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Removing tacks and cracked ribs

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Tim Belcher, Apr 14, 2021.

  1. Tim Belcher

    Tim Belcher Apprentice

    I tried to replace my first cracked rib today. I've read the Elliott and Stelmok and Thurlow books and studied the threads on this site. I picked a cracked rib towards the middle that had been repaired once before. It appears that it was glued to the planks, some of which were new and others rotten. I tried grinding the ribs from the inside with a grinder and a Dremel with a cutting wheel, and then tried to drive the rest of the tack down with a hammer and nail set. That worked on many tacks but some were so solidly dug in that the hammer and nail set didn't budge them. Some of the tacks had somehow curved back without emerging on the inside of the canoe. I also tried working them out from the outside by trying to pry under the head of the tack from the outside. Finally, the repaired rib seems to have been glued in place. I don't think it was just varnish seeping in from the edges. I also tried drilling the tacks from the outside. I ended up tearing up the planking, some of it reasonably new. I need to replace 4 other ribs and the last two can't ribs at each end. Any other suggestions how to get tacks out and remove ribs?
  2. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    You’ve done all the things you could except you might also try breaking up the rib from the inside. Use a chisel and after you get it into the wood reasonably well, twist and lever it to break pieces of the rib away. You’re not saving the rib anyway so it doesn’t matter how many pieces it becomes. Just don’t pound on the chisel to the point of doing other damage to the canoe. This method will also deal with any hidden tacks, but if ribs actually are glued to the planking you’re going to have a tough time no matter what you do.

    Hope this helps,
  3. OP
    Tim Belcher

    Tim Belcher Apprentice

    Thanks Michael. That's helpful. I did use a hammer and chisel but I guess I got impatient because I ended up tearing up the planking. I'm thinking I'll do that and maybe also try to warm up whatever glop is holding it together with a heat gun (or maybe even pouring boiling water? ) in the area. And then settle in for the project to take as long as it's going to take.
  4. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    Heat/hot water is worth a try. Most glues are not technically "waterproof" but only water-resistant -- and it is often the failure to withstand boiling water that disqualifies them from being waterproof. Varnish and most paints will soften with heat.

    But the problem with using hot/boiling water for your purpose is that it cools off pretty fast. and the temperatures that would work would be fairly high. A heat gun would probably be more effective because you can keep applying the heat easily enough. Boiling water followed by a heat gun is probably not a good idea -- water and electricity don't mix well.
    Tim Belcher likes this.
  5. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    I've never had much luck pulling tacks, at least for me, so I always break apart the old rib and clip the then loose tack. Does zero damage to the planking.
    It takes a bit longer but sense I'm not trying to live off it, I don't care.
    Tim Belcher likes this.
  6. Dave Wermuth

    Dave Wermuth Who hid my paddle?

    maybe an iron in areas that you can will drive in some heat?
    Tim Belcher likes this.

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