New Member - staining strips?


Curious about Wooden Canoes
Pardon me if this is an old question. I looked around and didn't see anything on it so let's see what happens.

I'm building a Bear Mountain Nomad, just about to start stripping, and I want to know if anybody has tried staining a strip? I've read that the stain will bleed out into the epoxy during the covering operation but I have the impression that if I stain a strip, let it dry, then coat it with epoxy and let that dry, before it ever goes into the hull, then maybe that will solve the bleeding issue.

Any tips would be appreciated.

Barry, I'm a week or so behind you with my Nomad and I am assuming you are using WRC for the strips? If so, why would you stain? I would think it would be very dark and the bueaty in a stripper is in the natural colors of the WRC and accent stripes... IMHO

CYA, Joe
Don't even think about it. First of all, you'll grind most of the stain off when you have finished stripping and it's time to sand the hull smooth. Your colored strip(s) will have blotches all over them. I'm assuming that you are aware of the fact that oil-based stain is very likely to prevent you from getting a decent epoxy bond when you go to add the resin and fiberglass layers. The last thing you want to do to a stripper is to weaken the bond between the wood and the glass, so oil stain is a bad idea.

Together, these issues mean that any staining must be done after the wood is sanded and before it is glassed or pre-coated with epoxy, and the stain used should be either water-based or alcohol-based, rather than oil-based. Water-based stain is fairly easy to use, but does leave a certain amount of stuff in the pores of the wood (pores that would normally have filled with epoxy as part of the wood/resin bond). Alcohol-based stain leaves less stuff in the pores, and has more shimmer and transparency, but is trickier to apply because it dries in a matter of seconds. With either kind of stain, it's nearly impossible to stain individual strips without the stain wicking into neighboring strips. You basically stain the whole boat and it's usually best to build-up color slowly with multiple, diluted coats of stain. There is more control and less chance of uneven stain application than when trying to do the staining in one coat.

The initial application of resin (be it a pre-coat or the saturation coat on the fiberglass for those who don't pre-coat) will pick up a little bit of the stain color and move it around. I don't believe there is any way to prevent this. If the entire boat has been stained, it's not noticable. If you were trying to stain some areas and not others, it probably would be in some places.

Hi guys,
Thanks. The reason I was thinking about staining a couple strips is because the cedar I milled all turned out to be very light and nearly the same tone throughout. I was expecting a wide range of colors but that's not what showed up.

Perhaps it's not red cedar at all but it is very light weight, looks, feels, and smells like cedar. The lumber company I bought it from had it labeled as Western Red Cedar and the salesman said it had been stored for years. It's possible that it could be something else, like Alaskan yellow cedar, but it doesn't have that characteristic amber-yellow hue. Port Orford White Cedar has the same light tone but my wood doesn't have the pungent ginger-like odor of Port Orford.

All of it was covered with soot, presumably from a fire in an earlier storage barn, so it was difficult to tell when I bought it. It milled beautifully and in 18ft clear lengths it doesn't matter what it is.

You've convinced me that staining is not a good idea so I'll get some darker stock and mill that out for the accent pieces.
Thanks again,
I agree with the others. Darker stock is the way to go, stay away from the stain. I built a Nomad in 2000 and at the time I was concerned about the light colored WRC I was using. After the epoxy and several (many) coats of varnish, the color became more pleasing to the eye, and less "pine colored" looking. I used redwood for the darker accents in my Nomad. Best of luck with yours.


  • cs1101.jpg
    415.3 KB · Views: 675
  • cs1103.jpg
    368.5 KB · Views: 676
  • cs1117.jpg
    396.6 KB · Views: 634

Hi Jmann,
Your Nomad is fabulous! Nice work. I particularly like the accent in the football. How does the boat handle?

I see a couple other boats in the background, what are those?

One more question, how did you cut your scuppers?


Just use a different species for the accent strip(s). One or two strips of a heavier wood (Walnut, Cherry, Mahogany, etc.) won't make a significant difference in the final weight of the canoe and can add some real zing. You can easily splice the length of the accent strips and make the splice almost invisible if you are careful.

Glass Suppliers

Thanks Max,
I went out and selected a really dark piece of red cedar and plan to mill that today. It's only ten feet long so I'll have to scarf it. I found a web site that has some excellent information on scarfing strips - by John Michne - the url is below. Hopefully it's a hot link. That's the first time I've tried to use the link insertion tool on this forum so if it doesn't work just go to and click on the "My Website" button at the bottom and then "Builder's Corner" to get to the strip process.

In Canoecraft, Ted Moores says to simply butt join them in between molds. Which do you think is the best way to do it? I'm leaning toward scarfing them according to Michne's method. Headed down to the shop now so I'll probably already have it done before a reply but who knows. I may get stuck on something else.

Another question. Who's the least expensive source for Epoxy and glass? I know there are places listed on this site but there are no price lists. West Marine, near where I live, has everything but it's going to cost $550 and I was hoping to find it for a lot less than that. The last time I built a boat, a tack and tape Gypsy by Harold Payson, the glass was pretty reasonable. The store where I bought it is out of business now. Any recomendations for a supplier?

Structurally, it really doesn't matter whether you scarf or butt them. Some people are more comfortable with one method or the other. On curved surfaces, scarfs can sometimes look a bit strange and obvious to my eye and butt joints look a bit cleaner. I've built some boats with bands of butt joints and others where nearly every strip had at least one, so strength doesn't seem to be an issue.


