Dropping Canoe Cane Seats

So I am almost done assembling my canoe and found the wooden dowels to be too flimsy that came with my Old Town Discovery 164. Now I have purchased 1”x 1” ash and will use them in place of the stock pieces (as suggested by Mike here). However, in a few posts I have read, people say the seats are too high. This appears to be an easy fix, just lengthen the drop posts an inch or so right? How much further should/can I go? I need to leave room for my feet to still go underneath comfortably. I’m about 5’ 10 ½” tall and would like to set this thing up right from the beginning rather than doing the standard 4” and it be too high, go to 5” then more as I have the wood ready to cut and install now. I will need to stain the wood (came with dark stained yoke, thwart, cane seats, etc…) and seal it so it’s not like I can just do it a few times. It takes time to prepare this for the install.

Any suggestions?



Seat drops
I have a Bell YS solo which is set up most of the time with 2" seat drops for kneeling. Also have a set of 4" drops which make the boat much more stable when sitting, but at that height, I find the seat too low to comfortably kneel. Since you are making the drops yourself, why not make a set of each.

I find that 8.5" (mimimum, 9 is better) up off the bilge for the front edge of my seat is ideal.

an experiment
You can just support your seat with a stack of bricks or lumber on the ground and see what the lowest height is that you can comfortably kneel and get your feet under the seat. Be sure and wear whatever footwear you plan to paddle in for this. And the idea about a slight cant to the seats is a good one - I do not know why all boats do not come standard this way!

Be Careful
Some of the people that report the seats being too high, may have paddled Discos with the moulded plastic seat that has been standard equipment in a lot of models for a long time. I have the front and rear web seats at 4 1/2" on my Disco and they are just fine. Much lower and I would have trouble kneeling. If the kids are goig to use the center seat, definitely make that one lower, maybe 5" or 6".

Seat Was Next to Gunnel
I have a Dagger Reflection with 3 seats. The middle was right up to the gunnel. I dropped it down a few inches to keep in the kids closer to the bottom of the boat and out of the water.

Keeping the seat high enough for an adult to paddle solo is good advice.

Well then…
The seat drops are 4 inches and the stern is 4 & 3 inches long to balance it out even. I think going long at first is a good idea and trying to use wood as a gauge might work too.

They came with 6 inch screws but will look to see if they have 7 or 8 and I can always cut them down. TRICK: screw on a nut above the cut, then after unscrew to keep threads nice.

Can I go larger in diamiter? The ones provided look thin.

What do you guys think?


Back in the old days
my 1981 Mad River Explorer had 1/4" hardware.

My 2005 MR Freedom Solo has 3/16" (10-24) hardware.

Either 1/4" was overkill, or construction practices have gotten cheaper.

A general rule is that as the bolt gets longer, you had better go up a size due to the longer lever acting on whatever you are attaching. But for lake paddling, I would think 3/16" is OK.


I used 1/4"
when I re-did my whitewater boat, and I’m getting ready to add a middle seat to my Dagger Legend and plan to do the same.

Ok, anybody know where to get…
1/4 inch SS bolts longer than 6 inches? I went/called everywhere. West Marine, Hardware Store, etc… and NOBODY had stainless longer than 6 inches & all were hex heads.

I am in southern california (Orange County)so if close bye, fine or if on the internet would work.

Thanks again!

Just dropped some on my Mohawk a few months ago and bought 8"long Round head bolts 1/4" diameter. I never did like the metal hanger like Wenonah, Bell, and Mohawk used. I know, MO is a long way from SC, but Lowes here had them. WW

seat drops
You certainly do not have to use round drops. Bell uses a one peice walnut drop with an arch shaped cutout between the front and rear supports that looks very nice. You could make something similar if you are have basic woodworking skills.

None longer than 6"
that I could find. I did a search of stock in my main supplier (McMaster-Carr Supply) and they listed no 1/4-20 fasteners longer than 6".

You could use threaded rod for super-deep drops, but you would have to use an acorn nut on top, creating a nasty knuckle-basher.

One possible solution, not simple, and difficult to describe here would be to install a set of stacked drops. You could bolt a spacer under the gunwale and then attach the drops to it. The seat would have to be offset a bit fore or aft to clear the gunwale bolts. Man, I can see this clearly on my Head CAD, but describing it is difficult.