Does Ed's canoe parts skimp on varnish?

Is the amount of varnish on Ed’s seats and thwarts enough? I just ordered a complete set of replacement parts and was somewhat surprised about the small amount of varnish (it says double dipped). Now I’m wondering if I need to varnish not only the cut off ends, but also revarnish everything with a couple more coats. How do you revarnish webbed seats anyway? Does Essex Industries put on more varnish?


That’s what I think. I have used Ed’s stuff but I always give 'em a few more coats of varnish before I install them.


I think Ed’s uses polyurethane
I too often give their stuff a light sanding and a few coats of varnish as well but I’m not certain it is necessary. It has been a while since I bought anything from Essex, but I don’t recall a big difference in finish.

The two is sufficient
I can understand ends not being done as you might need to trim them anyway.

But as two might be sufficient and not good enough…I prefer five(that would add to the cost of the item alot if it were done at the plant), I do add three more coats.

Same goes for paddles. Most of the mass produced paddles are varnished…just barely good.

My cherry webbed seat

– Last Updated: Oct-28-12 1:43 PM EST –

came with cloudy and soft varnish. Imossible to tell how many "coats", but it took a long time to cure hard... like weeks.

That may have been because they didn't have any seats like the one I wanted in stock and they whipped one off for me. I think it came in four days after I ordered it, but it could also mean that their varnish had just gotten a bit old and/or contaminated. It's held up okay for four years, though.

I must say, though, that all of my experience with Ed's, including a visit to pick up a set of gunwales, have been nothing but positive. It's a small, tidy , family operation that has always gone to the effort of accomodating my needs. Really, they couldn't have been nicer.

I've never worried too much about varnish on canoe seats or thwarts. Sure, it's nice to have them all shiny and sealed, but it's really the exposed endgrain that's important to keep well sealed. Varnish on the long grain is mostly cosmetic unless it's failed to the point that the wood's gone grey or starting to splinter.

Edited to change "whipped one out" to "whipped one off". It just sounds better.

Ed does teriffic job.
I’ve been very happy with Ed’s stuff. My feeling is that canoes are like pick up trucks. Varnish wears out, the seats continue to work fine. 15 to 20 years later you buy new ones. I do agree its good to seal the cut off ends.

I have to credit Ed’s seats for comfort
and adding controllability to my canoes.

I switched out the factory seats for Ed’s contour seats.

I like a soft look on the wood, especially the cherry, and do not want the shiny poly look. I have never heard of a seat rotting or failing, other than cane seats “wearing” over many years and much use.

As already said, I seal the ends, and go with them.

I have added an oil finish on them for a satin look.

They are a winner in my book, or canoe.

varnish before or after drilling?
it seems like everyone varnishes the ends while only some give the rest a few new coats, and noone has any problems either way.

Now, if I varnish before drilling, wouldn’t the water get into the untreated wood inside the drill holes making it rot and fail just like it would with untreated ends? Do people drill first and varnish later?


A Q-tip or pipe cleaner helps get the varnish all the way through.


– Last Updated: Nov-03-12 4:12 PM EST –

I drill holes in thwarts and seat frames a little over sized, for example, a 1/4" diameter hole if you are using #10 stainless steel machine screws, then get varnish into the holes.

If the holes are drilled just big enough for the hardware the varnish will make the holes a little too tight and you tend to scrape all the varnish off when the bolts go through.

With soft sitka spruce thwarts,
I epoxied everything, holes inside, ends, the works, and I inserted plastic soda straw liners in the holes, in the wet epoxy. I wouldn’t do all that for ash or other hardwoods, but at least oiling the inside of the holes is a good idea.

great ideas
thank you!


– Last Updated: Nov-04-12 1:13 PM EST –

Ed's does a fine job for a production seat, their contour bucket is one of the best canoe seats available and finish is exactly where it needs be to be price competitive. Perfection is available, from Dog Paddle Design or Loon Works, but not at fifty bucks, or anything close. Those desiring a Thomas Moser quality canoe seat can have one if they're willing to pay for it.