Concrete Canoe Build


The polished plug for this year’s concrete canoe.

Every year the engineering department at the University of Hawaii Manoa participates in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) national collegiate competition where each school has to build and paddle a concrete canoe. We know exactly what you’re thinking, “can you even make a concrete canoe that doesn’t sink?” and more importantly, “why would you want to?”

As you can imagine, it takes a lot of effort to design, mold, build and finish a concrete canoe and that’s where a handful of local businesses stepped in to help. Fiberglass Hawaii helped the students procure materials while local canoe manufacturers, Kamanu Composites and Jay Dowsett, allowed students to use their facilities, mine their expertise and sometimes even their personal materials all in an effort to help make the best finished concrete canoe possible.

We sat down with Nick Herrera and Reyn Yoshimura who are part of this year’s UH competition team. You may remember Nick from our Rocket Build blog from last year. Nick has worked for Kamanu Composites for several years now and has some great knowledge on canoe building which is a big plus for this year’s upcoming competition.

Fiberglass Hawaii (FGH): So it looks like you guys have been busy lately. We’ve been seeing a lot of you in the shop. Tell me what are we looking at right here?


Nick and Reyn lining up the foam on the CNC machine

Reyn Yoshimura (RY): This right here is the plug that Nick helped us make. We cut the foam using Kamanu Composites CNC machine. We took it over to Jay Dowsett’s place where he helped us mold it over the weekend.

FGH: That’s so cool that you have these guys with all of this knowledge lending a hand. How long did that take to cut?

Nick Herrera (NH): It took about eight hours to cut it out.

FGH: That is crazy! Most people probably think that it takes like 20 minutes to cut out foam on a high-tech machine. How big was the block of foam you cut the plug out of?

NH: 12’ by 4’ by 9 1/4”. We had to do multiple cuts too. The bottom is two pieces, 8” deep and the top is 6 pieces that are also image28” deep and then we glued them all together.

FGH: How did you guys do that?

NH: We just glued them together with epoxy and then puttied the seams. After that we glassed the entire plug using some 6 oz cloth and 3:1 epoxy we got from your shop.

FGH: Very cool. How did you guys get such a smooth finish?

NH: After we glassed it we puttied the outside, let it cure, sanded it and then just did that a few times until it was smooth. Then we primered the outside. After that, we sanded, wet sanded and then buffed the primer out.


The polished out plug

FGH: Sounds like a lot of work already! What’s the deal with this competition? It sounds counterintuitive for an engineering department to want to build a super heavy and slow canoe.

RY: I guess it’s kind of like the whole feat of being an engineer, trying to do something that’s really challenging. The whole idea is to make a concrete boat float and light.

FGH: It still sounds crazy to me. Plus you have Nick who makes super fast canoes with Kamanu which has got to be tough to think about making a concrete canoe.


Note the bumpy finish and rounded nose from the previous year


Note the smooth finish and sleek design of this year’s canoe

RY: Yeah, but it’s a national competition that’s been around for a long time so it’s pretty cool in that sense.

FGH: What do you have to do to win this competition?

RY: There are four categories. Final product, which includes what the canoe looks like. There’s a display day that everyone displays their canoes at. There’s the racing. There’s a men’s sprint, men’s endurance, women’s sprint, women’s endurance and then there’s a coed sprint race.


FGH: How many people are paddling the canoe?

RY: For the regular races there are two and in the coed race there are four paddlers.

FGH: How much would a four man canoe weigh if it was a traditional fiberglass lay up?

NH: About 200 pounds.

FGH: How much will the concrete canoe weigh?

RY: This one will weigh about 300 pounds.

FGH: That’s really not as heavy as I thought it would be. So wait, how do you pop it out of the mold if it weighs 300 pounds?

NH: We haven’t figured that out yet.

RY: We’re going to get there.

FGH: I am glad I don’t have to try to pop a beast like this out of a mold! How have you done it in the past?

RY: Well in the past we had a male mold so it was easy to do.


The concrete canoe curing inside of the female mold

FGH: Why did you do a female mold this time?

RY: The finish on the outside comes out so much nicer this way. It comes out perfect, ready to go.

FGH: Well luckily you’re engineers so you’ll figure out a way.


RY: Check this out. This is traditional concrete (hands me a concrete cylinder). And this is what we use (hands me another concrete cylinder that is much lighter).

FGH: What the? Why is it so much lighter?

