View Full Version : Ipe?

09-17-2009, 06:15 AM
Would Ipe be a reasonable wood for rubrails? I need to replace the 18' Teak rubrails on a Marshall Sanderling. If so, does it take to steaming so as to conform to the gentle bend at the bow?

Cross section of rubrail would be about 1" x 1 1/2".

09-17-2009, 07:55 AM
Do a search of the Forum, this has been discussed at length. From what little I know about the wood it should be fine, not sure about the steaming.

09-17-2009, 08:04 AM
I have found ipe to be very brittle as wood goes and it loves to check. Unless you have some free laying around I would go with teak. If that is too much for the pocket, white oak.

I really hate working with ipe so I am a little biased. Perhaps others have better experience with it but my vote is against.


Lew Barrett
09-17-2009, 09:45 AM
Try purpleheart as well. That's become a popular wood for this sort of work as of late.

09-17-2009, 11:18 AM
I'm very impressed with Ipe for outdoor applications but it is extremely hard to work; expect to resharpen your plane every 5 or 6 strokes and sharpen your saw blades before the project.

Jim Ledger
09-17-2009, 11:25 AM
One by two Ipe is going to be very hard to bend and I'm not sure steaming will have much effect. Other than that, it would make an excellent rubrail. I don't think checking would be too pronounced in that small section and any small checks that might develop would have no structural significance. Rotting would not be much of an issue.

Hal Forsen
09-17-2009, 01:03 PM
Unless you already have it I'd go with something else.
It's a royal pain to work. NASTY sawdust and as previously stated it eats tool edges like candy.
In order to steam it you'll have to resaw into thin strips otherwise it's just too darn dense.
The only place I'd use the stuff on a boat would be a skid plate / rub sole........:D

Jim Ledger
09-17-2009, 01:14 PM
The only place I'd use the stuff on a boat would be a skid plate / rub sole........:D

I'll bet it would make a nice centerboard, narrow pieces drifted together. ;)

Wouldn't need much lead to make it sink.

I've seen it used to repair a catboat tiller...


...and for a rudder, it has certain qualities...

David G
09-17-2009, 01:21 PM
I like Ipe, and have used it for a number of marine and other outdoor applications. We used it for both the outwale cap (rubrail), and the inwale on our Goat Island Skiff. You can see how much curve there is (moderate), and we did it with a large army of clamps:


The setup has been tested - both by rugged normal use, and once by dropping the boat from overhead and having it land on the stbd gunwale. The cap was scuffed, but not badly. The inwale split in one spot. I suspect, however, that most species would have sustained similar or worse damage from that event.

Ipe looks quite lovely with a bit of varnish on it also.

Dave Wright
09-17-2009, 01:36 PM
I used ipe for coamings and trim on the cockpit of my skiff and like it. I used Deks Oljes for finish. I was going to use it for rubrails but was unsuccessful in steam bending it. I then halved the section figuring I'd be able to successfully steam the two thinner pieces then laminate them. Again, it didn't work for me. Might have been that I needed too much twist as well as bend???

09-17-2009, 09:30 PM
Many thanks for all the responses. Not looking to promising for ipe though. Teak is looking like the wood of choice, and it was used orginally on the boat.

Thorne, I did a search prior to posting with "ipe" as the keyword, but no hits were returned :confused:

David G., that is one fine looking craft! I think your use of ipe passed the torture test :)

Jim, that tiller is really nice and the rudder must be from your current catboat build. I have really fallen for catboats too, as you have already (someday I hope to have a wooden one). What great boats for Baregat Bay. Sure had a nice sail with you, Joe, Phil and Russ on Sjogin a couple of years ago.

Best regards....Mark