Heritage Canoe Project: Day 13

Well, I made it through my withdrawal.  Day 13 arrived, appropriately on Friday, September the 13th.  How lucky can that be?  I, for one, felt very lucky having returned again to my canoe project.

The canoe was already inside, awaiting the first coat of varnish for the gunwales and decks.  My first job, however, was to stain the external keel that Roger had already cut to fit.  I didn’t really have to stain the keel, as Roger noted that it wouldn’t be seen under the water, but it would have bothered me whenever I took the canoe out and particularly when I turned it upside down to store.  The canoe was already odd enough without making it more so.  So I stained it mahogany to match the gunwales since it was also made of white ash.  Roger took the time to explain how he cuts and installs gunwales, and why.  The surface that fits against the canoe is beveled, on purpose, to ensure the outer edges kept in contact with the canoe.  This prevents the keel from moving too much when bumped.  In addition, Roger is only concerned with waterproofing the holes where the screws are, as this is the only place where water can get inside from the bottom, rather than try to putty the entire keel to the bottom.  Wonderfully logical to me, again making me thankful I’m working with a pro.

external keeleThen it was time to varnish.  Using a varnish/varsol mix I applied it using a sponge applicator.  Carefully… as I didn’t want any runs and drips either outside or inside the canoe.  The mix was particularly important, as the mahogany decks were extremely dry and sucked the stuff up quickly.  I was glad I hadn’t stained the decks as the mahogany went really dark, even more so than the gunwales that I had stained.  The deck wood, when finished, was beautiful.

varnish mahog deckdeck varnish finished

I also hadn’t stained the black cherry facings on the decks, so they came out much lighter.  (On day 3 I had said these facings were rosewood.  They were not.)  It won’t take too long, however, for the cherry to darken to approximately the same colour as the gunwales.  To finish the day I also varnished the thwarts and seats.  It was only afterwards that I discovered that I should not have varnished the underside of the newly caned areas.  Roger said these should be left to breath, but added that one coat of the varnish/varsol should be ok.

varnished seats thwartsFor me, day 13 work was ended after only a few hours as the varnish had to dry.  I did take some time to chat with Bill who just brought his Old Town canoe from Michigan to repair with Roger.  I told Bill he had come to the right place.  Bill’s canoe was about 75 years old, and had been purchased by his father, so Bill was keen to get it back in shape.  I was really impressed by how solid and well-built the Old Town canoe was especially when Bill told me he had canoed down rapids with it.  I don’t think my canoe could handle rapids.  I think she was built for a much easier lifestyle, and that’s just fine with me.

end of dayAs Roger predicted, he was starting to get busier as the fall set in.  For my job, I have about 3 visits left to go.  Day 14 follows tomorrow.

previous Heritage Canoe Project next

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