RY: It’s a huge difference! We use glass bubbles as a filler. You guys brought in K37 for us because you stock K25.

FGH: How did those work out?

RY: It worked out great as you can feel. The glass bubbles actually make it stronger too unlike other glass bubbles that are weak.

FGH: So it helps to hold it together, add strength and keep it light?

RY: Yeah, there’s less trapped air.

FGH: Sounds like a lot of materials and work go into each step.

NH: Yeah, you guys helped us out a lot with the glass, resin and fillers. It wouldn’t have been possible without Keizo (Kamanu Composites), Jay, and you guys.

FGH: Very cool. When are you guys going to get this out in the water?

RY: Concrete usually takes 28 days to reach its full strength. After that we’ll do some filling and more sanding and then seal it. Probably late January 2016.

FGH: Well I look forward to watching you guys test paddle this soon. Good luck and we’ll be seeing you soon.

Stay tuned for the follow-up to see how Nick, Reyn and the rest of the UH engineering students do in this year’s concrete canoe competition to be held in June in Tyler, Texas. Fiberglass Hawaii is dedicated to selling the best materials available. If you don’t see something in one of our stores or online then feel free to ask us about it and maybe we have an alternative or we can bring it in for you. We also love being involved with our customers and contributing our time and knowledge so let us know if your school or club has a project that requires a little extra guidance. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Shop 24/7 at the all new

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Get a Smooth Finish on Your Next Project

The Fiberglass Hawaii Finish Shaping Pad is essential to any professional or aspiring shaper. This tool is most commonly used with full sheets of sand screen to achieve a smooth finish on various foam surfaces. This is a finishing tool so it is used after the more aggressive shaping tools have cut and shaped the blank. When used correctly, the finish shaping pad will clean up scratches and smooth out the surface in order to prepare the surface for glassing. Choose your grit, place it on the foam, place the flat side of the pad face-down and apply moderate pressure using your hand. For best results scrub nose to tail and use long, fluid motions opposed to short, choppy motions which will cause unwanted high and low spots. Watch the video for more info.

Don’t forget about the other Fiberglass Hawaii shaping tools that make shaping more accurate and fun, without breaking the bank. Check them out below and remember to tag us in your project posts using #fiberglasshawaii so we can see how you are using our products in your projects.

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Get Hands On At Dust & Fumes

Surfboards are a beautiful thing; part art, part science and pure fun. It’s these qualities that entice someone to try to shape their own board. Shaping can be an intimidating task for a first timer. What blank should I use? Which tools do I use? How do I use the tools that I have? Where can I shape a surfboard? Luckily Fiberglass Hawaii supplies the tools, materials and knowledge to get you going. On Oahu you can put those tools and knowledge to work at Alex Nguyen’s shop named Dust & Fumes.

alexboardBefore we get too far into it, these guys do way more than building surfboards. They build custom cars, motorcycles, fabricate parts, woodworking, graphic design, printing and pretty much anything else that can be customized. Don’t worry, we’re going to dive into all of that fun stuff on another blog. For now, we’re just going to focus on the board building aspect.

Since we’ve been supplying blanks, drums of resin, acetone, tints, pigments, cloth and all the glassing goodies for the new shop, Alex invited us over to check it out. Although the shop is not 100% finished it is still very impressive and totally functional. We had a chance to ask him some questions about the surfboard side of his shop and here’s what he had to say.

FGH: What kind of business is Dust & Fumes and how did you come up with the name?

Alex: Dust & Fumes is first, and foremost, a glassing factory.  But we have also expanded it to be a lifestyle brand that includes apparel/accessories and fiberglass and resin work for surf, motorcycle, and automotive needs.  The name Dust & Fumes originated from my fiancé, who always complained about the dust and smell of the fumes in the factory, from glassing and sanding.

glassshopFGH: How did you get into surfboard building?

Alex: I worked at a small surf shop and from there, I met the shapers who would sell their boards in the shop.  At the time, I was really into trying all types of shapes, but didn’t have the money for lots of different boards.  I figured I could learn how to build my own for a little less money, and a couple of shapers and glassers took me under their wing.  I found that I really enjoyed the process and kept going from there.

razorrailsFGH: Historically surfboard builders are tight lipped about their board building process. It seems like you’re willing to share your knowledge and enjoy discussing different techniques.

