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Bending Mahogany

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Fitz, Oct 25, 2007.

  1. fred capenos

    fred capenos Canoe Pilot

    The radius on the forms for my first try was 41 1/4 in'
  2. Rollin Thurlow

    Rollin Thurlow member since 1980

    HI there,
    A metal strap is always much more effective than a wood strap when serious bending is needed. As far as staining goes, it does not have to be a problem. Varnish, tin foil, paper, waxes - all are a pain to deal with when your trying to bend something in a short amount of time. A simple strip of duck tape or wide shipping tape down the inside surface of the steel strap will take care of any potential staining problem and it doesn't slip around or fall off the jig! Saves time, its cheap and extreamly effective!
  3. OP

    Fitz Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Its been that long???

    Well, since the green monster vacated my garage I'm back to work on the 1929 OTCA. Steve Lapey let me borrow his extra hands, clamps, and forms and we had some success with honduran mahogany.

    Soaked for 6 days, steamed for 70 minutes, and so far, so good.

    Two bends down, two bends to go.

    Attached Files:

  4. Blue Viking

    Blue Viking Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Nice pictures!...Good Job...I have 5 pieces of that stuff left and am gonna start an EM WHite boy scout next and will most probably use two of them on favorite steam box.....PVC!....I even have a 12 inch one with racks!:)
  5. chris pearson

    chris pearson Michigan Canoe Nut

    Mahogany sucks to bend. I always break the crap,, I think mostly BECAUSE it is mostly kiln dried which is too dry for bending. One guy that I talk to when I'm really frustrated is Jack McGreivey, he can bend anything!! I've never seen anyone bend stuff the way he can. Are you coming to the assembly? Jack will be there and you can pick his brain.
  6. Paul Miller

    Paul Miller Canoe Nut

    If you go back to my first post about the workshop in 2007 I mention that Jack told me to soak them in kerosene for a few days not water.

    I have used Kerosene on spruce and that helped me bend gunnels I couldn't do prior.

    Haven't tried it on the mahogany yet but is helped bend the spruce.

  7. OP

    Fitz Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Woo HOO!!

    After many trials and tribulations, the new mahogany rails are on the 1929 OTCA! Photos at 11, or if it ever stops raining.

    Now for bending that pesky replacement deck combing......don't ask..:p
  8. OP

    Fitz Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    1929 Aa Otca

    Time for an update I suppose.

    I'm doing this canoe for the fun of it for the COO (Chief Operating Officer) of my day job company. I offered to fix it up and canvas it a year ago. I have run out of excuses, so the pressure is on. See progress picture. It is affectionately known as the "COO Canoe".

    The new mahogany outwales are on, they need some sorta stain to match the old, several coats of varnish on the new rails and trim, and a final coat of Persian Red on the canoe before I let it leave.

    Then the COO Canoe can leave the garage.....:) and free up space. WOO HOO!!:)

    Many thanks for Steve Lapey's mentoring and the use of his extra hands and his OTCA outwale forms.

    From what I know, the canoe spent much of its life on a Finger Lake in New York (Cayuga). It will probably see some use on the Sudbury River here in Massachusetts now.


    Attached Files:

  9. OP

    Fitz Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    I got more mahogany to bend.

    Would you believe I'm still working on this canoe? This one was suppose to be real easy. It has been a fun project and a good learning experience. The canoe will look really nice in the foliage on the local waters.:)

    Anyway, I decided it needed a new deck coam to replace a broken one. So I boiled a piece of the honduran and bent it on a form. It bent nicely and the OTCA has new coaming gracing the stern deck.

    The boss builds furniture and he gave me some aniline dye to try and stain the new wood to match the old. I will report back.

    Attached Files:

  10. Canoez

    Canoez Paddle Bait

    Even though most of our canoes live in covered space, light can fade many of the pigments used for analine dyes. This isn't to say that you shouldn't use them, just protect the wood that has been dyed with a good UV filtering spar varnish.

    I've also heard varying claims regarding preferences of alcohol based analine dyes over water based and vice-versa, but frankly I don't believe there would be much difference. Does anyone have any experience to share about this?
  11. Scot T

    Scot T LOVES Wooden Canoes

    There are a couple differences between the "spirit" based aniline dyes and the water based dyes that may (or may not) influence your choice. As well as a third choice.

    The spirit (methyl [wood] alcohol making them potentially dangerous to use so take proper precautions) based dyes are not as fade resistant as water-soluble but they do produce sparkling clear colors.

    The water-soluble does have a grain raising properties which can be annoying but you don't have to contend with fumes. These dyes are non-toxic so good for toys or other objects that may come in contact with our insides...?

    There are also NGR or Non-Grain Raising dyes which are designed to avoid the problems of grain rising. They are mixed in a water-free hydrocarbon solvent. They are the most lightfast of the three but their super fast drying time limits the use to small surfaces. The vapors are very toxic so good ventilation is a must.

    I use all three in my guitar building work depending on the application.

