Seat query


Curious about Wooden Canoes
Well last summer I blew out one of my cane seats for my Old Town Trapper (15'), and am puzzling over how best to proceed. I'm wondering the following:

-Should I just repair the cane seat with Old Town's Cane & Spline Kit?
-Should I replace the whole seat (as some have suggested, but it's otherwise fine)?
-Should I consider replacing both seat w/ wood and hide seats? I've heard they're better/more this true?

Thanks very much.

Oh, quickly: Is there a suggested model (and place to buy) a snap in seat? Thanks...
The answer to most of your questions depends on how much time, money, or effort you want to put into this repair. You can probably find most of the prices at in the Old Town Wooden Canoe Restoration Supplies page or at in the Old Town Canoe web site.

The simplest solution would be to just unbolt the seat and replace it with a new one. You can order the "SEAT, CANE BOW" with part number 01.1315.2542 for $42.95. The least expensive option would be to just get the "SEAT CANE & SPLINE KIT (for one seat)" with part number 01.1332.1120 for $14.00 which will take more time to install yourself.

Most of the hide or nylon strap seats with wood frames tend to be less comfortable than cane. The leather saddle seats described at for $145 are usually considered more comfortable than anything with a frame.

The Snap in Center Seat at should be available from the Old Town web site or any of their dealers. It was designed for plastic canoes and may not work well in your Trapper. It would also probably be less comfortable than any of the other options listed above.

Seats are easily replaced so none of these options are likely to greatly effect the value of your canoe if that is your concern. Feel free to reply here if you have any other questions.

follow up from your ideas

Thanks so much for all of your great input. Ok, so I appreciate your thoughts on time/money/effort. I just sanded and revarnished the canoe last summer, so if repairing the cane w/ the Old Town kit is relatively easy I might go that route. But is it...? Do you know roughly how long it takes? I rebuilt the entire canoe, but have never done any cane repair before...
That leather seat looks quite appealing, but it's advertised as being a seat for "Specify Solo or Bow" -- so I don't quite follow what that means. If it's that good, couldn't it be used for both the bow and stern? Finally, with respect to the Old Town snap in center piece, I'm basically trying to find a relatively easy way in which to make a temporary seat around the thwart and the Old Town "snap in" item seemed to be a good solution. But I totally understand what you mean...doesn't seem like a good idea. Do you have any other ideas? Thanks again for all of your help.
Take care,

Replacing the cane in one seat should be much easier and faster than revarnishing your entire canoe. You can probably do your first one in less than an hour unless you are a real perfectionist.

You can check with Tom Seavey at but I expect that a leather saddle seat for the bow may have slightly shorter straps and/or a narrower seat than ones for solo use. An old sleeping bag or other thick pad can make a good temporary seat.

Pre woven cane and spline for O.T. OTCA

Just received 2 feet of 18" wide pre woven cane and 12' of #9 1/2 spline, (comes in 6' lengths). More than enough to do two seats. Purchased from for about $11 plus shipping. Was part of a much larger order so I can't quote the shipping for just the cane. Nice looking material.
Great. Thanks so much. Was it relatively easy to install? My seat has a lot of varnish on it, so extricating the old cane is a bit of a concern. Plus I've never done any caning before…and it seems quite tricky which makes me a bit nervous…
Getting the old spline out was the worst part

The cane on this boat had been replaced by the previous owner. He used a white glue to hold the cane and spline in place. It was as hard as epoxy and I had to make a special hook shaped tool out of a piece of 3/16" key stock to pry the cane/spline/glue out of the groove. I found scoring the edge of the groove with a utility knife greatly reduced the tendency of the top of the groove to splilt from the seat frame. Methylene cholride stripper softened the glue residue sufficiently to finish removing it from the grooves. After cleaning the grooves and refinishing the frames I took the whole outfit to a friend who re-canes chairs and wanted to do canoe seats. She's installing the cane. For me this is the easy part but from reading about installation I don't think it would be very difficult after 13 ribs and 80 feet of planking.
Replacing splined cane

First, remove the old cane. Start by using a utility knife, chisel or something to break the bond between the top of the groove and the spline (if you don't, you might splinter away a bit of the seat. No big deal on the inner edge, but will be seen on the outer edge when done). Pry the spline out with an appropriate tool. I use a 1/8" mortice chisel, but you can get a spline removal tool from the cane suppliers. Once the old spline is out, clean out the old cane, glue etc. from the groove.

To replace the cane, cut the cane mat oversize and soak it a while in warm water. Lay it over the seat and wedge one edge (I start on the long sides) into the groove. (I use a bunch of pine wedges I made up). Make sure your cane mat is square to the seat frame as you go. Once the first side is wedged into place, wedge the opposite side, then do the short edges.

Using a sharp chisel, trim the cane below the top of the outside edge of the groove.

Now insert the spline. Your seat may have been splined one of two ways. Some seats are splined with four pieces of spline, mitered in the corners. In this case cut the spline to length, cut a 45 degree angle on the ends, and insert them one edge at a time. Other seats a splined with a continuous spline. On these seats, start at the middle of the back long edge, work your way around the seat, and when you get back to the starting point trim the spline to length to butt against the beginning. Note that the size spline you use is matched to the width of the groove. The suppliers' catalogs will indicate this.

When you are ready to spline, Remove enough of the wedges to get you started, squeeze some Titebond III (or similar) glue into the groove, lay the spline in, and hammer it in using a wooden block as a "cushion". Work your way around the seat, and when all the spline is in, clean up any glue that has oozed out. Don't worry if the seat seems a little slack - it will tighten up as it dries. Once the glue has dried, you can varnish the seat and cane if you desire.

That's all there is to it. The first time might take a while as you work it out, but after that a seat can be done in under an hour or so.

Have fun,
If you work carefully, a 'roto zip' removes old spline. Unfortunately any errors look exagerated afterwards. The hardest part is getting started. Once some of the spline is out you can get under it & work it out.
Just an afterthought to the great information presented here -
I've never bothered to apply glue to secure the splines into the grooves, and have not had any problems with the cane pulling out. I do varnish thoroughly however.

I usually ease the inside edge of the groove with sandpaper, a sharp groove edge can cut your new caning job - don't ask me how I know this :p .

Also a caner told me once to pull strands of cane out of the prewoven cane that fall parallel to, and within the groove. I guess it reduces some tension during installation, but I noticed that it was somewhat easier stuffing the spline in as a result.