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Waxing cedar planking

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous' started by mccloud, Dec 7, 2014.

  1. mccloud

    mccloud "Tiger Rag" back on the tidal Potomac

    The cedar planking on an old canoe is often very dry. Late in the restoration
    process, some folks apply linseed oil to the planking before recanvasing, saying that it adds 'life' back into the wood, and provides water repellency. I've read the counter arguments against this: 1. wood is dead - don't feed it 2. linseed oil provides food for fungus so promotes rot. There have also been posts to these forums from people having difficulty getting old canvas off because filler or paint or resin seeped thru the canvas and stuck solidly to the planking.
    This got me to thinking that maybe there's another way.
    A solution can be made from paraffin or bees wax in gasoline. I let a jar of each sit at 50 degF to reach saturation, then poured off 100 mls each into clean bottles. After evaporation and vacuum drying, the paraffin weighed 10.2 gms, the beeswax weighed 4.3 gms. (1 pound equals 453 gms) No microbe eats paraffin and almost none eat bees wax. Painting cedar planking with either of these waxes would impart some water repellency to the wood, add some 'life', and largely prevent paint or other adhesives from sticking.
    I have painted the red cedar planking on the exterior of two canoe hulls with
    paraffin-saturated gasoline (OT 170733 and White 16-48-920). I estimate that it has added 100 gms, so in the vicinity of 1/4 pound, to the final weight of a canoe. When this treatment is done on an 80 degree summer day, the process goes quickly, the paraffin penetrates into the wood, and when dried, the wood really doesn't feel much different than usual - and not waxy. This process does not work as well if done on a 50 degree day: the wax lays on top of the cold wood and does not do a good job of penetration.
    You would not want to do much sanding following wax treatment: the sandpaper fills fast!
    Dipping brass screws into a wax-saturated solution serves the same purpose as rubbing the screw on a hunk of beeswax.
    So I believe painting cedar planking with a wax solution is a good idea, but also
    suspect someone has done it before me. Anyone have experience with this? But we won't know how effective wax-treating the planking is for 20 years, when the canvas gets replaced on my canoes. Tom McCloud
  2. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    Not to criticize, your theory is good.
    But let me say this.....
    In dealing with well over 100 restorations, and knowledge of many more, I've only found one where the old canvas was difficult to remove. I believe a novice probably thought that an adhesive needed to be applied.
    If one were to ever recanvas and want to do some fairing on the would be nearly impossible.
    I agree with your downfalls of linseed oil. I've also had sandpaper loading issues with over-oiled planks on a couple of occasions.
    I have turned to varnishing the outside of the hull prior to canvas. I save the dregs from old cans of varnish and thin them. I've also bought inexpensive hardware store variety spar varnish in a gallon and used it as well. You certainly wouldn't want to put Epifanes or other top dollar varnish on the bare outer hull.
  3. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    Paraffin and gasoline is a recipe for disaster - witness the Hartford circus fire of 1944.
  4. Andre Cloutier

    Andre Cloutier Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.

    Paraffin and gasoline

    NOW you're talkin!
  5. 1905Gerrish

    1905Gerrish LOVES Wooden Canoes


    My issue with oiling a canoe and believe its a good idea falls on handeling of an OLD canoe. I know when I pick up an unrestored 100 year old canoe and creek and groans like a 100 year old person would. My point is the wood needs to regain some moisture. I have used linseed oil on all of my resotrations cut with thinner. Tung oil is probably a better choice but its what I had kicking around. Never mind the fact that a good canvas filler has linseed oil in it and should penetrate the canvas 100% to contact the hull feeding peoples theory of feeding bacteria. I dont like the idea of sealing the hull for the fact that old wood needs moisture or it will become to brittle.

  6. chris pearson

    chris pearson Michigan Canoe Nut

    This horse is beat so bad it's in the ground already. Ask the guys that have restored hundreds of canoes and use it. Look at canoes that were coated with linseed oil 100 years ago, they are fine. Thin it down and put it on, I've never had a problem. I agree that a coat of varnish over good, dry lindseed oil wont hurt anything either. 9 out of 10 of us use these things about a 10th of the time the old timers did and then we put them to bed in a garage, boathouse, or barn when we are done. Have fun with the things!!!
  7. chris pearson

    chris pearson Michigan Canoe Nut

    Isnt that Napalm?????:cool: Right up Andres alley!!!!
  8. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    On the other hand, there is no better way to turn a hunk of wood into something totally dried out and brittle than to repeatedly subject it to a series of wet/dry cycles. What you see as "breathability" is just as likely to suck the life out of a piece of softwood. As for wax, I think it's major problem is that it eventually exaporates, so whatever benefit you get from it probably won't be very stable, or last very long.

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