Application of varnish to the bow & stern


Curious about Wooden Canoes
Got the Deks D1 put on the 1921 OTCA. Two coats on the outside and inside. That old wood kept soaking it up. Should I think about a third coat to the outside? The wood seems like it would absorb more.

Here's the real question - what's the best way to apply varnish to the inside bow and stern? There is like, no room to use a brush properly. How do you guys do it?


John H
There are no rules when it comes to varnishing in tight spaces (although paint bombs tend to be messy). Sticks and duct tape can be good and I've been known to walk over to the band saw and cut most of the handle off of a brush.

As for the Deks #1, this is probably the best opportunity you will ever have to oil the heck out of it. I usually do what they say and oil, wet-on-wet, as fast as I can apply coats until it stops soaking in and sits on the surface. Then I wipe it down and let it dry. On cedar, that can be five or six coats, but they go on so fast and easy that it's really not much work.
Spray it with 60 lb air gun.

Myself I varnish the stems before I build a new canoe. Reach your hand up inside with a rag. You can do it.
To tight to varnish ?

It can be perplexing if you do not have this : Go to your paint store and buy an applicator that can reach up underneath the deck, ( even the longer decks ).
They are typically a bent substantial wire that terminates in an open end. This end will receive a little foam roller about 5 " long that will roll into all the corners along the rails , rib edges, etc. I use my varnish brush first to hit the stem face way up under the deck and the area where the planking,stem and ribs meet, and under the inwales.
When you continue you will get to a point when you can use your brush only and go down the boat. I assume you had previously coated under the decks when they were re-tipped etc. If not, turn the boat over and reach in with the you do not varnish your forearm and elbow.
I use the same approach when oiling the interior with Raw Linseed/turp mix.
Have fun, and if you are penurious as I can be, these rollers may be cleaned as you would a brush and reused. The foam is really tough.
Dave D.
Definition of PENURIOUS
1: marked by or suffering from penury
2: given to or marked by extreme stinting frugality

Dave, dollar store around here sells them in a three pack for a buck, the high quality closed foam ones - they're great for everything from 2-part paints to epoxy. Due to my own penuriousness i bought the whole wall of them, about $30 for 90 of them. When my wife asked if i'd lost my mind buying 90 rollers i showed her the one for $2.99 that West Marine sells and how fast you can go through them. Occasionally i win one..;)
The ends of my Crandell were so narrow and tight that I used a foam brush attached to a long stick to reach all the way in to the stem. I also varnished the ends with the canoe up side down so I wouldn't have to stand on my head to see what I was doing. A while ago I recall posting a reply in more detail about what I did but I can't find it at the moment.

Snowed another foot last night. Already had over a foot on the ground. Third storm since Christmas. Seed catalog came this morning - I guess some people think spring is coming.

Jim C.
I ended up using the 'stick and tape' foam brush method. And still got varnish on the elbow/forearm.... But it's done. Canvas is on, filler applied, hanging from an outsider rafter for the winter.

The boat and me are planning a five day trip thru the BWCA. Kind of excited about that....

Thanks for all the help.

John H
Varnishing the bow

For close blind work I cut off a cheap 1" brush just behind the metal binding. Screw the handle back on at a 45-90 degree angle then swipe away using GPS to be sure the finish is applied evenly. On an in-process courting canoe I will do all the inside finishing before the 48" decks go on.

Courting canoe

RC, any chance of a bunch of photos? before I remove the remnants of my 48" decks i mean....:eek:
Varnishing the bow


I don't know what photos would be useful to you. I have a few while it was still floating and could take some in its present state-torn apart.

Let's not highjack this thread.

A before then some torn apart would be great, everyone likes pictures. Don't think there's much left to hijack but we can start a new thread on courting wrecks.