View Full Version : cypress/long leaf pine planking?
09-04-2005, 08:14 AM
I'm rebuilding a 50 year old Herreshoff Meadowlark, and while reading Herreshoff's "Sensible Cruising Designs" I noted he suggested using "cypress" among other woods for planking the hull of Meadow Lark.
Mine is planked with mahogany and quite a few planks need replacing. Even though cypress is heavier than the mahogany, I'm considering using cypress since it grows in the south, is available locally (a big plus), is rot resistant, and is cheaper than mahogany.
I know the old shrimpers planked with cypress...it sounds like a winner to me.
How about "sinker" woods??? Any experiences???Any feedback???? Positive or negative.
I do not believe the weight of the wood will be a negative factor in my boat, but wonder about the amount of water it will absorb and hold. Will the exterior paint reduce this significantly if only painting the outside face?
Lots of questions, plenty of time.
Thanks in advance,
09-04-2005, 08:16 AM
PS~~> if I go with cypress or long leaf pine, I plan to replank the entire topsides...not just replace suspect planks.
09-04-2005, 11:44 AM
Baldcypress heartwood as harvested every day in the South would be a fair match.
Compared to H. Mahog, it is a tad lighter, a tad weaker, a tad softer, and a tad less stable....but it has planked vessels successfully for generations. It also soaks up water like a sponge, but normal coatings should keep your below-waterline moisture content to the below 25% common in its weaker cousin, Western Red Cedar.
Longleaf Pine in comparison, isn't readily available except from salvaged timbers. Modern, plantation-grown Southern Yellow Pine isn't even close to it as a boatbuilding wood, and cypress would be a much better choice.
Cypress has been the wood of choice for water tanks and silos for a couple of hundred years (give or take). Yes it does soak up water but it doesn't seem to be harmed by it.
SALVAGED TIMBERS- Now why in the world would anyone want to use salvaged timber to build a boat from??????
100 years old salvaged lumber is drier then a popcorn fart and the fibers have lost all their elasticity and flexibilty which is strength.
And if it is a resinous wood, it is harder then the rims on your truck.Totally useless.
Yes if you run it through a planer and jointer and make trim out of it for the interior of your home, you can end up with some nice stuff. But chair rail and crown molding doesn't need any flexibiltiy to it like your boat hull lumber does.
As for plantation grown, a lot of the lumber we buy is plantation grown, even a lot of the lumber from mexico and south america is plantation grown.
So what. A tree doesn't know or care if it grew in the wilds or on a plantation.
The only thing you need to concern yourself about the lumber is what species it is, grading as to clear or so knotty it is unuseable, moisture content and ring growth and grain orientation.
I have used tons of yellow pine and most of it is most likely plantation grown. The ring growth is usually from 10 to 14 rings per inch, sometimes more and sometimes as few as 8 rings per inch.
Simple, don't buy and use the 8 or 10 ring growth lumber, since you are using it for a boat hull, be more selective and pick out the better stuff.You will pay more and not find it at home depot either.
Here is a interesting and informative site from the coast guard on building a wooden boat. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and look at the diagrams, they specify yellow pine as one of the lumbers for planking.
09-04-2005, 01:50 PM
You can get mahogany and even if not locally,you arent going to be needing a steady supply.Why not just replank with what it was planked with originally?The cypress you get locally if anything like here is not much good for anything other than fence products or hot tubs,things that require small pieces maybe.Also,the different wood mixtures is bound to expand and contract differently than the surrounding wood. Seems if you picked the same species ,atleast the characteristics might be closer to the same.Then you wouldn't have to replank the entire topsides.
[ 09-04-2005, 01:51 PM: Message edited by: pipefitter ]
09-04-2005, 03:06 PM
...I have used tons of yellow pine and most of it is most likely plantation grown. The ring growth is usually from 10 to 14 rings per inch, sometimes more and sometimes as few as 8 rings per inch.
Simple, don't buy and use the 8 or 10 ring growth lumber, since you are using it for a boat hull, be more selective and pick out the better stuff.You will pay more and not find it at home depot either.
