Treating wood seats, yokes, etc.

I would like some suggestions on how to treat the wood seats, yokes and thwarts of my Bell Morningstar. All the wood is in Ash I believe. The manufacturer recommends Watco exterior treatment. My problem is that you look at the fine print with this stuff and it sounds like a bill of particulars for a toxic waste dump. Scary like the fine print on your prescriptions “if this medicine causes you to start fantasizing about doing in your family with a chain saw, please consult your physician.”

Is there anything out there that is relatively benign ie not carcinogenic or prone to fire, acid burns or explosions - that you can use to preserve your wood finishes?


Its fine
That is good stuff,You will be fine as long as you dont drink it.


Wow, if you have some you are not using
Send it over to my place, I’m almost out.

Linseed oil
is probably as a natural harmless product you can find, but I don’t know how well it would hold up if it was exposed to a lot of water. I would probably paint on a coat of linseed oil, let it soak in good, and then varnish.

treating wood seats, yokes ect.

I don’t like oil finish on outwales ect. as if you don’t recoat frequently you get staining and with enough exposure, rot. Happened to a Mad River I had (Watco Oil does work if recoats are frequent) many people don’t maintain it.

I ordered a black gold Rob Roy with uncoated wood and coated it with Sikkins Cetol Marine. This is a “synthetic semi transparent stain”. It has a somewhat orange cast to it, which some may find objectional, but I think it looks great with the black outside of the black gold hull. Cetol Marine last longer than oil and is easier to recoat than varnish. You will have to decide if the somewhat orange cast is acceptable with your hull color.

Go to varnish
I got my Wildfire with ash trim six years ago. I put a heavy coat of oil on the wood at least once a year. Although there is no signs of rot, the wood looks terrible. It’s stained, discolored, and has taken on a grey color. On my boats with varnished trim of the same age, they still look like new. I still have regular maintenance with varnish, but the results will be longer lasting. If you do chose varnish, take the trim off the boat first. That way you can get the backside, that’s where the rot will start. Also put on a thick coat of paste wax on the backside. If the canoe is made of Royalex, take a drill and egg shape the holes going through the hull at the last couple of feet towards the ends. This will help eliminate cold cracking.

Watco Oil
Stick with the Watco oil as it only take a few minutes twice a year to oil your gunnels, thwarts, and seats. Please do not use varnish! The reason I don’t like varnish is that it is a surface protectorant. You chip or scrape the varnish, you will be exposing the wood to water damage. Plus, varnishing your wood trim once a year will take a lot longer than simply light sanding and oiling them twice. Trust the woodworkers at Bell and oil the wood!

I respectfuly disagree
Be careful what the manufacture says. Keep in mind the old saying “follow the money”. The reason for them oiling their trim is for faster production times. Oil costs less to buy, goes on faster, less clean-up, and needs simplier ventilation systems. In reality, varnish does penetrate as much as oil, if applied correctly.I have canoes I’ve built that have been neglected over the years. They have been used, abused, and left outside in the sun and rain. The varnish is still in good shape, even where the top layer has peeled off, there is no sign of rot because the bottom layers have soaked in.

Beaver spit.

I second the Watco post

– Last Updated: Feb-28-05 11:56 AM EST –

and will disagree with varnish. I build boats too and varnish has no place on high use wood like seats, yokes etc in a canoe or gunnels, toe rails, breasthooks, rub rails etc where frequent impacts and rubs occur in any boat with wood in these applications. You wind up with heavier annual maintenance sanding down chips and scratches for re-varnishing with expensive (better be!) varnish and foam brushes and foam rollers and smoothing out the varnish and avoiding bubbles and avoiding temperature changes that will surprise you with bubbles the next morning.... (need I go on?) versus the pleasant annual task of rubbing down finely sanded and rubbed wood with a good oil.