canvas and bedding compound


Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes
Hey Guys:

Being new to the craft I have refinished a few canoes, however, there are still more then a few grey areas in my mind. First, I was curious which style of canvas everyone was using: un-treated or and mildew resistant? Second, what are people using for bedding compound, something like Silakflex or 3M marine sealant or traditional bedding compound? What are the pros and what are the cons? Finally does any one have some tips or advice to keep in mind when building a “canoe horses” (the raised style that support the canoe with a strap of sorts)?

Btw: I’m not looking for professional advice here, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Robert Brown
Hi Robert,

I prefer the use of untreated canvas which I treat with a preservative after installtion on the canoe.
I've had good luck with Gloucester as well as Interlux knife-grade Boatyard Bedding Compound. 3M and Sikaflex sell many sealers and compounds as well, but use one which cures permanently flexible.

Robert, where are you located? ;)

Dick Persson
Headwater Wooden Boat Shop
Buckhorn, Ontario, Canada
Hey Dick:

I have heard a few guys speak of adding an agent later, but everything I read says otherwise, i.e. the filler will not set/penetrate properly. I’m actually kind of stumped, because if I do use a treated canvas, I think it will have to come up from the states, then my concern is that I need to match the filler, thus it come from the states as well. It starts to look like an expensive project. However, I still need to call Tender Craft and I’m waiting for a response form North Bay C & K.

Thanks for the tip on the bedding compound; I just found a distributor in Canada for that. I had used a flexible 3M marine sealant on my last project, however I am now wondering how the hell I’m going to get the keel off if it ever needs replacing.

As for my location, I’m a bit transient for now. I moved to Toronto a few years ago so I could do Grad. work in Environmental Philosophy so, I tend to spend half my year in the city, and the other half on Chandos. If I’m lucky this year I can get out of the city in time to fish Cisco during the thaw and get this summers project into the shop a bit earlier.

Thanks for the tip woodchuck; I have been trying to buy from local builders, however, if it comes down to it I really don’t have any other choice.
To remove anything bedded in poly type bedding compound you use a piano wire, assuming you can get it into the joint. If not try applying heat to soften it up but not so much to set it on fire. Lastly, 3M and/or Sika have come up with an aerosol solvent that can break the bond of these materials.
In the case of a wide keel I recommend painting out the back to prevent rot and then use a thin noodle off the super goo along the edges and around fastening holes rather than gobbing the whole thing down.
The best rule of thumb though is, if you use the super goo, expect to replace the part if you ever need to remove it. However, it is sometimes the best material for the job. Dick's keel cutwater installations look top notch and I use the stuff myself but I always use the traditional when I can.
As for canvas, I'm with Dick. Untreated. Treated stuff may also be preshrunk which could hamper your canvasing job. (Pssst... Dick sells canvas) Do a road trip to the canoe museum and swing up and visit him.
Hope you don't mind my saying all this Dick.
Hey Mark:

Thanks for the tips; I will file that for later. I put an oak keel on her, so If all goes well it won’t need replacing anytime soon. However I will be using her for backwoods fly-fishing; those red shield lakes love to hide rocks. Nice site Btw and best of luck with your move to Victoria; that’s some nice weather to be working in.

Using the sealents that act like a glue always makes for problems on any future repair. If the wood is fitting correctly it should not be needed for any structual reason. To seal out moisture I recmmend the oil base marine bedding compound by Interlux, Pettit or Z-Spar. they clean up easy with paint thinner, seal the joint and can be taken apart.
Pretreated canvas will work just like the untreated canvas and you can use any kinds of fillers on either one.