PDA

View Full Version : White Oak for a strip-built boat?



WadeK
08-11-2009, 03:33 PM
Hi,

First time posting ... I've been thinking about building a 15-17' Whitehall since I recently saw one ... beautiful boat all around. In looking into it via the internet it looks like they're all either lapstrake or cedar strip (or fibreglass - defeats the purpose for me). For several reasons I'm strongly inclined to go with strip building but wonder about the choice of wood.

I live in the Chicago area and I think I can get white oak for less money and hassle, maybe even a lot less of both. I have access to tools needed to cut and plane the wood down to size and cut beads and coves. If it weren't for that I wouldn't think it would be worthwhile going with anything but pre-made cedar strips.

What I would like to know from any with experience in such things is if I'm way offbase in pondering this? Will the white oak grain be as crucial as with cedar, thus severely limiting lumber choice? How about glue type? I know the boat would end up weighing more, but would it negatively affect the boat other than being more work to haul? I know there are other concerns I haven't posted, and others I haven't thought of, but no need to write a book yet.

Another thing I was wondering about was using short cedar strips like one vendor has - UPS shippable and thus saving a LOT of shipping costs.

Thanks, Wade

Thorne
08-11-2009, 03:47 PM
Welcome to the Forum!

Glued strip contstruction from WO would not be wise - but I understand the temptation to use the wood. I used it for several applications in place of DF in my dory skiff restoration for the same reason -- nice grain and cheaper!

You want a very light wood that won't rot easily and won't swell/shrink when damp for glued strip boats, which is why cedar is often used. WO is known for swelling/shrinking, so combined with the weight and possible epoxy issues it would not be a good choice.

Why not build lapestrake ply?

Brian Palmer
08-11-2009, 04:10 PM
Stip building with fiberglass sheathing usually uses a soft wood for the strips to keep the boat light. Cedar is usually preferred, but a friend of mine used redwood strips very successfully for a canoe.

Use the white oak for rails and knees, but not the strips.

Brian

JimConlin
08-11-2009, 04:16 PM
White oak is a particularly poor choice for a strip composite whitehall. Several reasons:

It's heavier than cedar and would add at least 20 lbs. to a 15' Whitehall. In most conditions, the added weight would make the boat more difficult to row.

A sheathing of glass in epoxy is an essential part of strip composite construction. White oak in particular may not adhere well to most epoxies .

White oak will be more difficult to mill, particularly in the coved edges.


You're in a part of the world where white cedar is local and available. It'd be my first choice. The soft pines would be a little heavier but quite workable.

Tom Hoffman
08-11-2009, 06:51 PM
You might want to scavange some of the smaller town lumber yards for WRC, I found enought boards left over from a previous boat builder who built a few canoes a number of years back and the Lumber yard had just enough 1X6's for me to build my Whitehall. I built using 3/8 strips and manually bead and coved them myself. Not a lot of work. Just need a good router table and a jig to feed them into to mill each side of the strips with just one change over to mill the opposite profile. My strips were 18-20' long and my wife and I milled a couple of dozen each day, I would lay up two strips on each side of the boat and let it dry and then lay another two a couple of hours later. Normally got about 10 strips on each day. My Whitehall ended up being pretty heavily modified, stretched and bow profile and stern rake were all changed. Finishedl LOA is 20'7".

Here is my set of building pictures from start to finish. Oars too.

http://www.webshots.com/user/slvrgost

Here are a couple of shots.

http://i90.photobucket.com/albums/k276/slvrgost/MaidenVoyage005.jpg

http://i90.photobucket.com/albums/k276/slvrgost/Onthetrailer.jpg:D:D:D

Cuyahoga Chuck
08-11-2009, 07:30 PM
Boat hulls can be stripped with almost any wood you prefer but straying from the most common choices is only for masochists.
Cutting strips and finishing the stripped hull can take a lot of effort and usually generates a lot of dust, chips and sore muscles. By choosing a heavy and /or hard to work wood you are prolonging the agony.
If this is to be your introduction to building with strips you will certainly hit numerous bumps so take the path of least resistance and build by the book.

mcdenny
08-11-2009, 07:38 PM
Living around Chicago, you should be able to find 4/4 WRC dimensional lumber easily for not much more than WO. Rip it into 3/8 x 3/4 strips and have at it. Cedar is such nice stuff to work with, much more plesant than oak IMHO.

