Restore Canoe, Make Unknown


Curious about Wooden Canoes
I came across this forum when I was researching how to recanvas a canoe I just acquired. I traded a acoustic guitar for a 18' canoe. The guy I got the canoe from said it was his friend's. The friend was a guide on a local river and the canoe was bought in 1954. The guy I got the canoe off attempted to "fix it" by patching sections with fibreglass. He also painted the inside of the canoe green!

I have the old canvas stripped off and managed to get all the old fibreglass off. There are a few patches of wood where the fibreglass was that are rotted. I'll have to replace these sections. Then it comes to the green paint on the inside....I plan to strip and scrape it all out. (quite the task I know).

The seats also need to be recaned. Does anyone suggest I weave it myself or buy the sheets that are already complete? I'm up for learning new things.

With regards to canvasing, I plan to buy no10 duck. I'm stumped on the filler. Any suggests on making my own or where I should buy?

Anyone have an idea of what make this canoe is? 18' in length and 36" width. No decals or serial number that I can see.

Thanks in advance for any advice,


  • 2012-11-24_12-44-11_527.jpg
    65.1 KB · Views: 656
Sure looks like an 18' Ogilvy to me , if it is I'd want at least #8 on it (they came with #6).
Need better photos of the canoe to make a positive identification - especially of the decks.

There are several filler recipes in the KnowledgeBase ( if you want to roll your own. I personally use the first unleaded Old Town recipe or Chris Merigold's water-based system.

Several of our member-builders sell filler by mail order. They are listed here:

For seat caning, it depends on what kind of cane was used. If there are holes drilled in the seat frame, then it is handwoven. Best to do that yourself - it is not hard. Last I knew, professional caners were charging $0.50 to $0.75 per hole.

If the seat has a groove in it for the cane, then you replace it with pre-woven cane and a spline. This is an easy do-it-yourself.
Yeah it does look like that after I had googled it.
I'll have to get some more measurements when I get home and see if I can confirm.

There are holes for the cane. I'll have to determine the diameter and look into ordering some.
I checked the measurements.
She is 18' in length
38" wide (outside to outside) and 14.5-15" deep
The ribs are 3" wide and only a 1/4" spacing between them.
I'd agree with Kevin as it to be an Ogilvy, stem profile is pretty unique to Ogilvy's and the close 3" ribs pretty much confirms it.

Yeah it does look like that after I had googled it.
I'll have to get some more measurements when I get home and see if I can confirm.

There are holes for the cane. I'll have to determine the diameter and look into ordering some.

They are typically 1/4" diameter, and woven using "common" or "canoe" cane ie. 3mm.
This forum is great! You guys know your stuff. This is the first canoe restoration I've tackled. Thanks for all the info.

Does anyone have a suggestion on stripping the paint from the ribs? I'm figuring standard paint stripper and scrape most of it off. Then lots of elbow grease? Think a pressure washer would be better or would the possibility of damaging the wood with too high a pressure not be worth it?

Also, with regards to the cane, would a 2lb coil suffice for both seats?

I plan on ordering 7 yards of #8 duck would that be enough extra or is there a general rule of thumb for x amount plus length of canoe?
I am fond of Jasco Super Premium paint and epoxy remover. It is methyl Chloride based, and is caustic as hell. It is a semi-paste, and holds well to the vertical surfaces. Use it in the shade, on a cool-ish day, and let the stripper do the work. Make SURE you are wearing chemical proof LONG gloves. This stuff will raise blisters if it contacts your skin for any length of time. It also hurts like hell! Stripping a canoe is my least favorite part of the project, but there is always a sense of victory when I am done.

I use the most powerful stuff I can find, and don't care to put too much elbow grease into it. I am careful about the waste. I smear the resultant sludge onto old newspaper, and let the solvent evaporate out before I throw the dried crud away.

The Ogilvy's are neat canoes. I'd like to have one someday... (to go along with the other 15+ boats I have)
cane size

From the H H Perkins web site:

The most important measurement for the determination of strand cane size is the distance from the center of one hole to the center of the hole next to it. Good idea to check several holes in your seat. When in between measurements, use the smaller of the two sizes.

