How to Make Foot Braces for a Wooden Kayak or Canoe

Updated on December 9, 2018
jimmar profile image

Jim is a retired software/electrical engineer who enjoys the outdoors. He likes to challenge himself with creative projects at home.

I am currently in the process of building a cedar-strip solo canoe. In recent years I have constructed two cedar-strip canoes and two cedar-strip kayaks.

Foot braces are desirable in kayaks to increase stability when paddling and turning. They are not generally needed in canoes, since while you're in the seated position, your feet are usually planted firmly on the floor of the canoe, but while you are seated in a kayak your legs are usually outstretched. The same goes for a solo canoe with a low seat, which is what I am building.

In my kayaks I purchased and installed foot brace assemblies. I used this Attwood brace in one kayak and this Sea-Lect brace in the other.

Purchased foot braces
Purchased foot braces

They were fairly inexpensive but I wanted to try to build them myself. I thought about it for a few days then came up with an idea: Use wooden rails, with holes for adjustment, glued to the inside of the canoe with thickened epoxy. The foot pegs would wrap around the rails and fold down. When foot pressure is applied the pegs would stop against the rails.

How I Started Building My Foot Braces

  • I first built a model from scrap wood and hard plastic to figure out where the pivot point on the brace should be.
  • I then glued ¾” maple and ½” oak pieces together.
  • Once the glue set, I added wood dowel pins for extra strength.
  • Then to decrease the weight of each peg I drilled holes with a Forstner bit.
  • To further decrease the weight I beveled the back side of the pegs and trimmed off the corners.
  • Once I drilled a hole in the peg for the pivot, using the plastic piece from the model as a template, I made rails from some ¾” cherry.
  • I used the peg to mark a line for holes in the rails, placed one inch apart and slightly larger than the pivot hole in the peg.

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Sketch for the footbraces for my canoe
Sketch for the footbraces for my canoe

To Be Continued:

I am still building my canoe so I have not mounted the pegs yet. I plan to seal the wood with half and half mineral spirits/varnish. I will probable also make a groove in the rail side that attaches to the canoe to allow more epoxy to built up at that interface.

Once the braces are mounted I will update this article.


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      3 months ago

      How did these work out?


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