Simple Planking question

Rick Platte

A2 Canoeist
Having replaced a number of broken ribs on a Peterborough Champlain, I'm now faced with replacing some broken planking. My question is what sort of gaps are acceptable between the old and new planking? By definition, it seems to me that splicing in new planking will entail wider gaps than you would have simply planking an entire canoe. I've read the warnings about not trying to get it too tight. Any comments and/or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!
I think

I think that if the new planking and old planking are sawn exactly the same and both are in the same environment for a period of time so that the moisture content is the same, then I would try to have the same gap as what is already there if I were really really fussy. Getting the grain exact is the challenge for me. Good quarter sawn will shrink/swell less than flat/plain sawn. I try to match by grain and color. I have a hard time getting good quarter sawn. Impossible actually. Having said all that, I mostly try to keep the gaps tight.
If you wet the planking on the outside, it will conform to curves easier.
And shrink slightly leaving a gap so at least you won't have them buckling because they are too tight.

Thanks for the helpful tips.

Rob, Dave

Thanks for the useful tips. Some of the planks do involve the "turn of the bilge" so wetting the outside of the planks will probably be very useful. Beyond that I'll just try and get the planks as close as possible without obsessing.

Dave if you're looking for quarter sawn cedar Northwoods Canoe has it in 3" widths. It's not cheap, but it is beautiful wood.


twisting plank

A helpful hint for getting a plank to conform to twists around the bilge is to use a wet bath towel. Use the wife's best one because you'll also be using her best iron set on high to force steam into the plank from the wet towel. Works great. Put the wet towel on the plank and iron it. If I am working with red cedar I will often predrill each tack hole. Especially if it is near the end of the plank or otherwise threatening to split.

I've got over a thousand bd feet of clear northern white cedar. But it is just however it came off the saw.
planking solutions


You're sure about the part of using my wife's best towel and iron. Who's going to hold the backing iron if I get caught?

With respect to the quarter sawed question I've noted that on the original planking they largely used quarter sawed except up under the gunwales where it was less apparent. Then they were a little less particular.

Thanks for tip.

good point

That is exactly why I only do canoes that are under 36" wide. Actually, my wife helps quite a bit on the canoes if she is feeling well enough. And I did get my own towels and flat iron.

The Shell Lake I am working on had very flat sawn planking on the bottom of the canoe. Somewhat lumpy too. Not to mention the grain was de-laminating and feathering. I replaced it. I try to be careful selecting the cedar as I am milling and try to use the best for planking. I have to use flat sawn on the top planks. I use flat for ribs too, especially at the sharp bends and look for a fast growing tree with fewer growth rings. the denser growth rings don't bend as well over the stem.