View Full Version : Lumber ???

07-12-2006, 05:19 PM
I am getting ready to build a 20' Simmons skiff. I essentially have no woodworking experience (i'm not clueless, but haven;t done much at all). If there was a list of what lumber to get for this boat in what sizes, I would be set. I'm at a loss as to figuring out what size and how much wood to order. Having never done anything like this, it gets confusing. I don't have access to a planer, so if the plans call for 3/4" stock then i'll have to get 3/4" stock. Some parts for this boat are easy to figure out, then there are some more obscure. I'm not sure about getting wood S4S or S3S, gettin 4/4, 6/4, or 8/4 (especiallly because I don;t have any way to plane it down to a specific size), and a number of other uncertainties.
Does anyone know of any books or anything that might give me some clues as to what to get? ANy advice helps. Getting plywood is easy, getting this stuff is confusing for a beginner.
I'm thinking about using either white oak, doug. fir, or anything else that I can easily obtain. THere is a lumber yard in Mayodan, NC which is about an hour away, and also an 84 lumber not far away at all. Any other yards I should look at? I'm in Roanoke, VA.

Cameron Roberts

07-12-2006, 05:41 PM
Yukon lumber here in Norfolk VA is good for exotic woods.

I have bought from them in person, I suppose they ship, but its not to far for a drive for you. Call them when you decide what woods to get.
How about using Red Cedar or Juniper wood for planks and white oak for framing.

07-12-2006, 06:13 PM
Considering the other costs of your boat, either picking up an inexpensive planer or having the pieces planed down to size at the supplier won't add much to the overall cost.

The 4/4 and other sizes can usually be supplied by any company that sells quality wood, or sells to boatbuilders -=- not something you'll find in your average lumberyard.

Hopefully someone can suggest a book specific to your project, but there are a number of good boatbuilding books offered by our kind hosts at Woodenboat.com



Tar Devil
07-12-2006, 07:10 PM
Might wanna check into one of the plywood clinker books instead of the Glen-L book for building the Simmons. It has helpful information, but something specifically for lapped ply might be more useful.



07-12-2006, 07:19 PM
Buy a planner and learn how to use it...because one boat is never enough!


Charlie Santi
07-12-2006, 07:46 PM
I will try to help a little:
1) S4S surfaced 4 side
S3S surfaced 2 faces and 1 edge
S2S surfaced 2 faces no edge work
2) finished lumber (softwood) 1x = 3/4" 5/4 = 1 1/8
4" = 3 1/2"
6" = 5 1/2"
8" = 7 1/4"
10" = 9 1/4"
12" = 11 1/4"
grades #1, select, and sterling are the best
#2 small tight knots allowed (abrev. stk)
#3 and #4 lesser grades of softwood
3) construction lumber 2x = 1 1/2" 4x = 3 1/2" 6x = 5 1/2"
widths same as finish lumber
4) hardwoods rough cut 4/4 = 1" 5/4 = 1 1/4" 6/4 = 1 1/2"
8/4 = 2"
widths are actual
finished hardwood would be same as softwood above
grades clear, pattern, select, and premium are the best
FAS (first and second) must have one clear face
5) sanded plywood
1/4" = 7/32"
3/8" = 11/32"
1/2" = 15/32"
5/8" = 19/32"
3/4" = 23/32"
6)western red cedar grades
stk = solid tight knots
D & better = clear boards

I am sure I forgot something. Let me know if any of this makes sense or helps out.

07-12-2006, 08:13 PM
Thanks for the replies. I've been reading the Wooden Boat book How to Build Glued Lapstrake Boats. That;s been helpful as far as giving ideas for parts lists etc. Charlie- that list also clears up lots of uncertainties. I think I will have to find a planer to borrow- shouldn;t be too hard.

Bruce Hooke
07-12-2006, 09:27 PM
A key stage in the planing for any woodworking project, but especially something big like a boat, is making up a materials list. This is especially true if you are not working in a commercial shop where a good bit of the wood may already be on hand and where ordering a bit of extra wood is less likely to be an issue because you would have plenty of other projects on which you could use it.

Making up a materials list basically means is sitting down and working through the boat part by part. You do not need to get down to the level of "frame 3, port side." If all the frames are the same dimensions (e.g., 1" x 3/4") then you can just add up the approximate total linear feet of framing stock (scaling off the plans) you need and record that. I like to use a spreadsheet for exercises like this.

