Rub Rails or Not

I have built a Mill Creek 16.5 and a Shearwater 17 hybrid.  On both boats i installed rubrails at the gunn'l.  In both cases the rails show enough wear and dings to convince me they were worth having.  Both of these boats have sheer clamps so bedding the strips in epoxy and holding them in place with brass brads was an easy installation.

I am now about to start construction of an 11 Ft little Auk - All cedar strip with no sheer clamp.  I have not gone to far yet in investigating the addition of sheer clamps, but the way the deck meets the hull on this boat does not look conducive to adding them.  The question is:  should I put the rails on and if so, how?  I would like to hear, especially from folks with all strip boats that do not have rails, how your boats hold up to abuse at the gunn'l.  If you have installed rails without sheer clamps, how did you hold them in place while the glue sets?  (Can't use clamsp as they should go on after the deck is glassed to the hull)

Thanks all, PAG

5 replies:

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RE: Rub Rails or Not

Whether you should do it I'll leave to someone else. How you should do it is simple - glue with no nails, hold them in place with duct tape, packing tape, straps, rope, etc. Anything that you can wrap around the boat will work if you're gluing them in place with epoxy/woodflour mixture. You don't need much gluing pressure for that.

Have fun,



RE: Rub Rails or Not

I don't have rub rails on any of my boats and I do find that that area takes a battering, especially when paddling with a group or in a urban environment (East river of NYC).

I've been noticing that some builders, rather than run a perimeter strip on the deck, will run the strips right off the edge and then trim them when done. I like the simplicity of this method, but I was concerned about seeing the ends of the strips with potential gaps and flaws. It seems to me that rub rails are the answer!


RE: Rub Rails or Not


My concern, which is not addressed by extending the deck strisp out is that it's soft cedar that is taking punishment.  The Spanish Cedar strips CLC sells seem to be a bit harder than the Wester Red or Alaska cedar.

I suspect I will put strips of some material on there.  Maybe I'll invite Laszlo to come west and give me a hand taping / strapping them on.  Nailing the strips is so easy when you have something to nail to.  I have always pre-drilled the strips and inserted all the nails before I start.  It then takes very little hammering to get things held in place.  My biggest concern about straps and tape is having access to the lower edge of the strip to wipe up squeeze out.  Will need to really mask the sides of the boat.

All these challenges are what makes this so much fun.


RE: Rub Rails or Not

Definitely mask the sides. I don't know how sharp the curves on the little Auk are, but on the Chessies you can get away with a 1" strap every foot or so. That leaves most of the area easily accessible to cleaning up with a popsicle stick. A toothpick will take care of the areas directly under the straps.

It also occurs to me that if you're OK with the predrilling & stuff, you could put some nails into the rubrails such that they only stick out 1/16" or so on the back and just barely drive them into the hull. Once the glue has cure, just pull the nails & fill the holes. Doing that would counteract the initial lubricant effect of the epoxy glue and make the strapping job much easier, especially for a singlehander.

And I'd be glad to help but you probably want the boat finished before my next trip out west.

Good luck,



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