Planking Guidance

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by chipfitzgerald, Mar 22, 2017.

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  1. chipfitzgerald

    chipfitzgerald Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I've begun planking my 1913 OT 17' Charles River with 3" white cedar and completed the bottom 4 rows with ease and success. Now I've come to a point where the planking process looks less straightforward whereby shaping and piecing appear to be required to cover the exterior. Looking for some guidance, tips, best practices, articles, etc., on how to best move forward since the common canoe restoration books don't describe this process in very much detail. Any help is appreciated.
     
  2. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Planking patterns are very diverse so it is customary to just replace the design that you find on your canoe. It appears that different builders used a variety of patterns and large companies like Old Town would have individuals who used slightly different techniques that varied over time. The pictures below show some Old Town patterns from the teens to the 1950s. Good luck,

    Benson
     

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  3. OP
    chipfitzgerald

    chipfitzgerald Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Pictures are worth a thousand words. Thank you! The pics were instructive and helpful.
     
  4. 1905Gerrish

    1905Gerrish LOVES Wooden Canoes

    It sounds like you are replacing all of the planking on the canoe in your post? I hope this is not the case where I have done this large task. First remove the broken section and then used it as a template to make a new section. Sand to finish. I tend to make it slightly undersized and submerge it in water if there is any curvature for a few hours. Most of the time I predrill the section where it will not hurt and install it. If any modifications are needed a bench top belt sander is my tool of choice.
     
  5. OP
    chipfitzgerald

    chipfitzgerald Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks. Unfortunately, the canoe is 104 years old and the existing planking is severely dried out and far too brittle to provide any structural integrity. Complicating the replacement process is the existing planking is 4-1/8" wide and the only new planking that I was able to procure regionally was 3" wide. So nothing will match width-wise. I'll struggle through it. Just though there might be some best practices or tips out there on how to tackle the complicated amidships area.
     
  6. 1905Gerrish

    1905Gerrish LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Based on the available info I would have advised you to properly oil the hull of the canoe to gain some flexibility back into the wood before tackling such a large job. The 104 year old canoe is not worrysome on my end. Honestly I have not worked on such a new canoe in years. I would have recommended heating up some tung oil cut with thinner and applying it inside and out. This would solve the moans and groans that the older canoes develop and only replacing what planking is actually broken.
     
  7. MGC

    MGC Paddlephile

    Hmm...boy howdie. Here comes the peanut gallery with a few observations.
    First, I would not consider 104 years to be unfortunate....not one bit. That it's over a hundred years old is a blessing and something to preserve....
    Most of my boats are about that age or older and I have kept all of the original planking in place except where it's broken or very warped. I do as 1905 Gerrish notes and apply a "boat soup" to the planking after I have finished the repairs. I blend linseed oil, turpentine and mineral spirits and heat it before applying it.
    I would not consider completely re-planking a boat......if the planking is so bad that it warrants that I wouldn't own it. That said, I have never seen one that was that far gone.
    Given that you started re-planking with smaller boards you've kind of put yourself into a bit of a bind as far a finishing goes. Now your questions about the gore and how to get around the tumble home start to make more sense...What you are trying to do will not be easy unless you do it the way 1905 suggests, one board at a time. Keep in mind that the planking was originally fit to the hull on a form.....

    So...given that you have already re-planked the bottom and given that the rest of the planking is probably fine.. what I might recommend as a next step is to stop and figure out how to make a transition from the 3 inch planking to the original planking. Then see if you can source the wood you need to patch in any pieces that are in need of replacement while keeping the rest of the hull as original as practical/possible. The other option is to tear the new planking off.
    Keep in mind that you probably have a red cedar hull. I have made wide red cedar boards by sawing red cedar siding... There are probably other ways to get the wood you need. I always save pieces that I remove and am often able to refit them to other spots. The nice thing about used wood is that it blends..

    Pictures would be helpful......it's hard to envision your process...
     
  8. awcwo

    awcwo Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I do not mean to hijack this thread, but I am ask my newbis questions. The canoe is a 1925 OT. I am planning my restoration and have 6 ribs to replace. They have been poorly repaired, see pictures below. At first I was not going to replace them, but it seems if I am going to do the job it needs to be right. My question is the regarding the planking. do I just undo the fasteners on the broken rib or do I need toe remove the planking? Thank you in advance for your patience and assistance.
     

