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Best type of wood for specific purposes?

Discussion in 'Serious Boat Building Questions' started by mikeinsrq, Sep 17, 2016.

  1. mikeinsrq

    mikeinsrq Member

    I was wondering if there certain types of wood that are better for boat building.
    I've followed the debate over the different types of plywood - and may be more confused than ever :lol: .
    And I've seen several people say to avoid poplar.
    So, what do you recommend for stems, ribs and rails?
    I'll be applying fiberglass or coating with epoxy, at the very least.
    Does that change my wood options?
    I'm interested in keeping the boat light but, of course, want it to be strong.
    I have a friend in the teak business, so that may be an option, but it seems like a very dense/heavy wood.
    What about cypress?
    Do people use cedar for structural elements?
  2. oldsparkey

    oldsparkey Well-Known Member

    Stems, Ribs and Rails?

    Uncle Johns kit's has Cypress Ribs and Stems for his pirogues and skiffs.
    As far as rails I like the pine lattice strips from Home Depot , after epoxy saturation they work good for me. I have also used Cedar or Redwood strips , which ever one I have on hand at that time.

    Teak is a beautiful wood but heavy , Stems , Ribs or Rails from it would be really nice but heavier then the other woods.

  3. Kayak Jack

    Kayak Jack Well-Known Member

    Mike, welcome aboard. I have a question for you - where is SRQ?

    To address your questions, spruce is a traditional building mayerial for boats. It has a good combination of light weight, strength, rot resistance, and good looks.

    There's not much need to add flotation stuff to a wooden boat for general purpose use. Some special purpose uses may make it desirable? For instance, will you be bolting down an anvil in the boat? Only partly tongue in cheek. Mostly serious. Difficult for me to think of much else that would require added flotation.

    More on flotation. Chuck mentioned an enclosed volume under a deck. That would provide a built innflotation. It also provides something that will probably breakdown or rot out before any other part of the boat. Buliding an "airtight chamber" in a wooden boat seems an impractical folly. Lets look at it.

    First off, it would be quite difficult to get the stem end of a boat to ever be truly air tight in the first place. It is a prize winner in any contest for irregularly shaped objects. If you ever did achieve an actual air tight enclosure, it will immediately set about correcting that condition. Atmospheric pressure is constantly varying up and down. The enclosed chamber will react to that by constantly flexing in and out. For a while the wood and joints won't crack. Then, one day, and where you can't see it, the seal will be compromised. Air will then travel in and out. Except - when the air goes back out, it leaves behind a bit of moisture. Moisture collects, enters the wood of your boat in that little crack, and starts to deteriorate (rot) the wood.

    Another option that actually makes sense is to build in a cargo bay up into the stem ends of your boat. Glass in a plywood bulkhead. Put a hole into this bulkhead. Make it about 8" to 12" in diameter, what ever size and shape is in the directions say. Install one of those plastic hatch covers that screw in. That means that an outer ring will first be installed into the bulkhead. It will be part of the hatch kit. When paddling, screw in the hatch cover. Maybe put a sandwich and a couple bottles of sudsy in there first? When not paddling, REMOVE THE COVER AND LET THE HATCH VENT AND AIR OUT.

    This arrangement gives you several advantages. Some of your cargo is stored out of the way. You have a temporarily watertight compartment. Except that, even these hatches usually still breathe to accommodate hourly changes in air pressure.

    I agree with Chuck on NO FOAM. it will accellerate wood rot.

    Lots of luck, and let us know about you boat and what you do with it?
  4. oldsparkey

    oldsparkey Well-Known Member

    Jack you are reading to fast and you missed it........Here is what I said ......

    " One trick is to make a deck and seal the bow and stern with the deck and a bulkhead. Add some Styrofoam popcorn in the that sealed area. Make sure it is glassed ( or at lease epoxy saturated ) on the inside to protect the wood and have a drain hole at the bottom for ventilation and drainage. "

    The reason I mentioned a drain hole ( in the bottom of the bulkhead at the inside of the boats hull ) sealed unit is for air and any water drainage and if he gets a lot of water in the boat ( swamps it) . Not all of it will get into the chamber since there isn't any ventilation hole at the top. But any that gets in will drain out. The epoxy saturation ( Painting the area with epoxy ) or even glassing the inside wood will protect it from any moisture that might get in there , including condensation.
    The hole can be 1/2 of an inch or just a small semi circle cut out of the bottom of the bulkhead where it mates up with the hull. I prefer the semi circle since it offers less restriction to any water that would be draining.
  5. mikeinsrq

    mikeinsrq Member

    Jack, SRQ is the airport designation for Sarasota Bradenton International Airport.
    I'm in Sarasota.
    We're about an hour south to Tampa, on the Gulf coast of Florida.

    I've been scouring these forums for a while and really appreciate how everyone keeps it civil.
    There's a genuine interest in helping each other out.
    Thanks Chuck for keeping the trolls out!

