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Deciding what is possible

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Coanbu, Oct 20, 2020.

  1. Coanbu

    Coanbu Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I have a canoe which I have pulled out of my parents barn, well actually for now from one part of the barn to another. I posted about in the research part of the forum as well. I am currently deciding whether to take on restoring it or not. As I was pondering this question a few questions have come to me and I was wondering if anyone here had any insight.
    1: The re canvasing is the most mysterious part of the process to me, from my initial reading on the technique I am not thinking it would be to hard, however does anybody have an idea of how big a job it is both in time and difficulty for a newbie?
    2: What is the best source for materials in Ontario?
    3: Does does anyone have any suggestions on a book on the topic? I know of the The Wood & Canvas Canoe by Thurlow and Stelmok and This Old Canoe by Mike Elliott any opinions on those two? and others I should consider?
  2. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    The two books you listed are very good... read them cover to cover, and keep them handy for reference while you work. These forums are great places to post questions... you may get several different answers, but that only means you'll have a choice from several different ways to approach something.

    Check out the Suppliers and Builders directory here:

    And look for a local chapter for your area here:
    Local chapters are great for finding help nearby, and for bouncing questions around.

    And welcome to the WCHA!
  3. Andy Hutyera

    Andy Hutyera The Red Canoe Guy - Life Member

    I would suggest you contact member Andre Cloutier for help with access to materials. I am partial to the filler made by a company in Guelph. It is sold under the trade name Korzite. Jerry Stelmock's book about Joe Saliga has some great photos of the canvasing process. It's not really all that difficult. Many of us own both the books you mention as well as several others. They all have valuable information.
  4. Murat V

    Murat V LOVES Wooden Canoes


    I had never canvassed a canoe before, but have both books you mentioned and was also able to observe the "upside down" method at the 2018 Assembly in Peterborough. Using these resources, I was able to canvas my 14 footer in the backyard by improvising a rig between solid fence posts. Setup time, take down and stapling took about 6 hours working slowly by myself. You can see some pics and brief writeup HERE. Seemed intimidating at first but was quite easy to do once you got going. Would've been much faster with an extra set of hands of course.

    I ordered some No. 12 canvas from Dick Persson of Buckhorn Canoe Co. who was helpful in answering hour much canvas I would need for the job. Ended up getting upholstery pliers and an electric staple gun from Amazon that did the job just fine. Not much else needed in terms of tools other than a sharp cutting tool.

    The Northern Lakes / Canada chapter has members mostly from Ontario. We just launched a new website (I'm the webmaster for the group). I can get a post up and we can also send a mass email to the membership to see if anyone in your vicinity can help you out. I'm sure folks can be covid safe while canvassing. At the very least, maybe folks can loan you some tools, straps, etc.
  5. johnmetts

    johnmetts Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Welcome aboard.

    I had never restored a canoe until two years ago. I read the same books you have and worked in the order advised. On my first project, a 1915 Carlton, I replaced 27 ribs by steam bending (and only broke one). I replaced gunnels and a lot of planking that had been holed. There was a 2'x 3' hole in the port side and several other big holes all over. I added a lot of new planking, re-caned seats and made new decks. The worst part was scraping off the old varnish. All came out well. I canvassed my first one upside down and my second one right side up. Both came out well. Upside down was slightly harder on my arthritic hands just because I am somewhat stiff and not overly flexible. Go onto youtube and look up Orca boats. They have a lot of videos on canvassing. Here are some:

    I am not a cabinet maker, though I have built a few barns and remodeled several homes I have owned. I am sure that I made many mistakes along the way. But overall it came out quite lovely. In other words, "If I can do it - anyone can." Best advice I can give is take your time and enjoy it. Also, there are a lot of great people on this site who will give advice and help you miss the bumps in the road that they hit along the way.

  6. OP

    Coanbu Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thank you all for the information (and encouragement). I am defiantly thinking I will try it. I am home from work at the end of November so I am going to try and get a start then.
  7. Dave Wermuth

    Dave Wermuth Who hid my paddle?

    There is more than one way to skin a cat....and a canoe. Really, it's the easiest part of the entire process. 2-3 hours is not uncommon. I have changed how I do it over the years. After twenty five years of use I hae to recanvas my 18' OT. I had it restored by Brain Baker (Baker's Custom Canoes) in '96 or was it '97? He is the only one I know that canvased in two pieces, joined at the keel. I start upside down, stretch it really hard by hand and put temporary staples at the stems. Then I flip it over and finish it rightside up. Less bending and easy on the knees. I've been very happy with the result.
  8. OP

    Coanbu Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Well now I am feel very impatient to get started. Alas 5 more weeks to go until I get off this ship.
  9. OP

    Coanbu Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Back from the ship. Yesterday I moved it from the barn in to a greenhouse and got a start cleaning all the years of barn dust off it. Now on to stripping all the old varnish off and getting all the staples out that were never removed with the canvas.

    Attached Files:

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