What Are Canoe Thwarts Made Of?

When it comes to canoe construction, one important component that often gets overlooked is the canoe thwart. Canoe thwarts play a crucial role in maintaining the structural integrity of the canoe, providing stability, and allowing for efficient paddling. In this article, we will delve into the various materials commonly used to make canoe thwarts.

Wooden Thwarts

Traditionally, wooden thwarts have been a popular choice for canoe builders due to their durability and aesthetic appeal. Typically made from hardwoods such as ash or cherry, wooden thwarts offer excellent strength and rigidity. Additionally, they can be easily shaped and customized to fit different canoe designs.


  • Durability: Wooden thwarts are known for their longevity and ability to withstand regular use and exposure to water.
  • Customizability: Wood can be easily shaped, allowing for customization based on the specific requirements of the canoe design.
  • Aesthetics: The natural beauty of wood adds a touch of elegance to any canoe.


  • Maintenance: Wooden thwarts require periodic maintenance such as sanding and refinishing to prevent rotting or splitting.
  • Weigh: Wood is heavier than other materials used for thwarts, which may affect the overall weight of the canoe.

Fiberglass Thwarts

In recent years, fiberglass has gained popularity as an alternative material for canoe thwarts. Fiberglass offers several advantages over wood while maintaining similar strength characteristics.


  • Lightweight: Fiberglass thwarts are significantly lighter than their wooden counterparts, reducing the overall weight of the canoe.
  • Low Maintenance: Unlike wood, fiberglass thwarts do not require regular maintenance.
  • Resistance to Rot: Fiberglass is impervious to rot and decay, ensuring longevity.


  • Limited Customizability: Fiberglass thwarts are usually pre-manufactured and may have limited options for customization.
  • Aesthetics: While fiberglass can be painted or coated, it lacks the natural beauty and warmth of wood.

Metal Thwarts

Metal thwarts, typically made from aluminum or stainless steel, are another option for canoe builders. Metal thwarts offer excellent strength-to-weight ratios and durability.


  • Durability: Metal thwarts are highly durable and resistant to corrosion.
  • Lightweight: Metal thwarts can be significantly lighter than wooden thwarts while providing similar strength characteristics.
  • Ease of Installation: Metal thwarts often come with pre-drilled holes or brackets, making installation easier.


  • Noisy: Metal thwarts tend to amplify noise from paddle strokes or other movements within the canoe.
  • Lack of Flexibility: Unlike wooden or fiberglass thwarts, metal thwarts do not offer any flexibility.


Choosing the right material for canoe thwarts depends on various factors such as personal preference, intended use, and budget. Wooden thwarts provide a traditional and aesthetically pleasing option, while fiberglass and metal thwarts offer lightweight alternatives with low maintenance requirements. Consider your needs and priorities when selecting a material for your canoe thwarts to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable paddling experience.

Photo of author

Lindsay Collins