Cedar Strip Canoe Build # 39 First Gunwale Goes On

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Blog entry by farmerdude posted 02-27-2016 11:19 PM 1598 reads 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I guess it’s time to put on a gunwale. Before we start we need to get the canoe ready. There are some runs on the side from glassing the inside, this needs to be cleaned up. Grab the sander and some 80 grit.

With that mess sanded off it’s time to figure out where to put the gunwale. You will want to leave a little bit of cedar sticking up above them so that you can sand it down and everything will be nice and even. Usually an 1/8th of an inch will do.
However, that will not work today. As I have been working on this canoe I’ve noticed an air bubble at the top edge. Not big enough to bother to fix, I just don’t want to put the gunwale over it. The best thing to do is measure to the bottom of the bad spot and put the gunwale there.

Now I go around the canoe and mark at this height so I will see where to put the gunwales.
Now to gather up all the things I may need to do this job. Here’s the needed goodies.

Obviously the gunwale for the inside is shorter than the canoe, this is quite a bend, and will scratch the glass fairly deeply if you’re not careful. I keep some old socks around the shop for putting on stain. They also will come in handy now. I take two, roll them up double, and put them over the ends of the gunwales. Now you don’t have to worry about scratching.

You may have noticed in the pictures that there is a wax toilet gasket. I like to use them to lubricate the screws before putting them into hardwood. They don’t cost much and last a very long time.

Take both gunwales and find the center, then put them at the center of the hull. Now clamp them there. I made a small ‘jig’ to get the gunwales the same height. Put the outside gunwale at the pencil mark, then bring the inside one up until it’s close. With the cedar sticking up between it’s hard to tell where to stop. I just put the little piece of wood on them and when it’s sitting flat on both surfaces, clamp it up.

This next picture shows how far they need to bend. It’s straight grained white ash and bends really well without steaming.

I like to set up half of one side before putting in any screws. Just start at the middle and work your way to one end, being sure they are both at the same height.

Now that one end is clamped it’s time to drill and put in some screws. I had already carefully marked every six inches yesterday. Too bad I marked the wrong side. I did the top, instead of the inside.

Oh well, I just need to carry these marks down. The tops will be well sanded so the center punch holes will sand away. I guess I have not mentioned yet, the gunwales go on without any glue, or epoxy. It’s just a dry joint. I suppose that’s in case you ever have the need to change them. I am using # 8×1 1/2” flat head screws. Don’t try to use drywall screws here, they will not take the tightening. If it was softwood you may get away with them, but not here. Here’s the problem, my father was visiting while I was doing this and I forgot to take pictures. I guess most of you know all about drilling and counter sinking anyway.
Keep in mind, if you don’t have that many clamps you can get away with less, it’s just handier to do one half at a time. Now it’s time to do the other end. It looks like the first one.

I found a little discrepancy in my pencil marks, one seemed to be just a bit higher than the other one, so I checked it with the square.

Discrepancy cured, clamp her up.

So, there’s one side done. You don’t want to do right into the points, you need to wait until you do the decks. I’ll show that when I get there.

One side done, maybe the next one tomorrow. It all looks the same but I will snap a picture or two anyway, and keep you posted. See you then.

-- Jeff in central Me.

7 comments so far

View English's profile


682 posts in 2082 days

#1 posted 02-27-2016 11:30 PM

Well Done. DO you plan to sand down all of the cedar that’s above the gunwales?

-- John, Suffolk Virgina

View farmerdude's profile


670 posts in 2644 days

#2 posted 02-27-2016 11:50 PM

English, yes, I do. I will use a hand plane to get most of it first, then use a belt sander. Thanks.

-- Jeff in central Me.

View hoss12992's profile


4166 posts in 2498 days

#3 posted 02-28-2016 01:22 AM

That is looking good buddy. Thanks for the update and looking forward to the next one

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View JimYoung's profile


338 posts in 2192 days

#4 posted 02-28-2016 02:18 PM

Hi Jeff,

I love watching this come together.

Do you need to check if the seats you made a while back still fit, or are the sides flexible enough that they can be pulled in?

-- -Jim, "Nothing says poor craftsmanship more than wrinkles in your duck tape"

View farmerdude's profile


670 posts in 2644 days

#5 posted 02-28-2016 07:46 PM

JimYoung, when I make the seat frames I leave them plenty long and cut off the extra. So they should be fine. Thanks for following.

-- Jeff in central Me.

View bearkatwood's profile


1809 posts in 1616 days

#6 posted 02-29-2016 01:09 AM

I absolutely love the use of the toilette bowl ring, way to make it a multi-tasker. Looking good, nice progress.

-- Brian Noel

View farmerdude's profile


670 posts in 2644 days

#7 posted 03-01-2016 09:19 PM

Thanks, bearkat.

-- Jeff in central Me.

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