Alex: We can certainly be tight lipped about certain aspects of the building process, because we are always working new techniques. I think that if the regular surfer knows what goes into making a surfboard they will appreciate it more and be understanding when it comes to just how much time, effort, and work goes into their final product.

shaperoomFGH: Why do you want to open up your shop to brand new, green horn, fresh out of the womb, wann-a-be board builders?

Alex: I will always feel like a new board builder myself because there are always new techniques and technology that I can keep learning.  I will forever be a learner and I’d love to be there for anyone else who would like to learn and better themselves as well.  I know what it feels like to pay your dues. In some ways the old style of being so “tight-lipped” and closing off the public to the process hinders the growth of the industry who feeds us and keeps us happy.

FGH: What’s the main focus of the “surf” side of Dust & Fumes?

Alex: We are available for glassing services and specialize in color resin work.  We also currently have two shaping rooms that are available for free use and we will glass and finish their shaped boards (for a list of set prices).

through windowFGH: Give me the breakdown of how someone can schedule the room to shape their own board.

Alex: We are currently taking shaping room bookings over the phone (808) 349-4791.  They can call us at this number and we can get the relationship going from there.

For more information on Dust & Fumes check out their Instagram @dustandfumes and online at You can also see some of Alex’s surfboards on Instagram @ninjasurfboards. If you want to check out all the materials we supply then head on over to and remember to tag us on your social media projects so we can see what you’re building using #Fiberglasshawaii products.


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Bright is the NEW Black

It's clear to see that ProLink is the superior resin in this side by side yellowing test.

It’s clear to see that ProLink is the superior resin in this side by side yellowing test.

Epoxy lovers rejoice! Fiberglass Hawaii is proud to offer ProLink Epoxy systems. The latest ProLink surfboard resin is just one of many new products coming down the pipe from our collaboration with ProLink. Here’s why this resin is so great and why you should be using this on your EPS boards.

RR Close Up

ProLink is the most UV stable surfboard epoxy on the market. We have tested it against the most popular surfboard epoxy resins in our sun test. We laminated samples of foam using the same fiberglass and hot coating procedure. After a five day cure time, we then covered half of each sample with a piece of cardboard and left them out in the super hot Hawaiian sun to bake over a three day period for a total of 24 hours. Take a look at the pictures to see how the ProLink just barely dulled while the competitors resin turned yellow.

PL Close UPAesthetics aren’t the only thing though, usability is important and ProLink is a simple 2:1 mixing ratio by weight. Two parts resin to one part hardener. This resin has a medium viscosity which allows it to stay on the board while you are working with it instead of having it end up on the glass shop floor. Did we mention it saturates really well? All you have to do is spread it around and it will soak into multiple layers of fabric with ease. Here are some typical handling properties for Pro Link.

 Gel Time (150g mix @ 77 °F) (40 min)

 Thin Film Set Time @ 77 °F (2.5 hr.)

 Peak Exotherm (100g mix @ 77 °F) 210 °F

 Heat Deflection Temp HDT):

-24 hrs. @ 25°C

-Ultimate HDT 91°C

Here are some other applications that ProLink is great for:


-Casting and Tooling

-Marine and Protective Coatings

-Automotive Coatings



-Vacuum Bag

Last but not least, it cures super hard and can withstand a lot of punishment. If you haven’t already seen our “smack test” on Instagram then check it out below.


You can contact us for more information on ProLink Epoxy Resin you can email or call any one of our four locations listed below.

Honolulu- 808.847.3951

Wahiawa- 808.621.5667

Maui- 808.871.7955

Ventura- 805.644.0009


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Avoid Transom Failures and Bad Color Matches

Custom Gel Coat colors

Fiberglass Hawaii is known for bringing the best quality products and materials to market. Boating and marine customers will definitely be interested in these exciting new additions to our inventory!

Samples of color matching

Samples of color matching


Our latest endeavor is providing custom gel coats for our customers. All we ask for is a flat, clean color swatch at least the size of a 50-cent coin (roughly a 2” x 2” square).  The time it takes to match varies with color. Please allow us enough time to work with it. Although it may seem simple, we are going through many trials and tests to provide the best results.

Screenshot_2015-06-11-08-59-02 imagepng_0 Screenshot_2015-06-11-08-58-10



Here’s how it works:

Find a color swatch (roughly 2” x 2”).  These could be found in all types of stores, mainly where house paints are sold, such as: Sears, Home Depot, Benjamin Moore, etc.

Place an order. Bring in the color swatch and order your desired quantity.


