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A new pirogue project in Tallahassee

PeteStaehling

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Aug 23, 2020
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I guess it isn't really new. Maybe more like restarted since I had a false start a few years ago and the shop space got taken up with other things.

I am building an Uncle John's, probably 14' but maybe longer. Still pondering that. I am unsure whether I want to try to make it useful for tandem usage or just for my dog and me. I bought epoxy and glass before I got side tracked and figured I better get busy before it went bad.

So far I built frames, stems, and seat since I had the materials for those. The seat and frames are cypress and the stems are hard maple. I had some leftover pieces that were jus the right sizes.

The big question always seems to be plywood. Does anyone know of a local source for good okoume ply in Tallahassee? I have not completely chased down all possible leads yet, but it doesn't look promising so far. It seems like a shame to spend all that money on epoxy and then use luan, but shipping is crazy expensive if buying only two sheets. It gets a lot more reasonable if buying more plywood, but I am not sure I want to stock up on plywood that will take me years to use or that I may still have when or if I move to another state. Driving almost 300 miles each way to Tampa way is also a pretty big expense for two sheets.
seat.jpg
 

oldsparkey

Well-Known Member
Aug 25, 2003
10,226
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Central , Florida
www.southernpaddler.com
I googled , okoume ply near Tallahassee Florida , and came up with a good list. Here in Central Florida most of it is south of Orlando.
I made two boats from kits which used the Okoume ply and two from 1/4 inch luann (1st Pirogue and Uncle John skiff ) . All the others were with 1/8 Th inch door skins. All the boats were epoxy saturated and glassed inside and out.
 

PeteStaehling

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Aug 23, 2020
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I did that same exact search already and got nothing at all near Tallahassee. The closest I saw was Boat Builder Central in Ft Pierce 350 miles away. They will ship for $150 if I pick up from the terminal or $250 to my house. Some more searching via google maps turned up some more candidates, but calls thus far have not actually shown any of them to have any marine ply of any sort let alone okoume in the size I need. Pilote Marine says no, Capital City Lumber no, West Marine no, the big box stores no.

Woodford Plywood has not answered the phone yet. but I hold out some hope for them. Not sure if they open late, are closed on the weekend or what, but I just tried again and got a recording. Edit : I checked their hours and they open 7:30 monday. I will call then, but am not optimistic.

Florida Plywood is 45 minutes away and I have not yet been able to get them on the phone. Edit: upon a bit of checking they look like they make plywood here rather than being a reseller so I doubt they are a likely source.

I sometimes buy hardwood from Redwood Bay an hour away and they have a connected warehouse bay with plywood. I have never been in it and do not know what they stock. Seems like a long shot that the'd have okoume, but I'll probably call them. It is a one man shop and the last time I called the guy said he was just diagnosed with Covid, not sure how sick he was, but the business was closed due to his illness. Hopefully it is open again by now. Edit: No luck here. He said he knew of nowhere on the panhandle that stocked any. Said the Peninsula was probably as close as I would find any. I mentions the source in Ft Pierce and he said he doubted I'd find anything much closer.

A couple local cabinet shops and Capital City lumber can sometimes be convinced to order stuff if worse comes to worse, but that usually is $$$.
 
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beekeeper

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Mar 4, 2009
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Nice looking seat.
Your quest for good wood for boat building at reasonable cost is the biggest problem facing home boat builders. Like every aspect of boat building everything is a compromise and challenge. Many ways to address the issue but only you can decide what works best for you. These are my thoughts and ideas. Not saying they are right or better than others.
1. Consider exterior pine plywood. Has water proof glue and will not delaminate like luan and is stronger.
Glassed over any voids or defects will likely not be a problem in a paddle boat. Lots of paddle boats have been built and used with no issues.
2. Solid wood strips edged glued and glassed over have been used to make panels(planks) that will work.
3. A $ compromise could be to forgo the epoxy/fiberglass. Order and build with the marine plywood. You
could use the UJ plans but put outside chine logs instead of filets and tape or you could build a design that is intended for no glass needed.
I have not built this boat https://www.cajunsecret.com/ Appears to have more flare to the sides and less
rocker than the UJ. It's increased capacity and stability may answer your concerns about
the 14' UJ pirogue being adequate for your usage.
 

PeteStaehling

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Aug 23, 2020
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Thanks for the thoughtful suggestions. I will add a couple comments inline below.

Nice looking seat.
Thanks.

1. Consider exterior pine plywood. Has water proof glue and will not delaminate like luan and is stronger.
Glassed over any voids or defects will likely not be a problem in a paddle boat. Lots of paddle boats have
been built and used with no issues.
I'll do that if it becomes necessary and it likely will.

3. A $ compromise could be to forgo the epoxy/fiberglass.
Not really an option at this point since one of the reasons for building this boat at this time is that I have the glass and resin that were purchased a few years ago and need to used them before the epoxy goes bad.
 

oldsparkey

Well-Known Member
Aug 25, 2003
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Central , Florida
www.southernpaddler.com
That's why all but two of my boats were made with Luann or Door Skins. I did go threw the stacks of the wood to find the ones without any voids or flaws in them. Most of the sheets were located at a private owned lumber supplier.
The okoume boats were from kits that supplied the wood.
 