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  9. 1905Gerrish

    1905Gerrish LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Remove all the tacks and the rib should pop out of place with help of a putty knife wiggled under it. Purchase a tack remover and use the right tool for the job. Probably only $10 at the hardware store. I tend to file my edges down to chisels to pry the tacks out. When the tacks are installed they roll over to clinch. During removal the tacks back out easiest when rolled out the way they were installed. You will know what I mean when you remove them. Also purchase brass tacks from a canoe builder. Don't hesitate to ask more and take your time. Good luck.
     
  10. awcwo

    awcwo Curious about Wooden Canoes

    1905Gerrish, Thank you for the advice. I was wondering what you thoughts were regarding staples. The previous attempt at a restoration, they covered the canoe with stainless steel staples. Should I use both or remove the staples and just use brass tacks?
     
  11. Dave Wermuth

    Dave Wermuth Who hid my paddle?

    Do you mean that they used staples to fasten the canvas along the shear? Staples are commonly used to cover the canoe. Staples aren't used to fasten ribs to plank or to fasten ribs to inwales in most shops.

    There are other ways to remove tacks. i.e. grind the curled tips off or tap them with a punch to get them to back out a bit.

    The main idea when replacing ribs is to not end up with a deformed, lumpy canoe. So only do one rib at a time. Or every third or fourth rib if there are many. Don't remove the planking, you need it to show you how to keep the hull fair as you install the rib. The only time to remove planking is if you perform a backside rib repair.
     
  12. awcwo

    awcwo Curious about Wooden Canoes

    So the chucklehead who tried to restore, did not know what he was doing. As you can see from the photo, there are staples are covering the canoe. The photos also show a terrible repair job riveted with screws and bondo. I think I have my work cut out for me. I will be on here often seeking advice. I thank you for your help and time.

    Michael
     

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  13. 1905Gerrish

    1905Gerrish LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Michael, Most of us have found over the years many creative ways that others have restored canoes. I have never seen staples used besides on the rails when installing canvas which is now a common practice. Luckily these canoes are made of wood which can be repaired and replaced. Fortunately the staples do make large holes in the canoe and could be removed easily. If you are looking for originality they should be removed and replaced with tacks where needed.
     
  14. awcwo

    awcwo Curious about Wooden Canoes

    As the canoe has changed so much over its lifetime, I do not think I can get it back to original. It may just be cost prohibitive. Should I just leave the staples in the planking and canvas over it or try to remove them all? I am afraid I will cause more harm than good. There are literally hundreds of canoes in the planking.
     
  15. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Rotten Wood Hoarder

    I have yet to see the staples but, if they are used to hold the planking on, and they are not clinched over, they aren't doing much holding.

    Replace them and put in a proper tack.

    Dan
     
  16. awcwo

    awcwo Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Dan,

    Thanks for the help. I will replace them. I added a few pictures to show the repairs, bondo, and staples.

    Michael
     

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  17. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Rotten Wood Hoarder

    There is nothing wrong with those repairs, other than the staples, and the grain of the patch doesn't match the planking.
    If these are done right, with matching grain, from the inside you can't even tell they are there.
    If the staples are just driven in and not clinched over, they will be easy to remove.
    Install tacks at each staple and then remove the staple.
    Fair and recanvas.
    Dan
     
  18. Dave Wermuth

    Dave Wermuth Who hid my paddle?

    Ok, now I see them. Just pull them out. Use brass tacks instead. I think 11/16" is the standard tack size. I see lots of repairs that aren't what we consider today as the right way to do it. But those guys didn't have anyone to learn from and they just wanted to go fishing and their work ultimately resulted in the canoe being here and not in the land fill. Other than the staples, it looks like a regular restoration job on a derelict canoe. Keep us posted.
     
  19. awcwo

    awcwo Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Dan, I give the previous repair effort such a hard time because, to the best of my knowledge, it was used once before the canvas failed. My father paid several thousand dollars to have it repaired and then it barely used again. Unfortunately, my father was never able to use it again. Again, thank you for the great support. I am sure I will be asking many more questions as this project moves along.
     

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