How to deal with Gaps Between Planks.

Scot T

LOVES Wooden Canoes
I am in the process of repairing/restoring my 16' Huron. My first BTW and very much a learning project. My question concerns the shrinkage gaps between the planking. What would be the best way to deal with these? The gaps range from 2mm (1/16") to 5mm (3/16") and no two planks are free of this space. I will be replacing a couple planks, a gore on one side and a couple others that are badly cupped, so I could make these wider to fill the space but what about all the rest?

Or should I just ignore it as the canoe is in pretty good condition otherwise and has minimal repairs to be done? But as I said, this is a learning project and as much as I would like to get it in the water I still want to take the time to do things correctly on this one and learn all I can for the next.

I understand that over time sand and grit can fall through these gaps and work it's way under the canvas potentually causing problems or if nothing else, unsightly bumps. I've not seen this in my fairly limited exposure to many different canvas canoes but I can see the possibilitiy of such a problem developing.

All comments more than welcome.
Those gaps don't sound like they should cause a problem. They may shrink as the moisture content of the planking increase. If you try to fill them there will be no room for the planking to expand and you may actually cause more cupping since there will be no place for the expansion to reieve itself. This is especially true if your planking is flatsawn as opposed to quarter sawn. The flatsawn tends to expand and contract more with moisture level changes.

Hopefully this is a case of less is more!

Good luck!
Not to worry, all Huron canoes have those gaps between the planks. There Is nothing that can be done about it. I always use cloth mats in my wood/canvas canoes. This prevents damage to the varnish and foriegn matter between the planking and canvas. Do "NOT" use mats that have a backing material. When you do get something between the canvas and planking it can usually be eliminated by a gentile tap with a body hammer on the outside. This works by either crushing the object or sending it into the wood. Souds crazy but it works.
Thanks guys, that puts my mind at ease and makes things easier. All the planking is flatsawn and the hull is quite dry so, as you say Andy, it will swell a fair bit albeit maybe not enough to close the gaps. But if that's normal for a Huron then that is the way it will be.

I was checking out a buddies new canvas job on his Chestnut Cruiser (Kruger) the other day and noticed that the planking is very tight, no gaps. That's what got me thinking about it.

That's a good idea about to use the mats. I use a small one in my cedar stripper because I like to soften the blow on my battered knees but it makes sense that it helps keep the dirt at bay as well. Good idea.

swell the siding

Hello Scot,
Prior to canvassing the hull I give it a coat of 50/50 boiled linseed oil/turpintine which swells the siding. This pretty much eliminates any 'cracks' between the siding. Let it dry (soak-in) for a week to ten days before canvassing and I think you will be happy with the results. Lee.^....;)