Finger Joint gunwale

Keith P

Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes
I have started working on my 1940 OTCA CS. The canoe is put together very nicely except for a couple of things. The main one is that one of the gunwales has a very ugly finger splice. Over the years it has opened up and started to split. When I get around to replacing the canvas I will order new gunwales. The gunwale appears to be original. Is it common to see finger splices on Old town canoes??


  • finger.jpg
    64.4 KB · Views: 621
This is not uncommon, at least during this timeframe (attached photo os of a 1936 CS grade O.T. HW sponson, but this splice is in the sponson cap rail).

The limited area of gunwale shown in your photo looks near pristine. I certainly wouldn't replace these outwales just because of that splice. Pull the splice apart, re-glue it, and then clean it up lightly with a block plane or spokeshave if necessary. This will look perfectly fine when finished. The bonuses are that you won't have the expense and trouble of replacing the outwales, and you won't have the garrishly bright wood of replacement outwales on a canoe with an otherwise wonderful patina.



  • 36_OT_sm.JPG
    207.4 KB · Views: 535
I agree with Micheal, if the rail is in good shape other than the joint needing some regluing, I would reuse it. To be honest it is very cool if that rail is original that the joint has with stood the test of time. :)
I agree if I can keep it original that would be the best way. I have attaches a side shot of the joint. You can see how it is splitting. I should have showed this first


  • finger side.JPG
    finger side.JPG
    63.9 KB · Views: 556
Scarfed gunwales

Along the same subject- my 1920 Otca has scarfed outside gunwales that look to be original. Was that also a common practice?