Making Your Own Chop Strand Mat

I needed to make some chop strand mat to help bond in the frame supports for the manual bilge pump. I dug deep into my storage lockers to find my fiberglass materials and was shocked that I had run out of chop strand mat and all I had was a very large piece of woven cloth.

Part of being a cruiser is being creative. You need creativity because you don't always have access to all the tools and materials that you need. This means that you need to get creative and figure out ways to make the tools and materials that you need out of what you have on hand.

Chop strand mat is simply a mat made out of small strands of fiberglass. Woven cloth is simply made out of long strands of fiberglass woven together. I didn't have chop strand mat, but I did have fiberglass cloth, sharp scissors, and plenty of time!

4x4 inch sections of cloth were cut out of the fabric and I proceeded to unravel the cloth. Fiberglass cloth is very easy to pull apart, you just need plenty of time to do this. Start at a corner and pull a single fiber at a time. Continue to pull the strands out of the cloth until you have pulled the whole 4x4 section apart. If you lay all the strands in the same orientation, the next step is pretty easy and straight forward.

I simply pick up the bundle of strands and begin cutting them into 1 to 1.5 inch sections. It is best to cut slowly that way stray fibers don't go flying through the air and into your cushions!

Cutting the fibers over a bowl will catch the small strands as they fall off the clump in your hand. With all the fibers collected, you can mix them up to randomize their orientations to each other. 

Now you have a bowl full of chop strand mat, ready to soak up the resin like a sponge to help bond the wood frames together.