Canoe Seat Frame Question

I would like to replace the seats in my canoe with a wooden frame and webbing seat, and am considering building it myself. I have been following the thread regarding the joints and which way is strongest, however I have a question about wood choice. I see Ash is the primary choice for the seat frame, however I am not having good luck finding it locally where I live. Could I use oak instead? Is ash normally used just because of the weight? Would oak be a poor choice?

Can you get white oak?

– Last Updated: Aug-22-11 2:44 PM EST –

White oak is just a tad heavier than ash and has good rot resistance. I'd steer clear of red oak though, it rots quicker.

any hardwood
You could use just about any hardwood. I have had canoes with seat frames made of black walnut and cherry and I have heard of oak and maple being used.

Oak has a greater tendency to chip when routed, drilled and shaped, however.

Thanks guys
I will see what I can find locally. Also, edscanoe offered to sell me the wood if I wanted to build it all myself. Gonna see what I can find locally first, to save on shipping.

Was just reading about how some
repairs to the USS Constitution using red oak had to be ripped out and done over. I think this was in the latter 1800s. Much later, when they got serious about real restoration, Charlston SC donated live oak salvaged after Hurricane Hugo.

I would never buy mahogany for the job
but I inherited some from a shelf project done by my father in law. Mahogany is quite strong and rot resistant.

Oak preservative
I recall a tour of some medieval castle in Germany where the helpful information said that exposed oak beams were saturated with ox blood to improve the resistance to rot and weathering.

Seems to have held up will for a long long time.

So if you’re going to use oak apparently you should plan on sacrificing an ox as well.

Cypress is neat wood …
… very rot resisitant . Select and “D” are best grades . Glues up very well , machines nicely . It’s similar in rot resistance to Teak .

Ipe is outragously hard but practically indestructable even when left natural w/o a finish .

For sealers best to use a penetrating type as opposed to a surface film type .

Mahog. has long been a well reconized marine (boat) wood both for it’s beauty and marine eviroment stability .

Man , there are so many woods that do well in the marine eviroment , and so many others that don’t at all … Poplar is not a good choice in marine exposure , though an excellent casework and moulding lumber (if to be painted) .

A professional wooden canoe restorer carved a custom seat for my Lotus Caper canoe to match Mike Galt’s original, which I broke accidently. He chose to use oak, and it has held up great for many years now. Used the original webbing. The oak seat frame is stronger than the original, which was a softer wood.

White oak…
…would be okay, but not my first choice. Oak has large pores that are harder to seal and can collect grime. Cherry would be better, and much easier to work with. I did a set of seat frames with maple and birch that seam to be holding up well. Walnut would be strong enough, but is denser and will add a little weight.

I picked up some Red Oak, that’s all they had besides Pine, Poplar, and Aspen. Got enough for one seat as a test, if it does not turn out well, I may just order some seat frames from and web them myself. I wanted a removable center seat for my son or daughter when they both want to go along, so maybe my red oak attempt can server that purpose if it does not fit the bill for the permanent seats.

Spar varnish. The real stuff, not
"spar urethane". Four thin coats and pay special attention to the endgrain. pull it off for inspection and revarnishing every few seasons and the thing will outlive you.

curious why you don’t like the urethane
McCrea did a head to head test and the Helmsman Spar Urethane really did well. I’ve been using it but my applications don’t get a lot of rough treatment or outdoor storage. However, I did just refinish my WW stick with it and that will take a lot of dings, nicks, and prys off the gunnels.

You should be fine with the red oak
I wouldn’t do gunnels with it for sure. But with seats you shouldn’t have issues, if properly finished.

I have a can and I’ve used it on
paddle ends and on my front door (facing north) with good results so far. I used Helmsman on some mahogany trim on our sailboat a few years ago and it seems to be breaking down much sooner than the Epifanes I put on the coaming the year before. I’m not sure if the Epifanes is twice as good, but it cost me twice as much!

Varnishing is all labor to me. If the product really lasts longer, I’ll willingly pay.

Well, the red oak turned out OK. I was less than confident with my skills at making the frame, so I ordered some frames. However, decided to go ahead and try with the piece of red oak I bought. I think it turned out pretty good. Should work out good for a temporary center seat for my yellow Mohawk blazer.

looks pretty good from here …
… nice job , yellow and black that’s interesting … taxi service ?? (just kidding)

I know…
But the canoe is yellow, so thought I would keep the theme. My son says we can play chess on our canoe trips.