PeteStaehling

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Aug 23, 2020
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That's why all but two of my boats were made with Luann or Door Skins. I did go threw the stacks of the wood to find the ones without any voids or flaws in them. Most of the sheets were located at a private owned lumber supplier.
The okoume boats were from kits that supplied the wood.
Yeah my past plywood project boats also have been either luan or other non marine grade plywood. The exception was one kit where I had the pleasure of using okoume. I'd really much prefer to use okoume though if at all possible within some price limitations. It is hard to justify $150 shipping for two sheets though.
 

PeteStaehling

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Aug 23, 2020
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Well the last potential local source on my list says "no dice". They are a wholesaler so they might not have sold to me anyway but they didn't have anything in 1/4" or 4, 5, or 6 mm. He said they had some 1/2 marine plywood. I didn't bother to find out what kind of wood it was.

I am now debating between:
  1. Just using something locally available which might mean non exterior grade and voids.
  2. Making a 700+ mile round trip to Ft Pierce to pick up some plywood. I could combine it with a visit to see the manatees at Crystal River or seeing some other attraction. That would be more attractive if I could manage to haul my canoe and the plywood at the same time. I guess I could and I probably have done dumber things, but it seems like a bad idea. Maybe we could rent a canoe or a couple sit on tops or something when we are there. If I do this I'll probably wait a coupe or three weeks for our vaccines to kick in (we just got the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine).
  3. I could order some to be shipped. The shipping is prohibitive, but maybe if I bought for a future project at the same time it would be more reasonable. I know that when I priced it before the shipping was the same for 6 sheets as it was for 2.
 
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PeteStaehling

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Aug 23, 2020
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I talked to Boat Builder Central and they quoted me a slightly cheaper shipping price. I have not decided whether to bite the bullet on the expensive shipping or make the trip and combine it with some tourist activities, but I'll get the plywood by the 20th or so either way.
 

oldbuffpilot

Well-Known Member
May 13, 2014
374
10
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Central Kansas and Central Texas
You might take a look at post of strip stitch and glue. It is an easy process and has solved my expensive plywood dilema. my opinion a lot of boats don't get built because of the expense. We've had a lot of fun and caught a lot of fish out of glassed luan and painted exterio plywood.
 

PeteStaehling

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Aug 23, 2020
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Well, I have a local lumber dealer who says his distributer lists 6mm BS1088 okoume as something he can order. He says he will check if it is really available and will call me back with a quote if it is. My fear is that his supplier might be Woodford Plywood who told me they do not have any 1/4".
 
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PeteStaehling

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Aug 23, 2020
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They don't have anything :(
From another source with expensive shipping, 4 mm is available, cheaper, and would save a lot of weight. I may go that route. I kind of wanted to and needed a nudge.
 

Kayak Jack

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Aug 26, 2003
13,714
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Okemos / East Lansing Michigan
I don’t know where you paddle. I started with the okume BS1088, saw its advantages' and stayed with It. Rocks here are a different paddling environment than is sediment. Soft sediment is not as aggressive as sharp rocks.
It’s a personal choice, and each builder has to choose.
 

PeteStaehling

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Aug 23, 2020
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No turning back now! The 4mm has been ordered and should be here on Monday! With shipping it seems like a small fortune, but this a hobby so I might as well just chalk it up to the enjoyment I get from the project. When you compare it to lots of other hobby stuff I could spend on (shop machinery, bikes, boats, motorcycles, a motorhome, etc.) it really isn't that much money.
 

PeteStaehling

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Aug 23, 2020
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A boat makes a hole in the water, where we throw money. I kept looking for a hobby that would pay me. I never found it.
sigh
I did, but it isn't all it is cracked up to be. Hobby businesses want to become full time businesses and take over your life in my experience. That or they don't take off at all. I am retired and want to be retired. I have had to work at tamping down business and actively hide from potential customers. I guess some can do better at saying no to orders, establishing long wait lists and so on, but that never worked for me. Raising prices should be the answer to controlling demand but that never really worked either. Customers still ordered until they stopped altogether. Even then they were likely to start again when they got used to the new prices. I decided to try to maintain the position of not making a profit and just pumping the money back into tools and machinery to avoid all the hassles of running a "real" business. At some point it becomes impossible to not show a profit and have do deal with the IRS. I decided to stop before I could no longer call it a hobby. I still build an instrument now and then, but don't dare post anything on social media under the business name or on any of the dulcimer sites. If I do I get a rash of inquiries. It is nice to know that if I had to I could probably make a living at it or at the very least supplement my income. OTOH, I hope to never need to.
 

Kayak Jack

Well-Known Member
Aug 26, 2003
13,714
113
83
Okemos / East Lansing Michigan
That’s correct. The three Pygmy kayaks that I built all used 4mm okume BS1088. In field conditions, I learned that even in rough usage in rough conditions, it could be trusted. Rocks with sharp points and saw toothed broken edges are very tough on boats. I needed something trustworthy.
When I built my canoe from plans, I continued to rely on the 4mm okume. With my Granddaughter and me in the boat, that’s no place or time for a sharp rock to locate and penetrate a void in my plywood that saved me a few bucks.

I understand that there are other choices that work for other builders and paddlers. And I’m darned glad that we all have those options from which we can select. It’s called freedom. Each and every builder should be able to choose as they see fit.
 

oldbuffpilot

Well-Known Member
May 13, 2014
374
10
77
Central Kansas and Central Texas
With that background I am guessing this is going to be a very precise well built boat. Can't wait to see the pictures You might want to practice up Posting a picture or 2 It's not really hard but I keep forgetting how to do it