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My First Wood Canvas Canoe Build Part 6

My First Wood Canvas Canoe Build Part 6

Hi Folks

Once again I have let things slip with this blog whilst I have been busy building Dabchick No 5 and watching the second wave of the pandemic unfold. Hopefully my blog will be an escape from the worlds troubles!

The next part of the build is one of the more exciting aspects, canvassing. For some time I have paddled with friends in the W.C.H.A who own old wood canvas canoes so have heard about the advantage that these offer in that once worn out the canvas is easily replaced and what follows is the same process although in my case this is the first time I have done it and there is more than one way to go about it. You will see from others that some will canvas with the boat upright whilst others turn the boat upside down. I am in the upright camp and for this you need a pair of walls or a part of your building between which you can suspend the canvas and put your canoe inside it.

There are also some items of equipment to be made that will help with the process. At both ends you will need clamps and giant clothes pegs and a way to fit these to your walls and tighten them up. I used webbing straps for my tightening and here is a picture of my home made canvas clamps and pegs etc.

Then I fixed two old Gate hinge pins to the wall one end

and a couple of bits of oak with a slot cut in them were screwed to an upright beam of the workshop at the other. I hope it doesn’t pull the building down!

Next the canvas is draped over the hull which is on trestles between the two walls. Unlike with glass cloth one doesn’t have to worry about touching it, just be sure the hull and cloth is clean and clear of any debris.

Next I put a couple of spring clamps on the gunwales to stop the canvas falling off and carefully turned the hull over. Once again I was careful not to get anything trapped between the hull and cloth.

Next stage is to fit the clamps to the canvas with your tensioning straps and then remove the trestles. The hull is now inside the canvas envelope.


I made up some props to push against the ceiling. In my case the ceiling is on a slope so I also had to make some cheese like wedges at the top so my props would stay vertical. You could use heavy weights instead and some people like to actually climb in and walk in the hull to weight it down but I don’t think I would have good enough balance for that!

Next the straps at the ends are tightened and I am not sure how much this should be done. When I did it I kept tightening till these creases had appeared and I was unsure whether or not to go further so I put a message to the W.C.H.A forum. It needs to be tight but you don’t want it so tight that the canvas rips.

I adjusted and tightened it loosening off then re tightening and as it happened things improved. Then I trimmed the excess canvas from each end.

With the canoe still in the envelope under tension and over size clothes pegs in place

the canvas can then be tacked or stapled in place. I made my own home made stretching device looks a bit like a medieval weapon but its quite effective. As an alternative you can buy metal canvas stretching pliers and some make their own by adding small metal plates to mole grip jaws.

The canvas is tacked or stapled in place working from the centre towards the bow and stern. It doesn’t matter which method you use but if staples are used it is best to use stainless steel ones.

Once you reach the start of the stem it the whole canoe and canvas are removed and put on trestles and that is where I leave it for now and in the next section I will be closing the ends.

Stay safe and keep social distancing!

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