Canoe seat/yoke

Maple & Cane

Last night I finished the new canoe seat/yoke for Miss Sally, the 19′ cedar strip canoe I am restoring for the Pathfinder Club. She had a thwart when I got her, but it was a rough, unplaned, pine plank with a yoke notch apparently chopped into it with a hatchet.

I was just going to make a plain yoke, but decided a seat/yoke combination would be a better option. This canoe is 19′ long after all, so having a seat in the middle is a definite bonus.

The frame is made of maple, and the side bars are set into the cross bars with hand-cut mortise and tenon joints. I didn’t make the mortices very deep because I didn’t think it was necessary and I was afraid it would weaken the cross bars. When someone sits on the seat, it’s going to pull those joints together rather than push them apart.

I went with a cane seat because all of the other seats are cane. I had never made one before, but it’s not that hard to do (the Internet knows how to do almost everything). Caning the seat took me three days of fairly dedicated effort, and the tips of my index fingers and thumbs are pretty sore for the effort. But I think it was worth it.

The cross bars are currently four feet long which is wider than the canoe. I will cut them to size when I am ready to install the seat. I can’t do that until I make some new gunwales though.

When I do mount it, I am going to put the yoke toward the stern. Normally, I mount a yoke on a canoe so that when I am carrying it, it goes bow first. However, if I did that, then the person sitting on the seat would have that uneven yoke edge poking into his thighs. This will be far more comfortable for any bow-facing passenger.

Even though it just seems wrong to carry a canoe stern first!