SOF Gunnel Question

The book I’m reading(Morris) says to have one piece gunnels. My boat would be 18.5’ long , so the material problem is obvious.

What is wrong with joining material to make the gunnels IF I can make the connection as strong as the unbroken wood would be?

Nothing Wrong With Scrafing

– Last Updated: Aug-31-05 9:20 AM EST –

though folks generally want to avoid the hassle if there are long enough pieces of wood available. 12:1 ratio used in scarf. Also need to find wood of similar flex or you'll have uneven bending.


PS. I believe Cunningham's book talks about scarfing.

I not only scarfed but laminated
The gunwales on my SOF canoe in to get decent knot free wood of the correct size. 2 years later no sign of a problem. Used Urethane glue from Borden.

Yup, Cunningham talks you through it.
An example of Cunningham’s technique:


Same problem
I also want to do a long SOF - but have minimal tools and not even a decent shop space. This gunnel thing is my major hang to getting started up right now. Nothing $ for more tools can’t fix - but I’d like to keep it simple as possible. Still may try to find longer wood…

I asked the question about composite
gunnels, but I don’t see why they wouldn’t work. I made the gunnels in my JEM canoe that way and it worked well. If you overlap and glue 1/4" thick strips of wood together with epoxy/wood flour glue, they are not coming apart at the joint. You can make the gunnel any length you want. An added benefit is that you can cut the slots for the ribs before you glure them together. It seems that if you use the same wood, the bending characteristics would be uniform throughout the length.

two options
You should be fine either scarfing together a couple of shorter pieces or laminating multiple layers.

Long wood may not be necessary
If the finished length of your boat is going to be 18’+, you may not need longer wood than 16’ for the gunwales, depending on how you build it. If you’re going to add wedges to the ends of the gunwales to increase their height and sheer, you can easily add 5-6" to both ends by allowing the wedges to extend past the end of the gunwale boards. Your stems can easily add 9" or so to either end, so your total length ends up where you want it. I’ve done this on a couple of boats that came out to just over 18’, using 4-5" extension on the wedges and 8" on the stems. Here’s a photo:

Here’s Éric Gloutnay’s boat with more extension:

Here’s a link the rest of my Webshots albums:

Bryan, you are the man!
You may regret showing me those photos.Is that frame tied together?

I believe that both are pegged & lashed
In both cases, the wedges on the ends of the gunwales are glued. I used polyurethane glue and it appears that Eric did the same, or possibly used epoxy.

Tablesaw scarfing jig

I’ve given up on trying to find long wood to use for gunwales. Other than mahogany, which I’ve found in 24’ lengths, and pine that is. You can get it from Mad River and perhaps a few other canoe builders but it’s costly at $38-$50 apiece. Part of the problem is that most hardwood mills simply aren’t set up to handle logs longer than 16’. Compound that with all the major users buying everything they can find and we’re left with virtually nothing to choose from.

I’ve a Millbrook that I’m going to be putting gunwales on this weekend and for that I’m using pine inwales and white oak outwales. It’s 14’ 10" and I can’t find ash long enough for one piece outwales hence the white oak. One lumber yard I tried said they might have some in 60-90 days! My MR Explorer is 17’ but I ordered the two gunwales I needed from Mad River and they are 19’ long but it was costly.