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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Canoe Building: Preparation for Varnish

At this point the inside and outside of the canoe have both been epoxied.  The hull is all smooth and shiny and beautiful.  Once you trim off the fiberglass cloth tags you can imagine gliding away in the canoe.  Not so fast!  Yes, it does look beautiful, but it still needs the structural support that the gunwales, seats, and thwart offer.  It also requires protection from another enemy of cedar strip canoes: the sun.

You can also take the time to look more closely at the hull and you will probably see drips and runs in the epoxy.  Get a razor blade or something else, and gently shave them down and even with the rest of the surface.  You don't need to cut the runs off in one fell swoop.  Instead shave a little off with each stroke, and take several strokes to do it.  Take your time.
 Now it's time to take out your sandpaper again and lightly sand the entire hull, inside and out.  Yes, sanding does seem counter-intuitive, but in combination with shaving the drips and runs it will result in an even better final finish.
While you are doing this, wear a respirator!  You don't want to be breathing the epoxy dust!  When you're done, the canoe will look white and dirty and less amazing then it did when you finished epoxying it.  But that's ok.  Scuffing up the hull is to make it so the varnish can cling to it better.  The varnish (there will be several coats) has UV blockers that will prevent the epoxy from yellowing from the UV rays of the sun.  It's easiest to do this important step before the trim is installed since it will be easier to sand and you will do a better job since there aren't the tight corners to sand in.

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