Chestnut gunwales


Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes
I'm replacing the outwales on my Chestnut, and have been looking for photos of the same model so I can get the profile right. I've only found one picture that is really the same in every way (decks, planking width, etc), but it has something very odd about it's gunwales. There appears to be a strip or something on top of the rib ends.

Has anyone seen that before? It must have been added after, or did the Kruger model experiment with something different? I would think it wouldn't drain properly. None of the catalogues appear to show anything like that. Must have been custom?

One reason I'm re-doing the gunwales is the previous re-canvas tacked the canvas to the side of the ribs right even with the top, and the outwale wouldn't butt to the rib (without the canvas showing). So the gunwale had been raised and overlapped the tops of the ribs. Looked bad.

I'm pretty sure it should be a standard inwale/rib/outwale, but thought I'd check first with those with more experience.



  • Chestnut-canoe.jpg
    104.2 KB · Views: 485
The picture is of a closed gunwale boat, made before 1920. It does not have a typical inner outer gunwale, but only a single one. It sounds like if your boat was recanvased, it was perhaps done incorrectly at the top. Best to post a picture or two to show what has been done,and to narrow down what type of boat you have.
The canoe in the photo, according to Ken Solway in his book The Story of the Chestnut Canoe, is the oldest surviving Chestnut and said to have been built in 1899. If this is the case, it probably exhibits many features that are not typical of more recent, more common Chestnut canoes. In any case, it is a closed-gunwale, pre-fire built canoe - there are significant differences between canoes built before and after the 1920 Chestnut factory fire. You'll need to determine which yours is, which is pretty easy. See the Chestnut entry in the KnoweldgeBase for more:
I'd better buy that book! I don't think my boat is pre-fire though, as it has fairly flat decks, not very crowned, and it also has the wide rib at the front.

But the way the decal overlaps the inwale on the heart shaped deck, the 4inch planking and narrow thwarts all look like the photo. But I've seen those decks on later Chestnuts too. Very narrow boat too.

I have a couple pics I can post if that'll shed more light, and I can get some of the existing gunwales when I get home from work. Didn't think finding info for matching gunwales would be such a challenge. And I may just keep it simple and put normal ones on.

Thanks for the info! I was pretty sure that photo was of a later boat from the condition it's in. I'd be interested in seeing a closeup of that gunwale build.


  • cruiserlength.jpg
    68.3 KB · Views: 430
  • widthchestnut.jpg
    95.5 KB · Views: 398
Looks like you have a later model Chestnut cruiser. Smaller decks with the company decal overlapping onto the inwales also indicate it is a Cruiser model. The outwales look right for the vintage.
Thanks for the info. Based on this advice, I'm going ahead with cutting down the canvas and attaching it lower, and then installing new Sitka gunwales in the regular open rib style (just covering the planking and not the ribs).

These canoes seem to have been built with a lot of variation, and open ribs were always available, so I'm confident it's a good chioce.

I'd still like to see a cross section of how a Chestnut closed rib gunwale is constructed.

Great forum - thanks everyone.


  • gunwaleA.jpg
    73.5 KB · Views: 375
  • oldgunwale.jpg
    19.4 KB · Views: 382