Heritage Canoe Project: Day 12

Two days in a row was a real bonus for me as, returning to my paying job, it was now difficult scheduling the rest of the work.  I was happy to be back in some sort of routine, and very happy to arrive at Roger’s retreat centre to continue where I left off yesterday.

Roger had put the canoe in the driveway, where there was more light for me to finish the major sanding job that was interrupted by the power failure yesterday.  Driving up to the house and seeing the canoe warmed my heart.  It looked almost ready to taste the water once again, after years of being land-locked.

start of dayLast night Roger had filled all the remaining holes with epoxy, particularly where the decks met the gunwales.

ready for sandingAs a result, my sanding job had significantly increased overnight.  But  I was happy to undertake the task.  I took my time, as I wanted to ensure the decks and gunwales were completely smooth and blended together.  I also decided to sand out the remnants of the old decal, as it looked like a dirty blob instead of a real decal.  Since the rest of the canoe gleamed, it now looked totally out-of-place.  I already had enough pictures to (hopefully) help in locating the manufacturer, so it didn’t worry me to see it vanish under the sander.  After the mahogany decks were sanded, they looked so good that I decided to keep them natural, with only varnish as the finish.  This will (I hope) pleasantly offset the darker interior and gunwales.  After a final hand sanding ,and blowing away of the dust, I was ready to stain so we took the canoe back inside.

ready to stain gunwalesThe staining took longer than I expected.  I found the best way was to use a rag dipped into the stain and ‘brush’ it on using a one-finger method, as I had to be really careful to leave the decks untouched.  We chose the mahogany stain in order to bring the gunwales as close to the colour of the interior as possible.  All the counter-sunk holes in the outer gunwales had to be stained using q-tips along with several unstained places that I found between the gunwales.  Not staining those would have really bothered me every time I used the canoe.  When finished I was very pleased with the result.  The canoe would now have to totally dry before the next step, varnishing.  A job for my next working day.

stained gunwales not stained deckdrying

My final job of day 12 was to complete the caning of the seats.  Once I finished the diagonal caning on both seats, the final finish trim had to be done.  After Roger showed me how to do it, I finally completed the job.  Another time-consuming task was done.

recaned seatsThen came the painful part.  Due to Roger’s and my schedule I was now facing a two-week delay before I could return for day 13.  Oh no!! How was I going to survive?  We are so close to completing.  (Maybe it really will be Christmas before I finish.  OK, maybe not — but perhaps Thanksgiving?)  This time my CRWS (yes, that dreaded Canoe Restoration Withdrawal Syndrome) will definitely kick in again.  Is there therapy for this thing??

After a sad goodbye to the beautiful blue canoe (and Chaucer) I drove home.  At least I have tons of pictures to keep me going.  Till next time…

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Heritage Canoe Project: Day 11

Back again, I arrived anxious to see the canoe after Roger and Doug’s final painting earlier in the week.  The lads did an amazing job.  It was indeed gleaming, and really smooth.  I realized that, although it felt like I’ve been doing this project for ages, it really is only day 11 and thus less than 2 actual weeks of work.  Not very long after all, considering how close we are to completion.

shiny blue canoeToday was outer gunwale installation day.  Over a week ago Roger had cut the gunwales, routed them to fit snugly over the canvas, and clamped them onto custom-made jigs to mirror the severe bend they have to take. This is because the bow and stern have a huge upswing to them, not common for most canoes.

outer gunwhaleWe un-clamped the gunwales so I could sand, stain, and preserve them on the bottom and inside edges before they went on the canoe.  This took a lot of time, as the gunwales had to dry between applications.  Not to waste good working time, I was able to do more caning of the seats during the drying time.

attatch outer gunwhaleBy early afternoon, the gunwales were ready.  After clamping the first one to the canoe, installation began.  After pre-drilling and counter sinking holes every 3 ribs, brass screws were used to attached the outer and inner gunwales together, sandwiching the deck and ribs between them.  The challenge came when we got to the upswept bow and stern, where the large decks were located.  My job was to use brute strength to force and hold the gunwale in place while Roger prepared the holes and screwed it in.

hard work on outer gunwhaleNot being able to see what the screws were attaching to, they often ended up in soft wood which required different screws and longer lengths to ensure attachment.  The second gunwale was then similarly attached.  Thankfully, by the time we finished, all seemed to be holding together.

Once the clamps were removed we took the canoe outside for a major power sanding job, done by yours truly.  Since the exposed outer and inner gunwales were not yet finished, a lot of sanding was required to remove all stain and particularly preserver where it had dripped.  In addition, the leading edges of all 4 gunwales needed rounding and the outer gunwales had to be sanded down to match the level of the decks at the bow and stern.  As I said, a major sanding job.

sand gunwhalesJust as my hands began to feel numb, however, the power in Roger’s house went out.  Good timing, perhaps, as I did have to drive home soon and feeling the steering wheel does help.  So that was all I could do today, but I had still put in about 8 hours.

looks like a real canoe

I felt this was a really great day, particularly as the canoe is visibly taking great shape.  Tomorrow I will return to take on day 12.

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