18 foot custom cedar-strip refinish questions

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18 foot custom cedar-strip refinish questions

Post by valhallalongboats » Mon Mar 12, 2018 3:51 pm


I have too many projects.

This is a cool story though, I just need some help with the ending.

What do you do when you are looking for a flat-water canoe and you come across an 18 ft cedar-redwood strip boat on Craigslist? You click on it. What do you do when you see that the glass has delaminated and peeled away from most of the wood, there's a hole or two in the glass, the outer gunwhales have completely rotted off, and its covered in a strange greenish fungus?
Well, if you're stupid, you go look at it anyway, because its 300 bucks for a redwood/cedar strip boat.
And then you hear the sad story from a nice little old lady, who built the canoe with her husband in the late 60's or early 70's so they could take this special trip on a river up in Idaho. The boat sat in the backyard for a couple decades when they quit paddling, though her husband always intended to refinish it, until he passed. Then her son decided to refinish it, but suffered a heart attack and he passed, too. So then it sat for another decade, slowly rotting away. Finally the older lady is getting ready to re-locate to a smaller home and her friends are helping her to get rid of this canoe. Anyways, after hearing this I gave some other fool 24 hours to buy the boat and save me from myself, but nobody did (selfish jerks), so I bought it and I've been slowly bringing it back to life over the course of a couple months.

So, the good
Because the boat was always stored upside down, the interior of the boat is in pretty good shape. I'm pretty much just going to have to sand/smooth it down and hit it with some poly or some spar varnish to bring back the shine and give some protection.
More than 90% of the inner gunnels are in perfect shape, so with just a little repair here and there I'm able to salvage them.
The seats need to be re-strung, but are in perfectly good condition, just need a little sanding, oil, and varnish.
The wood strips that make up the hull are mostly in great shape...except.....

The Bad

Once I'd peeled all the glass off of the hull, I found some places on the bottom of the canoe (where the glass had pulled away the worst) where the wood had become a bit pitted, and shrunken, like redwood and cedar does when its continually exposed to water but hasn't quite started to rot yet.
Most of this damage is in the redwood strips, and I'm trying to figure out what to do with it. Redwood is tricky to work with at the best of times, and this wood is not at its best. It wants to splinter really bad. I keep going lighter with the sandpaper but I've come to the conclusion that I'll never be able to properly sand this out. It's too deep and the wood wants to splinter too much. On the upside, its only in a few places. So, I really don't want to use a putty to fill all this in, as it will be ugly. What I'd like to do it hit the boat with a stain (stains cover up a lot of sins) and then hit it with some oil-based poly to fill in the gaps and cracks, sand, repeat, until I have a smooth (and pretty) surface to work with. I have read that epoxy resin will not stick to oil-based stains but WILL stick to polyurethane, and polyurethane will stick to oil-based stains. Has anyone ever tried this? Does anyone have a better idea?

At the end of the day, this boat was never a 'floating furniture' boat, but was a very pretty working canoe, and that's what its going to be again...a working canoe. That said, I still want it to look as nice as I possibly can, and using wood putty or bondo to fill the gaps makes me want to throw up in my mouth a bit. Ideas?
Canoeing isn't a sport...its an art. Unfortunately, I am not exactly Michelangelo.

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Re: 18 foot custom cedar-strip refinish questions

Post by NickParker » Mon Mar 12, 2018 4:59 pm

In similar situations (on furniture, not boats), I take sanding dust and mix it with epoxy, in about a 50/50 ratio, and fill the defects/cracks/etc. It works really well, and if the color of the sanding dust matches the color of the surrounding wood, it blends in very nicely. It will take stain (but as you are aware, make sure your stain is compatible with your top coat).

You want to use sanding dust, not sawdust. You want the very fine stuff that is collected from sanding wood, not the shavings from cutting wood.

I would use West System epoxy on the hull, with the special clear hardener. Put on a top coat of spar varnish for UV resistance.

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