Finishing Stems

Rick Platte

A2 Canoeist
After having canvased, filled and applied two coats of paint, I'm still confronted with some irregularities where the canvas laps at the stems of my Peterborough. I'd like to smooth this out and perhaps true up the curve before applying the stem bands. It had been suggested that I might try either bondo, or fiberglas, it would be on the outside of the canvas so it could be subsequently removed with the canvas, to "clean it up." I was wondering what opinions others might have on this or other alternatives.

Thank you.
Other than a coat of bedding compound under the stem bands, I don't think it's a good idea to add anything to the filled canvas since I think you'd have a problem with adhesion. Plus, the bondo would just chip away, especially when it's drilled for the stem band screws How many coats of filler did you put on the stems? With MANY coats of filler, you can eliminate all signs of the canvas laps, tacks, etc. You'd have to Zip Strip the paint off the face of the stem to get back to the filler, but it's probably the way to go. As for truing up thr curve, with the canvas already on it's probably too late unless you could do it with more coats of canvas filler. You could add an outside stem, which would let you true up the curve and it would cansiderably strenghten the bow and stern, but it's a lot of work since you'd need to make a jig, boil or steam the wood before bending, chisel in a cove, screw it on, etc. The stem band then goes on the outside stem. If you'd consider an outside stem, white ash is the wood to used. Good luck!!
Thanks for the tips

Thanks for the tips. I suspect you're right about trying to put anything on over the filled and painted canvas. Bondo especially would probably chip out as you suggest. The canoe never had an outside stem so I think I'll avoid that. The curve is realtively true so perhaps a good coat of betting compound and the stem band itself will be enough.

Thanks again.
The canvas lap may appear quite rough right now but after the filler is dry there is a bit of sanding that you can do to help improve its smoothness. Because the stem band is going to cover up the lap you can sand the very face of the lap very hard. You can even use a rasp to do the heavy work. A very small amount of bondo can fill in the gaps. The bondo should not be used to sculpt a new face or smooth out andeuneven stem.

Two things for future projects. On the first two canoes I canvassed I had little puckers between every tack on the stem, they weren't big but enough that it seemed like no matter how many coats of filler I put on they weren't going to get buried. I figured out that if I took some of the really thick filler that had settled out to the bottom of the can I could apply it with a putty knife and form it with a latex gloved hand almost like clay to get a nice rounded stem in 1 or 2 coats. the second time I dug some really thick stuff out of the bottom of the can before I mixed it and set that aside for the stems. A better solution on the next one was to contact cement the overlapped layer of canvas down and with a nice straight trim line it totally eliminated the puckers and I got a nice finish with just the regular 2 coats of filler. One warning, someone else who tried this said they had trouble with the paint drying on the stems and had to scrape it off and repaint but I had no problems. I will use this method again.
I just wanted to say thank you for the useful feedback. I think I can see the path forward from here and I also have some useful information in terms of doing it differently next time. It's been a fun project so there will be a next time.


What Rollin said...don't be afraid to sand it pretty hard to knock down the exposed edge that may be causing your problem.....