Introduction: Klickitat Fiberglass Canoe Restoration

About: Brewing, building and organizing!

This project was so much fun, and sanding, and filling, and fiberglassing... and Fun!

Step 1: So You Got a Free Canoe... Steps 1 and 2

I got this sweet old canoe for free off of Craigslist with no gunwales, no carry handles and really troubled looking wood plank seats. Also, it is fiberglass (sprayed fiber, not laid-up fiberglass) so it's a bit heavier than other canoes of it's size. The fiberglass had many large cracks and stress holes.

1. First step is to buy supplies and gather your tools:

Particulate removing dust mask and eye protection and gloves

Fiberglass cloth

Fiberglass resin & hardener

Fiberglass filler putty

Plastic putty knife and mixing cups

80, 120 and 200 grit sandpaper (use a power sander, for the love of all that is good)

2 wood gunwale pieces 1x1x(length of boat gunnel)

Wood handles and yoke

nuts, bolts and finishing washers to hold wood pieces

Your choice of spray-paint or roller primer and paint

helmsman spar urethane for waterproof top coating.

Tools you will need:

cutoff wheel


screwdriver and wrench or sockets for bolts

power sander

2. Second step is to examine all stressed (cracked or broken) areas and cut them out completely with your cutoff wheel. This is the step shown in the picture. You want to remove any real cracks, not just the immediate area where a large crack or puncture is because the integrity of the fiberglass will be damaged even outside of where the visible damage is.

Step 2: Fiberglass

There are many great instructables that go into fine detail about laying up fiberglass. I suggest you peruse all of them to get a good handle on how best to do it that works for you.

I usually sand/rough up the surface I want to lay up on to, then spread a thin layer of resin to the surface, then add the fiberglass weave cloth to that sticky surface, then cover it with enough wet resin to impregnate all of the fibers, but not so much that it is oozing off of the cloth.

I follow this on the inside and the outside of the canoe for each cutout that I created.

Let the fiberglass resin cure for at least 24 hours before the next step, you'll be glad you did!

Step 3: Sanding

Hey! Fun Part's Here!

Sand down all the rough edges and try to blend the newly fiberglassed edges into the smooth contour of the boat's original lines. Do this only as much as you can without ripping into the really solid structural parts of the new fiberglass. Some bumps and lumps are going to happen. This will be a presentable boat, but not likely a show boat :)

Step 4: Filling Holes

Fill them holes, fill them depressions, scrapes and knicks with marine putty filler. Ace Hardware sells little tubes of the red stuff for about $8.

then let this cure for a day and sand down the excess. (yay more sanding!)

Step 5: Remove Interior Wood Parts and Salvage What You Can

Take it all off of the boat in preparation for painting.

The seat planks were nasty looking, but hitting it with 80 grit sandpaper revealed some really beautiful exotic hardwood that just needed some finish sanding and teak oil to restore beautifully.

Step 6: Painting

Primer+paint in spray cans meant that I needed 8 full cans of the semi-gloss creamy yellow color for the exterior and 4 full cans of glossy white for the interior. If you have a nice smooth exterior, I would say that roller painting would be just as effective and save a lot of resources (money, cans, yucky propellants).

Let the paint dry and cure all the way before trying to seal it with the varathane, You may find that you get some texture from the paint that you want to give a light sanding (yes, I know) to before you finish it for a better smooth look in the end.

Step 7: Add Wood

I added these pictures to give you an idea of how I added the wood to the canoe frame- the bolts and specialty washers are the most important part, so zoom in.

Step 8: Risk Your Family's Lives in Your Untested Creation

This step is self-explanatory.

Everything worked out fine. My three year old did great, the one year old was very unhappy to be in a PFD.

Step 9: Punk Your Buddy Who Said It Couldn't Be Done

Your friend who made fun of your sweet craigslist find when it was in its damaged state gets to have the boat named after him and given a sailor cap when he finds out you put this nice big, heavy canoe on his most excellent Geo Metro when he tries to go home for lunch.

Fix It Contest

Runner Up in the
Fix It Contest

Outside Contest 2017

Participated in the
Outside Contest 2017