End game

Howard Caplan

Wooden Canoe Maniac
I am two weeks into the 4 -6 weeks curing process on the new canoe I built in a class at Northouse Folk School in Minnesota.

I remember (never a good thing unless I wrote it down) Dan Strootman telling us to paint the exterior, install the outwales, trim off the excess canvas, belt sand the rail tops and ribs and then varnish the interior.
But then this morning I was reading through the build book by Stelmock, etc and seems he installs the outwales, sands the tops, varnish and then paint.

Am I thinking too much about this knowing that either way is good if care is taken or is there a preferred 1,2,3 in order for the end game???


Yes. :)

Builders will come up with whatever sequence they prefer or works better for their shop, and they are not all the same.

FWIW, my preference is to: 1-3 coats varnish inside, fit outer rails, (including beltsanding the top surface level, then remove and varnish 3-4 coats), canvas and paint, trim canvas, re-install rails, varnish rails and decks (2-4 more coats), plus 1-2 coat on rest of inside, install prevarnished seats/thwarts/yoke/handles (all with 4-8 coats varnish).

In my view, the pieces that get noticed are the decks and thwarts, so those get the most varnish and attention, they should be flawless. The rails, seats, yoke and handle can have small flaws, ie, dust specks etc.

As for Dan's specfic list, trim the canvas before you install the rails. The canvas should not be exposed between the rail and the ribs.


I always trim the canvas, install the gunnels, sand, varnish, then paint. I mask off the canvas, then use an HVLP sprayer to varnish. I have never mastered a brush!

Thanks guys. I like the idea of fixing the outwale, remove it, varnish it off the boat then the final varnish once the outs are back on. Theoretically, I like this idea. Reality says, because of my space limitations, I will be hard pressed to varnish the rail off the boat. Maybe a coat on the boat side of the rail to make sure that buried side is protected.
i'm with you there. i varnish interior, trim canvas, varnish the inside of the outwale, outside of the inwale then paint then install outwale and sand and varnish in place. if you do any painting first or filler and any of it seeps into wood that you plan to varnish it's alot more work to remove.