Canoe restoration question...





I have a cedar strip canoe with fiberglass/epoxy on the outside, varnish on the inside.  The outside is getting a very light milky quality to it - would the steps in refinishing the canoe be to sand it down to the cedar and then re-glass/epoxy the hull?  Here are two shots - one of the hull and one of the inside.

Thanks for any suggestions.



7 replies:

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RE: Canoe restoration question...

   If it were me I would sand the section that was in the worst shape just enough to rough up the epoxy then in a that small section add another coat of epoxy and see if it will change back to clear; but don't or try not to sand through the cloth.

Then if the worst place goes clear again then just repeat over the entire canoe.

Good luck,


RE: Canoe restoration question...

Thanks Bruce, I'll give that a try.

RE: Canoe restoration question...

   After you fix the glass be sure to varnish it so the epoxy is protected from UV and other oxidizing agents.

RE: Canoe restoration question...


Thanks - that will certainly be part of the process.  The importance of varnish was made abundantly clear in the instruction booklet for my S&G kayak...



RE: Canoe restoration question...

  Hello. I would go in a different direction to finish your boat. You don't have a "cedar strip canoe", you have a "cedar canvas" canoe in which the canvas has been taken off and replaced with clear fiberglass. Although it may look attractive, the planks were never meant to be exposed on the outside for the world to see. I would recanvas the boat and then paint it - except you have the problem of getting the old fiberglass off and then new canvas would also add weight. I would suggest then not worrying about what the fiberglass looks like and just sanding it very smooth. Then instead of recanvassing it, cover it with 8oz heat shrink dacron. ( You may have to look in to how to do this but it would be much less work than canvassing.) Then paint it. For that matter you could just sand it and paint it. Either way would give you an attractive, classic looking canoe.

Note; On the very first stripper canoe that I ever built ( about 30 years ago) I used an inferior type of epoxy and I was never happy with the result, so years later I sanded off all of the epoxy and cloth down to the bare wood and did it all over again.(Yikes!) It now looks great but it is not a job I would be excited to do again. A complicating factor for you would be the presence of canoe tacks and that your planks are a little different from canoe strips.

RE: Canoe restoration question...

hi all,

looks like some interesting ideas out here.

a couple thoughts i would throw in here....which may be a different perspective than what is seen above.

first....very interesting boat.   i would avoid sanding until you get comfortable how you have sorted out the situation.

on removing old glass/epoxy.  the best way to do this is a heat gun which softens the epoxy and then allows you to peel it off.  you then sand the remaining bits aftewords.  there is a good video of this on the guillemot site on refinishing a petrel.  i would just say that trying to sand it all off is incredibly labor intensive if you are trying to strip a whole boat.   fine for a patch repair....but does not scale well.

on the inside which is varnish again may want an approach that is more like stripping furniture.  again, a heat gun or chemical stripper.  i just really don't see sanding as a great option for the whole process.

i would potentially play around in a small area to sort out your technique.  it's a big project to strip a boat like that with all the you will need to be patient

on refinishing.....i would wait until you have it 'stripped'.  depending on how it came out may influence how you decide to refinish.  so send us some pictures when you are at that phase.

best of luck




RE: Canoe restoration question...


Thanks for your comments, to the best of my knowledge, this canoe was never covered in fiberglass, as the previous owner had both this 12' and a 14' that both had the glass over cedar finish.  These were bought in this finish from the builder up in Quebec about 40 years ago.

Unfortunately, the builder is no longer in business, so it would be difficult to confirm.


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