Canvas party???


WCHA member #8947
So, over the past year or so, I've been steadily slogging my way through building my first boat. It's been difficult but all in all, pretty fun. I've finally come to the business of canvassing, and was wondering if there were any fine souls roughly in the MN area who might be moderately interested (in exchange for some kind of microbrew, garden grown tomatoes, or another to-be-decided means of compensation) in assisting in this step, as it seems it may be beneficial to have someone around who knows how this works. Wood can be bent, shaped, sanded etc, and I get that, but there's something that seems a little more difficult to grasp about how to get a sheet of canvas to follow the complex curves of a canoe. Thought it might even be fun to have someone else to talk to (and possibly swear with at the tough points) as well. Just throwing it out there...
Hi Nick,

If I were anywhere near MN, I'd be delighted to help, but FL ain't so close! Gather those future friends and have a great time, but you're going to be surprised at just how do-able canvassing really is. I don't build or restore for a living, but I've done quite a few canvas job. For the first one, I was as apprehensive as you are, I'm sure, but when I finished I thought "that's it?!" Now if I'm to canvas, I just get up, do whatever else I need or want to do around the house (you know, wrestle a few gaboon vipers or catch the latest wild python crossing the back yard), grab my canvassing gear and do it, start to finish, and then almost always apply filler as well with no trouble at all. I've surely imagined all the catastrophes that could happen, but none ever have occurred (well now, I guess I just jinxed myself!). Long canoes, short fat ones, sponsons, square sterns, etc., etc... all have worked out just great. Have confidence and have fun. A little encouragement from someone who remembers where you are.


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Hi Nick,

Did you get my e-mail?

When are you thinking about doing it?
I have a bit of a reprieve on when I have to move, still havce lots to do but might be able to squeeze it in.

And do you want the clamps?

Pennsylvania is also a little too far. But,
I have participated in at least 6 canvassings and I agree with the consensus, It seems much more difficult beforehand than after. Universally, the end reaction is, "Well, that wasn't so bad."
I would suggest that the minimum canvasing crew to be two, especially if doing it upside down with clamps attached to a post and a car in your back yard. One person hauls on the canvas and the other person tacks or staples. Besides, working on a canoe is always more fun when you share it. It helps if that other person has done it before so at least one person is confident and can avoid pitfalls.
Use well made canvas clamps and extra C-clamps so the canvas doesn't slip. Use good comelongs to tension so you can tighten or loosen conveniently. I like to use tall saw horses with woodworking rollers attached so that the gunwales of the canoe can slide so the sawhorses don't fall over. Work your way down one side a little and switch to the other and back and forth to keep the canvas centered and the tension even. And, lastly, there is more than one way to skin a canoe. Read the "Blue Book", listen to advice and have at it. Then you too will say, "Well, that wasn't so bad."
Now that the temperatures are above freezing here in the North land, I can stay out in my (as yet) uninsulated garage for more than a brief while. Hence, the canvassing has been completed - solo, sling-style, as the blue book describes. Assuming I have done things correctly, it may indeed be a manageable process. Now as soon as we get a little bit warmer, filler goes on (and maybe the shop gets cleaned...)


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Good Job!.....but looking at closer detail...did you leave something in there? or is that an optical illusion in the picture....take it from one who has been there......if those bumps are for is the time to get at it and do what you need to make it go will live with that FOREVER!
I also am not a "PRO" but I remember in Rollins video where he pretends he left something between the planking and the canvas...he stresses...fix it now or live with it later....
They were a couple of japanese lady-beetles. They no longer live in my canvas. Thought I posted the "post-bugs" picture.

I did have an additional question, of course. I went back and consulted the blue book and realized I didn't put any bedding compound beneath the seam along the stem. I think for the most part once I fill the canvas, and cover with the stem band, it will be water-tight anyway, but I have a little concern for the very beginning of that seam - where the curve of the stem meets the flat of the bottom. As I won't be fitting a keel to this boat, should I pull staples and get bedding compound? Is it possible to fill the canvas, and then add bedding compound under the stemband? Do bedding compound and filler play well together? Or does one prevent the other from curing at all?

Sorry for the many questions. As this is boat number 1, I'm just trying not to screw it up too badly...
As of today, April 1, 2010, the first canoe I've ever built, has been filled. *bows to mild applause*

I realize these updates may be boring/relatively un-noteworthy to the more experienced builders and restorers, but for me, who has hardly ever built a chair, let alone a complete vehicle, this is a pretty big deal (and as always, I have many of you to thank).


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The cardboard boxes? Classy, I know. They were to-hand at that particular moment - I've built a couple other semi-legitimate horses in the meantime.

I got the filler from the North Woods Canoe Company, incidentally...
Very Nice!

Wait til you first paddle it! YOu will not soon forget that day. And-I too like the sawhorses, being somewhat of aN afficionado (sp) of sawhorses. I think I have more sawhorses than canoes, cars, and tractors all together.

Well done.