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Couple of questions

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous' started by Feathers, Jan 29, 2015.

  1. Feathers

    Feathers Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes


    My wife and I are enjoying working on our first restoration- a 1934 16' Old Town HW. We recently sat down with a direction sheet and a youtube video and managed to get both the seats caned. I put about five coats of varnish on the seats before we caned them, but I'm wondering if I should now add another coat over the top of the cane. I've read about leaving the bottom free of varnish so it can dry but to put a coat or two over the top of the cane. Yes or no?

    Question two is regarding the paddle in the photo that came with the canoe. It is glued and nailed and will not really be useful as a paddle anymore. But I'm wondering if the shape fits a paddle that may be of the same era as the canoe? Or is it impossible to tell anything from the shape? I'll probably clean it up a little and display it somehow because I like it. But it would be interesting to know if it could be as old as the canoe.

    Thanks for any help!
  2. Adirondack1

    Adirondack1 Curious about Wooden Canoes

    You can use heavily thinned varnish on both sides of the cane, or as an alternative use tung oil. Who knows on the paddle? could be Old Town. Hang it on the wall just the way it is !!
  3. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    The shape of a paddle can provide some indication but nothing definite. The top two paddles in the picture attached below came from an Old Town canoe that shipped in 1936, the next one down came from an Old Town that shipped in 1914, and the bottom one is from a canoe that predates the Old Town records but the paddle looks much newer than that. These shapes look similar to yours. If you carefully remove the paint on the throat of yours and find any indication of a decal like the ones shown at then you will know that it is an Old Town.

    Your cane and varnish question has been debated frequently in this forum and others. I don't know of anyone who has done a rigorous comparison study of the subject. Old Town traditionally did not varnish their cane seats because it tended to make them more brittle. Some people always varnish their cane seats and others just varnish the top side only as you described. I prefer my cane seats without varnish. Your mileage may vary...


    Attached Files:

  4. Roger Young

    Roger Young display sample collector

    As for paddles... shape is not necessarily a guide to age; possibly a clue as to maker. If you're looking for something to match the age of your canoe, keep your eyes open at flea markets, antique shops, field shows, craigslist, eBay, etc. You'll very likely come across a vintage pair of Old Town paddles in decent shape, even complete with decals (which can also be replaced, if necessary). Depending on condition, wear, quality of the decal, you'll likely find them priced somewhere between $50 - $150 each. WCHA member Robert Ross often has some nice older examples on hand.
  5. OP

    Feathers Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Thank you for the responses. If Old Town didn't varnish the cane I think we'll leave them as is. The canoe is entering a new phase of its life where it is going to be well taken care of so the seats will not see long periods of exposure to rain or sun. As for the paddle, I don't see any sign of an Old Town sticker. I will rinse the bird droppings off and hang it on the wall. I'll keep an eye out for some vintage paddles. I may try my hand at making some also.

    Thanks again!

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