Steel Tacks


Curious about Wooden Canoes
Hey everyone, I've started working on my '44 OT Double-Ender. I got the canvas off this morning and was able to get a look at the steel tacks used in the planking.

They are in great shape with little rust. The boat was well cared for until the 70s then left in the rafters of a garage.

I only have a couple feet of planking that need to be replaced and a couple of ribs that are suspect.

Short of pulling all the steel tacks from the whole boat and replacing with brass what can I do to protect them? The original interior varnish is just about gone and I'm using Le Tonkinois for the finish. Is there anything I should apply to the tack heads themselves to prevent rust and iron-sickness since this boat will be getting more use from me than it has seen for 50 years. Varnish under the canvas? Penetrating epoxy drop on each tack head?

Dave Osborn

I would recommend that you don’t pull steel tacks. If you do, they most often pull a good hunk of rib with them.
Brass tacks, being softer or weaker if you will, will unclinch and not as damaging.
When I have had to remove ribs or planks with steel tacks in them I have ground the heads off leaving the clinched shank in the rib.
As the Wicked Firestarter stated, varnish will do the trick in your case.


Wooden Canoes are in the Blood
I agree with Andre and Dave. Our 1943 OT Double Ender also had steel tacks that were in good shape. Just so I could sleep better I added one brass tack through each plank every rib. I did not remove any tacks except for broken ribs. I varnished the outside of the hull before I canvased. Seemed to work fine. Good luck with your project.