Saturday, February 25, 2012

Beginning Cedar Canvas Refurb

Apart from my recent carving activity, I've been planning to slowly refurbish the 16 ft. cedar canvas canoe obtained as part of trade last summer. Bit by bit, the plan is to tackle the small odd jobs here to give this canoe a second life. In my mind this will be a refurbish and not a true restoration since apart from some cosmetic changes to the interior, the outwales, decks, and seats I don't plan to make any major structural changes. Over the recent February Family Day holiday here in Ontario, I was lucky enough to spend a few hours fiddling with boat.

While the canvas is still sound and entirely waterproof, the canoe had neglected by the previous owners. They had purchased it from someone else basically to have a canoe for their rental cottage business. I was told their European guests always asked about a traditional red Canadian canoe (probably thanks to Bill Mason's wonderful films) so the owners bought this used, mystery cedar canvas and slapped on some red acrylic house paint (now peeling) to cover the original teal green appearance.

Along the way, they painted the underside of the outwales, painted over the stem bands, but somehow neglected to varnish the gunnels. After being stored outside, the ash woodwork began to blacken considerably.

The canoe

Closeup - darkened ash outwales and peeling varnish

I had dabbled in the idea of replacing the heavy ash outwales with a lighter wood but in the end, decided to simply refurbish the existing structure since it was still quite sound. Instead, the grime on the outwales was sanded down to reveal fresh ash grain below. After the tops and sides were done, I removed the outwale to tackle the underside which had been sloppily painted with red paint. Sanding here wasn't working since much of the paint got infused into the ash's open grain. Instead, the outwales were placed on a bench and the layer of paint shaved off with a spokeshave.

Removed outwale

Shaving off painted layer

The horrible aluminum stem bands had been painted over too. There were specks of green, red, and even yellow paint on their surface. These were removed and will be replaced with some brass stem bands once the canvas has been sanded and re-painted.

There's a stemband under all that paint

Original teal grean canvas poking through

The canoe also has a keel, which is not ideal for me, but I do not want to rip it off, tearing off sealant and forcing a complete re-canvas. Instead, it'll be planed down to a lower height next time I'm up north.

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