a nice uniform look to it all - likely even when dyed. To me, it's a powerful effect that even first timers can readily achieve.
It'll look great to all who paddle with you.
 

BigandSmall

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Thanks Mick. My favourite looking wood is the white wood is that the Scandinavian's use for their kayaks. I'm surprised it turned out as clean as it did though because I saved all the best strips for the deck.
 

BigandSmall

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The dye arrived this morning just after I finished getting everything prepped. I put down some masking paper in preparation for epoxy in the days to come. The "Cherry Red" RIT fabric dye worked pretty well as I had seen in other's You tube videos. It doesn't penetrate like a stain and for that reason is quite forgiving. We put 2 coats on, one base and one filler. The dye was sensitive to rough areas and really didn't like the couple of glue spots I apparently missed when sanding. I included a before and after pictures of one of the spots I had to sand out and re-finish. I also included a picture of that area I thought would be the hardest to stain. Turns out the dye will dye glue slightly and absorb nicely into the Schade wood filler. The boat is more red than it appears in the pictures. We're pretty happy with the results. As for the walnut strip I held a piece of 14x10 thin aluminum along the edge and my wife stained up against it. We had a couple spots where we bled through. I used my smallest detail scraper head ans shaved the walnut in those spots. Other than the two coats we had to touch a few flat spots after. We also cooled the garage to have more working time. We'll see how it looks once it's shiny.
 

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mick_allen

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Oh crap - maybe. Quite some time ago someone on this forum used a waterbased fabric dye on their kayak and . . . it was originally an amazing boat that faded 'rite' out to blotches in less than a season. Hopefully that was a less UV resistant mix used in the past.

If you haven't already done it, maybe just check out your RIT dye to see if it is light fast nowadays . . .

If it is nfg, maybe you can wet it all out and wipe off - I did that to one aniline dyed kayak where it got rained on and dried - I just soaked it, wiped it all off and stained it all over again. Whatever the case, maybe finish up with a really good UV varnish over top and keep it hidden, heh heh.

good luck on this.
 

BigandSmall

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I appreciate the heads up Mick, worrisome. I now need to decide whether to keep the red and count on the varnish for protection or use the graphite powder as I originally intended.

My mistake here was ordering something that I could get quickly and not reading deeply enough into dyes. The product they use to achieve their colours can affect longevity. Here is a good video on dye's, more about application really. He mentions Transtint using metal acid dye to make it more light fast and reviews the SDS at 7:45. When I check the SDS on the RIT all purpose liquid dye I find no such listing. So as usual it seems the more toxic a product is the better it works.
 

DavidDeWitt

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Perhaps you should glue up a 1’ x 2‘ panel of strips. After sanding and applying the dye you could glass the panel and varnish to see what the final color will look like. I have used TotalBoat clear varnish.
 
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