chestnut canoe resto lots of questions


New Member
about to embark on my first canoe resto. and possibly second? picked up two wood/canvas canoes today, one of which is a 16ft chestnut. no broken ribs, planking pretty much all there, rot is negligable (missing one in. of one stem). gunnels are rough. this canoe has been sitting for I don't know how long with no outwales and has lost its shape, i've wrapped string around at various points to get an idea of what its supposed to look like. what's my best bet to get it to hold its original shape. Also, with two 16ft canoes, I'm wondering whether its possible to disassemble one to make an 11 or 12 foot "featherweight" canoe. any thoughts are appreciated.

peter osberg

LOVES Wooden Canoes
canoe ressurrection

Judging from that slow uptake of your request and the number of views of your post, your request is dependant, in part, on what you are starting with. I would suggest that the idea of making a 11 or 12 footer out of 2 larger canoes is not a good idea, as the disassembling of an old canoe is more likely to create some additional kindling. The sequence of getting it straight and true is probably the same as if you were starting from scratch....a strong back, then keel and gunnels with some stations of intact ribs, then alot of cogitating about lining things up.......a start.

Larry Meyer

Wooden Canoes are in the Blood
Before converting a 16 footer to an 11 or 12 foot canoe, I would ask “what’s the advantage?” An 11 or 12 foot canoe is getting a little close to being no canoe at all. A 16 footer is much more versatile than a 12 foot canoe. I have a 17 and an 18 foot canoe. I can solo them both. I can go tripping in them both. I can pretty much portage them both as far as I need to. Plus, I would guess there’s a pretty limited market for 12 foot ultra lights, especially one cobbled together from a 16 footer. If you do it, it will be yours forever.


Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

I have a little 11-12 foot peternut trapper. It is short. Can't put two people in it. I need to paddle it kneeling in the center.

It has dumped me in the drink more than any other canoe. Good source of laughs. Family history suggests that it is my late Mother-in-law playing tricks on me. I can't part with it though. It's Family.

Have fun:D.

Dave Wermuth

Who hid my paddle?
Hi David

If you have two 16'ers and want to make one of them into a 12'er it sounds like a fun venture.

About the shape, if you could post some phtos? If it is hogged, twisted, spread out; all those things require different approaches. Broken parts can make the shape change too.

Many guys here have restored canoes in various states of disrepair, so you should have lots of tech support.

Regards, Dave.

peter osberg

LOVES Wooden Canoes

A 12ft canoe is a great one man canoe, there are nice line drawings out there (page 112 adney and chapelle) that would be easier and faster to build than cobbling curves and lines together that are a poor fit. Restoring a 16ft chestnut canoe is a fun project, building a 12ft one is too.....they are not the same. Attached is a 12 footer that would be easier to build (and faster).


  • DSCF0001.JPG
    302.5 KB · Views: 428


Wooden Canoes are in the Blood
Hi Dave, yet another option.

You didn't say where you are located. Are you the person that just purchased the 2 w/c canoes advertised in the Vancouver, B.C. area? If so might you consider trading them in on my restored 12' [ Chestnut?] trapper w/c canoe?-- Just an off handed thought as it seems a shame not to restore both of your 16' canoes, especially if they are both Chestnuts.


LOVES Wooden Canoes
I think you would be fiiddling around forever, end up frustrated and have 2 ruined canoes to show for your effort.
Look for a 12 footer either used or new if you wamt one.
The shorter canoes do open up a world of paddling in smaller waters, ones that you could never go in a larger canoe.
Way too much fun