View Full Version : Stained wooden canoe bottom

04-28-2003, 11:26 PM
How can I remove the darken area in the bottom of an Old town canoe that I am refinishing. I have removed all the old varnish but, the bottom is still darker. It appears that water had set in that area for a considerable time.

Todd Bradshaw
04-29-2003, 02:31 AM
The best wooden canoe restorers in the world hang out here:
They're probably your best bet for an experienced answer as I'm sure you're not the first person who has come across this problem.

Mr. Know It All
04-29-2003, 08:04 AM
There was some great info on wood bleach in this thread ---->

you might gain some helpful information from reading this. Good Luck.
Peace----> Kevin in Ohio

Chris Coose
04-29-2003, 08:46 AM
I have a 1923 OT 18' which I recanvased a couple of years ago. The seats needed rebuilding and recanning, but otherwise she was sound.
The interior is darkened varnish that looks like dirt was used as a component - all checked and rough. I figured stripping it would take away from time I'd be in the water and I further justified not stripping, akin to revarnishing an old fiddle. You might actually take away from it's value as an antique. Now I'm glad I passed on the job. It retains a character that identifies it as an oldie.

But that does you no good at this point.
Where the planking and ribs are of minimum dimensions, I'd be leaving the stains so as not to be reducing their integrity any further. As long as the material is just stained and w/o rot, any varnish should adhere as well as to the unstained wood.


[ 04-29-2003, 09:50 AM: Message edited by: Chris Coose ]

04-29-2003, 12:04 PM
Yah, I second the wood bleach route, unless the staining is light enough to remove during the sanding to prep for varnish. Woodenboat had a good article on Wood bleach Nov/Dec 2002. Also Search the WCHA Forum for lots of info.

Varnish patina is one of those personal things. Like Chris, I have an Old Town that I use all the time. I've maintained the old varnish for now, but I can see the beauty that lies beneath! The next time it needs canvas, it will likely get stripped. Maybe those Roadshow folks might take issue, but I suspect it's akin to restoring a Model A. I don't think you've hurt the value at all. New varnish and canvas will look awesome :cool: Crowds will gather at the landing!!

One thing that can decrease the value is cutting the canoe in half to make bookshelves. Talk about DEPRECIATION!! There's a nice Skowhegan bookshelf on ebay right now. Worth more in one piece. If a matching pair is found, they could be re-united. But finding the mate is the hard part.

I shoulda mentioned to strip and varnish before adding new canvas. The stripper can do a number on the canvas filler which is paint-based for the most part.

Be sure to get out and paddle when you finish the finish!

[ 04-29-2003, 01:26 PM: Message edited by: Fitz ]

05-01-2003, 11:13 PM
Thanks gentlmen! I am into the standing now and it appears that bleaching is going to be my only hope to bring the interior to a matching tone. The canoe has no canvas at this time and I will complete the entire interior prior to re canvasing. I will post progress photos after the bleaching process. Thanks Again!

05-02-2003, 08:22 AM
Len, I wouldn't bleach. When I redid a 1921 Old Town rowing canoe, I was worried about the contrast between the stained and unstained areas. After scraping, I scrubbed the inside with lye solution (and rinsed it very thoroughly) before sanding, saturating with linseed oil and turpentine, and varnishing. The lye did a really good job of blending all the different tones in the interior and leaving a very pretty tone to the wood.

Dan Lindberg
05-02-2003, 11:52 AM

So far, on my canoes, I've stripped, washed with TSP, then bleach with the 2 part bleaches. Some times it takes a few "hits" with the bleach.

I haven't had much luck yet trying to stain the new wood to match. I've gotten close but not perfect. I oil the new wood 1st and then stain, oiling it limits the affect of the stain.