Stemband Question

Neil B

Curious about Wooden Canoes
I am about to put the stembands on the Chestnut I just restored. Bending and placing them seems like a simple enough task. I'm wondering if there are any strategies to avoid placing screw holes over the tacks. It just seems like there are so many tacks along the stem, that its inevitable that they'll get in the way.

Also, I don't have any proper bedding compound. I read on past threads that latex caulk, or glazing putty thinned with linseed oil can work. Any opinions on these methods?

Hi Neil

I've seen glazing used. But order a good bedding compound (dolfinite) from Jamestown or one of the other suppliers. I like to use the blue masking tape to hold the stem band in place while working with it. And I think it very important.

I fasten the canvas with stainless steel staples. Less wood damage and easier to work around.

Pre drill your stem band screw hole and you should be ok. If you hit a tack you may just slide off to the side above or below, with the drill and it all works out.
A little thing that I do on occasion is to take a fine finish nail , try to center it in the hole and give a few test taps to see if I am going to strike any thing...Works for me...but do use a fine drill to predrill those holes as the brass screw slots are tender and WILL strip on you...then I dip the screw tip in pipe threading compound to ensure a good seal...OVERKILL?...dont know but the bands on all mine are still on there...:rolleyes:
A "stress lowering" trick I use when working with brass or other soft metal screws is to pre-drill as mentioned, screw in a steel screw of the exact size and thread as the brass screw, remove it and then continue with the bedding compound (or whatever you like to do...) and the brass screw. I've never had a brass screw break in any type of wood (hard or soft) if following this procedure. It takes a little longer but it sure doesn't take as long as it does to remove a broken screw.

As far as the tacks getting in the way, I've not had a problem but then I've only done a fraction of as many canoes as the experts here so maybe I've just been lucky.
Stem Bands

Another quick tip - install the stem bands with Dolphinite bedding compound using steel screws to cut the threads in the hardwood stems. After all the screws are in replace them with the brass screws. This way you are not going to twist off those soft brass screws.
And stainless steel staples to hold the canvas on the stems is not only faster, and easier, it also provides a far smaller target for your screws.

I'd agree that staples are easier and faster, but the smaller target, that's not been my experience. When I've used staples, I've had much more trouble finding an "empty" spot for the screw, and in fact I now only use tacks on stems and staples everywhere else.

I'll quallify this be saying that I use a standard (SS) staple, whch is what, roughly 9/16 wide, if you use a very narrow staple your experience may be different.

Thanks for all the replies! I plan on putting them on this evening. I'll let you know how it goes! I'm going to use latex caulk as a bedding compound, which I know will make some of you shudder, but I just can justify spending $30 bucks on a quart of real bedding compound when I'm only going to use a couple of tablespoons.

Assuming the paint (last coat on Tuesday morning) has hardened enough to put the canoe on the car this weekend, I hope to be able to post pictures of our craft on the Water this Monday!

Also, you can add a nice finish to the stem band ends using a ball-peen hammer and an anvil. By that I mean you can flatten (and spread) the end so that it doesn't have such a high profile and catch on things. this is particularly useful if you are not installing a keel. But it looks nice on the deck end.

Good point, it does look much better.

After a bit of tapping, I also hit it with a fine file, which gives the tapered surface a nice flat, smooth finish.

Once again, thanks for the advice. I wound up shaping the end with a grinder so it came to a rounded bullet point. I also ground the bottom so that at the end there was no hollow left and it fit flat against the bottom of the canoe. I used varying grits of sandpaper to smooth it out and then finally some steel wool. I'm really happy with how they look. They went out pretty much without event. We broke one screw, but it was in a thicker part of the stem, so we just drilled it out and used a longer screw. The boat is now finished!

I hope to have pictures posted in about 1/2 hour, and I'll title the thread "Neil and Andrea's Chestnut Adventure"