Canoe Restoration

Contact us if you have a canoe that you would like to have us restore, or watch for upcoming canoe restoration classes at the Canadian Canoe Museum.

Here are the steps to restoring a wood/canvas canoe:

1. Inspect: make a list of all visible work to be done and all materials that will be required.

2. Order materials: paint stripper, wood, canvas, filler, preservative, primer, paint, varnish, fasteners, glue, cane, stem bands, etc.

3. Disassemble: remove outwales, seats, thwarts, stem bands, canvas

4. Clean: scrub inside & out with scrub brush, soap & warm water. Rinse with clean water

5. Reassess: look for any more work that needs to be done that wasn’t visible before disassembly. Order necessary materials.

6. Strip: strip varnish if necessary

7. Bleach wood: Use oxalic acid to remove black stains from wood if necessary.

8. Repair wood: repair or replace broken or rotten inwales, decks, ribs, planking. Make new outwales if originals are broken or rotted.

9. Sand: sand seats, thwarts and entire inside of canoe in preparation for varnishing. Sand outside with 60# on a longboard to fair planking for canvas.

10. Seal: apply a sealer coat of 50/50 varnish to inside planking. When dry apply a sealer/preservative mixture to outside of planking

11. Canvas: stretch canvas on and fasten with rustproof fasteners. Apply zinc naphthenate preservative to canvas along sheer. Allow to dry thoroughly

12. Fill the Canvas: Apply 3 successive coats of filler to canvas with brush, then rub into the weave and smooth down. Put canoe away to dry for 4 weeks

13. Re-cane seats: if seats need re-caning, do it while the filler dries. Varnish seat frames before caning.

14. Prime: sand dried filler lightly with 220# and apply one or more coats of marine primer, sanding between coats

15. Install outwales: steam the outwales if necessary and install on the canoe. Belt sand the tops flush with the inwales and rib tops.

16. Varnish: Apply 3 to 6 coats of varnish to all visible wood, sand lightly between coats

17. Paint: Apply 3-4 coats of marine enamel to the sanded, primed canvas. Sand between coats.

18. Reassemble: install seats, thwarts, keel if any, and stem bands. Do final touches such as decals, painter rings, painters, etc.

All done.