Sad Man Varnishing Web Seats

I was a sad man over the past week and weekend because I have not been able to get a paddling fix. Circumstances, in the persons of several out-of-town guests, are continuing to conspire against me. It looks like they’ll be with me for at least the rest of the week. They are my friends, so it wouldn’t be right to just dump them on my wife and go paddling. So that’s my sad story.

The silver lining of my sad-man story is that the Tripper’s thwarts, which were looking kind of ratty, got revarnished. They’ve needed attention, but ever since I developed infatuation with poling I have been using the Tripper a lot. There was never a good time to remove the thwarts. Until now.

The varnish on the seats has also taken a beating, particularly on the bow seat. For some reason the stern seat is still in reasonably good shape. I have webbed seats, and only refinished the rails of the seat from the webbing to the gunwales. I felt if I removed the webbing I would not be able to restring it nearly as well as the Old Town factory, so I just varnished the exposed portions.

So I am curious. What’s the best approach for refinishing a webbed seat?


Thats a good question
Unfortunately I don’t have a good answer for you. I’ve built a couple of cane seats and used oil as a finish for the very reason you bring up. I just apply oil to the wood and it does not seem to bother the cane at all. I don’t really worry about sanding it down either. I don’t know how that would work with varnish. I do hope someone does have the answer cause I would like to know as well.

I recently did a cane seat
the same way.

I did remove it from the boat first.

I have the best solution. See inside.
With their prices and craftsmanship, why would you bother re-webbing your own??

My thoughts, exactly. In fact, I have a pair of brand new seats sitting in the shop. But it was mostly the rails between the webbing and the gunwale that were beat up. With varnish, most of the work is the sanding and the clean up. Since I was doing the thwarts, it was little extra trouble to do the rails, too. I did remove both thwarts and seats to make it easier. I put them back in the boat earlier tonight and they look good.

I thought about installing the new seats that I have in the boat, but the new web seats I have are not the same as the ones that came in the Tripper. The new ones have a nylon fabric looking web, the web is not taught, and the webbing looks like it will stretch more in use. I think the rail is going to be pressing a line into the thighs of anybody that sits for long on those seats. The webbing on the original seats are some kind of synthetic which is wider and still very taught after well over a hundred days of use.

One thing folks should check about
replacement web seats. Many are made for people with unusually narrow pelvic structure. The ones from Cold Creek Canoe and from some original equipment manufacturers have wider and more comfortable frames.