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Start up questions ? Restoration and re canvasing

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Doug, Jan 23, 2013.

  1. Doug

    Doug Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Restoring / recanvasing an old town canoe.

    several questions I have :, The canoe canvas was removed by someone a while ago. and the main issue appears to be the wood is very dry .

    1. The planking on the canoe is in good shape under the old canvas which has been removed. However it looks dry . I saw that a " wood preservative" should be used under the canvas on the outside of the canoe.
    Would boiled linseed oil be a good choice? or is there something else?

    2. I do plan to re varnish the inside but plan to sand the present varinish and clean ( 220 and 320 grit ) etc . ( In fairly good shape) Is there a prefereed " varnish:, maybe a water based ? and I see that folks cut it for a smoother finnish .

    3. In looking for the canvas, what specifications do we look for , weight, weave , etc,. cost ? Ie I see canvas used for painters drop cloth ( Quite heavy >
    and canvas used by artists lighter and tighter weave ?

    4. The ribs are in good shape but the 1/4 to 1/2 inch ends 9 edges) were the tacks were is a little like " split ends' . and could use a little " sprucing up " so tacks or staples will hold better , ideas ? The stems are also in good shape but also appear " dry '' ( NOT ROTTED).
    and could use some type of filler so tacks will hold better . Ideas?
    5. I have all of the original rails, keel , stem covers and two more pieces which are about 12 feet long with screw holes ( I dont know :))> so I wil eventually put up a couple of pictures .
  2. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    Hi Doug,

    1. Many folks will give the outside of the hull a coat of boiled linseed oil. It is not, however, a wood preservative, by any means!

    2. Use a good quality marine spar varnish - these are oil-based. Good brands include Z-Spar (Captain's or Flagship) and Epifanes.

    3. You want canvas duck, usually No. 10 (which is not the same as 10 ounce). Painter's drop cloth or artist canvas is not suitable. You can sometimes get No. 10 duck from a tent and awning place, otherwise mail order it from one of the WCHA Builder Suppliers (

    4. Rib tips can be hit with a little epoxy.

    5. Bilge keels? Where are the extra screw holes in the hull?
  3. OP

    Doug Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Clarify , Thanks .

    THANKS. DIDNT THINK OF Bilge keels, will look
    In terms of Epoxy , you mean some sort of two part Epoxy ? Could you give a brand name.
    I have water proof wood putty but I dont think thats what you mean .

  4. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    I use West System. System Three is also good. Again, marine products. The typical "5 minute" epoxies from the hardware store are inadequate.

    This is for gluing splits back together. If you are missing chunks from the rib tip that will be visible when you reinstall the gunwales, you may need to consider one of the re-tipping methods.

    SWEETWATER LOVES Wooden Canoes

    How about some pic.s. Sometimes it is easier to help with pic.s
  6. Steve Ambrose

    Steve Ambrose Nut in a Canoe

    GFlex epoxy to butter the stem faces forcing it into the holes and splits. It is softer than other epoxies and easier to tack/staple into (won't split or turn the tacks). Also it comes in a two part kit and has a putty-like consistency so it will stay where you put it. Mix equal parts of epoxy and hardener, as little or as much as you need.
  7. OP

    Doug Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Ok , CRANKY< and Nut in a Canoe thanks, Now You raised a question
    RE Tipping procedures ? I dont need to re place pieces but the ends probably need 'retipping for the little 1/2 inch on the ends . so the tacks will hold better .

    Is that what you mean by Hitting it with epoxy ?

    i dont think any of the ribs or boards are in need to scarf ends with any distance over 1/2 inch but is there is info on more serious re tipping I would like to look at it .
    If I understand then if I use GFlex epoxy or West sytem for the tip ends and stems That is a good way to go

    Thanks DOUG ( Or maybe i should say Canoe Curmudgeon :)
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2013
  8. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    Doug, tips scarfed in for ribs look better than epoxy. 100_1008.jpg 100_1012.jpg

    I sand in a long angle with a belt sander and make a new tip with an angle that is close. I epoxy them together. When dried, I use the belt sander to level out the backside of the rib tip, and a utility knife to blend in the width. The long angle is covered by the gunwales and pretty much hidden. What you are left with is a new strong tip.

