Thwart Repair Suggestions?

Hey Folks,

I’ve got an Old Town Penobscot 16 (which has plastic gunnels and wooden thwarts). Both of my thwarts tore away from the one bolt that holds them in (each thwart is still attached to the other side of the canoe). They both sheared away from the bolt more or less in a straight line. Neither of them are rotted and I’d like to fix them but I’m obviously a bit of a dolt when it comes to these matters. I thought about taking a little off each one of the ends where the split occurred and sliding them a hair fore and aft but I’m worried about balance issues when it comes to portaging. Is there a particular type of epoxy/glue and wood anybody would recommend to affix under the split and then send a longer bolt through? Or a better approach altogether?

Thanks a lot for the time,


One thought

– Last Updated: Mar-16-12 8:23 PM EST –

if your thwart ends are in good shape is to redrill the gunwales and get new hardware and do a double bolt system on each end. I have done this in two of my canoes with great success. I would not cut down the thwart because it will change the shape of the canoe. Double bolts are much stronger. If the old thwart ends are too rough its not that expensive to pick up new thwarts and cut to match the old ones. if you do cut a new thwart examine the old thwarts carefully and be sure to duplicate the cut angles precisely - if it is not a center thwart it may be a compound angle to account for the angle of the hull toward the ends and also tumble home.

If you do this - you need the correct tools. You need a good sharp drill. You need to be sure that when you drill you angle the hole you drill through the gunwale so that it does not do damage to the hull and so that you can get the washer and nut on and the hull does not interfere. Think it through carefully before you pull the trigger.

one thought, two approaches
I would suggest just replacing the thwarts.

Approach #1: buy some hardwood from a local store, cut it to length and shape the ends to match the curvature of the hull, round the edges, finish it (making sure to seal the ends), clamp it in place, drill the holes (making sure you don’t drill too close to the ends), and bolt it in place. Presto. Good as new.

Approach #2: Order new thwarts from Ed’s Canoe The rest of the steps are the same as in approach #1.

I’m with g2d.
3rd option, in case you don’t have woodworking tools.

Buy the hardwood - I recommend ash. Use the old thwarts for a template (to match the bevel on the ends and mark the holes). Take sticks with dimensions drawn/traced to nearest high-school wood-shop for cutting and drilling.

They can surely handle the milling, and you can surely handle the finishing.

I’m betting the original thwarts were in need of refinishing anyway. Thwarts are so simple, it isn’t worth the effort to repair them, IMO.

I agree
that new thwart(s) is best way to go - Ed’s is good source and very helpful folks. I work in that area so I am going to take the easy way out and have them install cane seats in my new to me 1980ish tripper with plastic seats. Very nice people. But if you are trying to save a few bucks you might make the existing thwarts work depending on condition and get a few years out of them. I’m a big fan of two bolt center thwarts so if its me I would take this opportunity to make that change.

Hey, I didn’t even say anything !

Better yet,

– Last Updated: Mar-18-12 10:32 AM EST –

rabbet the ends to fit the inwales.

I agree with buying new ones. I don't think I could make them for less than Ed's charges if I account for my time.

Best way to build consensus.

But you were probably
thinking something, eh? This internet thing is starting to get kind of scary - we’re moving into the realm of mind reading!

just put new thwarts in …
… the old ones are done , they’re broke !!

Nothing to it , it doesn’t get simpler . Take the old ones out and stick the new ones in there one at time , the process will be self explanatory , cut ends , drill hole and put “new” stainless steel bolts in , done in 30 mins.

If you want to complicate things , shape and make your own out of 1-1/16" thick wood , then cut ends , drill and bolt .

It will be easier for you too buy pre-made ones … Ed’s will do .

To measure for the end cuts if the thwarts have a profile other than straight (straight meaning same shape all the way across (like a 2 x 4 is straight - a center shoulder yoke has a changing profile) …

mark the “center” of the thwarts , measure 1/2 the total measurement required from the center mark out to the end , cut each end (that’s two cuts on each thwart) … the end cut will be a slight angle on some thwarts , either use the old thwart ends to mark the same angle or you can use a bevel gage , or make a cardboard template w/scissors to get the angle .

g2d, c2g…ay caramba!

If you were in wilderness, you could
"fix" the front and rear thwarts by repositioning them a bit closer to their respective ends of the boat. You would cut off each broken end and drill a new hole. Then you would position each thwart so that its holes intersect the gunwales at their new, somewhat narrower, locations.

If a thwart is damaged only by what I would call pull-out, that is, the thwart screw pulling some wood out of the end of the thwart, then an epoxy fix may be possible. I would use the new West G-flex epoxy, which has a bit of flexibility and is therefore less likely to crack than most epoxies. Clean up any splinters, mask the thwart end and underside to make a secure bathtub for the epoxy, mix, pour, and wait a day. Re-drill the hole in its original position. I’ll bet it will last a long time.

If more of the thwart end is mangled and broken off, it might not be worthwhile to replace the departed wood with epoxy. You would probably need to use some fiberglass cloth to reinforce the epoxy extension. In that case, if you’re still in the wilderness, send a carrier pigeon to Eds for a new thwart.

West G-flex can be had in 4 oz bottles for about 16 dollars. Mixes 1:1 and hardens relatively slowly.

it’s all good
We all knew what you meant. I don’t have that much to say, so when folks see the 2, they tend to thing of g2d. It doesn’t phase me at all.

make it a memory

– Last Updated: Sep-11-14 8:01 AM EST –

Some of these responses make it so complicated. The thwarts just keep the hull sides from collapsing in or out.

Make it memorable. Next time you are camping (hopefully with your family), find two study and sound hardwood tree limbs or branches about 1" or greater in diameter.

Whittle the bark off and clean it up. Cut it to the length of the old stays. Whittle your family members' names into your homemade thwarts. Better yet, let your family members carve their own names.

With only a couple hand tools, you can do the whole thing right at camp including drilling and mounting.

You and your family will forever remember the experience whenever they see the canoe.