Makeshift Clinching Iron

Bruce Dow

Wood Butcher
As part of my restoration, I had to remove about four feet of planking to do one of those blind back-of-rib repairs (I used a paint stir stick to make the spline).

That seems to have gone well.

Here is the story so far:

Now it is time to put the planking back on. I ran to Noah's today to get the tacks, but they did not have a clinching iron. Rather than chase one down for one-time use, I am seeking advice on something else I could use.

What have people used as a good substitute "in a pinch"?

- cheek of an axe?
- business end of a sledge hammer?
- other ideas please...

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Well Done Bruce

Use ANYTHING. Head of a maul would do in that location. Railroad rail. Hammer head. Just try not to use something that would leave a ding in the soft wood. Auto body shops have cheapie body bump irons. One looks very similr to a regular clinching iron. But more like a big comma. Good job!

Regards, Dave.

I shoulda' got one when they were $60. Mine is iron. But the bronze is way cool. If I recall, Joe Seliga had an interesting home made one.
Thanks for the input. I picked up an auto body dolly for $10 at the Cdn Tire. Let's see how it goes this weekend.
It worked...

The auto body dolly was a charm.

I got my planks back on and made good progress on my fairing this weekend.

Until now, I thought the best test of spousal communication and patience was wallpapering. Navigating the clinching iron on the other side of the hull beats that hands down.:rolleyes: ;)

Thanks for all of the advice.

I'm lucky, my gal enjoys the clinching part of canoe rebuilding. I just crawl under the inverted hull with my little stool and my "Store Bought Brass Clinching Iron" (I had 60 bucks, I think it was, extra that year) and let her hammer away. She's quite good at it...has the knack.
Great information. I was just putting together a grocery list of items I'm going to need for my canoe and this will save me some bucks. Much appreciated!


I took an old chisel and knocked off the shoe material rasped down to steel and fashioned a cheesy two by four handle.

Used it today. Pretty great. and free.

((But it turns out, too light to be practical))
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clenching iron

Modify an old axe head as shown. It seemed a little too light, so I filled the eye with lead.



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Bruce, what are you covering your canoe with?

I am using Dacron (heat shrunk).

I am almost finished the paint job. (I need to get it finished quickly so that I can clear the garage to bring my MG home from my parents' house now that the weather is brightening up)

I was working on it a bit today. I noticed that with the Dacron, there were a few "blisters" that came over the winter. I just ran a warm iron over them, and they shrunk back.

Hopefully, one more coat of paint will do it. Then I can varnish the inside, gunwales, thwarts and seats, and she'll be back in the water by June.
I just got a clinching iron for Christmas...The face is very rough. (Unfinished out of the mold.) I'm a bit worried about dragging it along the ribs. Can I file the face smooth or is the rough, pock-marked surface needed to catch the tack tips? I was looking in some old threads but could not find anything.


Hit it with your belt sander and a coarse belt to start with then go finer.
If you don't have a belt sander, get one. Youll need one at some point or just drag it across some sand paper.