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Sizing the width of new planks

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Wrothgar, Jul 29, 2020.

  1. Wrothgar

    Wrothgar Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Just checking: do I size new planks to the exact width of old ones? I guess I have to assume new ones are just as dry as the old ones. I feel like the chestnut I'm fixing up has very dry planks.
  2. Howie

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Well, no one else has answered so I'll have a go at it. All the canoes I work on are quite old, and all of them have had at least some amount of gap between planks, plus often some have lost a small amount of material along their edges. So honestly I don't pay too much attention to plank width when replacing them. I just don't want them to bind when they fit into place. And small width differences likely won't be noticeable because you've got the ribs breaking up the pattern every few inches.

    Far more noticeable might be the color of the new planking once varnished. Old wood always darkens more then new wood when varnished - though I feel the difference is less noticeable in planking than with ribs. Anyway, you might want to stain the new wood to darken the color before taking in place. Experiment with a few scraps first.
  3. Gary

    Gary Canoe Grampa

    I would concur with Howie on this and he has covered it quite well, my only additional comment would be that wood regardless of its age will swell and shrink through an increase in moisture or as it dries out through normal use. Quite often with all wood boats the first thing we'd do with them in the Spring was submerge them for a few days allowing the wood to swell and thus stop it from leaking. So although you'll want a nice fit don't worry about small gaps in the planking either. If you were to use green wood it will shrink leaving a wider gap then intended. Check out a Huron style built canoe and you'll see quite large gaps in the planking and they perform wonderfully. hope this helps?
  4. OP

    Wrothgar Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Yup...thanks. I was just worried about the planks that bend and curve a lot. I thought I might need to soak the wood before fitting to get the curves right. The planks are so thin they bent easier than I I might not need to soak any.

    Soon I'll be stretching the canvas, but just had a bit of a setback as I crashed into a fallen branch mountain biking today! Felt like I lost a jousting match!

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