Keel joint gap


Curious about Wooden Canoes
Prepping an Old Town Trapper with keel to repaint using Kirby paint.
There is a slight (1/32”) gap at meeting of keel & bottom skin.

Was keel sealed during installation at factory?

Should joint be caulked before painting or will the new paint flow to fill the gap? If caulking, what should be used?

Main concern is waterproof keel joint and smooth paint job, not purely cosmetics.
Thanks, Fred
The keel should be bedded with a coat of good quality marine bedding compound before painting. Remove the keel. scrape off the old compound and replace. Paint over that.
keel removal

Thanks Mike, Kinda what I expected. Want to do it right..once.

Should I be able to remove the keel mounting screws and gently pry it off slowly with putty knife?

Where could I acquire good quality marine bedding compound? WestMarine is only marine store within 60 miles, I could mail order like I did the Kirby paint.

How long should the new marine bedding compound set up before paint?

Thanks, Fred
Yes, you can remove the keel as you say. Just be very careful to not damage the canvas. USe Interlux Boatyard Bedding Compound or Dolphinite to re-bed the keel. Pretty sure West Marine carries it in their stores. Can also mail order from WM, Hamilton Marine or Jamestown Distributors (among others).

Another option, perhaps not quite as good, but simpler and cheaper, is to run a bead of paintable caulk along the joint to fill the gaps.
Bedding compound

Fredthecat said:
Where could I acquire good quality marine bedding compound?
These folks have what you need but will drive you nuts with advertisements after you buy from them. Use a throwaway email address when you contact them and put it into your spam filter. That said, they are a good source for such things.

Clean off any overflow and paint, no waiting required.

HM.. at 6:57 Dan replies followed by me at 6:58. Guess we were both typing at the same time. The Interlux that Dan recommends is what I use.
The gap is very small (.020). I'd hate to ruin the canvas removing the keel. (wouldn't mind having the keel gone permanently)

Can I run paintable caulk from home store paint dept and paint over it?
Is that stuff waterproof if submerged for several hours?

Thanks, Fred
Good suggestions. Thanks guys.
Any experiences with paintable caulks on canoes, any particular brands or types to use?

I expect I would want to use non-silicone caulk. Would paintable acrylic latex caulk be appropriate for use with oil based paint?

I have only ACE hardware to deal with within 50 mile radius

Thanks, Fred
The fellow who taught me to restore w/c canoes had been using DAP Alex Plus acrylic latex caulk indoor/outdoor for over 30 years on stem bands and keels with no come backs. Cleans up with water, sets overnight, can be painted, has a 35 year guarantee and is inexpensive to buy. DAP Dynaflex 320 elastomeric latex indoor/outdoor sealant that works the same and has a 50 year guarantee. I have used both with no problems or comebacks. I find that the caulking may shrink a little over night so a second seam application might be desired. It comes in clear, white or brown. A coat of paint or varnish makes it impervious to the elements.
I would sand and clean the gap area then place a nice bead of caulking,forcing it into the gap. Wait a day before painting.
Last edited:
Thanks again , Exactly what I wanted to know. 35-50 years will outlast me and on to next canoe lover

Thank you, Fred