I am about to replace some rotted Gunwales on my canoe. Any idea where I can get the Ash I need ? Can you get it at Lowes or Home Depot, or is it a specialty item. If I can’t find Ash, is there an alternative ?? Weight isn’t a MAJOR concern.

Ash vs something else
For specialty woods here in TX I go to Paxtons Beautiful Woods. They have a wide veruty of hard woods. May be you have a specilty store in your town.

Your profile says you live in Tn. you should be able to find lots of ash, walnut or cherry in your state. For the cheapest prices check with local sawmills.

I had to splice
I had a tough time getting ash in the legnth I needed for my solo so I bought a ten foot board, sliced,diced,chopped,ripped, and sanded and had a complete set of inwales and outwales. Fairly simple if you have a good saw and patience. I Ripped the wood the wood to 7/8 x7/8 then i cut each on a diangle sloop of 1 to 5 (should be 1 to 7 but I did not have the math skills with the saw . Glue the pieces together at the splice

==//== and you have a 19 foot long blank for your gunwales. I used epoxy since it was convient but I understand gorilla glue is just as good. So far I have had the boat 3 years and the splice is still good.


syp treated
i may get bashed for this but some of the toughest, best structural wood available at my local yard is treated southern yellow pine. no it isn’t as light as ash and it isn’t ‘yachty’ but it will probably last longer than ash, which is not rot resistant. syp is not expensive. syp has a long history as a boat building wood, and for some reason the best, closest grain boards with the least ‘runout’ at my local yard are treated. treated is also more resistant to mildew spotting.

Replacing Rails
I’ve replaced the gunwales on my late ‘70s Mad River Explorer several times. If you can find it, a nice combination is mahogany on the outside and ash on the inside. I use stainless steel screws (although bronze is OK) and drill the pilot holes using a tapered drill bit, and plug the holes.

Your biggest difficulty may be getting lumber long enough, e.g., for a 16’ canoe you’ll need nearly 17’ length. Definitely won’t find that at Loews or HD. Many specialty shops don’t handle those lengths either, and it can be very expensive to special order (if you do find some, please let me know). Most recently I used clear spruce - it’s ok but a little too soft for my liking, esp. on the outwale. An alternative is to use a scarf joint on two shorter pieces of ash or oak. The tapered joint should be long - 8 - 12", smooth and properly glued with epoxy (I’ve had good luck with System Three) or a good resorcinol glue. Try not to place the scarf joint on a large bend as it places lots of continuous pressure on the outside (tension) rail.

You can get the screws, drill bits and plugs (or a plug cutter), and adhesives from Jamestown Distributors ( Tendercraft in Canada is also a great source for canoe building, maintenance and repair stuff. Check 'em out at

JH Bahn

good idea DannyB!
The Canunut used SYP as gunwales on the standard Class racer He built. So far he has yet to have to replace them after many thousands of water miles!

Gorilla Glue
I’m not too crazy about gorilla glue. Maybe it’s the need to hjave it absorb ambient moisture to dry, but I’ve had some breakage. I’d go woth eposy.

JH Bahn

Winell Lee
in Cookeville Tennessee has the Ash…

Why Ash?
Ash is prone to rot, is fairly brittle, and heavy.

Old Town canoe used Spruce or Mahogany on something like 200,000 canoes or so. Spruce is easy to find, flexible, less prone to rot and lightweight.

I bought the Spruce.
thank You, I was affraid to post this until I heard someone else say it. I went out yesterday and tried to find ash and Southern Yellow Pine… Everyone I talked to said they didn’t carry it, and didn’t even think their mill that they got it from had it either. So I went with the spruce… Honestly it was the only thing other than Poplar that I could find that was of any length and an 1" thick… and wasn’t as crooked as a dogs hind leg.

SO… The fiberglass has dried, and that weak spot is just as solid as the rest of the hull. I have removed all the old Gunwales, which was harder than I thought, all the screws were brass and the heads didn’t want to cooperate. I was going to go with Stainless steel screws, but the guy at Lowes said they were outrageously exspensive, and he directed me to some coated outdoor screws that are guarenteed not to rust. We will see. I gave her a good wash down last night before I quit for the day and let her dry over night. Any suggestions on what kind of paint to buy ? When it is all said and done with, I’d like to repaint the interior (kind of a baige color) and repaint the outside (red). Also, as I was given her a good rub down I notices alot of scratches on the outside of the hull. Nothing major, but scratches non the less. Is ther anything other than the paint itself to fill these in so it looks smooth when I am done ?? Well off I go, I really appreciate all of your posts, Sincereily, I could not have done this without you guys.

No Reason…
he asked about Ash, I supplied a source…I had no reccomendation one way or the other…

canoe supplies
Hi, You can get gunwales (inner and outer sets)ready to mount either full size or cut in two pieces with kerfs ready for you to glue and mount on canoe - $100 w/out kerf $108 w/kerf plus shipping from

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A source for gunwales ?
I did replaced gunwales on one of my canoes last year and I was faced with the same problem. It is hard to find hash in planks lengths greater than 16 ft. In my search I found one place in Maine that had and was willing to ship gunwales. However, it was way too much $. The outfit also had a two piece kit gunwales for sale at a more reasonable cost. But when it was all said and done I purchased a 10 ft plank ($27) ripped it to the desired width and then routered a round edge on it. Next, I made a long (8”) scarf matching the wood grain and color. It turned out perfect it is almost impossible to see the joint. I placed two small dowels in the joint to keep them from sliding apart when clamping the two lengths together. Once the marine epoxy was fully cured I predrilled and c’sunk all the holes of the outwale.

Good luck

The place in Maine where you can purchase canoe gunwales or other canoe items (seats, thwarts, etc.)

ash has been a traditional choice because it is strong, stright grained and relatively inexpensive. Spruce is a good choice, and it is lighter than the ash. Neither has exceptionally good rot resistance though. Some of the other traditional woods are heavy but used anyway because of their exceptional beauty, like waltnut or cherry. I have never used SYP but it shoudl be a fine choice as long as it is knot free and reasonably straight grained.

As for glue, a waterproof carpenter’s glue will work great and is not as messy as epoxy. If you have any doubts, glue up a test piece and try to break it.

replacing wooden gunwales
Good luck trying to get anything that long without a knot in it! I made a dozen trips to Lowe’s, Home Depot trying to find wood for making some canoe paddles. At Home depot I couldn’t even find a piece of stock thicker than an inch from which you could cut a strip for the shaft of a paddle without a knot in it much less cut a complete one piece paddle!

Hardwoods specialty shop.
White ash is easy to find and easy to bend. A great choice.
Red cedar, white cedar, Sitka spruce.