You're sure gonna have to show us those, Ron.
Trees 24" in diameter harvested at the 60 year mark....and I'm being generous....will have 5 rings per inch.
Here's what a growth ring is....in pics...in case you are double counting:
http://woodenboat-ubb.com/ubb/ultimatebb.ph p?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=009431 (http://woodenboat-ubb.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=009431)
Cat....if you can get 8 rings or better in SYP (Loblolly, Slash, Shortleaf and Longleaf) heartwood, you have good stock. SYP heartwood of that quality is not produced in fast-growing plantations, so it will be hard to find.
Don't confuse today's SYP with oldgrowth Longleaf Pine, one of the kings of the boatbuilding woods. As Longleaf doesn't develop heartwood for many decades of growth, you won't find much of this today except in salvaged timber...here some cutoffs of Philadelphia Naval Shipyard qsawn heartwood planking stock at about 14 rings/inch:
If you just want to replace the bad planks in your carvel hull as a starter, cypress should be compatible in stability with H Mahog is you use riftsawn stock. Cypress moves more than Mahog, so quarter or riftsawn is a good idea. SYP moves even more, and I would be hesitant to use it in that application...and definitely not in the flatsawn you'll find most often.
[ 09-04-2005, 06:08 PM: Message edited by: Bob Smalser ]
09-04-2005, 03:40 PM
Might wish to consider Spanish Cedar also.
Resonably priced and at least out here on the left coast available in plank and timbers.
Some of the big box stores treated SYP has three to four rings to the inch and when it is dry is as light as cedar. And nearly worthless.
[ 09-04-2005, 05:49 PM: Message edited by: ssor ]
09-04-2005, 05:48 PM
This log exhibits all the desired characteristics of what plantation growers seek to maximize return:
Full sun in an even-age stand causes perfectly-even growth rings and a correspondingly dead-straight bole.
The tree achieved 20" DBH in less than 30 years. At a 40-year harvest point, the tree would be 24" DBH...the ideal diameter for modern mills.
At only 3 rings/inch, this log will still produce "No. 1 Select" stock by today's softwood grading rules.
[ 09-04-2005, 05:59 PM: Message edited by: Bob Smalser ]
Excellent picture. Bob, don't they also distinguish between dense and low ring count lumber?
09-04-2005, 05:57 PM
Originally posted by ssor:
Excellent picture. Bob, don't they also distinguish between dense and low ring count lumber?No longer. Used to need 8 rings for "Select" under Western rules for DF. Eastern rules are similar, but adapted for even faster-growing, smaller SYP.
I post it to demonstrate what you find in an average commercial lumber yard. You usually have to find a smaller specialist to obtain airdried, riftsawn "boat" wood of higher density (and stability).
This applies to any softwood, including cypress. You aren't gonna find wood for a Herreshoff restoration at most lumber yards catering to house building.
[ 09-04-2005, 06:47 PM: Message edited by: Bob Smalser ]
09-05-2005, 11:11 AM
Good morning and WOW!
Thanks for all the input and feedback! BobS, thanks for the photos and links. Thanks to many of you guys that have actually built boats for your sage words....can't get that kind of advice at a "box store" type lumber yard---thanks, sincerely!
The Cliff Notes version of a response is this:
* I'm in the thinking-out-loud stage....( ie: measure twice, cut once) about materials.
* At this point of the restoration, collecting data and comparing options. This is a wonderful old Herreshoff design that was originally constructed to a high level of quality using quality components. Obviously, she was well built to have survived the first 50'ish years of her life. The lines are still true, most of the original bronze hardware is there, and I do not want to compromise that level of quality during the restoration.
* I am planning on replacing worn components (ie: wood, bronze fasteners, sails, rigging, etc...) with like something of equal quality in a traditional manner...maybe a few modern convienances not available 60yrs ago when Meadow Lark was designed. I'd like to see the old girl sail another 50+ years happily!
