Question about Rawhide canoe seats


Fan of the Adirondack
Hi everyone,

I have a small problem and maybe one of you can help me.

The rawhide on my canoe seat has elongated a bit during last summer. Normally, after a rain, I used to place my canoe directly under the sun for some time to help re-tight the material but it doesn’t work anymore!


Now, because the material is not tight enough, my seat is not as comfortable as it used to be.

Any idea on how to tighten up the rawhide on my seats without having to make new ones?

Any idea is welcome
Pretty boat! Assuming that the rawhide has been varnished, as far as I know, there isn't anything that you can put on it that's going to tighten it back up. The most successful formula for making a rawhide seat seems to be to use full-grain rawhide (rather than the cheaper, split-grain variety), stretch it tightly and then varnish the heck out of it. I don't think you can ever get it sealed so well that it can't pick up moisture and stretch at times, and wet rawhide lace probably has ten times the potential stretch that other materials like cane strands have. The last set of rawhide seats that I had were built by Vermont Tubbs (the snowshoe manufacturer). They tended to get pretty saggy three or four days into a trip and slowly seemed to lose their ability to come back. I love the look or rawhide, but if I ever build another set of laced seats, I'm going to call up Iversons and see if I can talk them out of some of that dark brown neoprene lacing that they use on their wooden snowshoes.
Thanks Todd for your reply,

I prefer the look of rawhide but I don’t want to deal with saggy materials in a middle of a trip. Besides, my wife always put a beach towel on her seat because when she’s wearing a bathing suit, she don’t want her butt looking like a game board!

Like you said, I think the sagging problem is coming from the fact it’s nearly impossible to completely isolate the rawhide even after putting several coats of thin varnish like I did.

I think I will weave another set of seats using cane this time and keep my rawhide seats as “souvenir”.