Fading wood

Posted by Jim E on Oct 1, 2006

I was admiring Masa Tanimoto's beautifully built Sassefras 16 in the shopcam, when I noticed a little cosmetic problem in the second photo. This also shows up in many photos of new bright-finished kayaks. You can see where the scarfs are, not because there's anything wrong with the joints - they look perfect - but because of an abrupt change in wood color. I got to wondering why this happens.

Question 1: New wood fades quite quickly when exposed to light, so if these pieces had different exposures prior to being joined, would that cause this? I'm thinking of, say a sheet of plywood sitting on top of the stack for a while, or cut out parts stacked against a wall with the ones in front getting more exposure. If I'm right, Those of us who spread our building hours out over a long calendar period would be more likely to suffer from this problem.

Question 2: Does the difference go away over time, or does that UV-inhibiting varnish lock it in? This seems to be an argument for doing some paddelling prior to varnishing, if the new creation has some of these visible scarfs.

Although I've built boats before, none of them has been finished bright. I don't expect to begin work on my new Arctic Hawk kit for a few weeks, so I carefully unpacked it, checked the parts off against the inventory, admired their curves, and then put them right back in the packaging and taped it up. Am I being paranoid?

Jim E.