Thursday, December 11, 2014

Shiny Bottoms

Wood boats are supposed to be shiny, but any boat I use eventually ends up with indications of experience. The varnish is just about gone in front of the seat and the gunnels are showing wear. We won't talk about the scratches on the bottom of the boat...

I removed the seat & thwarts, and then scrubbed the boat to remove the remnants of wax that had been on it at one time.

The last time I refinished this boat I was in a hurry and cheated by using waterborne varnish. Now I'm paying the price. The trick is to sand through the old varnish but NOT into the fiberglass cloth that provides the strength to this style construction.
The gunnels originally had a single application of epoxy without any cloth reinforcement with a varnish finish. The edges of both gunnels near my hips were showing some wear from the paddle shaft occasionally rubbing, so this time I epoxied a couple layers of light weight fiberglass cloth to the outer radius as a sacrificial layer.

After sanding the bottom of the hull, I squeegeed epoxy into the remaining deep scratches

and went to work sanding the outside of my Souris River tandem canoe. It, too, uses clear epoxy with a cloth matrix (in this case, Kevlar) and after a period of time needs to be varnished to protect the epoxy from ultra violet damage. It spent a summer on the truck during our Alaska trip and was really past due for its first varnishing.

Three coats later, the outsides are looking pretty nice. The weather has been cool enough to make for good varnishing weather, warm enough so that it cures well, but cool enough that it can flow while I'm brushing, avoiding brush marks.

We did have a weather abnormality. It rained so I had to kick BJ's car to the curb so that I could bring the boats into her space to finish them up.

It is really hard to get a decent picture with the glare off the gloss, but it's looking much better than it has for the past couple years. I still have the thwarts to install and a seat project, but that's another subject!


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Jerry. Wood strip is amazingly easy once you understand the process. The technique really allows highly efficient hulls.

  2. Nice looking bottoms.....
    I remember all the work I had to do on my 1960 Century years ago.

    1. Thanks, David. Once in a while I toy with the idea of restoring a classic wood power boat but then I come to my senses. Canoes and kayaks are an affordable scale for me.

  3. Looks amazing. Makes me want to go dust off my boat.

    1. I thought you had yours hanging in the living room. :-)

  4. Replies
    1. I'm very blessed to have a place to work on the boats as needed, even though the Scamp has usurped the space originally intended as a wood shop.