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I find it difficult to express in words the range of emotions I feel when starting a new project; fear, joy, happiness, anxiety, but wrapped up in all those feelings is curiosity. Before I start on any canoe, I tend to let the boat sit in my shop for a couple of days while i muse about its origin, its adventures, its owners. Like a crime scene investigator, I explore the dents, scratches, tears, bumps, and previous repairs to try and piece together the background of the canoe. 

For this particular canoe, I know that it is a Bob's Special, because of the canoe measurements; 15' length, 37 1/2" beam, 12' depth match that of the manufactured by the Chestnut Canoe Company. But I mostly know that it's a Bob's Special because George told me it is. Owner knows best.


I don't know much about the serial numbers reference from the Chestnut Canoe Company but if I were to guess, I would like to believe this canoe was built in 1946, weighed 50 lbs and was the 359th canoe of this model. Of course I'm probably wrong but wouldn't it be nice if it was that simple?

`The Project

George contacted me with a question about the bubble that formed in the canvas of his canoe. Visually, the canoe looked to be in beautiful shape and although it didn't impede the performance of the canoe, the bubble was an indication of something more devious.

Upon further inspection, we found small tears in the brittle canvas along the outwale. We decided a full re-canvas would be the best foot forward.


Once the canvas is removed from the canoe it is essentially naked and exposing so many points of interest. I can see the water impact along the gunwales, scratch marks on the planks, and the signature of past restorations with a scribbled calculation. These small clues leads us to a bigger story of the canoes history and whereabouts- I showed George these and he further investigated to find the Lost River restorer. Still in business! Lost River Canoes

Canvassing and Burning the Fuzz

I will be honest, I'm not sure why I burn the fuzz off the canvas- I just read that's what I am to do before I apply the filler. So, given that I am not 100% certain why we do things, I started to consider the reasoning behind "burning the fuzz".

1. It eliminates the fluff so that it doesn't get stuck in the filler, thus decreasing the efficency of the filler.

2. It makes a smoother surface for the filler.

3. It's like lint in a dryer.

Whatever the case the most important thing about burning the fuzz is that it got me to think deeper into why we do things. 

Filler and Attaching the Keel

Canvas is on tight and after burning the fuzz I have  washed the canvas with hot water; I put a small radiator underneath the canoe to help with drying. I am using a rubberized mastic for my filler because I like how nicely it dries and provides a tight seal on the hull.

The keel is always a bit of a worry as I am literally poking holes back into the canoe hull but using the same mastic, I can create an excellent seal.

The End

Ha! It's never really the end!  A job is never truly finished as there is always room for improvement and growth. Even when I think I have completed a task, there is always more that be done to make better. However, at some point, I must accept that I have done my best and move on to new challenges. It's important to recognize that progress is a continuous journey, not a destination. I am an invested participant in the journey of George's canoe, so, while a job may never be truly finished, I can take pride in the progress I have made and use it to fuel future endeavours in canoe restoration.

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