Results 1 to 18 of 18

Thread: gunwale installation tips?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    Location
    st louis MO
    Posts
    95

    Default gunwale installation tips?

    Been awhile but I'm finally about to install gunwales. I've already broken some three times so I remade them and looking for tips so I don't break them again.

    I'm using white oak and my outwale is 3/4" deep and 1" tall. I don't have a big bend like canoe but it is a bend and the outwale doesn't seem to want to bend. I hear all types of creaking and cracking when clamping it down.

    I've learned one key piece is to clamp very little at a time such as every six inches.

    I was thinking of trimming them down to 5/8".

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    northwestern Wisconsin
    Posts
    10,231

    Default Re: gunwale installation tips?

    Wrap them in towels, boil some water, and pour it over the towels and let them sit a few minutes, and they will bend much more happily. May not need to trim them, then.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Guerilla Bay, NSW, Australia
    Posts
    282

    Default Re: gunwale installation tips?

    What Tom suggests - I bent spotted gum around a 5.2 metre gunwale when I built Bella with no problems after I soaked in hot towels. Let the timber sit & move it when its really hot, try to get the major bend done as soon as you can after you clamp the bow end to the hull because cooling timber will go brittle again, for this reason i use a jam block at the bow so that I can get the bend started asap and not spend time tightening clamps - though I do clamp later after the major bend is done. Good Luck Neil

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Barrie, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    6,329

    Default Re: gunwale installation tips?

    Yep.

    It also helps to have the gunwales a foot longer than the boat. Something to apply the bend with...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    Location
    st louis MO
    Posts
    95

    Default Re: gunwale installation tips?

    How much time do I have before it starts drying out again? I have 16' length to deal with. Do you keep towel on one end while working on other end?

    I also take it that you are not gluing them on with epoxy if using this method?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Norwalk CT
    Posts
    1,802

    Default Re: gunwale installation tips?

    What is the grain orientation of the pieces? If you are hearing cracking as soon as you bend I think you might look at your stock. White oak is pretty tough stuff and even KD will take a decent bend if the grain doesnt run out.

    Steaming poorly chosen wood wont do much except make it hot

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    northwestern Wisconsin
    Posts
    10,231

    Default Re: gunwale installation tips?

    ^^^ Good point.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    East Quogue,NY
    Posts
    22,510

    Default Re: gunwale installation tips?

    I also take it that you are not gluing them on with epoxy if using this method?
    I did.

    Bend to shape/ Clamp on. Let dry and remain clamped for a week.

    Remove.

    Apply glue.

    Re-install.

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Dorset, UK
    Posts
    1,446

    Default Re: gunwale installation tips?

    You've already broke a few...time to stop and take stock.

    Your gunwale in section is obviously a bit more than you need. Look at you boats sheer curve in the horizontal and vertical. It's likely you can make it even look better by tapering the ends in both planes. It will also bend better and look more 'pro'. Give the gunwale a little extra kick up at the stem and stern as the eye sees a droop often as two lines converge.

    Attach the front first at the stem where the bend is then walk it around the bend to the aft straighter sections. If it won't do it easily get it almost there...then leave it a few days and go back to it, and bend it a little more. Softly softly catchy monkey with this.

    Of course white oak can be steamed and if you wan't it done quick pronto that's a way to do it. It needs to be air dried to moderate moisture content ideally. Not kilned wood, that will never steam and bend well. Waste pipe and a kettle is easiest to procure probably. It snaps when the tension side lets go so it need support if you can muster it to avoid it snapping or losing strength.

    You're designer stuck his thimb in the air looking at scantlings what normally works, what looks good etc, and ontop of that he's got people using wood twice as stiff and sttrong as other people are using. You white oak is strong and stiff so accordingly needs to be reduced in section to compensate compared to say a piece of Douglas fir.

    Judge with your eyes feel with your hands and plane your piece of tree accordingly 'till it takes the curve. Best practice is to have the grain vertical and parrallel to the topside plank for fixings and strength etc. You want to avoid run out on the outside, so take the plane to the inside edge so that any grain runout is sealed against the topside plank. It's Oak so i guess your not rushing to glue it. Comes off easier with mechanical fastenings. I wouldn't discount trunnel fastenings. Would work perfect on the ark of a gunwale.

    A couple of mill off a section after running it through a thicknesser makes a world of difference. Tapered ends look alot better. If it has to be a certain size for some reason, then laminate it. If you're glueing it, try to find Resorcinol for that or that special West stuff.
    Last edited by Edward Pearson; 05-06-2021 at 09:31 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    PNW, an island west of Seattle
    Posts
    2,805

    Default Re: gunwale installation tips?

    Laminate them.

    Jeff

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    Location
    st louis MO
    Posts
    95

    Default Re: gunwale installation tips?

    I think the sounds may be more of the hull stiffening up as I'm clamping the wale down. Did scare me thinking I hope the hull doesn't crack.

    I'm may go with approach to heat them up, clamp them down for week then remove, glue and reinstall.

    They are about 1/16" thicker than 3/4" so maybe I may still trim them down to 5/8" or just under 3/4" to make them more pliable. There isn't a functional/mechanical difference to have 3/4 vs 5/8 right?

    The lamination is a good idea too.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    northwestern Wisconsin
    Posts
    10,231

    Default Re: gunwale installation tips?

    If you do that, don't forget it's heat + wet, not just heat (maybe that's obvious, but just in case...)

    I was working with Doug-fir, not oak, but I found overnight clamping was enough for them to take the bend with the hot water/towels trick. Not sure how different white oak would be.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    165

    Default Re: gunwale installation tips?

    You can always cut some kerfs on the inside of the sharpest curves. Vertical kerfs, maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of the way through. Spaced anywhere between 1 to 6 inches apart, depending on how sharp the curve and how crackly it all is. When the gunwale is in place, fill or inject the kerfs with thickened epoxy.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Norwich,United Kingdom
    Posts
    8,286

    Default Re: gunwale installation tips?

    It can ease things if you support them on a pair of trestles and attach a weight somewhere near the middle.Then wait a few days.If a bend doesn't happen,you may need more weight.Its quite a bit easier to attach a pre-bent piece than to force a straight piece to take a curve.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    landlocked in Mt. Solon, VA
    Posts
    1,102

    Default Re: gunwale installation tips?

    Pictures! We really like pictures, and can give better advice if we see what you are working on.
    "George Washington as a boy
    was ignorant of the commonest
    accomplishments of youth.
    He could not even lie."

    -- Mark Twain

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Cumbria, UK
    Posts
    263

    Default Re: gunwale installation tips?

    Try this, it has worked for me.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--iPQIwSEJM

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    London, Ontario Canada
    Posts
    74

    Default Re: gunwale installation tips?

    If you go to your local carpet store they will have plastic sheathing (which is what he used) that they put the cut carpet rolls in for transporting
    this will let you see where and what is happening inside and see it’s progress
    pre soak or dampen oak then steam
    turns a 1” square piece into spaghetti if left in long enough
    we do this at work and it works awsome
    this process might be overkill for what you re doing
    hot towels might be easier and faster

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    Location
    st louis MO
    Posts
    95

    Default Re: gunwale installation tips?

    I want to thank you all.

    The steaming of gunwale in a bag was genius.

    I ended up buying a used wallpaper steamer to create the steam and had a bunch of plastic drop cloths I used to wrap the gunwales in.

    After the steamer warmed up, it took about 30-45 minutes to be able to bend the boards.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •