What is a Cheater Coat?
A Cheater Coat is an optional step where a thin coat of epoxy resin is used to seal the wood before the lamination (fiberglass cloth) is applied.
Do I need one?
It never hurts to do one but it isn’t always necessary. I did a cheater coat on this board because it had lots of knots and wild cathedral grain. The grain around knots, and the knots themselves, suck up more resin than the rest of the wood and potentially leave the lamination with dry spots. Sealing the board with a cheater coat usually solves this problem and allows you to use less resin than just laying on a heavy coat. The other solution is to add an extra dip of epoxy on the trouble spots at the start and the finish of the lamination. Try to avoid just flooding the lamination with resin as it is possible for the cloth to float resulting in a poor lamination.
If you chose not to do a cheater coat it is really important that the environment that you are laminating in will have a constant temperature. Not warming up. It is always best laminate wood boards with an even temperature or in an environment that is cooling down. The reason is wood releases tiny air bubbles as it heats up that might be trapped in the curing resin. Sealing the board with a cheater coat reduces the chances of this occuring.
SliverTip epoxy is being spread with a plastic squeegee. The epoxy was initially poured down the middle of the board is being worked toward the rails in a wave. The squeegee is being held at nearly a right angle as I am trying to seal the wood with as little epoxy as possible. The shallower the angle the thicker coat the squeegee leaves.
The goal is to seal the wood and not leave it glossy. This TEN was sealed with about 5 ounces of resin.
The nose and tail areas are much easier to glass when they are sealed with a cheater coat. End-grain can suck up a lot of resin. If you have end-grain you might have to do a second coat. The way I cut my solid blocking results in grain that behaves much like the rest of the board.
Tip: It is easier to let the cheater coat cure and give it a light sanding than to lay fibreglass cloth over curing epoxy. The drips on the tape skirt take longer to cure than the cheater coat itself. I learned this the hard way!! Imagine trying to spread a table cloth flat on a table that has honey dripped on the edges!
If you are filling deep knotholes heat can be added to help get the air bubbles to the surface.
Check all your knotholes when you are done as they can drink up a lot more epoxy than vertical grain around them. Gulp, gulp, gulp.