How to Make Wooden Canoe Gunwales – HowFlux

How to Make Wooden Canoe Gunwales

How To Make Wood Gunwales


A gunwale is the top edge of the side of a boat. Gunwales were generally built as a gun ridge on a sailing warship and this ridge was built to represent the strengthening wale or structural band added to the design of the ship. With a little bit of knowledge and skills, you can build a wooden gunwale for your boat in today’s time as well. Its structure will depend on the type of boat that you have. If you have a boat or a canoe, you can easily make wooden gunwale following the simple tips that we are mentioning here:-

How to Make Wooden Canoe Gunwales

How to Make Wooden Canoe Gunwales

1. Begin the Build According To Your Boat/Ship Type:-

If you have a canoe, the gunwale will be located at the top of the side of the boat. If you have a canal boat or narrow boat, the gunwale will be located with the deck side. In most of the wooden boats, gunwale remains mounted inboard. In most of the modern boats, it is top edge of the side where there is some form of stiffening.

2. Choice of Wood:-

The wood that you choose for making a gunwale must be full of strength, it should be durable and it should be able to help hold the shape of boat which is the quality of any good gunwale and thus for this purpose White Ash wood, Cherry, Sitka Spruce and Mahogany wood will suit the best. Besides perfect kind of wood, you will also need the other essentials like a working platform, sandpaper, belt sander, a number of clamps, a drill machine, a screwdriver, a jigsaw, a chart to make digrams if you wish to follow a systematic approach and every other thing that you might need in between.

3. Using An Oil/Varnish Or Not:-

Suppose if you are supposed to have a lots of wear and tear over the boat, it would be better if we choose an oiled kind of gunwale while if you think that you always maintain lots of care from your side so as to be able to prevent the wear and tear that paddles and portages are supposed to cause, you can instead go for a varnish.

4. Trim the Wooden Plank Down To Perfect Length:-

Here in this step we will use the wooden plank ripping it to perfect size, length and width. You can follow a pre-downloaded gunwale diagram re-designing and customizing it on a piece of paper to give wood the perfect shape that you desire and the shaping tools will help you in this. Cut the gunwale to perfect size and then we fit the prepared structure of gunwale in place. The sanding of this structure is done afterwards with a sand paper and then we cut the thwarts to proper length. The replacement seats and thwarts are attached then and our job gets fulfilled this way.

5. Dealing With A Canoe:-

If we are dealing with a canoe, the perfect approach will be to build the gunwale that consists of inner and outer parts that can be distinguished as an “Inner gunwale” with a size of at least one inch high and ¾ inches wide with slots cut in them to allow water to drain when hull is turned upside down and the other will be an “Outer gunwale” which should have a 5/8 inch high and ¾ inch wide structure with rounded outer edge.


About the Author: Editorial Team

Hello from your friendly Editorial Team at We thank you for visiting our website and hope you find our articles both fun and educational. We try to cover a wide range of topics and have over 3,000 articles posted for you to enjoy. Thank you again for being a loyal reader!