Center-to-Center Spacing ------------------------------- Cane Size Needed

½” ------------------------------------------------------- Fine Fine 2.25mm
5/8” ----------------------------------------------------- Fine 2.50mm
¾” ------------------------------------------------------- Narrow Medium 2.75mm
¾” (larger holes) -------------------------------------- Medium 3.0mm
7/8” ----------------------------------------------------- Common 3.50mm

From the Frank’s Cane Supply site:

Dimensions for Choosing Cane -- Sizing up Your Chair Cane

Diameter(Y) Center Spacing (X) Select this Size Cane Size/Width

1/8" -------------- 1/4" ----------------- Super Carriage ------- 1.50 mm
1/8" -------------- 3/8" ---- ----------- Carriage ---------------1.75 mm
1/8" -------------- 7/16" --------------- Super Fine ------------2.00 mm
3/16" -------------- 1/2" --------------- Fine Fine ------------- 2.25 mm
3/16" -------------- 5/8" ---------------- Fine ------------------- 2.50 mm
1/4" -------------- 11/16" --------------- Narrow Medium ----- 2.75 mm
1/4" -------------- 3/4" ---------------- Medium -------------- 3.00 mm
5/16"-------------- 7/8" ----------------- Common ------------- 3.50 mm

Most suppliers will sell an amount that is enough for two chair seats -- usually more than enough for two canoe seats, which are usually smaller than regular chair seats. Most sell by length, not weight. I assume that 2 pounds of "carriage" would be much more cane, that is, longer in length, than 2 pounds of "common."
One sign of an Ogilvy is a big wide center thwart. If this is a late Chestnut, check the seat construction quality. If its kind of poor, consider making new seats. Then you would have option of using prewoven cane and spline
It warmed up enough to have a look at the canoe yesterday. The ribs are greyed at the bottom. Must be the reason the previous owner painted. Do you guys know of a way to fix this? Or, will I be better off painting it as they had? Still going to recanvas.
After you've finished stripping, rather than painting the interior you might try restoring the wood color with Teak Nu or a similar product. It's a two part product that brightens up old wood. It's available from marine supply places like Jamestown. I just used it on a 1943 Old Town that was in pretty dismal shape and it did a great job of restoring the wood color.

When stripping I have found a short bristle stiff plastic brush works great to clean out all the difficult places. Another thing I have found helpful is to use lacquer thinner to wash off the stripper. Wait for decent day and do it outside.
i"m also getting ready to buy the canvas. I only see #8 in 60" width. Is that wide enough for this canoe? I'm going to measure the outside circumference when I go home.
check your private messages


  • DSC_0123.jpg
    67.3 KB · Views: 408
Finally able to start in on this. I have the canvas delivered. Found a supply of white cedar in town and picked up some tacks while at Lee Valley in Halifax.
I need to replace two broken ribs, some planking, inwales and outwales, both decks and replace both seats. What should be my plan of attack? I have the "Building a Maine canoe" book but it doesn't go into this detail.

Also, what are your thoughts of installing a spot for a mast encase down the road I would like to try that out? I'm rebuilding the seats anyways.

Going to start building the frames for the seats tonight.

I tried all last summer to strip the paint from between the ribs. I had to throw in the towel on that one. I'm going to paint it beige between the ribs to cover up the green and then varnish over the works. I'll still have the ribs to see the grain of the wood. This canoe is mostly ribs anyways.

Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.
Let’s get this clear. Are you saying you think you need to completely replace inwales and outwales both sides? That’s a lot of work and, for an Ogilvy, makes me wonder if the job is worth doing at all. If there’s sporadic rot in the gunnels, then Dutchmans are easy to do and perfectly acceptable.
Are the stems solid and rot free?
Ogilvy ribs are thick and wide - not the easiest to bend new ones. Plus there’s lot of them, so backside Dutchmans on the two broken (or cracked ribs) would also work fine.
Mind you the Ogilvy is kind of a specialized canoe, not the most versatile. Flat bottomed and slow, great initial stability but will end up weighing close to 100 pounds.
Thanks for the input Larry.
There is only localized rot on the gunnels from where the previous owner stored it outside. I figured if I was going at it I might as well replace the full length. Your saying it's a big job so it has me reassessing the full replacement.
The broken ribs are not cracked completely So the rear dutchman would probably work. I'll do some more research on these.

I have a full woodworking shop and feel confident enough to make the wood components. This is my first restoration and the order of repairs has me worried. I don't want to take off the gunnels and throw off the shape.

As for the weight...i know it is heavy. I don't plan on doing any portaging with this canoe. It's more of a day paddle with the wife or a weekend trip down the river. My buddy has a composite that we use for hunting and exploring.