Refinishing question

Joe D.

Curious about Wooden Canoes
I'm presently restoring a 16 ft wood/canvas Otca Old Town. I've finished stripping the old varnish and have replaced rotten wood. Now that I'm at the refinishing stage, I would be pleased to have some opinions on the following questions:

1. I've come across a couple of recipes for a solution to preserve the wood and restore flexibility. One calls for 3/4 boiled linseed oil and 1/4 Cuprinol. The other, boiled linseed oil 1/6 and 5/6 turpentine. The canoe will be stored inside and will not be used on a daily basis. Turpentine seems safer from a health perspective than Cuprinol to work with. Any opinions which would be better, or does it matter? Should the fine sanding (to 220 grit) be done before or after applying the preservative?

2. The floor rack and outwales do not seem to have been varnished. Is this likely? The original build order does not indicate the wood used for these parts. I assume spruce for the outwales and mahogany for the floor rack. If these are to be oiled, any opinion on type of oil (tung, teak, linseed…)?

3. The undersides of the thwarts, seats, and decks were not varnish. Was this just to save time or is there another reason for this?


Rollin Thurlow

member since 1980
To help restore the wood go ahead and apply striaght boiled linseed oil that has been heated until it is hot but not boiling. They do not sell the proper type of cuprinal anymore and its not really needed. Turpentine will mostly just evaporate and not give the results as the oil will. It will take the inside surface of the canoe several weeks to properly dry before you can varnish over the oiled surface.
The floor rack and rails most likeywere varnished at one time but it has worn off. they should be revarnished. the underside of the other peices were not varnished just to save time/labor in the manufactureing process. They should be sanded and varnished, Maybe not as well as the topside but they should be well sealed. They do not need to be oiled.