* Rarely, and mainly in dreams have I ever found anything suitable for any of my boats (or houses for that matter) at a "box store / home center" type place...so, I'm not even considering seriously those places as sources for durable pieces---but who knows what 'ya might find out there on any given day; a few mom & pop yards still have treasures hidden away.
* Unless you live in the Gulf states(or other places where locating boat lumber is a major pain)I really don't think you can appreciate the agony of trying to locate materials. Walk the man's shoes and then you'll get it. Since lumber is so variable in nature even with grading systems in place, the thought of "ordering" even relatively small quantities of lumber (less than 500 bd. ft)at a significant cost (to me), sight unseen, is an option I feel is a rather large gamble. Also, paying outrageous "boutique" prices in the glitzy big city specialty lumber market locally is not appealing to me, so I am considering using cypress from small local mills where I can pick my own wood and talk to the guy that actually mills it.
* Is mahogany crossed off the list??? Nope, just checking my options.
You guys are great...thanks so much for the support and input. Good luck on your endeavors and I'll keep you posted!
09-05-2005, 11:13 AM
check your pm
09-05-2005, 11:31 AM
In case you have not found cypress yet....I notice you're in Texas.
Fred Collins in Bandera, TX saws a lot of cypress. I'll be getting some from him soon for kayak building. $3-$4 BF last time I looked. 1/2 mile N. on Hwy 16, Bandera.....830-796-3553....Good luck, Glen
09-05-2005, 11:37 AM
Thanks Paul and GlenAllen...sending you email Paul....
09-06-2005, 12:00 PM
In reference to the salvaged wood criticism: Afew years ago a local oyster boat was replankled completely, using salvaged longleaf pine from commercial buildings below the waterline. This was done by a professional builder.I am not involved with the maintenance of the boat, but she floats and sails. There are opposing opinions on everything in wooden boats.
09-06-2005, 12:12 PM
Regarding salvaged cypress:
An ongoing project here in Seattle is an entire house interior with cypress. It is my understanding that this material was reclaimed from underwater. Certainly you don't see bolt holes etc. which you would see in timber from, say, a warehouse.
09-06-2005, 02:20 PM
Boat lumber here in Texas is a challenge to find. Acardian Hardwood is Beamont has 4/quater African Mahogany...expensive; also the research if done on cypress is that there is a difference between bald "gray" new growth cypress and the "Tank" cypress which is red-orange more valued as a boat building material.
09-06-2005, 03:29 PM
Salvage lumber is little different from any other in that you have to inspect the wood before buying.
What you're looking for is incipient decay....discolorations seen in the cutoffs of your test pieces....and loss of lignin leading to brittleness. The beginnings of decay is the major potential problem with underwater salvage and lignin loss in old beams. If you are experienced with wood, the saw, nose and penknife will tell you if the wood is fresh and retains its resiliency.
That said, Rodger Morris at Lake Union Drydock reports disastrous results from Mt St Helens salvaged DF used by folks who knew what they were looking at....but that wood was exposed to open air for years before loggers got to it. Most salvage is underwater, and my experience with sunked WRC is excellent.
I've raised sunken WRC logs and used them in several boat projects without problem....and those logs were sunk as long as 5000+ years ago:
[ 09-06-2005, 03:42 PM: Message edited by: Bob Smalser ]
It looks like Mr. Dave Flemming might have been the only one who actually posted a viable subsitute for mohagony, - spanish cedar.
When trying to subsitute woods, you should stay along the same weight and rot resistance as well as other things for a proper subsitution due to availability or price.
Maybe we should have a thread on the good and bad points of using reclaimed lumber.
09-07-2005, 04:07 PM
I'd still like to see your 14 rings per inch lumberyard SYP. ;)
[ 09-07-2005, 04:19 PM: Message edited by: Bob Smalser ]
I'd still like to see your under the dock glue tests with P.L.Premium.
If I had a digital camers and a scanner I would accomadate you.
Like I said if you go to a real lumder yard, I can buy yellow pine here with a average of 10 to 12 rings per inch, sometimes down to 8 and very rarely as much as 14.
