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Installing top rail caps...

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Howie, Jan 21, 2021.

  1. Howie

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    I've only completed 2 canoes that had top rail caps and skinny side rails, and in the Spring will tackle my 3rd, a Morris. Now that I've done a few I'm smart enough to ask questions...

    Should the top cap be installed so that its outer edge is flush with the rail's outer edge?, or might it extend past by a small distance in order to hide the inner edge of the outer rail?

    Also, do you tend to install the outer rail first, then the top cap? or vice versa? I'm assuming you'd install the top cap first - then if the top cap lifts a little bit from the rail have a chance of hiding the gap a bit when positioning the side rail.

    And also, are screws or nails/brads preferred for securing the side rails?

    Just idle questions while waiting for warmer weather...
  2. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    I'll shoot you some covers the inner edge. Do outer then top.
    Even though you might be tempted screws are not used.
    You should use headed brass escutcheon pins if you are concerned about correctness. Morris (and Veazie) installed the rail caps with headed pins.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2021
  3. samb

    samb LOVES Wooden Canoes

    On my Navahoe I put the outer rails on first then the caps. I thought it would be easier to put a chamfer on with a router that was upright rather than on its side. The edges are flush inside and out so there is no step. I admit I was tempted and did use screws!

  4. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

  5. JClearwater

    JClearwater Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    On my 1903 Old Town the top cap & side cap are secured with steel common nails, flat head. Both the caps and nails are original to the canoe. When I restored it I saved the old nails and reused them. The side caps are 13/16” wide for most of their length. They taper to 9/16” at the ends. The taper is only the last 18” or so of each end. Side caps without a taper look odd. Asthesticaly with a taper, even though it’s not much, it will look correct. The top caps cover the full width of the inwale and cover only a fraction of the top edge of the side cap. They also taper in width following the width of the inwale. The four pieces should meet and form a perfect joint at the points. The exposed corners on my Old Town are rounded, not chamfered, not left square. The nails should be spaced out evenly so each gunwale mirrors the other. Again for asthestics. I’ll try to take a picture or two tomorrow.
  6. OP

    Howie Wooden Canoe Maniac

    Thank you all.

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