    I'm anticipating starting my build soon.
    I'm just waiting for the weather to cool off a bit here - at least enough to make working in the garage bearable.
  6. oldsparkey

    oldsparkey Well-Known Member

    Mike......HI from the East side of Central Florida.
    I really know what you are saying , I am waiting for cooler weather ( really looking forward to it ) so I can do some camping and wandering around on the Florida Trail here in Central Florida along with the Ocala National Forest.

  7. mikeinsrq

    mikeinsrq Member

  8. FrankAS

    FrankAS Active Member

    I haven't started my build yet, a UJ pirogue, 16' ish 4 ribs estimated beam 32"-34" and should I add a 5th rib mid-ships. (Have had the kit for four years but I am getting closer, money and other STUPID BS distractions). I do have some questions though, looking at Lowe's for plywood, the RevolutionPly 5 mm (3/16) Poplar Plywood underlayment veneer grade B-2 primed both sides primed (one is lightly tinted) $13.98, or the UltraplyXL Premium underlayment 1/4-in Birch Plywood veneer grade A-2 no finish $16.98, both have marine grade glue, 5 plys and closely price. Next question, hull sides bow 12", mid-ships 10", stern 11", gunwales will be 1/4 X 1 1/2 lattice strips, how hard will it be to make the vertical rise? I will add 3/4" spacers and with the same lattice strips for the in-wales at the proper time? Last question for now, I can't afford to purchase 6000 clamps so I would like comments about using PVC pipe for clamps, length to cut, dia and schedule of pipe. Just to keep you guys drooooling in anticipation and envy, I will take and post pictures of my pristine shop!

    FYI; The boat will be epoxied and glassed inside and out, with UV inhibitor used when needed.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2017
  9. beekeeper

    beekeeper Well-Known Member

    Since you will fiberglass it use either one. Lowe' list both for interior use and none weather resistant. The Ulrtaply XL Premium does have marine grade glue. I have not found that info for the Revolution.
    Don't know about making PVC clamps.
    By fiberglass and epoxy UV inhibitor you mean, paint/varnish or something else?
    Do you need 1.5" wide gunwales? Never used lattice strips so I'm just asking.

  10. oldsparkey

    oldsparkey Well-Known Member

    Just a reminder , not mentioning any names .......
    This section clearly states at the heading...... A place to leave the chit chat behind and post real questions, comments, and concerns about building boats. Not off the wall comments about toilets or urination.
  11. FrankAS

    FrankAS Active Member

    No just the first dimension that came to mind, basically something from the molding isle.
  12. jdupre'

    jdupre' Well-Known Member

    I don't know how concerned you are about weight, but pine or similar weight wood can add 5-10 lbs of weight over western red cedar for the ribs, chines( if any), stems and gunnels. If you are going to fiberglass the whole boat, you really don't need the heavier, stronger wood. I've found that a small boat doesn't have to be completely stiff and rigid to perform and hold up well. There are limits, of course.

    For the last pirogue I built , I had bought pine for all the solid lumber members. I did by a little extra, but the pile weighed 21 lbs! Brought it back and exchanged it for western red cedar. It made a very robust 14' pirogue that weighed 45 lbs..........with only a little glass on the bottom seams.
  13. Kayak Jack

    Kayak Jack Well-Known Member

    I was thinking similarly, Joey. 1/8" plywood coulc be used. If, after building and glassing, the bottom of the boat flexed more easily than he wants, a couple of stiffeners would take care of that. 1 1/2" wide strips of 1/8" ply, about 1/2 as long as the boat, glued to the bottom. Parallel to the keel, about 6" either side of the keel. If he wants a "keel effect" so the boat tracks better, glue them on the outside of the floor. If no keel effect is wanted, glue them inside of the boat.
  14. beekeeper

    beekeeper Well-Known Member

    Ultraply XL = Lowe's in Louisiana do not have it, and can not get it. The distributor/wholesaler for Moreland (manufacture) told me the closest retail supply would be Atlanta. I did learn it has a marine grade glue and supposedly no voids.
    If anyone knows a source in Louisiana, please post.

  15. oldsparkey

    oldsparkey Well-Known Member

    Thank You
  16. jdupre'

    jdupre' Well-Known Member

    I'll go out on a limb here, but , 1/4" sanded pine plywood at Lowe's is a better all-around product than fir marine plywood...........at half the price. I've used it on 3 boats so far, and it cuts, sands and holds up better than the fir I used on two pirogues. Freakin' Photobucket screwed us mightily here, but I had a thread on how well a plywood model has held up in the La. weather. It's been over 3 years in the weather with no paint or varnish......just a smear of Titebond III on the seams and edges. The surface has hairline cracks, to be sure, and it has only one delamination about 4 " long and no rot. Other than that, it looks as good as one of my fir marine ply pirogues after six months...............with 3 coats of paint, kept inside !
  17. oldsparkey

    oldsparkey Well-Known Member

    Heck I go out on thinner limbs since I like to use the 1/8th inch door skins for my boats. I like to epoxy saturate them and then glass them with 3.5 tight woven glass. For some unknown reason the boats are still being used by friends I gave them to. One of the pirogues is 17 years old and still being paddled. So far no one has had to swim home. :)

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