Seat Frame Help


Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes
I am in the process of building a new canoe seat out of mahagony and wanted to know what the right procedure would be. I made a router table and bought a 3/8" round bit to make the full end radius by flipping the frame. My question is the original seat does not have a full continuous end radius from one frame to the other. The smaller frames seem to 'square' off as it runs into the longer frame. How is this accomplished?
Thanks, Bob
Seat router


Router the edge after you put the seat together, or use a stop at the end of the short member.

Seat Frame

Paul, I tried on scrap wood both of your suggestions but the ends still didn't match. I'm wondering if the ends were finished using a chisel. I mean, I could route the boards close to the end and finish with a chisel. Triyng to square off the radius. Does anyone have an opinion about this? I haven't tried this yet.

This may be mostly personal opinion, so treat it accordingly.

I think that canoe seats look better if the seat (and thwart) edge rounding are not symmetrical, top and bottom. Thwarts just plain look better and seats are more comfortable if the top is shaped with a larger radius. I hesitate to put any numbers to it, but a top radius about twice the bottom radius seems about right. A parabolic rounding is also better, in my opinion.

As far as the transition from rounded over to a square shape, there are lots of methods.
I did my thwarts with rasps, files and sandpaper. If there?s a ?trick? to it, it?s working to an accurate layout, cutting flat facets to keep everything symmetrical, then doing the final smoothing with coarse paper.

An alternative, using a router would be to temporarily attach a ramp (maybe curved) to the edge of the seat so that the router guide leads off the frame gradually rather that stopping abruptly.


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Seat frame rounding

I'll have to agree with Paul that seat frames and thwarts look classier with a larger radius on top than underneath.

Paul, the canoe seat frame you sent as a thumbnail picture looks very much like how Morris use to round his seats. Is the canoe a 1920 B.N. Morris with mahoghany seats and thwarts? And if so, how's the restoration coming?

Gary Peterson
Rice Lake, WI
If you're making the seat as a replacement, then you need to follow the original. If, however, you're making it for yourself, I'd suggest making the front rail of the seat frame wider, say 2", and put a large bevel across the leading edge. You'd be surprised at how much more comfortable this makes the seat.
Right on garypete. That?s a Morris seat in the pic. I was afraid that the picture wouldn?t show the shape. My monitor usually show darker than other set ups.

The restoration is getting back on track after loosing much of my shop space to the storage of several households worth of stuff. I?m just about to the point where I can get it down from its overhead perch. I?ve got all the planking on the boat. It didn?t need any ribs. I still need to complete the tacking. I?ll be doing the outer stems and one deck center batten, and of course the canvas.

One of the thwarts was missing. One was an out of character replacement and one was original. I made three matching mahogany thwarts using the original as a guide. They are arched across the top, with very little radius on the bottom corners. They match the shape of the seat frames.

I agree with Doug, if making a replacement, the new parts should be true to the original design.

I'll try a picture of the whole seat.


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Seat Frame

I am making a replacement. My stern seat, an original, is in good condition so I thought I'd use it after refinishing and caning but the canoe was missing the bow seat. Another problem I'm having is trying to match mahagony tone. The old seat after stripping is dark like Paul's picture, but the new mahagony is a lighter tone. If anyone has any suggestions about matching the stain I'd like to hear it.
Thanks for all the info so far its been a help.

Not all Mahoganies are the same. There are many different species, and all have different colour. I may well be impossible to match the two. If having a match is important, I'd suggest making a pair of seats from the same lumber. Possibly less time and hassle than trying to colour match with stain, which in my opinion, never really looks good. It can really kill the colour and glow of nice mahogany.

If you're determined to make a match, take a bunch of scraps and experiment on those. Perhaps try some of the aniline dye stains? Tint your varnish? Good luck.
Now you know why I made three thwarts. They did come out fairly close to the color of the seat frames, with a little experimentation with scraps.