Building an Adirondack Guideboat-Bow and Stern Seats

The bow seat’s reason for being is provide the guide (or rower) a place to sit while rowing from the forward rowing position.  The guide would usually row from this position since his “sport” would be lounging in luxury perched in the stern seat.  The boat’s midships would be awash in camping and cooking gear, hunting and fishing paraphernalia, perhaps an extra oar and certainly a candle lantern and paddle for  “jacking” deer at night. Some provisions would be taken along although the guide would be expected to lead his party to the best hunting and fishing grounds.  The party would be self-sufficient while in the wilderness for at least a week, maybe two.

The bow seat is shown in the photo below.

The guideboat's bow seat.

The guideboat’s bow seat.

Guideboat seats are constructed much like cabinets.  The stiles (connecting members) have the tenons that fit into the mortises on the rails (members that run from one side of the hull to the other).  On the bow and stern seats the stiles meet the rails at an angle.  This means that the tenons must be cut so that they enter the mortise at a right angle to the rail.  This can give one gray hairs or render them in a fetal position trying to get all four joints  to fit together tightly.  The slightest mismatch at one joint ripples through the entire structure.  After removing some here and checking the fit and removing some there and checking, the fit is finally “good enough”.  It helps to have good clamps to pull everything together while gluing.

The guideboat’s rear seat has a little seat back.  On many guideboats the stiles on the rear seat are extended rearward by several inches.  This is so that the stiles on the bottom of the seat back can slide between the extended seat stiles.  This is a nice solution to holding the seat back in place.

On the Queen Anne, the boat I have reproduced here, I found no provision for holding the rear seat back in place.  So I made a bracket to hold the seat back but it was not entirely satisfactory.  This time I put two extensions on the rear seat and fashioned them to hold the seat back.  This seems to work fine.

Rear seat showing extensions to hold the seat back.

Rear seat showing extensions to hold the seat back.

As I mentioned above, some of the boats built by Caleb Chase had an extra half rib with an “ear” to help support the rear seat.  I made a pair of these ribs using the mold for the number 12 rib.

Half ribs for supporting the rear seat.

Half ribs for supporting the rear seat.

Before the half ribs are fastened to the hull, the rear seat cleats need to be secured.  I found the best way to do this was to attach Pony clamps to the ribs close to where the final cleat position will be.  The cleats go on top of the clamps and the seat on the cleats.  Using a level you then level the seat by moving the clamps up and down.  Once you are satisfied that all is well you drill holes for fastening the cleats and secure them.

Setting up the rear seat.

Setting up the rear seat.

The rear seat back on the Queen Anne is rather charming.  It has a rounded rail at the top.  Below are the parts of the seat back before gluing it together.

Parts of the rear seat back.  Notice that the tenons on the rails meet the stiles at a right angle.

Parts of the rear seat back. Notice that the tenons on the rails meet the stiles at a right angle.

The final step in attaching the rear seat is to locate the half ribs.  They are positioned half way between the last two ribs, Nos. 11 and 12.  Once I am happy with where they are I run a strip of masking tape down the midships side.  This is the only way to make a mark on the hull once it is varnished.  Then I drill holes for the fasteners from the inside out.  It is much easier than trying to locate everything from outside the hull.

Locating the half ribs.

Locating the half ribs.

The half ribs are given four coats of varnish and fastened to the hull.

Half rib in place.

Half rib in place.

Finally all seats are secured.

Finished stern seat.

Finished stern seat.

Next time, the floor board.

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