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Gaps Between Planks

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Brad Posey, May 9, 2018.

  1. Brad Posey

    Brad Posey An Old Man with a New Project

    just starting on my first restoration. 1926 OT. This was covered with fiberglass, have removed all the glass.
    Im concerned with the space between the planks. Should i be?
    Should I cover with lynceed oil to swell them? Help apreciated.
  2. Howie

    Howie LOVES Wooden Canoes

    It's the canvas covering that makes the canoe watertight, so as long as the gaps aren't huge the canoe will be the right shape and float without leaks. So gaps are more a matter of aesthetics; the bigger they are the more you'll notice them. Gap sizes are a function of the wood used and how hard a life the canoe has had; an uncanvassed canoe left to bake in the sun for a few years will look a lot 'gappier' than one that hasn't. Since your canoe was glassed I'm guessing that isn't your problem. And if your gaps are so small that you're considering using lynseed oil to swell them then you haven't a problem at all. It's hard to quantify this, but I'm thinking gaps up to 1/16" are normal. But sometimes gaps are caused by broken or frayed edges of planking. Consider fixing these areas to make the gaps consistant.

    Since your canoe was once fiberglassed let me add this. Sometimes removing the fiberglass will cause the cedar planking to splinter. You might try to use epoxy or TightBond-III to glue up these splinters back in place as long as they don't affect the strength of the canoe. And be sure to (very lightly) sand down any 'bumps' on the outside because these will be very noticeable once the canvas is in place. And do not use some sort of filler to fill over tops of tacks that are were hammered too deep. Again, the stretched canvas will hide all these tack head holes. Plus the stuff you use to fill these holes will be much more of a problem a few years down the road if goop you use buckle and crack.
  3. OP
    Brad Posey

    Brad Posey An Old Man with a New Project

    Thanks Howie, For clarifying. The fiberglass came off very easy(thank God). Only one instance where it pulled the surface of the plank off.
    This will be a long process, and it actually has me excited for the adventure.
    I’m sure that I will be a steady poster on this forum through the process.
    Thanks again.
  4. Rod Tait (Orca Boats)

    Rod Tait (Orca Boats) Designer/Builder

    How much resin is still in the wood from the fiberglass? If the wood is still impregnated then oil will not do much to swell it up. I would however try to clean the gaps out of any resin that is in between as this may prevent any swelling of wood.
  5. OP
    Brad Posey

    Brad Posey An Old Man with a New Project

    No resin except a few spots on the planks surface. However they used a filler, like a filler putty, I’m going to clean out the spaces.
    Thanks for your help.
  6. Scott Rowe

    Scott Rowe Random Adventurer

    Gaps. Although I have no experience with solving gap problems. I've given it some thought. My boat was glassed as well. Picked out all of the resin, very tedious but therapeutic. Canvas is now on painted and inside varnished. There are considerable gaps in floor boards. One thought came from a hop trellis I built last yer (bear with me) , I used yard twine/jute to run vertical laces up the wooden frame. I then used old varnish and treated the twine. The twine became very stiff and durable and held up all year long. It does get a bit furry but perhaps it can be used to fill gaps and yet still provide some give for plank swell. Not sure how it would look, could be used seasonally. But would make a nice barrier for dirt and small stones that might get inbetween the gaps and canvas. Gap filling is heresy but depending on your boat usage could be a nice stop gap technique? Don't know. BTW my worst gaps are 1/4 inch!
  7. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    Does anybody actually believe that a gap caused when a piece of wood slowly dried out and shrank over many years is suddenly going to spring back to anything close to its original dimensions simply because you put some oil on its surface? I don't. Oil finish the heck out of something - then cut it open to see how far in the oil actually penetrated (or didn't). You may be surprised.
  8. OP
    Brad Posey

    Brad Posey An Old Man with a New Project

    I have dealt with Port Orford Cedar on old Monterey or Felucca construction fishing boats. They are Carvel Planked, and are between 3/4 and 1 in thick and planks are about 6" wide. when they are constructed, the gaps are set up to 1/4", they will swell that much and more.
    How that relates to planks and a canoe I really can imagine but I'm sure that they will to some degree.
    I don't really want them to swell to fill the gap, my question was to determine if there could be any problems because of the gap.
    appreciate everyone's input.
  9. Gil Cramer

    Gil Cramer The wooden canoe Shop, Inc.

    I have never seen gaps in planking close or even get noticeably smaller with oil or anything else.. The fiberglass resin ran between the planks, and when the wood became wet and tried to expand, it couldn't. The wood structure was broken and the plank will never again have the original width. What I have done is: live with it; replace alternating planks to get rid of the gap; or dye the canvas to match the wood.
    If the canoe is to be used in a sandy environment, the gaps will allow lots of sand to get between the planking and the canvas.
  10. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    I had a canoe in the shop with bad gaps in the planking. I removed and snugged up three planks on either side of the keel line and ended up making a 5/8” strip of planking to eat up the space that was left by snugging the planks. The 5/8” plank that I added went right down the keel line. Looked fine.
    Lots of work to pull and re set of those planks, but the end result was better than huge gaps.

    I don’t think oil will help much. Water may swell them some, but not if they have a lot of oil on them.
    Move them or live with it is my take.

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