How to Build Canoe Seats

How to Build Canoe Seats
A sturdy canoe seat supports your weight and helps tie the canoe's gunwales together, which creates a stiffer and stronger canoe. Building your own canoe seat allows you to customize the size, select the type of finish you desire and choose your seat's covering. Because most of the time in a canoe is spent sitting, building a seat that fits you perfectly results in a more comfortable day on the water.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Saw
  • 3/4-by-1 1/2-inch hardwood stock
  • Drill
  • Waterproof glue
  • 3/8-inch wood dowels
  • Bar clamps
  • Varnish or tung oil
Step 1
Cut the seat's two 10-inch side pieces out of 3/4-by-1 1/2-inch hardwood stock.
Step 2
Saw the seat's front and back pieces from the hardwood stock. These should measure 36 inches. To save wood, measure the distance between your gunwales and cut these pieces to fit.
Step 3
Mark two lines 7 1/2 inches on each side of the center on both the front and back pieces. The outside edge of the seat's side pieces align with these lines. When aligned the piece forms the center square where you sit on the seat. If you want a wider seat, draw the lines farther apart.
Step 4
Drill two holes on each end of the seat's side pieces and matching holes on the inside of the line you drew on the front and back pieces.
Step 5
Fill the holes with waterproof glue and insert wooden dowels into the holes on the front and back pieces. Slide one end of each side piece onto wooden dowels. Wipe up any glue that spills from the holes.
Step 6
Clamp the seat together until the glue dries.
Step 7
Varnish or oil the seat. Three coats of varnish results in a glossy and strong finish. If you use oil, follow the directions that came with the can until you get a waterproof surface.
Step 8
Cover the seat with you choice of surfaces.

Tips & Warnings

After adding the width of the seat's front and back pieces to the 10-inch sides, the seat's width measures 11.5 inches. This size works for most people. You can customize the size of your seat.
Popular coverings include plywood with holes drilled through it, wood slats, woven lawn chair webbing, canvas, leather or cane.

Article Written By Bryan Hansel

Bryan Hansel is a freelance photographer and kayaking guide who began writing in 1993. His outdoors articles appear on various websites. Hansel holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and religion from the University of Iowa.

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