    Spirit is the best for oily woods and or to surfaces that have traces of old finish that would repel water-soluble dyes (Ie. any surfaces that have been varnished in that old canoe project). I find that adding a little shellac increases this dyes ability to bind to these surfaces.

    Water-soluble I use in areas where I want lots of color and don't mind sanding a little. I usually smooth with 400 to 600 grit before adding a top coat of finish. Don't want to remove too much as it will lighten the color.

    NGR I use in areas where I don't want the grain to raise because it would be too hard to reach with sandpaper or scrapers.

    I try to avoid using any of these dyes on soft woods like cedar or spruce if I have a large area to cover. These woods absorb the "watery" solutions so rapidly that I find it most difficult to get an even coloration.

    Hope a little here will help.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2008
  12. Canerodz

    Canerodz Trout Bum

    Whenever I have used water based dyes I get fuzzies on the wood and need to sand again. Maybe I'm not doing something right?
  13. Scot T

    Scot T LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "fuzzies" but if it's what I think you mean (raised grain) then that is normal with water based dye. That's why I use water based dyes only where it's ok to raise the grain even though I think it gives better color than the other options. And it also depends on the wood you are using, soft or hard wood.

    You can get a little bit of raised grain with spirit based and I've even got a tiny bit with NGR dyes but no where near that of water based. Just touch it up with 400 or 600 grit paper and you will have a super base to start your finish. Remember I am speaking from an instrument makers point of view here, so 600 might be serious overkill on a canoe but something (fine sanding pad, Grey Scuff-Rite pad) to lightly knock the "fuzzies" off.

    Another use for the ready made spirit dye is as an additive to your french polish/shellac. For necks on some of my Period Guitars, (19th century copies) I make my varnish using a black (Mohawk brand) spirit aniline dye. The necks for these instruments were "Ebonized" or ebony veneered so by putting the lac flakes and other gums to dissolve right in the bottled dye makes for an excellent black spirit varnish. Applying this over some nice poplar and you would swear, except for the lack of weight giving it away, you had an excellent, flawless piece of ebony.

    Again, this might be too much for canoe work but it's a bit of info to give some idea of what one can do with these products.
  14. John Greer

    John Greer LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Fitz I also have bent mahogany using a set up similiar to Dave's Have made rails on two Atkinson Travelers although the bend is not as sharp as the OTCA's. Haven't really had any problem with the bends but did use Hond. Mahog. I did soak the rails for a couple of days prior in lengths of pvc pipe. Good luck.
  15. OP

    Fitz Wooden Canoes are in the Blood


    Yes, John thanks. That is what worked for me. I soaked the gunwales for a few days in PVC and steamed them for about 70 minutes and then bent them on Steve Lapey's older OTCA form (seems the newer OTCAs may have less of a bend). Anyway, it worked. I used Honduran "mahogany" and it was much more forgiving. The Boss gets his canoe back next week, but I might sneak in a paddle on Walden Pond, just to make sure there are no leaks, dontcha know?!:) :rolleyes: :p


  16. John Greer

    John Greer LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Didn't realize I was responding to an older message until I hit send. I sometimes forget to check to see if there are additional pages of messages! Just spent a few hours on the Missouri here in north central Montana. Gorgeous day to be on the river. We try to get out as much as possible this time of year. Only other river users are drift boat fisherman and waterfowl. Currently working on a 1909 Old Town CS HW. Plan to have it's 100th birthday launch next June. John
  17. OP

    Fitz Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    I gotta call it done.

    The final coat of paint went on the Chief Operating Officer's (COO Canoe). I shined up the brass for the Brass too. It was a fun project and these AA Grade boats are real pretty. I learned a ton about bending mahogany. Thanks to the Forum and the WCHA members for all the helpful tips.

    (The boss doesn't get back in town until the 25th. Should sneak out and go for a paddle in Walden??):)

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 21, 2008
  18. Scot T

    Scot T LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Very pretty boat . Nicely done Fitz! That should keep the "Brass of your A--" for a while.
  19. Canerodz

    Canerodz Trout Bum

    Very pretty! Even the floor rack looks great.
  20. UncleWayneG

    UncleWayneG New Member

    1st timer!!

    I have been lurking in this forum for two years or more. I finally decided to make it official. Recently I finished my 1978 17' OTCA with new canvas and a few minor repairs. It wasn't very old but I had not taken very good care of it.

    My latest project is a 16' OTCA built in 1929. #99182 It has had quite a life and at least one near-death experience!
    Several ribs have been cracked and very nicely repaired with overlays and epoxy.

    Screw holes and build sheet tell me that it had sponsons and a keel. Since I do mostly open water paddling I will make a new keel but I don't imagine that sponsons will ever re-appear!

    What brings me to this thread is the forming and bending of outer rails. After reading to the last entry I almost feel as If I had allready done them successfully. A nice neighbor lady has given me some 18" straight ash! What luck!

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