Lakefield Canoe TLC

Patrick Strz

New Member
Hello All,

I'm fairly new to canoe restoration, I've done a couple of canvas canoes but I would like to help a friend out who asked me to do some TLC on their old Lakefield Canoe Company cedar strip. I'd be looking to strip and reapply the varnish, as well as adding new brass stem bands. I am wondering if there is anything I should be doing inbetween stripping the varnish, and then reapplying it. I've read about using a wood cleaning product, as well as something to bring moisture back into the cedar. The varnish that has been recommended to me by the Canadian Canoe Museum is Minwax Spar Urethane. Are there any products for cleaning and bringing moisture back into the wood that someone could please recommend?
First, no urethane! Of course you can do whatever you want but the traditional spar varnishes are much better in that they are designed for the kind of environment in which the canoe will be used, and they can be readily removed when it comes time to revarnish again. Brands like Epifanes, Petit and others are excellent. They seem pricier, but they perform very well and because they have a high solids content, they build faster than the thin stuff that you often get in the regular hardware store. This is another one of those “you get what you pay for” situations.

as for putting moisture back in the wood, this is something that is often said but I’m still not exactly sure what it means. “Moisture“ literally means water, and you want to keep the water out as much as possible. Different people do different things but often, the wood is simply stripped, cleaned with something like TSP, and often “bleached” with one of the two parts cleaner/bleach kits (this is not household bleach). Then after careful sanding, new varnish is applied according to the manufacturers directions. This usually results in a perfectly serviceable Canoe for many years without the potential dangers of slathering on stuff that could on the wood, discolor the surface, or interfere with protective qualities of your varnish.

Many people here can provide more details, but a search will turn up everything that you need. This is an issue that has been discussed many times on these forums. Some example threads:

Hope this helps,
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That's great information. I guess I didn't search hard enough through the forums, sorry about that and thank you for your effort!