Note: If you call ahead of time with an order in mind, great! Please remember, we will not be able to start the match until the color sample is given to us.

Colors have been added and are ready to be mixed!

Colors have been added and are ready to be mixed!

Leave your information. As you place your order, be sure to leave a name and number so that we are able to give you a call when we have a sample ready for you to look at.

Approval. Your approval is required to assure that you too are okay with the outcome of the color. We do not want to send gel coats without knowing for sure whether or not you are satisfied with it.

Pick up. If you plan to pick up on the same day you stop by to approve, please give us enough time to mix it up for you. A gallon would take about 10-15 minutes, but 30 gallons could take 1-2 hours. Otherwise, we’ll call you when your order has been completed.  Prices will depend on color as well as material cost.


custom colors

Here are some of the colors customers are ordering that might inspire you.

Please DO NOT hand us:


– Printed pictures of a color

– Canoe Ama’s

– Canoe Paddles

– Tabletops

– Surfboard Fins

– Deck Pieces

– Ribbons


Believe it or not, we’ve had people bring these as sample chips. Our machine will work at its best with a flat, clean color swatch.

Follow these simple steps to set your brand apart, match a repair job, or add that special touch your customers want in a high-end product. We still offer our full range of standard gel coat colors too (contact your local store for regularly stocked options).

No more wood rot on your boat when you use Kay-Cel board.

No more wood rot on your boat when you use Kay-Cel board.


We are now stocking Kay-Cel high density polyurethane board in 4’ x 8’  with thicknesses of 1/2”, 3/4” and 1”. This polyurethane board is a stronger and lighter alternative to standard marine plywood which is heavier and often ends up needing to be replaced due to water damage. The Kay-Cel board will not take on water due to its closed-cell structure unlike plywood which soaks up water causing rot. Kay-Cel board went through extensive testing before being released and there have been zero *transom failures reported in over 50,000 boats featuring Kay-Cel transoms. If you are building a boat or refurbishing one then you’ll want to use this product to ensure your craft stays sea worthy for a long time. Contact for availability and pricing.

Up close look at the composite surface.

Up close look at the composite surface.

Presently these items are only available for customers in the State of Hawaii. We hope to be able to offer these products nationwide in the future. US Mainland customers requiring custom gel coat colors, please contact the Ventura location at for availability and pricing. If you have any further questions then call us at 808.847.3951. We look forward to seeing you at the shop!

*The port and starboard sides of your boat are connected by the transom, located at the stern of your boat. All the power of the motor is transmitted via the transom to the rest of the vessel’s structure, making it a critical part of the vessel’s construction.
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Color Tint and Sparkle Deck inlay With Jack Reeves

In part one of our Jack Reeves profile video series we got a behind-the-scenes view into his world of glassing. We’re releasing part two this week containing two more color laminations. The first is a full tint lamination and the second, a tinted sparkle deck inlay. If you are a surfboard geek, aspiring surfboard builder or even a professional, you’ll want to be sure to take notes as you watch these videos.

To view and purchase the products Jack is using visit us online at If you missed Part 1, click here for a refresher. Remember to tag us in your board building pics on social media.  If you have any questions, feel free to email us using the contact form below.

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Glassing Tutorial and Profile: Jack Reeves Part 1

Surfboard shapers sign their name to a finished board as a sign of pride. Pride for their high level of quality and pride in their final creation. The shaper gets all the glory. Ask a surfer who their favorite shaper is and they’ll probably rattle off a few names. Ask a surfer who their favorite glasser is and you’ll probably hear crickets.

Jack Reeves is one of a few, or maybe the only surfboard glasser we know, who actually signs each of his glass jobs. He is so highly regarded by high-end surfboard collectors and shapers alike that they actually prefer he signs his work. Jack looks and sees things that most people would ignore or not even notice in the first place while glassing. Things like weave pattern, cloth consistency, pigment variations and resin viscosity are all on Jack’s mental checklist as he begins each board. This is why Fiberglass Hawaii requests and values Jack’s feedback on new products and improving our current line.

Fiberglass Hawaii is proud to work with Jack Reeves and to be able to supply his composite needs. We are pleased to bring you this new four-part series shadowing this incredible resin artist while glassing several Dick Brewer surfboards. Enjoy these videos and tag us in your board building pics on social media. Finally, to view and purchase the products Jack is using visit us online at If you have any questions, feel free to email us using the contact form below. To learn more about surfboard glassing, check out our DIY tutorial here.

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