Help support the WCHA Forums by making a tax-deductible donation!

Stem Repair

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Serge Lemay, Mar 14, 2020.

  1. Serge Lemay

    Serge Lemay Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Quick question, would you steam bend part of a new stem or cut to shape?
  2. mccloud

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

    I have steam bent completely new stems, but for a repair of about 1 foot of the stem or less, I have cut the curvature in a board. Take a look at "The Wood and Canvas Canoe" by Stelmok and THurlow, page 166. TM..
    Serge Lemay likes this.
  3. Rollin Thurlow

    Rollin Thurlow member since 1980

    Depending upon how tight the curve of the stem is, you can usually safely splice in a section 6 to 12" long shaping it out of a straight board. The splice repair shown in the book does work but its not as good as it could be.
    The attached photos kind of show how I now do most of my stem splices. The red coloring is just to make it easier to see the laminate that is used to reinforce the relatively short splice that is used on the stem. Its all glued together and makes a very strong repair . If you feather the edge of the laminate, match the grain of the old stem, and stain the color to match, the repair is extremely hard to see.

    Attached Files:

  4. Tim Belcher

    Tim Belcher Apprentice

    I got my 1913 OT Charles River CS on Nov. 1 and picked up gunwales and other materials for Jerry Stelmok and tools from Rollin Thurlow in early February. I slipped into Maine on a Saturday so we could all social distance and I didn't have to quarantine on my return to Vermont. I started working on the stems in mid March when I bought my first 8 foot length of Ash. I have 4 feet left of my second 10 foot board. I relied on The Book, these posts, and the video by Mark at Nomad Boat Building at . My latest iterations are far from perfect but they do connect where they should and may be as good as I get. Nothing's glued or nailed together yet and I can still tweak things a little to get a better fit, but I'll take any suggestions for ways to improve on this. Just so you can share my pain, I've attached a shot of earlier attempts that I threw out as I learned. Just to be clear, I'm confident that the technique Rollin lays out in the above post is much easier, more precise, and doubtless just as strong.
    latest latest latest iterations are from 5229273A-06EA-4BB4-A02E-F1E0EEF48BE3.jpeg 97AF7936-0706-4A0E-B044-C71B3BBA1965.jpeg A7072E17-9B20-40BE-A8CF-E113A0B16449_1_201_a.jpeg
  5. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    I could never get the bird’s mouth correct. I just started doing this.
    Basically epoxy and screw a thin piece of wood to be epoxied to the inside of the stem. I also toenail a screw through the angles of the repair piece and stem.
    I have done dozens of them and no failures.

    Attached Files:

    MGC and Tim Belcher like this.
  6. chris pearson

    chris pearson Michigan Canoe Nut

    Rollin, that is awesome!!!!!!!!!
    Rob Stevens likes this.
  7. John Janicek

    John Janicek Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I ended up doing something very similar to Rollin's approach except that my laminated doubler was a little thicker. I bought two new stems from Jerry Stelmok for the Old Town HW restoration I am doing and used a section from each to splice onto the old stems. The ribs and stems after the two sets of cant ribs (bow & stern) were in great shape so I saw no reason to tear apart what "ain't broke". The section of stem I cut off of the new stems I used to make the doublers to sandwich the scarf so the material and grain essentially matches. I think they turned out pretty good and I'm sure the joint will last at least for another canoe lifetime.

    Attached Files:

    mmmalmberg likes this.

Share This Page