Stripping 1946 Old Town


Curious about Wooden Canoes
I am going to start stripping my 1946 Old Town. This is my first time and was wondering what brands have you been successful with.
Hi Bev,

Some people advocate taking canoes to a professional furniture stipping company. These guys can be great- mainly because they do it for you. But it can be tough to find one close by with a large enough tank for a canoe. Professionals are expensive enough (at least more than if you do it yourself), but if someone did it for you by hand, it would probably cost a fortune.

I find it a fun process to do, though, unocovering that gorgeous wood from under layers of blackened old varnish. Personally, I prefer the brand Strypeeze, the orange semi-paste. It is methylene-chloride-based, nasty on the skin and nasty in the environment, so if you use it, protect both. It will sure give you a burn if it gets on your skin or in your eyes. I use it outdoors so there's plenty of ventilation, and despite warnings from family and friends (and my own extensive training in biochemistry), I don't wear anything heroic when I use this stuff. Not even gloves, because I find that I end up with a pinhole that lets the stuff in, and then it's trapped against my skin. So I just work carefully- quickly but carefully- and keep it off of me.

One layer left alone for 10-15 minutes will get the finish bubbling up. For tough finishes, lay a second coat over the first after those 10-15 minutes, let it work more, then scrape out the goo with a wooden spatula (or very carefully with a metal putty knife- don't damage the wood!). Any residue cleans up nicely with a scrubbing of TSP in water. Collect all of that waste and dispose of it properly. It's nasty stuff.


Hi Bev. I did a 65 OTCA and didnt take pictures of my process...Just a tip!
Take lots of pictures as you progess along the various tasks!...Nice to look at with pride and satisfaction when its done and have that eventual SMILE on your face. :D ALSO, We would love to see them... and remember: "Its not how many strokes of the paddle it takes to get there. Rather it is the JOY that is in the journey."........Blue Viking
Try this!

I'm currently leading a group of volunteers at the North Lakeland Discovery Center in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin in the restoration of their 25' war canoe of 1926 vintage. I checked with commercial strippers to see if they would be interested in tackling it to no avail. Not wanting to use the high strength stripper that causes your brain cells to shrink and your children to be born with more limbs than necessary, I found a product called Ready Strip Marine at Jamestown Distributors. It is water soluable, no odor, and has only a 1 rating for health and flamability. 0 rating for reactivity.
We slathered it on the whole inside of the canoe about 4-5 hours prior to removing the stripper. Most of the stripper was vacuumed up after scraping it. It turns from a blue, to a hazy white when it is ready to be stripped off. I must say that I was extremely impressed with how well it worked. Five of us had all of the stripper removed in about 2 hours. At the next session, we wet the interior with a hose and used nylon brushes to scrub out the remainder of the stripper and rinsed it. It is now ready for sanding!! A war canoe ready to sand after 20 or less manhours! I thought that was exceptional.
Until now, I've thought that the most expensive, toxic stuff was the way to go if you can't find a commercial stripper to do it.
Thank you for the replies. In looking at strippers has anyone used Citristrip on an old canoe. I am itching to get started and will take pictures as it progresses. Thanks again
I tried Citris strip once a few years ago. I didn't like it. It didn't perform well and the sweet citris odor became very overpowering.
bev 200

As I told a friend recently who will be stripping soon, it's all about your mind set. Plan on doing the best job anyone has ever done.I've only done three so far, and have at least two more to do. Here's a picture of my setup and results, it's very rewarding. By the way I use Bix stripper. Fred


  • Max's canoe 009.jpg
    Max's canoe 009.jpg
    186 KB · Views: 757
  • Max's canoe 017.jpg
    Max's canoe 017.jpg
    232.3 KB · Views: 771
I picked up a can of Greensolv at Lee Valley a few days ago. It's biodegradable and, they advertise, used on the Bluenose. It contains N-Methyl 2-Pyrrolidone, N,N Dimethyl formamide and D-Limonene. It's made by Greensolv in Baie-D'Urfe, Quebec. Anyone have any experience with it?