which planks need replacement?


Curious about Wooden Canoes
I am in the process of restoring a wood and canvas canoe. I have a good amount of woodworking experience, but none working with canoes. I have stripped the canoe down to bare wood. It's easy to determine which ribs need to be replaced, but not so for the planking. There are few boards that definitely need to be replaced, but if I want to be particular, I could replace just about all of them. Can you suggest any guidelines to determine what can stay and what needs to go?


Here is my opinion, there will many others, I'm sure.

First examine your canoe, your goal and your use for the finished boat. Is it a rare antique? - Maybe leave as much original as possible. Is it a boat you will use to knock around in the rapids? - Go for the option that lends the most structural integrety. You get what I'm talking about...

Punctured planks will probably need to be replaced, although the decision to replace the entire pland or just a 3-5 rib section will depend on how much original wood you want to keep.

Cracks - are they structural or cosmetic? How bad, how wide?
Rot - can you treat with Git-Rot to solidify, or do you need to replace?
Discoloration on an otherwise solid plank - can you live with the "beauty mark" or need to bleach or replace?

Many questions - few answers.

Good luck
I'm with Mike, it's mostly subjective. I have an old '24 OTHW that I'm restoring and was pretty successful getting the remaining ribs to match the 25 new ones but the planking did not clean up as well. The planks are probably fairly sound structurally, a little brittle in places, probably 40% HAS to be replaced but I have decided to replace all of it simply because I won't be able to get a decent match color-wise. Probably not wise anachronistically(sp?) but I want to use it, not just display it.


Thanks. My canoe is no priceless antique, and I do plan to use it. Your advice is very helpful.

I lean toward leaving as much original material as I can with structural integrity taking priority. I figure longitudinal checks are ok. I've seen loads of factory repaired ones like that. I find I can glue most small fractures back together.
I found that some rib cracks did not show up until I put the first coat of varnish on the stripped bare wood. You might put a coat of 50/50 turps/spar on and see what you find before ordering rib material.
Tough call here. I lean towards replacing only what must be replaced due to damage. With the old boats, I like the idea of maintaining the original construction. Each of the old shops/builders had different standards and skills. It's nice to retain that original "spirit" to the greatest extent possible. I would/do try to match up the replacement so that it does not stand out like a sore thumb. There is as much of a challenge in this as there is in doing the repair. At the end of the day, it's your boat. You need to decide who you are trying to please with it and go from there.