Once you know that you need say, 200 linear feet of framing stock plus, say, a variety of other pieces that are also 3/4" thick then you can work on converting this into actual dimensions for the boards you need. There are a couple of approaches to this problem. One is to simply add up how many board feet (a board foot is a unit of measure equal to a board 12" wide by 12" long by 1" thick or any other dimensions that lead to the same volume of wood) of lumber of each thickness you need, add some for waste and saw kerfs (say 30%) and buy that much wood (taking note in particular if there are especially long or wide pieces that you need for, say, gunwale stock or the thwarts, and making sure to get suitable stock). Another approach is to get more detailed while you are at the lumber yard actually do some math to say, OK, I need x number of feet of framing stock so I can get that out of this board that is 6" wide and 12' long and this board that is 5" wide and 10' long and I can also get the thwart rises out of the 12' board. This takes a good bit of time at the lumber yard, but it can cut down on your waste factor because you can buy the boards that best fit your needs. The value of this approach goes up as the number of pieces you need goes down. For example, if you are buy stock for thwarts then it clearly makes sense to buy boards that are just a little wider than the thwarts and as long as you need to get out all the thwarts. This calls for picking particular pieces out at the lumberyard to match your needs. On the other hand, if you need 200 linear feet of framing stock then the board feet approach makes much more sense -- just pick out enough pieces to make up the number of board feet you need (remember to all some for waste and saw kerfs). In some cases it may pay to at least consider the width of the boards a bit to try to avoid winding up with lots of waste strips that are just a shade too narrow.

In short, if you take a step by step approach and look at one piece at a time things should start to fall into place. The process can be tedious, but it is also a good way to get more familiar with the way the boat goes together.

It is useful to know what terms like S4S mean but keep in mind that what you eventually buy will depend on what is available. Most hardwood lumber yards that I have been to only sell rough boards and maybe S2S lumber. The places that do have S4S lumber tend to be more expensive.

When considering whether to get a planer think about how many different thicknesses you actually need. Frequently really thick pieces like stems can be laminated quite easily from 3/4" stock. On the other hand, if you expect to undertake more woodworking projects a portable planer is certainly a useful tool.

07-12-2006, 09:41 PM
Thanks for the advice. Wall Lumber sells wood rough, and they will surface 2 sides for .25 a bd. ft. I havew tried several times to put together a definitive parts list, it is a daunting task. Seems to me that many lumber yards sell UPS shippable packages of wood in random lengths and widths. If I categorize the parts into the obvious ones (keel, gunwales, frames, etc) which are relatively simple to figure out, and then have a list of smaller pieces (knees and support pieces) then this would be an easy process. I could get wood specifically for the obvious pieces, and then get a "bundle" for smaller random pieces. Going through the plans, its easy to pick out the big pieces, but the little ones gave me trouble figuring out what size board can I get this from and not end up short or have too much. Is this a good approach?
As far as a thickness planer goes, buying one is out of the question.Borrowing one is a plausible possibility. If the plans call for a board a full 1" thick, getting 4/4 or 5/4 is not an inch. Seems to me the only solution is a thickness planer. Am I correct?
There are several things on this boat that I will laminate (stem and chines) that will be easier to laminate than to use solid stock.

Thanks for the help

07-12-2006, 10:03 PM
For the Simmons 18,I bought 5/4 Honduras Mahogany and all the boards were 7" wide which was larger than any dimension I needed. It cost me an additional 2.00 per each of those to get them surfaced and one edge jointed and I ended up with 7/8ths thickness. Well worth the extra money. I borrowed a planer but the knives were toast so by the time I would have replaced them for the little bit of wood I needed to surface, I may have broke even. If you have no wood work experience,I think it best to start out bypassing the machining operation as you will have enough to think about.No sense in practicing on your first project unless you are really wanting to learn all the processes.I know how to use all the tools and I still choose not to.Plus, while I am there,if after surfacing I find any of the boards less than desireable,I can buy an extra.Also, with H mahogany you are more likely to get more suitable wood without having to spy for grain runout or knots and is overall a much better woodworking experience over the softer woods.I would spare the expense of the jointer and apply it to higher quality wood.Not many species are quite as satisfying to look at as smoothly sanded,clear coated, genuine mahogany.Even though mine is covered with the deck,every time I open them up I get to see it and it's a good reason to poke around down there when it comes maintenence/cleaning time.

07-12-2006, 10:23 PM
Being of the any excuse to buy new tools school of thought I'd look at the little 'lunchbox' planers. About $200. Like this one:

http://www.toolsforless.com/images/products/pd/tp305.jpg at www.toolsforless.com for $212.88


Bruce Hooke
07-12-2006, 10:46 PM
I think you are basically on the right track. S2S 5/4 wood should end up about 1" thick. Keep in mind that if the board ends up being 1 1/16" thick this won't really matter in most cases. Since your local yard will plane the wood for .25/bf you are in a good position to simply have them do the planing. Many yards charge a setup fee, which makes it expensive to have them plane a small amount of wood.

As to figuring out how much wood to get for the smaller pieces:

- If you are dealing with lots of pieces that are relatively narrow and the same width and thickness then break things down into linear feet. Once you know how many linear feet of a particular dimension you need then it is not hard to convert that into boards. Say you need 200 linear feet of 7/8" by 3/4" stock. Allowing 1/8" for the saw kerf that means you could get 10 stips out of a 10" wide board, so one you would need two 10' long 10" wide boards. In practice there will be some waste so you might want to bump that up to 12' long boards. Also, you will probably end up getting narrower boards, so you might end up with four 5" wide boards.

- For really small bits like knees and blocking I would just get an extra board or two. There is little point in trying to figure things out to the last board because there will always be surprises and mistakes.

