Woodworking in the great white north.

Canoe – part 8

With all of the assembly in place we were down to getting the final finish on it.

Just as it is all looking like it’s “this” close to being done, we get to revisit our friend the random orbit sander! I had thought that sanding the hull was a lot of work…but sanding the epoxy was an entirely different experience. Not only is the epoxy that much harder, but you can’t go too hard at it or you’ll get through the epoxy to the fiberglass. Once you hit fiberglass you end up with ugly white crosshatching that won’t go away. Ok, so I had just a little bit of it on the outside of the stern….caught it in time that you only see it in certain light, but it’s there!

With the sanding done…the magic really starts to happen. The epoxy gave us a really good look at what it was going to be like when it was finished…but doing that sanding and throwing on a coat of spar varnish just blew me away.

The decks and handles just popped with the varnish.

But the real test was the outside of the hull. There’s something inherently artistic in the look of a glossy canoe flipped upside down. For me, this was the ultimate reward in the entire project. Even more than the maiden voyage, seeing what this canoe looked like with it’s final finish on it just took my breath away.

There is that sweet spot when the varnish first goes on and is still wet where everything looks like it’s shrouded in glass. I think I stood there and looked at it with sticky varnishy hands for a good 20 minutes. Of course….the fumes from the spar varnish might just have had something to do with that.

To be honest, all these years later, I don’t recall how many coats of varnish we put on it. I think it was 3, but may have been 4 with successively lighter sanding between coats. I have heard that you have to be careful about not doing too many coats or as the varnish weathers it will delaminate and come off in big flakes.

The only things we had left were to mount the yoke, seats and stem covers. I was impatient at this point and chose to buy the premade yoke/seats (in cherry). Someday I may make my own…but for now they work fine and look good.

The stem covers are strips of brass to protect the stems from bumps and dings. These were bent around the stems and up onto the decks. We secured them with brass screws. Note to anyone doing this….get some steel screws the same size as the brass and install them first so that the brass screws don’t get stripped off and break. Once it’s all in place, replace each steel screw with a brass one very carefully. Putting a drop of epoxy into the screw holes also adds a bit of extra protection.

Here it is at home. My wife and daughter were very excited and even decorated the house with streamers and had mock champagne. We Christened her ‘Hope it Floats’….and thus far, it does!

Shortly after we took her up to a lake and here is the maiden voyage, across the lake and back.

Thanks for following along…it was a great project, very satisfying and something we can keep enjoying for years to come.

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