Sunday, November 23, 2014

Canoe seat replacement using woven polypro webbing

Our old wicker canoe seats were in terrible shape by the end of this summer. I was inspired by some nice woven seats I saw at the Minnesota State Fair, I decided to try replacing the original wicker / cane seats with something similar using a synthetic webbing.

reference canoe seat at the Fair

bottom of the reference canoe seat at the Fair
A quick search on brought up a bunch of choices for webbing- different materials, colors, and sizes. I did some research online, and it seemed as though Polypropylene webbing is a better choice than nylon webbing. The polypro webbing is supposed to be more weather / UV resistant, as well as less stretching when they get wet. I decided to go with 1" wide webbing since it would also be useful for belts, backpack straps, etc. I purchased a roll of the Country Brook Design 1" polypro black webbing via

To fasten the webbing to the seat frame, I chose to use a staple gun and 1/2" x 1/4" crown 18 ga staples. These were the shortest staples I could find that would fit my Porter Cable pneumatic staple gun. Lowe's and Home Depot didn't have small boxes of this size staple- they only carried 3000+ staple cases.  Menards turned out to carry a reasonable size box of staples.

 After stripping the old woven cane seat off the canoe seat frames, I started cutting the webbing to length. I wanted a tight weave, so I laid out the webbing on the seat frame with no gaps between pieces. I cut the webbing with a heavy duty kitchen scissors and sealed the cut ends with a lighter to prevent fraying.

Starting webbing layout

 I started attaching the webbing by stapling the end strand to the frame.

End webbing attached
 Next, I lined up and stapled the webbing to the "side" and "bottom" of the frame.

After one end of each of the webbing segments was attached, I flipped the seat over and started weaving the strands, working my way out from the corner where the segments were attached.

Starting to weave the strands
 During the weaving process, I'd stop occasionally and pull everything tight.

Nearly complete
After all segments were woven, and after I pulled out as much slack as possible, I started to staple down the loose ends. Before stapling each segment I'd grab the segment and pull it as tight as I could, and I also would slide it over to get it as close as possible to the adjacent segment.

Bottom stapled

Everything stapled!

Bottom of seat after stapling

Both seats, ready to go

Installed- ready for paddling!
This project was a lot easier and faster than I thought- and made the canoe seats much more comfortable.