Use PL Premium to bond strips together, fair, skin inside and out with fiberglas/epoxy.

Voila! A strong lightweight waterproof boat.

willmarsh3
08-11-2009, 07:54 PM
That Whitehall is a beautiful boat. :)

Cedar is about 23 lbs per cubic foot.
Oak is about 47 lbs per cubic food.

http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/wood-density-d_40.html

Your boat would end up being about twice as heavy as it should be.

Cuyahoga Chuck
08-11-2009, 07:56 PM
I don't see the sense of using any glue that can't be wiped off with a damp rag. Even Elmers white glue will give you a bond that is stronger than the wood. Any glue that gets into the surface of the strips will be harder to clean off if allowed to harden.

ahp
08-12-2009, 10:04 AM
Elmer's White Glue? I have used it for furniture, but it is not water proof! Are you talking about something else?

the_gr8t_waldo
08-12-2009, 06:21 PM
the final element in stripbuilt boat is the fiberglass/epoxy outer covering. and the wood it lays on has to apsorb some of the epoxy- to my way of thinking, it has to absorb as much as possible. i doubt if WO will lent it'self to this important step. wo dosen't strike me as being very absorbant. seems to me that the only glue to propperly glue up strips would not be a glue at all- but thickend epoxy. dissimilar materials in the hull would only weaken the matrix

Tom Hoffman
08-12-2009, 06:36 PM
I used Titebond III which is able to be cleaned up with a wet cloth. They call it a one part water proof glue, just not for permanent immersion. The strip joints should not get wet. They are covered with epoxy and multiple coats of fiberglass and more epoxy. My Whitehall has 2 layers of fiberglass on the exterior and 3-4 layers of wider and wider tape on the keel. By the way, the keel is White Oak. The interior is covered with one layer of cloth and tape in critical places as well. My interior was coated, thwarts, floorboards with epoxy with out cloth and then 5-7 coats of Marine Spar Poly (ultra violet resistant) My boat stays trailered and covered and in a Garage when not in use.

Cuyahoga Chuck
08-12-2009, 08:39 PM
Elmer's White Glue? I have used it for furniture, but it is not water proof! Are you talking about something else?

On the old fashioned edge nailed strippers nothing is used between the strips. But I thought we were talking about strips sheathed in epoxy and 'glass. The glue should never see moisture.

WadeK
08-12-2009, 11:43 PM
Thanks for the feedback. If I were building a 44-gun frigate, there would be no question, but a strip built whitehall is put together a little differently. For some reason it doesn't quite make sense to me that the oak absorbs enough moisture to swell and shrink but can have trouble taking a glue, resin, or epoxy. Reading the comments does remind me of hearing about oak swell/shrink and from working with it on past non-waterborne projects I can imagine it not absorbing the glues, etc. as well as a more soft and open grain wood.

http://www.glen-l.com/wood-plywood/bb-chap5d.html (http://www.glen-l.com/wood-plywood/bb-chap5d.htmlFrom)

From looking at this, it seems that Alaska or Port Orford cedars would be best with the other cedars coming in 2nd. It seems that most people use WRC - is that because everyone else does it and it works just well enough and being covered with the fibreglass/epoxy comensates for any of the wood's shortcomings, or is it truly plenty good enough and one of the best woods for the job?

Just so nobody takes this or any other questions the wrong way, I repair and restore MGs for my paycheck, so I see and hear about a LOT of stupid "repairs" done by people that think they know what they are doing, or heard about doing something by method x, and all it does is make the car functional yet unreliable at best. A lot of dumbasses and cheapskates that profess to be MG afficionados have gotten their hands on these cars over the years and screwed them up. And a lot of these guys are the guys that post A LOT on internet forums (when do they find the time to get out to the garage?) or talk the most at club meetings, and then a lot of people are dumb enough to think that whoever speaks up the loudest and first knows the most, without even thinking about whether they really do know what they're talking about. Not saying any of you are like the MG "experts" I know, just so you know my frame of mind if I sound skeptical or want to hear more. There are also a lot of MG guys that would rather do something themselves than do it or have it done right. I will take no pride in building a boat myself if it isn't built right.

