Making a Solo Canoe Seat

I have an old fiberglass canoe that is pretty thin at the center and I am out in it myself pretty often. I currently paddle it backwards since that places me closer to center. I am a kneeler too. I have seen the solo seats that are a chunk of foam…but what material is that? Can I carve my own seat out of that? Anyone have some tips on making a solo seat?

Minicell. I must have made one of the
very first foam canoe kneeling pedestals in 1973, but I used Ethafoam. Minicell, the grey stuff with the tiny bubbles, was not yet available then.

My pedestal was layered horizontally, the foam slabs glued with Weldwood contact cement. Most modern pedestals are layered vertically.

Thing is, 3" minicell slabs in the 1’x 4’ size are likely to cost enough that you might do better to select a ready-made pedestal that would save you time and labor. But if you happen to luck into a bunch of Ethafoam packing slabs like I did, that’s where you save. I could link you to pictures of my original pedestal, though they aren’t clear enough for you to see everything about how it was cut.

Others will give you ideas about where to buy foam. I should also say that a properly set up kneeling thwart might do you just as well unless you are going to do serious whitewater.

If your boat is getting thin in the center, a pedestal seat may only accelerate wear, because it will keep the hull from slipping away from blow from underneath. If you want to keep the boat indefinitely, adding a layer of glass outside or inside might be a good idea.

I guess by “thin” I meant that the boat was thin in width at the center, not that the hull was thin. I just saw a tip on another site about putting a dry bag filled with water on the bow to keep the bow in the water… makes sense.

We outfitted our Penobscot 16
with front and rear ones out of the grey minicell a few years ago.

We got ours at the NOC, but I imagine you can get them any place.

They cost a lot though. I think we paid $60 a piece.

Then you can shape them any way you want to with a sharp knife, a coarse rasp, or a jig saw, etc.

Jack L

contact cement a few blocks together
…and then start cutting/shaving. The smaller saws do a good job, then shave away to fit. Keep trying the fit as the shavers/scrapers name??(name escapes me at the moment) do a good job, little by little.

You mentioned you kneel…I too would suggest considering a Kneeling thwart. Between that and a comfy kneeling pad…you’ll be all set.

How about
A kneeling thwart, or a a regular seat placed so you can do either??

check out Ed’s Canoe. I have installed his seats in my boats. Very nice quality.

kneeling thwart
I use a kneeling thwart. I paddle a 16 ft penobscot and I put a DIY kneeling thwart in behind the bow seat (canoe is symmetrical and there is more room behind the bow seat)

It’s just a 1x3 inch piece of ash hung on thin sheet aluminum brackets, maybe 3 inches below the gunwale. Glue some knee pads in and that’s it.

homemade foam saddle
I picked up a canoe last year that had a nice homemade foam saddle already in it. I would be happy to send you some pics of it if you want.


harmony TKO
I have a Harmony TKO Pedestal in my boat. You will need to carve it a bit. Dragon Skin is what you want for shaping.

Oh yeah…

– Last Updated: Apr-13-11 12:50 AM EST –

Here's a pic of mine after shaping:

(Copy & paste entire url.)

Several different densities/degrees of

– Last Updated: Apr-15-11 3:15 PM EST –

softness, which is nice. A softer, ~3/8" layer of medium-to-soft stuff can be found at
Can be nice on top of the minicell...$.01

shaping tool
The shaping tool is called a “Shurform Shaper”. You can get it at some hardware stores. If you already have a coarse rasp, that works just as well.