removing tacks

Rick L

Curious about Wooden Canoes
ok - first of all - what ever wise man said 'there are no stupid questions" hasn't sat next to me long enough.

removing tacks- I have four ribs to replace and a just a few feet of planking to redo on the18 foot OTCA. And I am behind schedule if this canoe is going to sail on Keuka in September.

I removed the keel a couple days ago and the gunwales today and then spend an inordinate amount of time taking out one rib. The issue seems to be that the bent over end is deep in the wood on the inside and the heads of the tack are set well into the planking. I am very concerned about damaging the planking, it seems quite brittle after 80 some years.

For the one I got off, I had to dig deeply into the rib ( looks like a crazed porcupine had at it, but heck, it was broke anyway) and then drive the tack out a little with a nail set to get ahold of the head. It took a long time and seemed to be more work than it should be. It sure sounds simple in the couple lines devoted to the task in Jerry Stelmok's book.

I filed the tack puller claws down a bit, it seemed a bit blunt to start, do I need to take it down to a knife edge?? or is this just the norm?

If the aim is to spare the planking, and remove a damaged rib, some folks just grind off the clinched end of the tack and the rest practically falls out. Be careful to stagger the replacement of any adjacent ribs so you don't alter the shape of the hull.
You're on the right track and it will get faster as you get the hang of it. Another modification to the tack puller assuming you're using the straight end is to wrap the angled end with a wad of duct tape to make a padded handle. Makes the digging easier on your hand. Dig under the clenched tack and the end will usually break off when you pry it up. Push on the stub and pull it out from the outside.
I've tried every method I could think of. If you dig out the tack by lifting on thehead and you make a divot, you can fill it later. Grinding off the bent over tip of the tacks will work well if you have the right grinding tool.

I have also put a small flat pry bar against the broken rib and busted it out with a hammer. i put the sharp part of the short end of the flat bar about halfway deep on the side of a rib and pound it in. This spinters the rib out. It's quick but violent. Be careful if you do that.

If you're wriggling a tack out with a tack puller, be sure to remove it in the direction that it wants to come out. Kinda follow the curve of the bent tack.
If you can sacrifice the ribs, take a nail set punch and drive the tack out through the rib and plank by punching the clinched tack. That will allow you to grab the tack head without digging at it with a tack puller. It has worked good for me and saved lots of planking.
Thanks all

Dave, that's pretty much what I did for the first, except I had to dig for the clinched end. I had not stripped the broken ribs so that may have made the ends harder to see.

Luckily its only four, once this first replacement is in we will see how much faster the next comes out.

I found that simply driving them out left all or most of the hook intact which damaged the planking when pulled through. Grinding the hook down first with my 3.5" grinder with a sandpaper disc makes it easy.