G-10: The Secret Weapon of DIY Boat Repairers

People who enjoy fixing old boats all have their favorite products. Some like working with wood, some on fiberglass boats, others with epoxy etc. Regardless of the type of boat or construction, one product I’ve come to love is G-10. What is G-10, you ask?  It’s also known as Garolite, and is the same stuff used on your computer’s motherboard, that pressure-  and heat-formed sheet to which all the electronics are attached.

An 1/8 inch piece of G-10 can withstand 40,00 PSI, so this use of G-10 as washers for keelboats in a wet bilge is perfect.
An 1/8 inch piece of G-10 can withstand 40,00 PSI, so this use of G-10 as washers for keelboats in a wet bilge is perfect.

What is so great about it? and What is it good for? are easy questions to answer when it comes to boating applications: It is impervious to water; it is super strong yet lightweight; it won’t rot; it can be cut and shaped with wood tools; and it is fabulous for high-stress applications like backing plates for handrails, jib tracks, turning blocks, or stanchions. When used in thin 1/8-inch sheets, it has some flexibility to conform to minor contours, like cabin tops.

It is not very expensive–a 12 x 12 1/8-inch sheet costs less than $14.00. It is flame-resistant, stronger than aluminum plate of the same thickness, and, of course, is a good electrical insulator.

G-10 comes in different shapes, so this half-round on the leading edge of a keel provides perfect shape and lift
G-10 comes in different shapes, so this half-round on the leading edge of a keel provides perfect shape and lift.

In thicker ½-inch sheets, I’ve used it to customize mast partners. In solid tube form I’ve even used it to do a “nose job” on the front edge of a keel—to get the perfect round edge. The fact that it comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors lends itself to your imagination on how and where it can be used. You can order it online from industrial suppliers like McMaster-Carr.

The only drawback I can think of is that G-10, like other epoxy based products, is susceptible to breaking down when exposed to UV sunlight—so if you do use it topside, a simple coat of paint will protect it; otherwise you don’t need to paint it and it is maintenance-free.  G-10 is truly a wonderful material for repairing boats.

(Editor’s note: This post originally appeared in December, 2010.)

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