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Keel Instalation

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by slk, Oct 3, 2019.

  1. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    Since this thread started as a question about bedding the keel, I typically use Dolfinite or Interlux Boatyard. But I like the ease of using caulk from a tube. Jametown Distributors has a nice description of different types of caulks and bedding compounds here:

    and a helpful chart of various caluks and their properties:


    As for keels themselves, I'm with Greg and others when it comes to canoe restoration. I replace keels if they were there. Many thousands of cedar-canvas canoes have been built and used with keels over the past 100+ years. Of course keels provide extra protection for the bottom of the canoe. How could they not? And of course they affect the hydrodynamic properties of the canoe in the water. How could they not? I've paddled the same model and length of wood-canvas canoe on the same day, and the keel clearly helps the canoe track straighter, so you might enjoy a keel when distance paddling on lakes, but you might find it troublesome on a river canoe . If you need more meneuverability in a canoe with a keel, you can heel the canoe over if it's not heavily loaded. As for how to launch a canoe or carry it over obstacles, different strokes for different folks. For example, not everyone has the ability or desire to pick up the entire canoe and throw it off a dock (risking serious damage from unseen obstacles).

    All of this said, a canoe keel can't have any real effect on rollover (your second question).

    It sounds like you're building a canoe from scratch. If that's the case, then add a keel or not as you see fit. As is often said on these forums, it's your canoe and you should do with it what you feel is best. If it were me building a new canoe with my corrent paddling preferences, I'd agree with MGC and Paul - probably would not add a keel at all, or at least paddle without one first before making the decision to add one. There's certainly no harm in that.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2020
  2. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    I could be misremembering, but I think you can buy empty caulk gun tubes to fill with the goop of your choice. Some of the standards, like Interlux Boatyard or Dolfinite might need to be thinned first to aid the whole squeezing process. Probably still fastest just to use a good old putty knife (preferably a vintage one with a rosewood handle).

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