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Wooden Boat Building and Restoration


Motor Mount (Motor Pad)

The woodwork initially was the reason the boat came to my shop.  The original woodwork had been replaced in the past and that had badly rotted over time.  The original gunwales and motor mount woodwork was Oak (but I could not determine if it was White Oak or Red Oak) .  The original seats were Redwood and were decorated with white pinstripes.


I encouraged the owner to repaint, polish and buff the boat as well, because the new woodwork just would not look as nice without cleaning up the hull as well.

For the new woodwork I settled on replacing all of it with Black Ash.  I think Black Ash has a very pleasing wood grain pattern for a utility boat and its plentiful here in Northern Minnesota and is inexpensive. It is commonly used on canoe seats, gunwales, thwarts, and yokes. It is strong, but not as rot resistant as White Oak, but similar in rot resistance as Red Oak.

Gunwales (Inwales & Outwales)

The existing gunwales were replacements and had been installed sandwiching the aluminum... the aluminum edge was exposed between the inwale and outwale.  For the new gunwales I wanted to hide that exposed aluminum edge.  Also I found that the oar lock support brackets were protruded about a ¼" higher over the sheer line. So I milled and molded a new outwale with a ¼" lip to both hide the aluminum edge and account for the ¼" higher oar lock support bracket, as well as milling a bullnose on the outer edge. For the inwale I beveled the bottom edge as was done by the factory. These pictures show the profiles of the outwale and inwale and how they achieve hiding the aluminum edge and account for the higher height of the oar lock support brackets.



After the gunwales were milled and molded, I trimmed them to length and then steam bent them to fit the curvature of the sheer line.  They were clamped in place and allowed to dry overnight.  

The next day I fastened them temporarily together with construction screws. After they were varnished I replaced the temporary construction screws with stainless steel wood screws and finish washers... it will be easier to varnish right over the construction screws and replace them later with the stainless steel screws so I don't have to fuss with keeping varnish off the stainless steel fasteners.  

There were already a slew of holes drilled along the sheer line used to fasten the old gunwales in place. I didn't want to drill any new holes through the aluminum turning the sheer line into Swiss cheese and made the extra effort to reuse the existing holes. To do so I clamped the inwale in place and drilled through the existing holes into and through the inwale as a way to locate the screw holes. While this method achieved my goal of not drilling new holes through the aluminum, it was a challenge to keep the screws centered along the centerline of the inwale.

I used Dolfinite Bedding Compound between the gunwales and the aluminum to keep the wood protected as well as along the seam of the inwale and outwale.



The new motor mount consists of three pieces of Black Ash. The goal was an 1½" thick motor mount, a common thickness for mounting outboard motors.  The inner and outer horizontal pieces were milled to ⅝" thickness and the outer vertical piece was milled to ⅞" thick. The outer horizontal and vertical pieces were were ship lapped jointed together with epoxy. And again, I made a lip along the outer piece to hide the aluminum edge. They were also bedded in Dofinite bedding compound before being fastened in place against the aluminum transom.

The motor mount too was temporally fastened together with small machine screws and then permanently fastened together with stainless steel hex bolts after varnishing was completed.



Seats (Thwarts)

Making new seats was pretty straightforward. While the old seats were falling apart, they were good enough to use as a templates. The old seats were made of redwood which is unavailable today.  So Black Ash stained dark Mahogany seemed like a good alternative. It was milled then glued up using epoxy and milled again to its final width and thickness. The edges were rounded with a shallow bullnose on the router table. The ends were cut to length and beveled on the band saw. The old seats were also used as templates for drilling the mounting holes. A white pinstripe was painted along the front and back edges as was done by the factory.



All woodwork was sanded down to 180 grit smoothness and then varnished with 6 coats of quality Pettit Captains' Varnish.