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Splicing Gunwales

Discussion in 'Tips and Tricks' started by Howard Caplan, Oct 29, 2007.

  1. Howard Caplan

    Howard Caplan Wooden Canoe Maniac

    I am driving myself crazy. The gunwales rotted near the deck, along with the deck. The deck is easy as I just made a new one. I cut out the rot from the gunwales and I think I am trying to salvage too much of the original material.
    What is the trick to get a proper adhesion on the outwale? I am shaping the new piece first and that my be part of my problem. But, I can't imagine working a square piece of stock to shape after installation.
    I ahve tried a 1/2inch lap but that didn't hold.
    I think I need to make a really long angles slice/splice to create more glueing surface.
    How do you do it?
  2. MikeCav

    MikeCav Restorer/Videographer

    Yep - you need a really long splice, called a scarf joint - usually best if you ca go a minimim of 8:1 better if you can make it 12:1. Try to have it span 3 ribs for maximum strength.

    If you can clamp the new piece below or above the existing, measure about 10" of overlap then plane both at the same time to get matching angles. Taper the joint from full thickness at the 10" mark to zero at the ends.

    After planing, reverse the wood, glue and clamp.

    Really much easier than it sounds. Good luck.
  3. OP
    Howard Caplan

    Howard Caplan Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Thanks Mike. That's exactly what I thought I would have to do. The challange is the shape oof this gunwhale. And it's a kevlar but I can get the equivalent of at least 3 ribs.
    One of the problems wuith it being kev is I don't have a ridgid body to work into. Too much flex to really manipulate. I know if I took it off I can get it right on the workbench but I am reluctant to do that. I think it is a bit smaller with the shape then most w/c ones. It is 15/16 X 3/4.
  4. MikeCav

    MikeCav Restorer/Videographer

    I'm replacing the wood on a kevlar boat right now - rather than splice - I think I'm just going to replace both sets of rails and decks. Problem is finding a 17' ash board in this area.
  5. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    Guess what, Mike? I'm replacing the kevlar on a wood boat right now! It's got beautiful wooden gunwales, seats, thwarts... I'll get all that kevlar outta there, put in a few dozen cedar ribs, a good lot of planking, then add some canvas, filler and paint... yeah, that's the ticket!

    (note- not meant to offend anyone's love for their kevlar, fiberglass, plastic or aliminum canoe!)
  6. MikeCav

    MikeCav Restorer/Videographer

    Ah! the old decoy carvers answer... Start with a block of wood - cut away anything that doesn't look like a duck!
  7. OP
    Howard Caplan

    Howard Caplan Wooden Canoe Maniac

    I knew talking about repairing kevlar would lead to this. I must say, I would rather be working on w/c at this moment but this Bell Merlin has travelled me around for 15 years now and there is nothing sweeter then soloing and doing single portages with sack on the back and 30# over head - jogging the trails.
    Meanwhile, I have wood trim on the kev and it needs repairing and you folks are the best source for wood working on canoes.
    I won't talk about my tundra tripper in royalex.
  8. OP
    Howard Caplan

    Howard Caplan Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Go to parts and supplies. Dave Warmuth has 20' ash boards for sale. Not in your area but maybe possible.
  9. garypete

    garypete LOVES Wooden Canoes

    18' Ash Gunwales

    Years ago, I had a local northern Wisconsin logger searching for a long clear white ash sawbolt for me to rip into gunwales. One day he brought me a 19' clear ash log that was 24" on the butt end. That made over 100 clear gunwales, but alas they're now all used up.

    I have a standing order with the logger again for a long ash log, but it's anyone's guess when he'll find one. If you can wait for the gunwales, I'll contact you as soon as he finds one and I can get it cut into 1-1/8" boards.

    On the other hand, I have dozens of kiln-dried 1" clear, dark cherry pieces from 8' to 12' long. The width ranges from just over 1" to 2-1/4". If you select pieces carefully and match the grain at the joint, an epoxied 8-1 scarf joint is nearly invisible.

    Let me know if you're interested in eight of these to make four gunwales.

    Rice Lake, WI

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