Wooden Canoe and Kayak Restoration and Repair

Have you hit a rock during white water paddling, left your canoe rotting in high grass for one winter too long, dropped it from your trailer, or bought a vintage wooden race kayak? At Freeranger Canoe, we offer expert restoration and repair services for both wooden and composite canoes and kayaks.

We offer comprehensive restoration services for wooden boats, as well as simple refurbishing, such as applying a fresh coat of varnish. When a repair becomes a full restoration, we meticulously strip the boat down to its bare elements and identify every defect. During this “survey” phase, it is crucial to find every weak rib, cracked plank, or rotten stem to ensure the long-term integrity of the boat. Addressing all necessary issues is critical for the boat’s longevity.

Composite Canoe and Kayak Restoration

Composite canoes are constructed from Kevlar, carbon fiber, fiberglass, or combinations of these materials, laminated using epoxy or polyester resin. Although we specialize in wooden boats at Freeranger Canoe, we are also very experienced with epoxy and polyester resins. We can assist with repairs to composite and Kevlar canoes, often replacing components such as gunnels, seats, and decks.

The most common issues with composite boats involve damage to the gelcoat. Addressing gelcoat damage promptly is essential to ensure the boat’s longevity. We offer cosmetic repairs to gelcoats, as well as a buffing service to restore a new shine to dull gelcoats.


Our Canoe and Kayak Restoration and Repair services:

  • Full restoration of wooden canoes and kayaks
  • Repairing damages to the hulls of wooden boats
  • Replacing wooden parts
  • Relaminating parts or entire hulls
  • Replacing wooden gunwales
  • Replacing wooden decks and seats
  • Repairing damages in gelcoats
  • Repairing damaged composite hulls

It is almost impossible to give a meaningful quote over the phone so its best to make an appointment to bring in your damaged treasure for a free appraisal. For a fee we will come to pick up your canoe (location permitting).

Canoe and Kayak Restoration: Cases

A Brand New Canoe, a Bollard, and a Crack

When Len lifted his brand new composite canoe out of the water, he accidentally hit a bollard hard. This resulted in a spider web-like crack in the gelcoat. It’s crucial to repair gelcoat damages as soon as possible, not just for aesthetic reasons. Here’s why:

Structural Integrity

The gelcoat acts as a protective layer for the underlying fiberglass or composite material. Damage to the gelcoat can expose these materials to water, leading to degradation and weakening of the structure. Additionally, small chips or cracks in the gelcoat can quickly worsen if not repaired, resulting in more significant and costly damage over time.


The gelcoat provides a waterproof barrier. When damaged, it can allow water to penetrate the hull, potentially leading to waterlogging, which makes the canoe heavier and more difficult to handle. Prolonged water exposure can also cause osmosis blisters in the fiberglass, leading to further damage and compromising the hull’s integrity.

A New Life for a Mad River Quest

Royalex canoes are highly coveted since Uniroyal stopped making the material in 2014. Although most canoe producers have developed alternative materials, Royalex is still considered the best, or rather the toughest, material for canoes that take a beating once in a while. If you have one, you like to hold on to it.

The hull of the Quest we had in our shop was in excellent condition, something that couldn’t be said of the trim. All the woodwork was completely rotten, and the seats were ripped. We replaced every single bit and polished the hull, leaving the canoe looking as good as new.

A full Restoration

When I was asked to restore a client’s grandfather’s tandem kayak to its former glory, I was thrilled—until I saw the boat’s deplorable condition. It had been stored in a boat shed for as long as anyone could remember, with holes in the hull, blistered varnish, and missing seats and foot braces. The kayak had also been used as a storage board for various objects, further damaging its surface. To make matters worse, mice or other rodents had gnawed at the boat.

Restoring this kayak took a lot of love and care. We completely stripped it down, repaired all the wood damage, waterproofed it, and applied multiple layers of epoxy and a UV-blocker. We also crafted new seats and foot braces.

In the end, all the effort was well worth it. The kayak now shines like never before, while still maintaining the patina it has acquired over the years.

A Childhood Dream

Few people I know are as in love with kayaks and kayaking as Hans. When he reached out to me to ask if I could assist him in the restoration of a Struer Kayak, I was immediately on board. Struer Kayak was founded in 1947 by two furniture makers who wanted to build the best kayaks for racers. The classic wooden kayaks from Struer have won several Olympic medals and are today synonymous with quality, fantastic craftsmanship, and true Danish design.

It was Hans’s childhood dream to own one of these legendary kayaks and to paddle it. By chance, he was able to acquire a 50-year-old K1 Struer Espada kayak. The kayak had been stored in a garage for 40 years and seemed to be in fairly good condition.

Unfortunately, a very unprofessional repair had been done to fix a hole in the hull, leaving it leaking heavily. Additionally, the kayak had multiple layers of old varnish applied very sloppily. In short, the boat was in reasonable structural condition but looked very worn down.

We stripped it down to the bare wood, removed the bad repairs, and applied multiple layers of clear varnish, giving the boat a second well-deserved life on the water.

Hans did most of the work himself under our guidance in our workshop, making it an extra exciting experience for him.

A Terrible Crack

The Bell Flashfire is an incredible boat that excels in many areas. It’s a premier freestyle vessel, an excellent solo tripper with ample room for gear, and a great boat for just having fun. It’s the kind of boat you’d want to keep for as long as possible. Sometimes quite literally, as its lightweight design can easily be blown off your trailer by the wind.

When the Flashfire arrived, it had a significant crack in the hull. We repaired the gelcoat and applied a coat of protective varnish to the hull. With new wooden gunwales, it now looks as good as new.

Wood Rots

Storing a canoe with wooden gunwales upside down in wet grass and weeds is a recipe for disaster. Wooden gunwales can last forever if properly maintained. Unfortunately, if neglected, they will rot away in a few months, rendering your canoe unusable.

Fortunately, we can replace your old and rotten gunwales in just one day, provided we have your canoe’s measurements in advance to prepare the necessary parts. By evening, you’ll leave with a refurbished and safe canoe.