varnish and other questions

Brent Cummings

Curious about Wooden Canoes
So how many coats of varnish is recommended these days. I'm doing a 26' canoe so its no quick and easy job to do. Any tricks for sanding between the ribs between coats? Many ribs are separated by only 1/4" in spots. This canoe will be used very spaingly and hopefully kept in a garage when not in use.
I want to get a few coats on before I apply the canvas. So my next question is : Any tricks or things to watch out for as I do the canvas job. I have a couple of articles outlining the whole clamp assembly with 2x4's thing but otherwise do I learn as I go.
Lots more questions once I get to finishing.
Hi Brent

I just finished the inside of waterfall canoe with coat number four. I think that's good enough. I like 220 grit in between coats. Nothing says you can't put more coats on. You could use 320 grit for the last sanding, I suppose. I also varnished the rails for a Chestnut. The backside of the outwhales did not appear to have been varnished to begin with. So I guess they will have one coat.

When canvassing all you need to do is get the wrinkles out. Do not be afraid to remove a staple or six to re adjust. Ultimately you can spray some water on a small wrinkle and iron it out or let it shrink out. Oh, I quit burning the nap off the canvas. Two coats filler and five coats paint make it unnecessary for my purposes.

Did you say it is a 26 footer? Wow.
Any tricks for sanding between the ribs between coats?

Sanding star, 220 grit, from Woodcraft. Chuck it in your electric drill. This grit won't show scratches if you sand cross grain on the planking between ribs.
Ok Guys. I have the boat hanging in the canvas. Come alongs on both ends, and about a hundred pounds or more weight placed in either end. Its been hanging for two days now. A couple of wrinkles at either end. Do I fiddle with the tension, clamps and weight etc. to get rid of these wirnkles completely or will I be able to get these out as I start tacking it down. It seems like I could. Tightening things more doesn't seem like it is going to help. In fact I think I may have things too tight. I'd like to tack it down tommorrow. Start midship and work toward each end?
Strategic pulling in areas needed with upholstery pliers will do the trick. Dont think you can always get wrinkles out without some finessing. The comealong method is good but hand work is needed as well.
many years ago my girlfriend and I recanvassed a canoe - we had no idea what we were doing, but she was a painter, so we hung the canoe in a sling of canvas, started at the middle with painter's canvas pliers; i tacked the canvas in place as she applied the pliers, first on one side, then the other, all the way to each end. It was perfect, not a ripple to be seen. And there never was. It occurred to us that a canoe really is just a floating 3-dimensional painting: canvas stretched over a frame and painted, truly a work of art!
Instead of using sandpaper to roughen the new varnish between coats, we used a green abrasive pot scrubber that is available at any grocery store. They take down the high spots, slightly roughen the surface, but don't leave any grit. Plus, after four coats of varnish, the one scrubber that we cut in half to share is still in good shape. Four, coats of varnish looks good, but I think six to eight coats are recommended...not sure if we'll get there!
The canvas stretching advise so far looks accurate. The only thing we did was to use boards braced off the ceiling to hold the boat down, instead of using weights. As the come-along tightened the canvas at the ends and pulled the boat up, the braced boards held it down.

Ok my father in law and I tacked the canvas in place yesterday. Only one problem area was the square stern. There was some funny curves as it neared the transom, including a bit of a reverse curve in the hull. I may have to live with some fine wrinkles there, but I have reapllied the come along and some weight to see if I could iI can stretch them out before tacking.
I'll keep you posted. I'll attempt some pictures too soon. Thanks for the help so far. Oh I have two gallons of sealer. Is that enough for a 26' canoe?
fine wrinkles

Don't forget to wet down the canvas several times to get it to shrink. If you can get it iin the sun it will shrink even more, there or four times hit it with the hose and let it dry.
The Dreaded Wrinkles

I have had some good sucess shrinking a few stubborn wrinkles by dampening the canvas and then holding a hot iron to the affected area for a moment or so. Use the cotton setting on your iron and be careful not to leave it on the canvas too long.