But I will admitt that most of the pressure treated lumber at home depot, which is yellow pine only has around 4 or 5 rings to the inch, they use some real krapt for the cheap pressure treated stuff.And that is the reason a lot of it cups, twists, bows,splits and sometimes has some really large shakes that will actually pop off.
09-07-2005, 08:08 PM
Originally posted by RonW:
... I can buy yellow pine here with a average of 10 to 12 rings per inch, sometimes down to 8 and very rarely as much as 14.
A freshly-cut 25" DBH pine tree with 12 rings to the inch sprouted in 1855.
Shucks...Robert E. Lee was still a Major in the Army Corps of Engineers in 1855.
Perhaps your yards carry some underwater salvage or a bit of private old growth of that quality for cabinetmaking at 8 bucks or more a BF, but I'll have to see run-of-the-mill framing stock in Ohio that tight before I believe it.
And it certainly didn't grow in a plantation.
I'll pull out the glue test board when it's fully saturated. 2 months isn't quite there yet.
[ 09-07-2005, 08:45 PM: Message edited by: Bob Smalser ]
09-07-2005, 08:10 PM
Thanks for all the replies today/yesterday;
A lot of good/useful discussion going on here regarding wood(s).
Specifically, to clarify my original wonders regarding recycled woods; I was asking about "sinker" boards...cypress and some long leaf pine that is being "harvested" from the bottom of Gulf Coast rivers, swamps, and lakes...
I wonder if these trees would provide suitable boat woods? Or has submersion changed them in a way to make them poor boat woods?
The sellers/sawmills claim these trees were cut approximately 100 years ago, when floating to a mill down a creek/river was the norm. Some logs were lost...sunk to the bottom where they are being salvaged/reclaimed today. They (the mills) claim the wood is extraordinary old growth lumber.
So, has anyone had experience with it? I've only seen it used in homes as floors, furniture, and walls. It is pretty...but is it boat planking stock?
A thousand thanks!
09-08-2005, 08:59 AM
I have some high ring-count SYP. Dense and resinous, as I mentioned in another thread. These 2-bys are from a local high-end (NOT Lowe's) yard.
Other photos here:
09-08-2005, 10:04 AM
Seth, your tree came from an uneven-aged stand, crowding it into slow growth.
The pictured 2x4 was cut right next to the pith and those small growth ring cups make it subject to warp, depending on whether the pith was straight, or had some spiral to it. If it dried straight, it's fine...but many that close to the pith don't dry straight.
It was likely a very small tree like the "mini's" I describe in that article on growth rings. This 2x6 with the small cups will benefit from ripping in half if you're gonna use it for boat framing, as those tiny cups make it not near as stong as a 2x6 cut further away from the pith.
[ 09-08-2005, 10:22 AM: Message edited by: Bob Smalser ]
THANK YOU MR. SETH.
I feel vindicated, others have seen these strange pieces of wood as well.
Now let's recap what we have learned.
#1 Yes you can buy good boatbuilding lumber east of the rockies.
#2 Yes SYP is a good boatbuilding wood.
#3 Yes SYP does come with more then 3 ring counts per inch.
No hard feelings Bob.
A few facts on yellow pine.
It is not for light construction, it is 40 lbs. per cubic ft. and white oak is 48 lbs.
SYP is very common around here, and I have worked with it for 35 years. It is one very strong, and rot resistant wood. All floor joist and beams in this part of the country is SYP.
In fact as I stated else where, on commercial jobs it is specified not only for beams but scaffolding as well. I know bricklayers that have planks that are over 20 years old, totally unprotected and store outside every winter, in fact all year long.
I live in the historic section of town, and my house was built in 1895, the siding on it is 7/8 SYP and is perfect, as well as many others around me.
Two years ago I built a set of saw horses from 2 SYP planks that layed in the dirt next to the fence for over 7 years, covered up with leaves, grass and so forth, one plank had ever so slightly a little pithiness on one side that I scraped off with a square, other then that perfectly sound lumber.
Almost all boat building books will tell you that SYP is a subsitute for white oak.
I could go on, but I think you have the idea.