As far as glue for the planks go, it just makes good sense to me to use something that will be waterproof. You should end up with the hull completely covered with the fiberglass cloth and resin and so forth, but what if something happens? Belts and suspenders for a critical application I'd think.

Why not lapstrake? I really like the aesthetics of the strip boats with the way they show the grain and the smooth sides. From looking at both online from a construction point of view, I'm a little more comfortable with building a strip-built boat with beads and coves. I was thinking about white oak because I like the wood, it's one of my favorite trees - our state tree as far as that goes, its used extensively and successfully in one of my favorite ships - the USS Constitution. So I thought if it would work ok for one of these boats then I have plenty of excellent personal reasons for going with it over other suitable woods. I'll keep an eye out for some cedar for the hull planking I think. I'm thinking southern yellow pine for the floor planking, like the Constitution has/had.


Tom, you used WO for your keel, huh? Any other comments on WO's suitability for the keel, keelson, and bow stems? Or other woods that are good for that?
Thanks for the comments so far, Wade

Thorne
08-13-2009, 08:19 AM
Glad to hear you are familiar with restoration and web forum issues. We are a pretty good bunch when it comes to expressing our opinions -- and are often requested to back them up with facts, photos, or experiences.

One common problem for new builders is over-building. We all tend to do the belt+suspenders+ducttape thing, but it can add unwanted/unneeded weight to the finished boat -- and the lightweight strip boats really don't need that weight!

There is a lot of confusion between the modern super-thin glued-strip fiberglass-covered construction, and the more traditional heavy strips nailed-together construction -- they are often glommed together as "strip built".

So when you say "planks", I'm guessing you mean "strips". Most glued-strip-built boats don't seem to mix woods, and you can get a lot of color variation with the cedars anyway.

And when you say "keelson" -- do glued-strip-built Whitehalls have a keelson? It is important to only discuss boat design elements that apply to the build under discussion, as otherwise confusion can result. A fully trad cedar-over-oak Whitehall might use WO for some parts, but a glued-strip-built Whitehall probably won't have those same parts...

Best of luck with whatever you decide to build. One last bit of advice -- see if you can decide if the boat will be operated only under oar, or will be sail & oar. It makes a lot of difference in the design elements, and retrofitting a pulling boat for sail after the fact can be pretty troublesome -- don't ask me how I know this...:D

AndreasJordahlRhude
08-14-2009, 07:14 AM
Use white oak (all heartwood) for framing members such as keel, keelson, frames. Here's a 1952 picture of some white oak glued laminated timber frames for a 165 ft. long minesweeper:

http://i232.photobucket.com/albums/ee189/ThompsonBoat/TruckShipRib.jpg

Andreas

Don Z.
08-14-2009, 03:22 PM
For some reason it doesn't quite make sense to me that the oak absorbs enough moisture to swell and shrink but can have trouble taking a glue, resin, or epoxy.

Ah, but I think you are confusing the wood's ability to absorb moisture with the tannic acid in the wood's ability to alter the chemical composition of the glue...

In MG terms, that's like saying that it doesn't make sense that a wax that is able to bead up water on the paint would not protect the paint from a brake fluid spill...

WadeK
08-17-2009, 02:19 AM
There is a lot of confusion between the modern super-thin glued-strip fiberglass-covered construction, ...

So when you say "planks", I'm guessing you mean "strips". Most glued-strip-built boats don't seem to mix woods, and you can get a lot of color variation with the cedars anyway.

And when you say "keelson" -- do glued-strip-built Whitehalls have a keelson? It is important to only discuss boat design elements that apply to the build under discussion, as otherwise confusion can result. ... those same parts...



