Gunwales for OT

Trammel canoe

Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes
We are needing outer gunwales for our 17' HW. I contacted Old Town today and they are saying at the very least 4 mths. They said it would probably be better to make them ourselves. We aren't very comfortable with this idea. Does anyone else sell gunwales for this canoe? We would rather drive a few hundred miles to pick some up vs. wasting alot of wood trying to make them ourselves.

Hi Trina

Making outwales is a good project. You need to read the book first. Then find a board of ash, Mahog, cherry, Spruce, or likeness. YOu'll need a table saw or some way to rip the thing to 7/8" x 7/8" or whaterver the old outwale is. Then make the rabbet using the saw, or router, or rabbet plane. Be mindful of the tumble home and use that same angle on the cross section.

Once they are milled you get to steam and bend them onto the canoe. I did that tonight. See the makeshift steamer? Works great.
Others with more experience and skill may chime in. A sharp upward bend may require a jig for bending. Step by step it is very do able.

Regards, Dave


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oh, btw

I'll let them stay on there a week or so and then take them off, set them aside and canvas, fill, prime, paint, etc.
Thanks for the help. We are beginning to accept the idea of making them ourselves. :eek:

Thanks again,
It's not that hard - here is a picture of a bending jig made from a couple of pieces of 2x10 and some scraps like Dave mentioned. Steam the wood for an hour or so and go to it!


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I steamed 24 ribs (frames) for my sailboat. I steamed the ribs and wrapped them around the form with one end clamped to the form covered by a piece of flat webbing I bought at the local outfitter. With the addition of a healthy dose of fabric softener to the steam box water my rib breakage went from one out of two to no more breakage.

With a helper this job should be easy and fun. My son helped me. Dont forget to carefully prep the stock by sanding well to get rid of any saw marks and to gently round each edge just a hair to help prevent any grain runout from splitting the piece as you bend it. Bending is a miraculous skill once you figure it out.

Thanks for the tips. We aren't able to use the old outwales as a pattern. The same gentleman that covered the canoe with fiberglass used tack strips (as in carpet) as outwales. Ok maybe they weren't really tack strips, but same difference.

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