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Painting Canoe Parts

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Michaux Hiker, Jan 14, 2019 at 2:34 PM.

  1. Michaux Hiker

    Michaux Hiker Curious about Wooden Canoes

    In the process of painting the seats, thwarts and carrying handles. What type of shellac and varnish should I use. Tried two different places and they don't have varnish. Am I better off ordering online. I have the whole inside of canoe to do later this spring when the weather gets warmer.

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  2. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    Most hardware or big box stores have spar or exterior varnish.
    Many of us use marine varnish specifically made for watercraft.
    I buy mine from Jamestown Distributors. They sell several brands.
  3. Fitz

    Fitz Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Hello Michaux:

    Whole interior of the canoe: you have a lot of new wood in your canoe. I like to try and match the new wood to the old as best I can to even the hull out. It looks like you have stripped the old finish out, which is half the battle. Typically, I stain the new ribs and planking only with something like Minwax Colonial Maple stain or something similar and after it dries sufficiently give the whole interior of the canoe a couple of coats of shellac, scuffing the finish between coats. Then several coats or more of traditional spar varnish, scuffing and removing the dust between coats. I think the staining and shellac helps to blend the new wood to the old. You can experiment with some variation of stains and shellac colors and the recipe above.

    Good luck.

  4. OP
    Michaux Hiker

    Michaux Hiker Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks Dave. I'll look at Jamestown later today. Did stop at Sherman Williams and they are not going to be selling varnish in the very near future. Home Depot didn't have varnish either. So the marine grade may be a good choice. Just doing the parts before spring as the garage isn't heated.

    Thanks Fitz. The canoe had two or seemed like several coats of brown/tan paint on the interior and I found more cracked ribs then I originally thought as I stripped the old paint off. I made a few samples of Golden Oak stain that matches the old but will try the Colonial Maple also.
  5. Just1moredave

    Just1moredave Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I use shellac a lot in general woodworking. I almost always use dewaxed shellac. Usually it's right next to the shellac on the shelf. The can I have says Zinsser Bulls Eye SealCoat Universal Sanding Sealer, then way down at the bottom, 100% wax-free shellac. My reason is varnishes might not stick to waxed shellac. I had that happen once. Otherwise, shellac should be good at bonding to the old stuff in the canoe, and varnish should stick to shellac. The can even says Guaranteed Under ALL Clear Finishes. The dewaxed stuff is thinned out more in the can than the waxed stuff, so read the label. Generally I don't see this dewaxed shellac advice mentioned for canoes, so I might be wrong here.

    I didn't do any staining. A lot of my new wood is next to other new wood. I sanded or scraped the old stuff in small sections when I had a little time. So I may have hundreds of hours of work in that but it wasn't all at once, so it wasn't overwhelming. New wood will darken some with sun exposure.

    I used Epifanes gloss varnish. I have a book on finishing that wasn't enthusiastic about polyurethane's UV resistance, even if the label says spar varnish. Epifanes uses phenolic resin, tung oil and UV lots of inhibitors, all stuff you want. I have seen negative reviews but everything has negative reviews. The can instructions suggest seven coats, the last 5 at full strength. I gave up after six coats, and I had a hard time brushing it at full strength - like brushing maple syrup. It took me a couple of hours to lightly sand between coats, maybe an hour to put on a new coat, and that's only the interior, not inwales, thwarts, seats or decks. Right now it is extremely glossy. In a couple of weeks, it should be hard enough to use fine steel wool to cut the gloss a bit. I used about 1500ml so far, or 1.5 quarts in 'merican. After I was done I read that the thinner I used, Home Depot Odorless Mineral Spirits, isn't a good idea for thinning Epifanes. Seemed to work for me but probably the cheapest possible thinner is a risk for expensive varnish.

    [​IMG]IMGC4914 by Dave, on Flickr
  6. OP
    Michaux Hiker

    Michaux Hiker Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks for your info. I have to go to Lowes tomorrow as I have a blanket chest to build this week and need some wood so I'll check the paint section. I've put several coats of poly on things I built and the last couple of coats were hard to apply without sags. It would be nice if by magic the canoe painted itself!
  7. MGC

    MGC Paddlephile

    I'm not a big fan of making a 100 plus year old boat gleam like it was just detailed by JoeyBagoDonuts so after my last coat of Epifanes Gloss I lightly sand and then apply a coat (or two) of Epifane Matte finish.....
    For a hull on a new or newer boat or one that will see hard use I stop at 5 or so coats of the gloss Epifanes. I have occasionally used Z Spar Captains and it's a very clear finishing varnish that is my second choice after Epifanes.
    I use the Epifanes thinners with their varnish.
    If you buy from Jamestown wait for their free shipping offers. Free shipping takes a bit of the edge off the cost of the varnish.

    In the attached image the inside and outside rails have been varnished with gloss and sanded to accept a finish coat of can still see the shine of the gloss in the grain. The rest of the hull has been finished with matte Epifanes.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 15, 2019 at 7:04 PM
  8. OP
    Michaux Hiker

    Michaux Hiker Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I am liking the matte finish approach that you describe. May be easier to order from Jamestown even through it may be a little more expensive.
  9. Just1moredave

    Just1moredave Curious about Wooden Canoes

    It's best to get a matte finish like MGC does. If you use matte varnish for all the layers, the matte effect can get too strong and obscure the wood. If it's just on the final layers you have more control over it.
  10. David Satter

    David Satter LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Jamestown Distributors , just join their VIP buyers club I think it's $60 a year for free shipping. I order a lot and for 60 bucks it's worth every penny. and yes Epifanes is great stuff and for gloss old reliable is z-spar 1015 capt. varnish.

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