Cracked gunwale

I have a canoe that was dropped on one corner (not by me!) and now has a crack/split in the stern end of the ash gunwale on one side. I was thinking of trying to repair the split and was wondering if someone could recommend an appropriate adhesive and any technical hints for this kind of repair.

Some photos are available at:

Not too bad

– Last Updated: May-08-07 8:24 AM EST –

Ah'd use epoxy ta fix dat. Force de epoxy inta de crack an' clamp it (Jed! Jed!), but not too tight as ta cause starvation. When cured give it a quick once-over wit a cabinet scraper or sandpaper ta git rid of de squeeze-out an' yer be good as new. Dats not a bad break. Good luck.


A syringe
will allow you to get glue into the crack. You can get the kinds a pharmacy sells for giving infants medicine, or there similar ones for glue.

I would also like to point out that I hate how Swift does the ends of the wood gunwales. The ends are so fragile, and thats where most of the impacts happen. My Kipawa needs some serious repair. I think I am going to have to fill in the voids with epoxy mixed with sawdust and hope it dosen’t look too bad. Or I could try and make a brass endcap.

Any particular type
of epoxy that you would recommend? Or will almost any 2-part waterproof epoxy work?

I should also point out that the screw that holds that end of the outwale on got bent when the boat was dropped. In one of the photos, you can see taht the screw is covered by a wooden dowel plug. The bent screw keeps the two sides of the split from aligning properly and throws the inwale and outwale out of alignment a bit. So I will need to get the screw out and replace it.

I reckon I’ll drill or chisel out the plug to get to the screw, make sure the pieces align OK, put some epoxy in the split (use of syringe suggested in following post), clamp it until it sets, put in a new screw, cover with a new dowel plug, and sand everything smooth.

Sound about right?

I am realizing
now that the way the outwale is milled with that thinner lip likely does make it prone to breaking there. Covering the end with a cap of some kind might be a good idea, although I thought part of the purpose of leaving it open was to let water drain and to let the ends dry easily. An end cap wouldn’t necessarily prevent that though and would protect ti from impacts.

Dat be wat ah’d do…
Sounds good ta me.


Gorilla Glue
It is waterproof. just beaware that it needs mositure to cure, it gets it from the air. It foams as it cures, that drives the glue into the wood, or that’s the idea. Second when it foams it will expand out of the joint, so if you use too much, you will have lots to clean up.

Also if you get it on your hands, it doesn’t wash off easily, wear gloves.

If you really want to get into the crack
you can get a larger gauge needle at a farm/feed store. They typically have diy veternary supplies.

Ah’ have plastic…
endcaps dat look like brass (actually quite nice lookin’) dat ah’ bought many years ago fro’ somewhere dat ah’ don’t recollect which protect de peaks on me ‘glass MR Independence. They be jus’ far enough away from makin’ contact wit de end-grain of de gunnels so as not ta retain moisture. Ah’m not sure if they even make dem anymore, but they work great an’ look decent. Ah’ll see if ah’ kin locate a source fer dem.


I use West epoxy, which is rather thin,
for that kind of repair. I’m not sure you would need a syringe (although I have often used them with West) because I think once you have the epoxy in the wider parts of the crack and over the narrower part, you can just work the loose piece in and out and the epoxy will squeeze into almost every point of the void.

I can’t see all the details of this strange design in the photos, but I would be tempted to glass clear e-glass over the entire back six inches of the inner and outer gunwales and the central endcap. The glass, if bias cut, could drape down the outer edge of the gunwale as well.

Thanks for all the suggestions
I feel a bit more confident now that I will be able to make a suitable repair!