connecting the stem band to the deck


Curious about Wooden Canoes
I am doing a restoration of a 1921 OTCA (for use, not for show). It seems this OTCA stem band was never connected by the factory (please correct me if I am wrong on this) Following Rollin's book, I should connect the stem band to the deck but it's going to be a few big steps backwards to do this.

So, should I go thru the effort?

Thanks, John Hejmanowski


  • 058.jpg
    713.4 KB · Views: 417
I wouldn't

Looks like you mean stem? A stem band is brass and the last thing to go on and no backtracking required. I'd just leave it the way it is. The stem is fastened to the planking and the planking to the inwhale and the inwhale to the deck. when the brass stem band goes over the top of it all you'll be pretty well buttoned up. You could drill down through the deck and into the end of the stem, but i wouldn't.

IIRC a couple of the Old Towns I have fixed up had a small steel nail driven through the side of each inwale into the top of the stem.
Thanks all for the help.

Dave, I did mean stem.... Andthe stem band holding it all together sounds like a good idea and probably what Old Town was thinking.

Thanks again.

John H
Just to finish this thread, here's what Rollin Thurlow said about this question:

Traditionally the Old Town Canoes had a very fine wire steel nail driven thru the top end of each inside rail that went into the top of the stem. I use a #14 x 1- 1/2” brass escutcheon pins as a replacement when it’s needed. The brass pin is a bit larger than the old steel nails and it needs to be predrilled to prevent splitting of the ends of the rails and the top of the stem. However what really holds the stem in place is just the planking that is nailed along the side. If the planking is in good shape the nail is not really needed. The very top corner of the planking at the tip of the stem can be nailed and glued into position which will also give a bit more support to that joint. I use 5/8” x #15 bronze ring nails to nail the planking to the side of the stem and predrilled with a 1/16” bit.
It looks like there is some wood exposed on the bottom of the deck that is not sealed against water getting in there. When I joined my stem splice into the deck I used advice someone on this forum posted to glue it together with, and I forgot what it is called but it was, a marine adhesive that came in a tube like silicone calking. I got it at West Marine. Looks like you could shoot it in to fill the gap between the bottom of the deck and the top of the stem. It would help strengthen it and prevent future damage moisture might cause if it soaks into the deck and stem. One would have to either be a contortionist or the size of a nome to see up under there when the canoe is all back together.

I can't claim the foresight to have thought of that myself but it seems like it might work in your situation