Gunnel Replacement

Apparently when you go camping as often as I have, your neighbours start to notice…I received a phone call from my neighbour letting me know that he knew of someone who was looking to get rid of a canoe and wanted to know if I was interested. This was all the detail provided, but without asking any questions I quickly accepted the offer! That same day I went to pick up a canoe that looked like the picture above on the left. I have included some other pictures at the very bottom as well.

This canoe looked like it had not been used in quite some time. Knowing that this 16ft Kevlar canoe would not have been a cheap canoe when purchased, I thought I would give a shot at rebuilding it. The actual hull and skin of the boat was in near perfect condition, it was really only the gunnels, carrying handles, support beams, and yoke that needed replacing. After watching several videos online about ways that you can steam wood to allow it to bend a easier (video at bottom), I was starting to get a little overwhelmed with the idea of taking on this project. I decided to go to my local lumber supplier to try to cut 16ft pieces of cedar into ¾ inch thick wood strips, hoping that the cedar would be able to bend around the canoe without steaming. And it worked! We used a lot of clamps and went one screw at a time working our way from one side of the canoe to the other. Watch my video below which shows highlights from the process! I have included other details below for those who are interested!

More details:

  • The total cost of the repair was less than $200 with the yoke being $100 of that
  • The yoke was purchased from a local canoe shop
  • We used Teak Oil on the wood to keep it pliable (and I still use this regularly to repel water on trips)
  • We used stainless steel screws so that they would not rust over time like the last ones had
  • We offset the 16ft long cedar strips as they were too short to make it right to the end of each side of the canoe. This helps shift the weak points out on the canoe. Each end had a small 5 or 6-inch piece attached to complete the full side gunnel
  • We were able to re-use both the seats giving them a quick sand and applying teak oil
  • We used Poli-prep and Poli-glow 2 solution system for cleaning and polishing your boat
  • The video I was previously watching about steaming wood can be found below: