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stumpbumper
02-23-2010, 10:36 PM
Has anyone ever used the lauan underlayment plywood at Lowe's or Home Depot to build a kayak? I noticed CLC's website discourages the use of lauan rather than occume, stating the veneers are thinner and the inner core material is of poor quality. I was just curious to know if anyone had actually tried lauan. Thanks Lynn

JimConlin
02-23-2010, 11:08 PM
Lauan, particularly from the big box stores, has NO quality control and the best of it still stinks. If wet' it'll delaminate in short order. It should not be used in any boat .

I use it a lot for patterns and other shop uses.

stumpbumper
02-23-2010, 11:09 PM
Thanks, Horace. The price is certainly more attractive, but maybe you get what you pay for. Our local Lowe's sells 5.2 mm sheets for about $11.

stumpbumper
02-23-2010, 11:11 PM
Thanks Jim, that's what I suspected.

Cuyahoga Chuck
02-23-2010, 11:15 PM
Probably thousands of times. But what they say about most of the bigbox store luan is correct. It's cheap because it's cheaply made. A lot of it is made in China. It's all core with paper thin exterior plys that hold everything together.
Once a builder has tried out his luan creation he figures out the only way to make his creation safe is to glass the whole thing. And with the cost of epoxy what it is the glassing job runs the cost up to about what it would have been had he used quality okoume ply. And, of course, all that epoxy has made the boat heavier than is desirable.
If you want to look for a replacement for the pricey okoume plywood here's what you must look for
Three plies of approximately equal thickness.
Waterproof glue. Not water-resistant or any other mumbo-jumbo, WATERPROOF. If in doubt boil a piece for at least 30 minutes.
Then there is the test for voids. I use a 250 watt spotlight to backlight each panel in a darkened room. Hidden voids will show up as an orange glow. Small round voids the size of a nickel or less can be punctured and filled with epoxy. Anything bigger than that you don't want.

David G
02-23-2010, 11:21 PM
bumper,

The buyers for the big box stores have very little loyalty to their suppliers. They might get the same product, from the same mill, for a stretch of time... but my impression is that they never lock themselves in. If they can get the same thing (or something similar) for a nickel cheaper... they jump. Out of curiosity, I check periodically. I've found what looked like good boatbuilding plywood... and used it (after some testing) with no problems. Frequently, though, when you go back for more - it's gone. Despite several efforts, I've never gotten them to supply specifications about any of their sheet goods. They don't buy that way. Their clientele doesn't think that way. They don't bother.

As a result... most generalizations I've seen posted on the internet are less than useful. Perhaps the only one that holds up over time is Caveat Emptor.

If you value the labor you'll be putting into your boat projects - buy from a specialty lumber supplier who knows what they're selling... either local or mail-order. Barring that - cultivate a salesperson who shows some interest in your boat project at the local lumber yard - the one that supplies the professional builders and remodelers in your area.

Rich Jones
02-24-2010, 08:50 AM
Has anyone ever used the lauan underlayment plywood at Lowe's or Home Depot to build a kayak? I noticed CLC's website discourages the use of lauan rather than occume, stating the veneers are thinner and the inner core material is of poor quality. I was just curious to know if anyone had actually tried lauan. Thanks Lynn

Only people who want to sink.http://www.woodenboat.com/forum/images/icons/icon7.gif

Brian Palmer
02-24-2010, 08:56 AM
I've bought okoume straight from CLC (shipping really wasn't too bad) to build a small canoe.

I've bought luan from the orange and blue big box stores for other projects around the house.

I have scraps of each in the basement. There is absolutely NO confusion about which is which when I pick one up.

The luan is very brittle and splintery.

The okoume is smooth and take a nice bend, and works very well with hand tools and finishes very nicely under either paint or varnish. Just a much better product all around.

Brian

kc8pql
02-24-2010, 10:59 AM
...underlayment plywood...
If it was good for anything else they wouldn't call it that.

Figment
02-24-2010, 11:19 AM
I built a dinghy out of the supercrap thin veneers and powdery core luan about six years ago. This spring I need to replace the solid-lumber outwales.

I really can't say anything bad about it. It has far far exceeded my expectations... but would I build a kayak out of it?
Depends.
I plan to build a kayak for my son with it this spring, but that's a boat that will fit him for two or maaaaaybe three years at the most and then hang on the garage wall right above his first hockey stick.

Bob Cleek
02-24-2010, 02:16 PM
The value of the labor involved in building anything that floats so far outweighs the cost of materials that there is really little or no point in ever using inferior materials, which are also usually much harder to work, thereby increasing the labor involved. This is one of those really basic facts that seems to be lost on those who are just starting out. What's the point of spending hundreds of hours and hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, building a beautifully crafted boat out of crappy material, only to watch it fall apart in a few short years? And, no, slathering expensive epoxy resin and cloth over punk wood neither saves money nor makes for a better boat. If you are attracted to plastic resins, build a proper boat using epoxy lamination or a standard resin and cloth layup. If you want to build a wooden boat, build it properly out of proper wood or wood products.

Bill Huson
02-24-2010, 08:31 PM
Yes! I built a pirouge (flat bottom canoe) with Lowes 5mm luan. It was actually 5 ply, but the face plies were very thin and easy to sand through. Poplar frames and gunwales, luan ply hull, 6oz fiberglass on the outside, few coats of WEST resin, several coats of spar varnish. Overkill for a beater boat.

I would not use luan for a boat I intended to use a lot, as in get wet more than a few times a year.

Horace
02-24-2010, 10:21 PM
Apologies for not getting back sooner.

Checked the underlayment sheets as best I could: they were very wet and, as stated earlier, have been for several weeks. There doesn't seem to be any evidence of buckling or delamination. Unfortunately, I couldn't retrieve any sheets for thorough inspection and rain prevented trying to unpile the mess.

I called our local builders' supply (not Lowe's) and requested some background on underlayment: they carry two kinds, certified and noncertified. "Certified" meranti underlayment has exterior glue and minimal face repairs and interior voids (think resistance to spills on tile or carpet and spike high-heeled shoes), and is $16/sheet. Of course, it isn't certified for marine use, and you're taking a gamble to use it or similar materials for boat construction.

This thread is also currently on the forum:

http://www.woodenboat.com/forum/showthread.php?t=110396

Lewisboats
02-24-2010, 10:42 PM
The value of the labor involved in building anything that floats so far outweighs the cost of materials that there is really little or no point in ever using inferior materials, which are also usually much harder to work, thereby increasing the labor involved. This is one of those really basic facts that seems to be lost on those who are just starting out. What's the point of spending hundreds of hours and hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, building a beautifully crafted boat out of crappy material, only to watch it fall apart in a few short years? And, no, slathering expensive epoxy resin and cloth over punk wood neither saves money nor makes for a better boat. If you are attracted to plastic resins, build a proper boat using epoxy lamination or a standard resin and cloth layup. If you want to build a wooden boat, build it properly out of proper wood or wood products.

Something that is also forgotten is the fact that for some folks buying those prime materials can be double or triple the cost of just the materials because of shipping and handling. Putting 20-40 hours of fun labor into something is rarely touted against the cost of building by someone who is new and bound to make a few mistakes. It is only if you sit there and consider yourself as both client and contractor (and take most if not all the fun out of the experience) that you would need to sit down and charge yourself an hourly rate. I could hire out all my lawn chores, shoveling chores, raking chores etc but then I wouldn't get to be out getting a bit of exercise and enjoy a bit of fresh air. It is all in how you look at what you are doing. Is it a chore or is it something you would enjoy or do enjoy doing. Personally I don't mind putting a bit of labor into making a cheap boat that lasts only 5-10 years...I usually have a couple of builds going on at any given time anyways and I usually start another before I am finished the previous. I build out of the best stuff that is available locally...none of it is marine grade. I cannot afford the doubling or tripling in price that shipping or going to get the stuff would cost to get it to corn country. It kinda irks me that people always seem to pipe up an say if you don't build with top of the line stuff it will be trash and you will have wasted your time. If you enjoyed the process and learned something and go on to bigger and better builds where the good stuff is warranted then I would say that building with cheap was building smart. I have built boats with the worst of the luaun crap and had them last over 5 years...$50 in lumberyard materials and $50-60 in epoxy did the trick. I couldn't have even gotten a sheet of 1/4" marine ply shipped to my house for that price...yet I had a boat that gave me pleasure for 5+ years. If I ever learn to take better care of them the probably would last longer.

kulas44
02-25-2010, 08:38 PM
I've glued up 1 inch ply using some decent luan from Lowes. The luan was 5 ply iirc. I used 1 to 1 FCI epoxy to glue the 4x8 sheets together. I built a rack to hold them, seperating every 4 (or was it 5) sheets with plastic, and just kept gluing and stacking. We covered the top with concrete blocks, let it set overnight and unstacked it the next day. . The runout made a nasty mess in the shop but the ply was excellent. Very stiff and easy to work. No splintering. I wouldn't want to try and bend it though. I used it for bulkheads and epoxy sealed all surfaces, but I do that with any plywood. YMMV

Bob Cleek
02-25-2010, 09:09 PM
Something that is also forgotten is the fact that for some folks buying those prime materials can be double or triple the cost of just the materials because of shipping and handling. ... I build out of the best stuff that is available locally...none of it is marine grade. I cannot afford the doubling or tripling in price that shipping or going to get the stuff would cost to get it to corn country. It kinda irks me that people always seem to pipe up an say if you don't build with top of the line stuff it will be trash and you will have wasted your time. If you enjoyed the process and learned something and go on to bigger and better builds where the good stuff is warranted then I would say that building with cheap was building smart.

Building out of the best stuff that is available locally is exactly what I'm talking about. "Marine grade" is often just "higher priced." That doesn't mean, however, that real Asian garbage sheet material from a bottom end outlet like Home Despot (which can sometimes have decent wood on a fluke) is good economy. Similarly, paying huge shipping costs for something that isn't available locally rarely makes much sense either. If it isn't available locally, there is almost always something comparable that is, especially with "real" wood, rather than "wood products." Osage orange (also called Bois d'arc or hedge apple) is native to the middle of the country and was planted widely as windbreaks during the Depression. That growth is really ripe for harvest now and some are raving about it as a quality boatbuilding wood because of its dimensional stability and superior rot resistance. Those of us who live on the coasts have never seen it. Those who live on the praries have ready access to it. And, if you MUST use plywood, it seems often overlooked that MDO ("Medium Density Overlay") plywood, which is used for road signs all over the country and is coated with a sheathing that permits it to be finished glossy without any grain rising and takes epoxy very well, is, if the edges are properly sealed, really good stuff for boat work.

It certainly isn't necessary to use the really gold-plated prime materials, such as the very expensive "marine grade" tropical finish plywoods, for quick and dirty boats, but there is a happy medium. Still, the place to find "the right stuff" is rarely going to be a supply outfit that caters to the house carpenters. Wherever you are, if one looks a bit more carefully, material suitable for the task can be found. This is particularly true with grown wood. Find a local sawyer or two with portable sawmills. It's amazing what can be available from them if you are willing to stack and dry your own stock. If you don't have milling capability, any local mill can run up thicknessed flitch cut plank stock for you at very reasonable cost. Even with added milling expense, buying rough cut stuff is much, much less expensive than buying the same wood finished 4S from some outfit like WoodCraft that caters to the ritzy hobbist bowl turners.

stumpbumper
02-25-2010, 10:08 PM
Wow, lots of good advice here. Thanks for all the posts. Here in the midsouth there is no marine plywood that I know of. I have plans for the CLC Wood Duck 12. I will probab)ly just go ahead and order what they recommend: two sheets of 4mm occume and one sheet of 3mm sapelle (for the deck). I wish there was a supplier within reasonable driving distance.

kulas44
02-25-2010, 10:08 PM
As usuall I agree with Mr. Cleek, but I lament the almost wholesale loss of our "osage orange" hedge rows across the heartland of this country. Not from harvest for commerciall use but from greedy farmers with bulldozers (most of Illinois comes to mind, eastern Kansas, lots of Oklahoma and north Texas, I birdhunt in all of those states) trying to get that last foot of tillable land. I guess they didn't learn a thing from the dust bowl days. I also agree that MDO is the least known GREATest plywood for boat building. I still like marine fir where it won't be seen or will be glassed over, but MDO is good stuff everywhere else. But, I still think (know) that any boat is better than no boat so if you must use cheaper material to get on the water so be it, your still on the water, seeya there.

SMARTINSEN
02-25-2010, 11:56 PM
Wow, lots of good advice here. Thanks for all the posts. Here in the midsouth there is no marine plywood that I know of. I have plans for the CLC Wood Duck 12. I will probab)ly just go ahead and order what they recommend: two sheets of 4mm occume and one sheet of 3mm sapelle (for the deck). I wish there was a supplier within reasonable driving distance.


A quick google for "marine plywood" in Memphis yields: Cirtain Plywood Inc

887 Rayner St
Memphis, TN 38114


(901) 725-7477

Lewisboats
02-26-2010, 09:03 AM
And, if you MUST use plywood, it seems often overlooked that MDO ("Medium Density Overlay") plywood, which is used for road signs all over the country and is coated with a sheathing that permits it to be finished glossy without any grain rising and takes epoxy very well, is, if the edges are properly sealed, really good stuff for boat work.

Problem with that is that the only MDO available is 1/2". Can't seem to find anything thinner. What I have resorted to now is something called PlyFloor. It is Baltic Birch, 5 equal plies with no voids and waterproof glue. Similar stuff is popular for boat building in the northern areas of the European continent and Russia. This is for the 1/4" (nominal) stuff, but I still have to use crappy B/C 3 ply exterior for 3/8". I have used the really bad luaun with the paper thing outer and sponge interior...it works for a throw-away boat or to test if something works as designed. Like I say...I have gotten up to 5 years use out of (at the time) $7/sheet plywood and a half gallon of epoxy and some 1x2s.

Dale Genther
02-26-2010, 10:18 AM
Lewisboats - I know it is a LONG way from you, but Harbor Sales in Sudlersville, MD sells MDO in 3/8, 1/2 and 3/4 inch. I buy MDO and various other plywoods from them all the time and they deliver to my house for free.

OconeePirate
02-26-2010, 10:23 AM
I actually wound up at the Harbor Sales site last night while surfing around. You have to register to get pricing but its just a give 'em an email address sort of thing. Once registered you can make a shopping list and it will give you price delivered which is nice. Lots of places won't give you the shipping price without calling, and when I'm just trying to put together an idea of what something may cost I don't like to bother sales guys since there is a good chance I won't buy from them anyway.

David G
02-26-2010, 11:08 AM
Steve,

Your local lumber yard can order MDO for you from Olympic Panel: 5/16"; 3/8"; 1/2"; 5/8"; 3/4"; 9/8"

http://www.olypanel.com/signMaking/

5.5 Meter
02-26-2010, 11:13 AM
Regarding MDO as mentioned above, I think it may also be referred to as ‘Sign Painters Plywood’. I’ve used it for interior cabinit work that was painted, as I recall it can be obtained in A/A or A/B finish and usually available through any local plywood supplier.

Regarding Lauan (underlayment), it boils down :] to $ vs. intended use. Could someone use it for a kayak…go for it

vs.

Something that one would cross the big pond in…I wouldn’t.

Hey, I’m sure someone could make something out of corrugated cardboard. Would it float? Yes. Would it last? Perhaps. Would I wear a life Jacket? You bet!

Another source for marine ply in the Great Lakes area is www.noahsmarine.com (http://www.noahsmarine.com/) outside Toronto Canada; they list their price on-line.

To close, what did J. P. Morgan say? “If you have to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it”.