Tiny Bubbles

Okay, I got the bug in 2018 and completed restoration of my 1973 Chestnut Pal . It went great and I have used it only a couple of times each summer since. Last season we paddled in the rain for a full day, so it was full of water. We dumped it and dried it thoroughly before indoor storage. We took it out this fall on a three night trip; the canvas looked great, a few dings, but nothing even through the paint. The weather was poor (rain) but we managed to avoid the rain and never did get any water in the canoe except a little from landing fish and getting in and out. Of course we turned it over each night.

Trip home was rainy off and on. When I got home, I left it on the car over night. It got a little sun on the bottom before I took it off the car in late morning. To my amazement there were lines of tiny bubbles in the paint where the planking seams are for a couple of feet both fore and aft where the paddler's feet rest.

Since, the onset of the bug, I've completed two more restorations, neither with any paint problems. I'll probably repaint the bottom and see what happens. The Chestnut had plenty of time for the filler to cure and four coats of paint and the best of care after the restoration. Any ideas? Suggestions? Comments?

martin ferwerda

W/C Canoes
I would wait a for a while, week or two, and see if the bubbles disappear, seems odd that they can, but they do sometimes with no apparent effect.
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Mark Van Tassel
Thanks, it seems like I read that in a thread that was discussing filler recipes and the tendency of some to be very slow drying, but three years is a long time. I've used the same filler on three canoe with no problem. I will wait before I do anything drastic. I think I am thinking that the sun on a damp, over turned canoe may be the origin of the bubbles.

Benson Gray

Canoe History Enthusiast
Staff member
I have seen this before and it usually does go away when things are thoroughly dried out. My guess is that it may be caused by water which leaked through the planks and got trapped between the filler and the exterior paint. Good luck,


Gil Cramer

The wooden canoe Shop, Inc.
Usually, the bubbles go away--eventually. So do we -eventually. Seriously, well as serious as I can be, the bubbles are more common in acidic lakes(sand ), and usually go away over time. If they are sanded and repainted, sometimes they do not reappear.

Andre Cloutier

Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.
After canvassing and filling I typically complete the last coat or two of varnish, which deposits some on the canvas showing between ribs. May not be a complete seal, but I imagine it might keep modest amounts of water soaking the canvas. Might be worth a try when you refresh the boat


Wooden Canoes are in the Blood
After I finished my last restoration the canoe sat out in the rain at Assembly and developed small bubbles in several places near the tips and along the outwales. When we got home I set the canoe up in my dry shop and after three weeks they were gone. Disappeared on their own. Thankfully.



LOVES Wooden Canoes
I have always oiled the interior before canvas and filler , then varnishing all coats after filler cures. It seemed to make a lot of sense to let the varnish get into the cracks and provide some protection from the elements. It was always the case that after filling I could see that even though I had worked hard to make sure to apply good pressure during the application there would be bare canvas ( not gray filler ) showing. I have never had problems along the crack lines but I cannot prove that my approach did do some sealing. Have fun
Mark Van Tassel
I, likewise, oil the interior before canvass, but I did varnish a couple of coats before canvass and filler. Could be that was the difference between bubbles on some planking seams. One thing I did notice was there were several hardened droplets of dried varnish that leaked through the planking that created small bumps that went unnoticed until the canvass was on. Fortunately, I dispatched these with a few raps with a ball peen hammer on the canvass where they showed. Might be another reason to varnish after canvassing. On this one, though, I did a third interior coat of varnish after the canvass so I probably got some "beneficial leak through" from that. Thanks for your comments, all.