One website with a lot of information on what they were selling and a pretty good photo gallery section is
http://www.canadiancanoes.com/wh_bguide/whproject_info.php
Those at least have a keel and keelson. Regarding planks and strips, I was under the impression that strips were a specific type of plank, is that wrong? I do see the point of being as specific as at all possible. Especially with all the contradictory advice I've seen on this forum in the short time I've looked around it.

I did some calling around to all the lumber yards in the phone book and NONE of them had any sort of white cedar and don't order it. Several did have Western Red Cedar, which is obviously trucked in.

Thorne
08-17-2009, 07:38 AM
The easy answer is to build to the plan, no substitutions or whatever.

Hard answer is to get some boatbuilding books and read up. Learn the terminology, which is unique to things nautical.

I'll go out on a limb and say that in boatbuilding terms, a 'plank' is a long piece of wood that is wider than it is thick -- in other words what we think of as "plank" (like walking, the).

Usually it will mean solid wood, although it is also used for long pieces of plywood, particularly when referring to the part of the boat that the plywood makes up -- like 'garboard plank'.

And I looked at the plans you linked to, and sure enough, they show a "keelson notch" for the ply part that duplicates a more standard plank keelson.

Cuyahoga Chuck
08-17-2009, 11:23 AM
One website with a lot of information on what they were selling and a pretty good photo gallery section is
http://www.canadiancanoes.com/wh_bguide/whproject_info.php
Those at least have a keel and keelson. Regarding planks and strips, I was under the impression that strips were a specific type of plank, is that wrong? I do see the point of being as specific as at all possible. Especially with all the contradictory advice I've seen on this forum in the short time I've looked around it.

I did some calling around to all the lumber yards in the phone book and NONE of them had any sort of white cedar and don't order it. Several did have Western Red Cedar, which is obviously trucked in.

You're dancing around the internet and it is obvious you haven't got a grip on the stripping system yet. Why not spend a buck and get a book that will take you thru' the process from end to end? Ted Moores' book "Canoecraft" has been in constant publication since 1983 and is now available in a revised form. Either version is the bible of how-to for those new to strip building.

WadeK
08-18-2009, 01:08 AM
a 'plank' is a long piece of wood that is wider than it is thick

That sounds like a ... ;)

sure enough, they show a "keelson notch" for the ply part that duplicates a more standard plank keelson
I'm sure you're not surprised I know a little bit about boats and can read captions. By "standard plank keelson" are you thinking of boats that use the keeslon as an "anchor" for the ribs? If so, I saw a few strip-built whitehalls out in internet land with ribs and IIRC, one I saw in real life recently had a few ribs as well. They were spaced pretty far apart, every 18" or so. The boat will be oar-powered, or maybe a small trolling motor. No sailing for me

Tom, that's a great looking boat you've built.

Chuck, I've got a better handle on this than you apparently think. One thing this thread has been extremely valuable to me for is demonstrating sources of good and bad advice.

Wood wise, I think I'll check into some white cedar up in the northern Wisconsin or NE Minnesota areas. I head up that way every so often and a quick internet search shows a couple of lumber yards that handle the stuff up there.

AndreasJordahlRhude
08-18-2009, 07:20 AM
Plenty of northern white cedar in Wisconsin and Michigan's UP. Your best bet is to try small, local sawmills. Lots of farmer's and woodsmen have small mills out in the back 40. Marinette and Florence counties are full of small mills.

When I was about ten years of age my dad to tricked me into going for a ride on a Saturday and we'd end up driving the entire day looking for loggers cutting white cedar trees. He'd make deals to buy truck loads of logs to be delivered to our little junky saw mill in Peshtigo. We had a press drying system to turn the green boards into dry lumber in 15 minutes.

Ah, the good old days!

Andreas

Ron Carter
08-18-2009, 07:36 AM
That sounds like a ... ;)



Wood wise, I think I'll check into some white cedar up in the northern Wisconsin or NE Minnesota areas. I head up that way every so often and a quick internet search shows a couple of lumber yards that handle the stuff up there.

If you do look carefully at what is offered. I talked to two different mills in northern Michigan that had "boat building quality" white cedar. Wennt to pick some up and found that if you sorted 5000 board feet you might get a couple hundred feet of decently clear stock but it wouldn't average more than 8' long.