  • !DSCN058.JPG
    94 KB · Views: 624

Hi Todd,
Thanks for your input. I know the strength is in the glass and the joint won't really matter from the mechanics of it. Just thought the scarf would look better, but I haven't done them yet, only ripped the the strips and decided to make a jig to get a good angle on the disk sander. However, if the butt joint is invisible it would be a lot faster so I guess I'll try it that way. Also, I can mill the cove and bullnose first and butt them when they go on the mold. That will be a lot faster too since I won't have to wait for the scarf to dry completely before milling it.

The invisibility of either type of joint is obviously a matter of how closely the wood color and grain patterns match on the strips to be joined. One helpful hint is to wipe the last few inches of each strip down with a damp rag to temporarily get a preview of what color they will actually be after glassing and choose your potential mating strips while you can see the color. The idea of being able to scarf strips to produce any needed length and a continuous, evenly flexing piece to work with is wonderful. For me though, the cosmetics present a problem that just bugs me. Where a butt joint (even one where the woods don't match very well) makes a clean vertical line where one strip ends and the next starts, scarfs often don't. The edge of a scarfed strip shows a long, clean taper, but the face (the part that shows on a stripper) is another story. Those thin, tapered ends, slowly dwindling out to nothing don't always tend to do it evenly. If the surface is then sanded into a curve, the ends of the scarfed sections may take on an even more irregular shape. Personally, I just find simple, clean butt joints less distracting to look at. Your mileage may vary.
Butt Joint It Is

Thanks Todd,
Your obvious experience is very convincing and I'll use butt joints with pleasure. I suppose it's best to overlap the pieces and cut them at the same time so they fit perfectly. My new stock matches in color since I'm using consecutive strips so the joint should be no problem in that regard. The grain should even be very close since I'll be joining the strips end to end, bookmatched lengthwise.

The picture you attached in an earlier response, with the butt joints in contrasting color, is intriguing. What is it?

It was my first venture away from boats that were skinny and pointed on both ends, about 1978.


  • 83-89.jpg
    74.4 KB · Views: 552
  • drift 2.jpg
    drift 2.jpg
    43.3 KB · Views: 550
  • drift 1.jpg
    drift 1.jpg
    30 KB · Views: 561
I haven't been real happy with the scarfs I've done so far, (gunwales) and so only use full length strips. They aren't that hard to work with. Compared to the total cost of a project and the time spent on it, a few $$ more for premium wood is well worth it.


I can't help you with glass sources. I purchased my supplies last year from a local woodworking supply company that has since closed.

The only disadvantage of the scarf joint shown on the site you provided is that when cutting the virtical face you bisect the glue line at an angle, thus making it wider on the surface. I doubt that it is an issue if your joint is tight. I make accent strips with butt joints and haven't had any problem. Stagger the joints. The fiberglass and epoxy provide the strength.

White Lightning

Todd, your drift boat is fantastic! Thanks for attaching the pictures. I've seen lots of drift boats up here in the Seattle area but nothing to compare with yours, not even close.

Dan, thanks for the input. The reason I have to make a joint is that my accent stock is only 10 feet long. All the rest of the strips are full length. I tried to find something dark in 18ft lengths but nothing presented itself locally. The stock I selected is a piece of red cedar, very dark and highly figured so it will be nice.

Max, thanks for the reply. I learned that Bear Mountain has an epoxy kit and glass by the foot that works out to a little over $460 US so I'll probably go with that. I bought my plans from them and they were prompt and helpful. They have free shipping on the epoxy kit to North America. If I can't find it for less pretty soon I'll order it from them.

Don't need it for a few days though since my shop is now a frigid 28 degrees. That's really unusual for the Seattle area and we had a sort of blizzard yesterday. Maybe you watched the Seahawks / Packers game on Monday night football? There was thunder and lightning in the middle of a snow storm. I've never seen that before and I've been here since '84. Lightning in snow is brilliant white and my first thought was that the neighbors were out taking flash pictures. Then I heard the thunder. Weird.

Anyway, another day or two and the shop will be back in the high 40s and I can heat it up a bit more with the space heaters and get back to work.

Thanks for all the great information.

Take care,

I also had to scraf a few accent strips, (I broke one and was started to run out), anyway, they were/are redwood and these scarfs are almost impossible to see with the consistant grain and dark color. They are about 7:1.

I think I just sanded them flat on a belt sander and glued them up in a jig.

For resin, I use System Three Clear Coat for wetout and S3 SB112 for fill coats. pricey but nice. For less expensive resin, check out Raka down in Florida, he also sells glass. The cheepest glas is probably Thayercraft, but you have to buy full rolls.


Hi Dan,
Thanks. I looked at the Raka site and the exopy and glass, all in, is about half the price of anyplace else that I've seen. Do you know of anybody who has used their epoxy, and what kind of results they got?

I've used Raka 350, the non-blushing, for small wetout and glueing jobs without any problems. I've also talked to folks who used it as their primary resin with no problems. To me it's similar to the old (assuming there is a new) MAS resin.

I have not used the standard Raka blushing resin.


Hi Dan,
Thanks. I found out that Devlin has a great price on MAS epoxy, and glass too. I'll probably go with that since I saw on another post that one gallon of MAS low viscosity resin is all you need for a 16 ft canoe - with two layers of glass on the outside and one inside. I don't doubt that it's true but it is surprising. I used West System last time and had no problems but I think I'll try MAS this time and just see for myself. I know there are devotees on all sides of this issue, from reading the threads, and I don't want to rehash all of that but if somebody wants to throw their two cents in regarding new information, I'm all ears.
Take care,