Curious about Wooden Canoes
I have recently bought an old all-wood canoe (maybe 30 year old?) to be able to take the whole family out. I have previously built using strip-teqnicue and skin-on-frame, but this construction is new to me (all wood, non canvas). My question is: I have absolutely no way to store it inside or in a garage. My thinking is to store it outside in the backyard a bit up from the ground with a little roof built on top. I live in Sweden and it can be down to -20 degrees Celsius on the winters and as warm as +30 degrees Celsius in summertime here. Do you think the canoe can be damaged stored like this? I will care for it regularly and varnish it every year. I think most wooden boats are stored outside like this? Another question: there are thin strips of metal under the hull to prevent scratches. I can understand the idea with these, but it has come loose at some places and I think water can get inside the wood. My solution would be to remove the metal and instead seal with epoxy. And if to deep scratches patch with new epoxy/varnish - what do you think of this? Things I should do and shouldn´t do? Very thanksful for responses to this! Best Bertil
Hej Bertil,

Your new canoe should be fine if stored upside down well off the ground and protected by a regular roof. The need is to keep snow and ice off the canoe.

The metal strips, stembands or as often called bang-irons are there to protect the wood. I would select to keep them. Repair the loose screws by dipping a sliver of wood in epoxy and insert into the too big holes, let dry and put the screws back in.

Lycka till med din kanot.:)

Dick Persson
Headwater Wooden Boat Shop
Hej Dick!
Kommer du från Sverige? Thanks a lot for your reply! I was out today with my daughter (5 years old) and she absolutely loved the canoe! I don´t know if you is familiar with Max Andersson (a swedish canoe-builder)? Anyhow - I bought this canoe and the previous owner said it was from the early 70-s. After I bought it I found an issue of the wooden canoe journal (I think it´s called), and there was an article about "baked wooden canoes" from Max Andersson in Sweden and the picture shows a canoe exactly like mine! The article estimates the last canoe built from Max Andersson would be from -67/-68 and that canoe would be in the states or canada (don´t remember)? Maybe that would mean that my canoe is older than the previous owner said? Maybe the mid 60-s? I think I will do exactly as you suggested. There are some dark spots in the mahogny (mostly where there are screws). I will try to dry it out as much as possible and then try to seal it with epoxy (first) and then varnish. Do you think this would be a good way to proceed? I have my wifes permission now to use the garage when restoring the canoe (the car simply has to stay outside instead). Later on when I feel the canoe is in the shape I want it has to stay outside. I will store it in the backyard high up from the ground and with roof on top (as I heard from a lot will work). I have a little backyard-house where I store a little strip-built double paddle canoe and a skin-on-frame kayak, but unfortunately the newly bought canoe will not fit in (too small house). Love your homepage Dick! I have a long time now been into SOF historical kayaks, but when I found the WCHA-site I was happy to see something that would even get my children more interested in canoes and kayaks. My daughter loves to fish - with a canoe it´s ideal, but with a kayak it´s not so easy (with a child anyhow). All the best! Bertil
Hej Bertil,

Jajamensan, jag kommer fran Karlskrona.:)

Max Andersson built molded veneer kayaks and canoes from late 1930’s or early 1940’s until his retirement in 1967 or 1968. He was especially well known for his kayak models. Some of his designs are supposedly still produced. If my recollection is right his most successful kayak design took gold in the Olympics of 1948 and 1952 and several world championships later on.
It is quite common to get de-lamination of the glued veneers around screws from water seeping, often visible as dark spots and a slight bulging of the veneers. One way to repair is to inject epoxy resins and carefully clamp down the bulging veneers. When dry, sand smooth, varnish, pre-drill and install new screws.

Good luck – and all the best!

Dick Persson
Headwater Wooden Boat Shop
Keep your boat dry prior to frost

Hejsan Bertil!

It is extremely important to let your boat dry out completely before the frost sets in.
My boat - being a lapstrake-construction - needs always some days in the water at the begining of the season for the wood to swell a bit and it needs a couple of weeks drying prior to frost.
If I push it into the water dry as it is it will draw water through tiny small leaks which will close eventually by the swelling of the wood. Then it will stay dry all summer. But this effect has its disadvantages in the late fall. If the wood still contains water when it gets below zero the freezing water will expand and widen out the tiny leaks resulting in leakage in spring.
I don't know if the Max Anderssons-canoes follow the same principle but if they do I would suggest not to go fishing with the boat anymore.

Hälsningar Axel
Hej Axel!
Thanks for your reply! No, my canoe is not like a lapstrake, it´s molded and the wood is supposed to stay dry. It has very nice curves and nothing like tortured plywood (more like a strip-built canoe). I am now building a little shed (wood-frame and tarp) out in the garden for the canoe to be stored in.
Hälsningar Bertil