Staining Brightwork

I’ve been following the varnish threads with interest because I’m soon to start replacing the

wooden gunwales on a Quessy canoe. The old cherry outwales just don’t look like they’ll be salvagable, so I’m going with ash in and out.

I would like to stain the gunnels a cherry color.

Has anyone tried the tints or other types of stains on brightwork? Woodcraft sells some “tints” that sound like they could even be used to color a finnish like Watco, so that every time one oiled there gunwales they could make up a little batch of colored oil to refresh the color too.

Also, would it be best to use a sanding sealer first on the ash?

Thanks for ideas on this.

Can’t speak for the ‘tints’ since I don’t know exactly what they are selling. But as an avid woodworker I can tell you most any stain will color your wood and be fine under the varnish. I have never worked with ash but as with any wood, the smart thing is try it on some scraps first. Some woods stain good and some not so good. It also lets you see the color before you committed to it.

If the wood stains blotchy you might try a sanding sealer, but to much and it won’t take the stain. I like to use a ‘spit’ coat of shellac for a sealer. Thats 10 parts alcohol to one part shellac. It just lightly seals the wood but will let it take the stain. Most times it will even out a blotchy wood.

The traditional method on old wooden power boats is an almost paste/putty like stain called filler stain. Oil based and it was used to fill in the rough texture of the mahogany and make it smooth. Then you varnished over that.

Hope that helps some

Ash to Cherry?

– Last Updated: Nov-24-07 7:56 AM EST –

MRC often stained ash to cherry tones on their "hull of the year" model.

That said, you can acquire real cherry rails from Ed's Canoe Parts and Essex Industries. They cost a little more than ash, but when you sand out a gouge, you've got cherry as opposed to an interesting set of concentric shapes: finished wood, cherry stained ash w/o finish, a core of ash.

We sand and seal rails and deck sub blocks after initial sanding.

A nice thing about cherry…

…is that it is as about maintenance free as you

can find. Seal it with a clear finish and let it

darken with age on its own.

another choice would be heart cypress, but you’d

have to really finish it good because it’s so


The Die is Cast
The ash “knock-down” gunwales already arrived from Ed’s before it became obvious to me that I couldn’t save the old cherry outwales.

Just wondering if tints or dyes would penetrate ash deeply enough to reduce that gouging through to unstained wood problem and also about tinting a finish to help that issue also when doing regular maintenance.

This canoe will probably go to an uncle, so the simplist, easiest, least maintenance option may be the way to go, that is, seal & varnish with no stain.

Still, pondering something more complicated gives me a reason to escape the honey do’s and go bond with the fellas down at Woodcraft this afternoon…

staining ash?
I have used the mahogany paste stain on African Mahogany to make it look like Honduras mahogany. It worked fine under varnish.

However, as Charlie noted, a gouge or severe rub like I once had shows immediately that you tried to make a cow’s ear into a silk purse. You have to restain the area of damage and hope it matches.

Since you are going to give the canoe away to an uncle, keep it simple to finish and refinish. Go with sealer and varnish without stain.