Thursday, September 18, 2008

CGOS (Canoe Gunwale Oiling Season)

It's the time of year when the days are blissfully temperate, the nights are just cool enough to make you thankful for your sweatshirt, and a man's thoughts turn to canoe gunwales. My canoe fleet has a lot of wood gunwales, so I spend a decent amount of time maintaining them. It's something that as a canoelover, you would think I enjoy.

Actually, I do enjoy it. I have a secret (I guess not so secret now) formula that I cook up quite
 literally. It's a simple combination of beeswax and boiled linseed oil, but when applied properly it provides an almost bullet-proof finish, provided the bullets are very small.

The scary part is heating up linseed oil until it's hot enough to melt the beeswax.  Not scary, you just need to be careful not to get the linseed oil too hot.  You then brush it on, and the heated elixir penetrates the wood and soon skins over with a layer of waxy film.  This I leave on for overnight, or a good long warm afternoon in the sun.  I just like to let it work itself in.

When it's cold, I take my wife's blow dryer (clearly I am in no need of one) and drive some of the elixir into the wood and rub it in with either a cloth if there's a lot of excess, or my palm if there's not.  It makes my hands soft and smell like beeswax.  I like the fact that there are no petrochemicals in this concotion, yet it works as good as a petro-varnish or better.  Totally non-toxic, dude.  And the finish, you can see for yourself.  A nice matte finish, smooth to the touch and very pleasant to smell.

Respectfully submitted,



mk said...

Seriously, there is nothing as meditative than working on gunwales. Save some for me next time.

Green Laker said...


canoelover said...

I gots plenty of gunwales to go around. :-)

Steverino said...

Does your secret recipe work on furniture? If so, could I get your recipe? Also, what happens when the linseed oil gets too hot?


canoelover said...

Yes, it works on furniture.

When linseed oil gets to hot it bursts into flames. If you try to put it out with water it throws burning oil all over.

Better to not let it happen at all.

The formula is a mixture of linseed oil (maybe a cup or so) and a chunk of beeswax (about the size of a chunk of baker's chocolate, which you know intimately). Heat the linseed oil (outside on a camp stove) SLOWLY until the beeswax is melted. Apply with a small brush and go easy on it. Easy to overdue it.