Installing LacingEyelets/Wood Gunwales??

I am going to install some lacing eyelets in the wood gunwales of my SRT. I bought the kind that install with a single screw on the under side of the inner gunwales.

Before I try installing I just wanted to ask for any suggestions. This seems like it could be a PIA to install since I don’t think you can get in there with a drill due to location, and even getting in there with a screw driver looks like it will be a pain as well.

Any suggestions on how to go about this that may make it easier? Is there a good way to make a pilot hole?



90 degree drill attachment
Home Depot sell them for $20. You can drill the holes easily with one. You can drive the screws too. But I’d finish them by hand.

screw awl
I have used a screw starter or screw awl to make small pilot holes on the underside of the inwales of a Mad River Traveler and it worked fine.

Maybe the solution is to
remove the gunwales to install the eyelets. I think I would consider it. I can’t imagine it would be too easy even with drill motor gadgets and I’m sure you’d do a better job with full access to the underside of the SRT’s inwales.

I would glue them on, using a clamp.
No way would I drill wood gunwales for eyelets. When you load your boat on the car, residual water can run down on the eyelet screws.

Believe it or not, I would drill the hull below the gunwales. It works fine on all boats, composite or Royalex. (Maybe not aluminum…)

Agreed. n/t

I will have to think about it. I usually do drill the hull with my royalex boats. That is an easy and effective way to do it. I guess I am just hesitant to do it with a composite boat. Not sure if it would compromise integrity, but may make a would-be buyer hesitant in the event I ever decide to sell it.

Glue is probably not a bad idea. Not sure if it would hold well enough though but may be worth a try.

Good point on water getting into the gunwales if I use screws…but then there are a ton of screws in wood gunwales.


A little water on the eyelet screw?
That’s a concern? If the holes were drilled properly so that the wood didn’t split, I don’t see how a little water dripping on the screw heads is of any concern.

Sometimes I think we make way too much of this stuff.

inch worms
maybe change your basic plan to an easier method ? -

forget mounting to the bottom of the gunnels - go with the inchworm type of attachmetn with a screw at each end (don’t know what they are really called - inchworm gives you the idea)- just mount to the side of the inside rail, not underneath - much much simpler to drill and mount than “P” clims on the bottom

I drilled the hull on my Millbrook, and
the hull where I drilled is probably only three cloth layers thick. The resale issue is real, though if you reach the right pool of buyers, they’ll know not to be concerned. If I were buying, I’d be bothered by a bunch of little screw holes in the gunwales.

Yep. Easier to lace and unlace too.
That’s how Pete’s Hemlock Shaman is done.

I have done all of the above
For years, I was resistant to the idea of drilling holes in the hull of a perfectly good canoe.

Quite a few years ago, I installed stainless steel inchworms using stainless wood screws to the bottom side of wooden inwales in my MRC Traveler for that reason. Despite the fact that I have since removed them (because I no longer paddle that boat with bags in it) the inwales have shown no inclination to rot.

I have also installed nylon inchworms to the sides on vinyl and plastic inwales. This works OK but the inchworms sometimes are slightly in the way.

These days I would drill holes in the hull just below the gunwale line, however. If lacing is to be installed and removed repeatedly, lacing the cord through the hull holes is tiresome. To get around this, just drill a pair of holes at each anchor point about 3/4" apart and run a short length of paracord through each pair of holes. Tie it so that it forms a loop on the hull interior that hangs just below the inwale. It is easy to lace cord through these loops and they are completely out of the way when not in use.


In the event of a snag, which
component would you want to fail first?

My variation on Pete’s quick-lace method
I too was frustrated by the amount of time it takes to thread or remove roughly 60 feet of line through a whole bunch of tiny holes in the hull (and then do it AGAIN at the other end of othe boat). Using my existing holes for the “standard” lacing method, I came up with a quick-lace method that can be set up or taken apart in a few minutes, but also leaves no loops hanging when the lacing is removed.

If this had been my original plan, I might have spaced the holes a little differently but it works okay as-is. Also, the pattern of main lacing need not be as shown. That was a pattern I tried which worked reasonably well with the existing loop pattern. Letting the slack out in each main “loop-chain line” makes the loops bigger which results in a funky-looking setup, but I do it that way because it reduces the stress on that line (lateral pull applied to a rope that is fairly straight greatly magnifies the tension, but that’s not a problem if the loops are “let out” a bit more, just as it’s not a problem with the method described by Pete).

another idea
I don’t know what SRT inwales look like or how they are attached, so this may not work. But for all of my wood railed Mad Rivers, I have removed the rails, cut 1" wide by 3/16" deep slots on the face of the inwale where it meets the royalex (or joins the outwale on Kev boats) restained, resealed well, and reassembled. I then use 1" webbing to keep the bags in. I choose the spacing of the slots depending on the boat, keeping them mid-way between the screws that join the inwale to the outwale, and away from the thwarts, seat hangers, etc. MRC used to do this on some boats, my first Duck Hunter came this way. I don’t treat my boats too hard, and have never wrapped one, so I don’t know if the slot significantly reduces the rail strength. It does look good, with or witout the webbing installed. just my $0.02

Just get the drill out!
And hopefully, WHEN, not if, you sell the boat, all the other buyers will be hesitant. Let me know when I can pick it up!


Water can and will seep in at the bases
of the eyelet screws. I suppose one could try to seal them, but then the whole project gets to seeming doubtful. I epoxy-seal the inner surfaces of screw holes occupied by screws for thwarts. It makes the holes last longer.

Going back to gunwales, they are usually cut as small as possible. The screw holes for thwarts are sometimes the location of failure, when a thwart pulls out some of the gunwale. Putting a bunch of smaller screws in the gunwale will inevitably add locations that can fail under stress.

Okay I am going to go with the p clams under the gunwales and I did find one of those 90 degree drills.

Now I just need screws! The P clams did not come with them and I am having trouble finding srews that are short enough yet still have a larger enough head so they will not fall through the holes on the clamps.

Anyone know where I can order some?



3/8 #6 pan head philips stainless

– Last Updated: Mar-02-12 1:43 PM EST –

sheet metal screws. Get 'em at the hardware store or McMaster-Carr online @

Drill accurately-sized and depth pilot holes in some scrap first to get them rght.

Edit: two L's in Phillips