Wood Gunwale Installation

How to Install Wood Gunwales

 Start your gunwale replacement project by visiting or calling NorthWest Canoe. We stock full length canoe gunwales from Bell, Mad River and Old Town, plus hard to find stainless hardware. If you're not within driving distance, consider the ash Knockdown Gunwale kit.

Mark the placement of seats, thwarts, portage yokes... any components attached to your gunwales. Measure and diagram; place your tape on the stem and swing left then right, drawing an imaginary isosceles triangle. Measure from the bow stem to the bow carry handle, front edge of the bow seat, bow thwart, yoke; and measure from the stern to the front edge of the stern seat...

Remove the gunwales. You can toss the gunwales but hang on to the components, even if you intend to replace blown-out cane seats and dry rotted thwarts. You’ll want these parts for cutting and drilling new canoe parts later.

Clean-off any accumulation of dirt, or gummy-goo (detergent and fine pot scrubby works as well as anything). Cut off stray fiberglass or Kevlar threads. File the top edge of any rough spots. Every canoe repair will go more smoothly on a clean boat.

Get complete PDF instruction sheet...

Finally, Give your new gunwales a finish sand and a couple of coats of WATCO.

Repalcement Gunwale Options


If shipping is required our ash gunwale knockdown kit may be the right option.


Our full length gunwales. Available in Ash or Cherry.  The same Original gunwale profile used on Mad River Canoes 


Replaced the kinked or scratched aluminum gunwales on your Kevlar/composite canoe with new slip-on single piece rails. 

Complete canoe gunwales Instructions - View / Download