Wood gunwales - life expectancy

How long should wood gunwales last with reasonable care - oiled regularly, boat stored inside?

What is a reasonable schedule for oiling them - once or twice a season?

The life of wood taken care of is

– Last Updated: Sep-29-06 2:37 AM EST –

indeterminate. Breakage and wear are more likely to cause problems than rot or anything else. Not taken care of, stored inside, but not abused either, who knows? The wood supports for my canoe seats date from 1983, the canoe has been stored outside pretty much since it was new. Haven't done anything to them in at least 10 years, they are in great shape. Can't say the same for the cane that my son put his foot through.

Water is the enemy of wood. As long as you maintain the wood, or at least keep water from gaining entry to the grain of the wood and soaking it in, without drying out, you most likely have nothing to worry about. The oil will help keep the wood from drying and cracking. That's less necessary if the preservative coat is hard varnish, polyurethane, fiberglass, or the like. It does look nice, though.

The gunwales…

– Last Updated: Sep-29-06 12:48 AM EST –

The gunwales on my 1965 Chestnut Pal are in very nice condition. When I had it restored in 2004, the only wood that needed to be replaced was 3 cracked ribs, and 2 small, cracked pieces of planking.
Not bad for a 41 year old canoe.
When not in use it had always been stored indoors.


Me’ gunnels be
70 years old on one o’ me canoos. Ah’s got de original mahogany gunnels on me 1936 Old Town OTCA an’they be in a’mighty fine shape. Ah’ usually erls all me wood trimmed canoos twice a year. Every 2-3 years ah’s take them off an’ erl them on de inside surface too - jus’ make sure you git de end-grain especially if ye gots slotted gunnels. De underside of de decks is a’nutter rot spot. Flood dem wit plenty o’ erl. Wit care wood trim can last a long time.

Fat Elmo

Thanks all
Looks like I’m set for life then…