    Some guys prefer to use some sort of jig to cut the angle on the tips and new pieces, but I find that just freehanding with the belt sander is quick and effective.
  9. Andy Hutyera

    Andy Hutyera The Red Canoe Guy - Life Member

    For what it's worth, here's a link to a post with a few photos of the process of scarfing using a multi tool. If the tips aren't too bad you can use Git Rot to harden them up. It's a water thin epoxy that soaks into the punky tips and sets up in about 24 hours. As suggested by one of the forum members if you slant the joint the other way they will be less noticeable from inside the canoe.
  10. ian

    ian Curious about Wooden Canoes

    dan -- you mention artist canvas is not suitable, but to use #10 duck -- my art supply place sells '#1 grade duck canvas' in 10 and 15oz. -- wouldn't 15oz duck, be the ticket? -- cheers -- ian
  11. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    Yes, that should work. It won't be treated, so you will want to consider a mildicide treatment of some sort. Treated canvas compatible with canvas filler is available from Northwoods Canoe.
  12. OP

    Doug Curious about Wooden Canoes

    A note for anyone who knows someone at Northwood. I went to site and was told it was infected with a virus or Malware. Sent them an e mail telling them but I dont know if it will get thru.

  13. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    I just went to the website of the Northwoods Canoe Company at and found no signs of a virus or malware. Their site is managed by RainStorm Consulting at if you want to contact them directly. It is not unusual for a virus or malware to show up long after the original infection so this may be a problem that you picked up some time ago which is completely unrelated to the Northwoods Canoe Company site. Good luck,

  14. OP

    Doug Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Just found ::
    In search ing for canvas i just located this site : sounded very interesting . I was going o post to WCHA organization but any way.

    They sell canvas which is waterproof already . ? as well as a primer on lots of different types of weaves and base colours ?
    I have no interest ( money wise) in this company but if a major step might be helped ?? Or at least minimized ? Place called "BIG DUck CANVAS WAREHOUSE> ? What do you think ?
    has anone used " waterproof Canvas ?
    To me it means that when it is on both sides are more or less water resistant and will remain lighter when the inside of the canoe gets damp ?
  15. mccloud

    mccloud "Tiger Rag" back on the tidal Potomac In Memoriam

    I don't get it. Original canvas was not waterproof. The canvas is not responsible for the waterproofing of your canoe. You are going to put filler, then paint on it, right? Seems to me you risk filler not adhering as well to waterproofing treated canvas. Tom McCloud
  16. OP

    Doug Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I agree, more or less ?

    I got a note from the company stating they didnt think the waterproof canvas was useful in this application. so It might be a MOOT idea ?
    My thinking was , the same as yours Tom . The Canvas needed to be made waterproof by application of the filler . I dont know if a filler can be put on to this canvas ( as you mentioned).
    However < what if the canvas we were able to purchase was already impregnated on both sides?
    with the waterproofing ?
    and maybe all we needed to do was the final " skim coat" or paint.
    It might help with weight from water absorbtion ( from the inside, ) and the multiple filler coats might be avaoided or minimized.
  17. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    You are not the first to think about this sort of covering - several Canadian companies used PVC impregnated canvas (Verolite). While it worked fine in the short term, it was generally not a successful replacement for regular canvas and filler.

    Folks have been looking for better ways to canvas and fill canoes ever since the days of John Stephenson and Evan Gerrish in the 1870s and 1880s. The search is still on, yet builders almost universally return to the standard canvas and some sort of filler. Remember that there are a lot of variables that come into play apart from waterproofing - abrasion resistance, flexibility, doesn't bond to the wood hull, paintable, repairable and replaceable are some other characteristics.

    Of course, there is always all-wood canoes where this is moot...;):rolleyes::eek:
  18. JClearwater

    JClearwater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    I'm surprised no one has mentioned it yet, but buy yourself a copy of "The Wood and Canvas Canoe," by Jerry Stelmok and Rollin Thurlow. After you have read it the clouds will part, the sun will shine, angels will sing and all will be right with your world. At the moment it is out of stock in the WCHA store but it is available other places like Ebay, Amazon and

    Good luck with your project.
  19. KAT

    KAT LOVES Wooden Canoes

    The Chestnut I finished in the Fall we used a pre-treated canvas purchased from a tent and awning company. Didn't think anything of it at first, but turns out the Filler did not soak in like it did on the first canoe I did with untreated canvas. It adhered, but never made it into the weave. I finished the boat anyway and won't know until this coming season how it will fair out in the wilds. If anything it shouldn't leak or burn, being water, fire and mildew proofed at the factory, lol.
  20. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast


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