09-08-2005, 11:31 AM
'Fraid you'll have to show me more than a couple pith sticks with less than a 50% chance of drying straight. Two boards further out from that pith would be nice wood, but many of those minis simply aren't that big.
I'm not saying there ain't fine SYP out there....I'm saying I don't believe it's common in any quantity....and it certainly doesn't come from the 40-year-rotation Loblolly plantations comprising 99+% of the market source. Probably 99% of what's marketed as SYP is Loblolly, because it grows the fastest.
Just because it smells like turpentine doesn't mean it's heartwood, and if it's not heartwood, it's not durable without pressure treatment....and according to the USDA, even the heartwood isn't very durable.
In every respect....stability, weight, workability....either Cypress or Spanish Cedar for planking is a dramatically better choice if you can't afford H. Mahog....with local cypress probably much less expensive. You want airdried, riftsawn, 8 rings or tighter stock for planking.
http://www2.fpl.fs.fed.us/TechSheets/So ftwoodNA/pdf_files/pinustaedamet.pdf (http://www2.fpl.fs.fed.us/TechSheets/SoftwoodNA/pdf_files/pinustaedamet.pdf)
General Wood Characteristics:
The sapwood of loblolly pine is a yellowish white, while the heartwood is a reddish brown. The sapwood is usually wide in second growth stands. Heartwood begins to form when the tree is about 20 years old. In old, slow-growth trees, sapwood may be only 1 to 2 inches in width.
The wood of loblolly pine is very heavy and strong, very stiff, hard and moderately high in shock resistance. It also has a straight grain, medium texture and is difficult to work with hand tools. It ranks high in nail holding capacity, but there may be difficulty in gluing.
All the southern pines have moderately large shrinkage but are stable when properly seasoned.
The heartwood is rated as moderate to low in resistance to decay. The sapwood is more easily impregnated with preservatives.
[ 09-08-2005, 02:28 PM: Message edited by: Bob Smalser ]
09-08-2005, 02:10 PM
Yes, I'm ripping the larger board down into narrower widths. I posted it not to cause or end a valuable discussion, but rather because it's a pretty piece of wood, when so much SYP is shameful junk. You could probably pick these close-grained pieces with your eyes shut, they're so much heavier than regular SYP.
There was much interesting language when I discovered I'd ruined a piece like this with a sloppy saw cut.
I wouldn't consider SYP planking stock, but I admit to having a regional bias because it, like black locust, is a local wood. Plus it smells like Christmas when you saw through a knot.
That said, I'll be planking in Atlantic White Cedar.
Thanks for the discussion, all, I've been enjoying the education.
09-08-2005, 03:09 PM
Originally posted by Seth Wood:
Yes, I'm ripping the larger board down into narrower widths.Good. As I said, if they dried straight, they are fine for framing. Use red lead or copper napthanate on it first, and not just in the faying surfaces.
AWC is also an excellent choice...a bit heavier and slightly stiffer than the fabled Northern White, but my family planked many boats with it when I was growing up in South Jersey, and it's a pleasure to work.
I may grow and mill DF and WRC on Hood Canal, but my training in forest biology was at Clemson...so if I try real hard, I can vaguely remember something of your eastern woods. ;)
09-15-2005, 08:11 AM
Excellent Info!...print that. smile.gif
09-15-2005, 09:05 AM
i will say to begin with im no expert but i thought growth rings are 1 year of that trees growth maybe its different over there,thats how they are beginning to figure out climate change etc etc,so more growth rings per inch or six makes all the difference between a wood which might bow or not,another thing i find a bit funny is these plantation timbers i think were originally planted were chosen because of their ability to grow really quick,the word where i come from is there were (4 super trees) which became the genetic stock for our big tree. woodchip **** which goes on and on ,anyway i dont reckon you will go wrong but i believe with a bit of commonsense and dont forget the old time boat builders would walk for miles to pick the keel.garboard,topsides,sponsons,masts etc.........at any rate choose carefully and happy boating
[ 09-15-2005, 07:51 PM: Message edited by: nobby ]
09-17-2005, 10:42 PM
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