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Profile Of Inwale

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Michaux Hiker, Sep 3, 2018.

  1. Michaux Hiker

    Michaux Hiker Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    I am up to making and installing the inwales of a 1923 Old Town. Does anybody know the dimensions of the inwale (cross-section) as I can't trust what was on the canoe as I assume it was not the original. Also what is the dimension from the bottom of the canoe to the top of the inwale in the center of the canoe? I have plenty of height as I replaced about 24 ribs and all the rip tips of existing ribs. And how much of a rise is there at the end of the canoe. Thanks. (saw a few remarks on here about bending inwales which I will have to study more)

    Attached pictures of the canoe so far with temporary gunwales screwed in place.

    Attached Files:

  2. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    It would help to know the model and length of your canoe, because the dimensions will vary both by model and by length. similarly, the depth of the canoe (the dimension from the bottom of the canoe to the top of the inwale in the center of the canoe) and the rise at the ends will be considerably different from one model to another.

    Further, concerning the inwale -- the dimensions of an inwale at the center of a canoe alone will not be enough, because 1) the typical inwale in cross-section is not a regular rectangle, but some kind of trapazoid (depending on the tumble home or flare of the hull), and 2) on many canoes the inwales are tapered, being thinner in width at the ends than in the middle.

    For example, here are the dimensions of the inwales on a 1930 50 pound model:

    width across top of inwale
    -- at center of canoe 9/16" -- at deck 1/2" -- where it meets the bang plate 3/8"

    width across bottom of inwale
    -- at center 13/16" -- at deck 17/32"

    inside side height
    -- at center 23/32" with no change in height towards the ends

    height of side against ribs ¾" inch with no change in height towards the ends

    The dimensions of a 1934 50 pound model that I have also examined are essentially identical.

    Your canoe does not appear to be a 50 pound model, which was built, as the name suggests, to light in weight. The ribs and planking are thinner than on most other OT canoes, the decks are smaller, and the inwales and outwales are slighter than on other OT models.

    But the dimensions do show that inwales on the 50 pound model, as on most models, are not just rectangular sticks.

    Chapter 6 of Jerry Stelmok's Building the Maine Guide Canoe discusses how to shape an inwale (and an outwale). I don't have my copies of The Wood and Canvas Canoe: A Complete Guide to its History, Construction, Restoration, and Maintenance by Rollin Thurlow and Jerry Stelmok or This Old Canoe: How To Restore Your Wood-Canvas Canoe, by Mike Elliott, so I can't give you a specific citation in those books to their discussions of gunwales (at present I am in NYC and my copies of those 2 books are in Maine) . But I strongly suggest you consult one or more of those three books.

  3. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    If your canoe happens to be a Charles River model, and if you can wait a few weeks. I could measure the inwales on our 1922 OT "Ideal" when I am next in Maine. The Ideal and the Charles River models are largely identical in dimension, being different primarily in trim.

  4. OP
    Michaux Hiker

    Michaux Hiker Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks, Greg,

    Model Number 76829. 17' CS HW, open spruce with birch decks. What was on the canoe was pine inwales and pine decks so it must have been replaced somewhere in the past. The outwales were a treated board ripped down to fit.

    Your dimensions make sense. I found another cracked rib and one more plank at the stern to replace so it may be a little while till I get them in place. I do have Mike Elliott's book but there isn't OT dimensions in the back of the book.

    Picture is what the canoe looked liked when I picked it up.


    Attached Files:

  5. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    The inwales on an HW (heavy water) model would certainly be stouter than on a 50 pound model; those on a Charles River would likely be closer.

    Ralph Nimtz, who restored our 1922 Ideal, gave me this copy from an old Old Town catalog -- presumably 1922 or close to 1922 -- which shows the amidships depth of a 17' HW to be 13 inches.

    OT dimensions.JPG
    If no one else comes up with better dimensions, I'll be in Maine in a couple of weeks and take some measurements of the inwales on our Ideal -- they should be better for you than those I've measured on a 50 pound model.

  6. OP
    Michaux Hiker

    Michaux Hiker Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Thanks that will help quite a bit. I'll do some measurements this afternoon. I can wait till then you get back. Meanwhile I can work on a stain to match the existing wood. Catch up on other projects, like painting the cabin.....

    Attached Files:

  7. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    Mike, check the forum discussion at <> The profile shape of OT gunwales is shown and discussed.

    Here are the gunwale measurements from my 1922 16' OT Ideal, which should be pretty close to your HW gunwales. The outside stems of my canoe should make no difference in the gunwale dimensions.

    GUNWALE DIMENSIONS FROM 1922 OLD TOWN “IDEAL” serial no. 69869


    width across top -- at center of canoe 15/16" -- at deck 3/4" -- at stem 1/2"

    width across bottom -- center 15/16" -- at deck 3/4"

    inside side height center 13/16" -- along full length, with no taper towards the ends

    height of side against ribs 13/16" -- no taper towards the ends


    width across top center 27/32" at deck 11/16" at stem 1/2"

    outside height center 15/16" at stem 11/16"

    width of bottom -- after rabbet is cut center 11/32" at deck 5/16 at stem 9/32"

    The lip that forms part of the top of the outwale is constant in size -- I assume it is the width of the planking and on 50 Pound models, the lip is as thick as it is wide. The taper in the width of the outwale is not cut from this lip, but from full height portion of the outwale. I would guess that the rabbet is cut first (at an angle matching the tunblehome at the center of the canoe, and after the outwale is fit to the hull, it is tapered in width and the top beveled a bit. Because of the tumblehome, the top must be beveled so it becomes level across the canoe, and then the outer corner rounded.

    The outside height diminsions above are estimates before the top is beveled and the corner is rounded to get to the shape in post 33 above of the forum thread I referenced above.
    ss 100_1150.JPG
    ss 100_1148.JPG
    ss 100_1146.JPG

    Benson Gray also posted some gunwale dimensions a while back for an HW canoe with closed gunwales:

    “My rough measurements of the [1919] HW model indicate that the inside gunwale is about one inch wide (horizontally) by 7/8 of an inch thick (vertically) in the middle. The outside gunwale is about 3/4 of an inch wide (vertically) by 1/4 of an inch thick (horizontally) in the middle with no tapering at the ends. The rail cap is about one and 1/8 of an inch wide (horizontally) by 1/4 of an inch thick (vertically) in the middle and tapers to about 3/4 of an inch wide at the ends. The rail cap is also more rounded in the middle and much more square on the decks than the fifty pound model.”

    Note that with closed gunwales, the outwale is much thinner than generally used on open gunwales, and so these dimensions probably are of no real use to you -- just thought they were interesting.
  8. OP
    Michaux Hiker

    Michaux Hiker Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes


    Thanks for all the info. I like your pictures! I'll take a look at it all and try to come up with a plan. At least I have an idea now on where to start. Both ends of my canoe are not the same. The deck area in the bow is larger than the stern. I can tighten the bow some and widen the stern but they are still off by 3 to 4 inches (I measured back on the 6 or 7 rib) hate to bend and pull too much on the ribs at this stage. Is this normal on a canoe this age? When I picked up the canoe there were no thwarts, it had seats but they were replacements as well as the decks which were rotted at the ends.

    Came up with a stain that is close to the original ribs and planking so I've been sanding in the meantime. If I have time this week I'll stop and get a board or two of ash for the gunwales.


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