17 foot Molitar Old town canoe Stripping the wood finish

Brian DeRose

Curious about Wooden Canoes
What is the best method for stipping the finish off the cedar from the inside of this canoe?



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That "search" button can yield a lot of good info in old threads, but here's a brief version... I prefer the methylene chloride-based strippers like Strypeeze. Slather on, let sit, scrape out sludge, then re-apply. Wash it and the dregs of finish out wih a strong solution of TSP, scrubbing gently with a nylon-bristled brush. Then, if you wish, use a 2-part teak cleaner. It will get the last remaining sludge out, along with bits of varnish still left, and it will remove stains and really brighten up the wood.

I completely stripped a 17' Morris and all its parts on Saturday, then cleaned it Sunday, sanded today (Monday), and will soon apply the first coat of varnish. Your canoe should also strip quickly because there's no paint, the varnish is fairly thin, and a Molitor is pretty wide open making it easier to get at everything.

Other people advocate using a professional tank-dipping service. More costly, but if there's one in your area (contact a local furniture refinisher) that can handle something the size of a canoe, it would be easier and you won't have to breathe fumes and be subject to the pain of the chemical stripper getting on your skin.