- If you have lots of intermediate size pieces then the board foot approach may make the most sense. Go piece by piece and add up how many board feet you need. Add something like 30% to that for waste and buy that many board feet. Bigger boards are better than smaller boards because it is easier to make efficient use of big boards, so I would stick with your local yard if you can. The size constrains imposed by UPS mean that you cannot get larger boards that way. On the other side of the coin, there will likely be a premium for really big boards, so there is no point in going for 12" wide boards unless you really need them.

- If you need a whole bunch of pieces of roughly the same size, such as floor timbers, then it may pay to try to think about how you would get them out of a board. Try some scaled layouts. It may well turn out that it is much more efficient to lay out the parts if you can get a board that is at least a certain width or length.

Lastly, keep in mind that you can always buy more wood. When it comes to the really small bits it may be easier to simply get a little less then you think you'll need and then get some more when you run out, at which point you will have a better idea of what you need to finish the job, or the next phase of the job.

07-13-2006, 02:52 AM
I generally abhor cheap tools, but made an exception this time. I skipped on the $500 portable versions and will use this tool as a filler until I buy a stationary machine. I've been pleasantly surprised with how well it works. Blades are disposable and double sided with surprisingly long life. Of course it snipes (i.e. cuts too deep on the first/last inch of each board), so I just run boards in sets one after another touching on the ends.

It paid for itself very quickly. Once you have it, you almost can't imagine doing anything without it. Plenty good enough to get through one boat. Even if you buy your wood pre surfaced, you'll be glad you have it.

Good luck with the project. It won't be your last.

07-13-2006, 10:47 AM
Ok,don't laugh but this worked for me. I have been working with wood since I was old enough to work but the wood I could buy was not evenly matched to what parts I could get from it. I first called around to see what lengths I could get. I then drew the parts in rough scale on a piece of paper and then drew the rough boards around the parts. This showed me what I had left and which parts I could fit in those leftovers. I started this project in sections. After the jig it was,floor frames,stem,chines and motorwell.This gives you the beginning of a buildable part of the hull. This way you only have to figure for the floor frames and the stiffeners for the transom. The stem is an obvious piece since the pattern is included in the plans. I laminate the stem from 3 pieces of 1x. If you draw it in this way,you can see if you can get another part out of a board by merely flipping the part over instead of just adding the linear measurements of the parts together.

07-13-2006, 04:01 PM
buy the planer,

One mans 5/4 s2s is another mans 4/4 rough is anothers somewhere in between... Ultimately it is up to the sawyer... If is having a good day, all the boards will be pretty close, bad day well...hope that doesn't happen... The planer puts the lumber where you want it, no so-and-so at the lumber yard, who think when you said this, you really meant that...

When I was starting out, I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a month so I could buy a planer, one of these cheap-o planers, but I still use it, after 6 years of pretty serious work, a couple thousand bdft years ...

Check out amazon.com, always cheap tools... if you are looking for something stationary, big machine at reasonable prices (some one mentioned this) Check out exfactory.com...

Building your toolbox, means building a livelihood, which is never a bad thing, in fact one of the best things you could do...


Bruce Hooke
07-13-2006, 04:36 PM
I have to disagree with dbaker on his take on sawyers. I haven't had to have a lumber yard plane any wood recently because I have my own planer now, but when I did they always did a good job and got plenty close enough to my specified thickness for boat work. There was also never an issue with the surfaced lumber being too rough, which I think is another of dbaker's concerns. If I had a lumber yard treat me that way he suggests he has had yards treat him, I would find someone else to whom to give my business. Certainly a planer makes sense if you are going to run a couple of thousand board feet of lumber a year through it. A planer is also without doubt a useful tool to have around, but plenty of people have built boats without one.

Steve Lansdowne
07-14-2006, 05:30 PM
Depending on how long it takes you to build this boat (which likely will be much longer than you anticipate), you'll want to be sure to record what wood is being purchased for what part of the boat. You can use graph paper to do a rough layout of what pieces of each board you'll use for what part of the boat, though of course this won't work out perfectly due to various other factors not within your control. You don't want to cut up a piece intended for another part of the boat. You don't need to get all your wood at the same time, either, thus saving some storage space in the shop. Also, if for some reason you don't end up completing the boat, you'll have less invested at the time.

07-14-2006, 06:56 PM
I don't hear anyone talking about a jointer. the board has to be flattened on one side first before being planed. so add another $250 for a small 6" jointer which isn't going to help a novice woodworker with an 8" board. space could be another issue to think about. Find a good lumber supplier and have them surface 3 sides for you. check your yellow pages for local cabinet shops and go talk to the forman they should be able to point you in the right direction. Personally I need that $500 for my motor and trailer not a planer/jointer. However, I guess you could use them for cool anchors after the boat is done or sell them on ebay afterwards.

Bruce Hooke
07-14-2006, 10:57 PM
While a jointer is definitely the proper way to go at flattening the first side of the board, if the board is reasonably flat to start with a planer won't do you too bad, especially for boat wood since you will generally be bending the wood into some sort of a curve anyway or cutting it into small enough pieces that a bit of warp or cup won't really matter.

I have never seen a lumberyard that would joint and thickness a board. All they seem to do is put the board through a planer a few times on both sides.

For the record, the reason a jointer is a better way to go at flattening the first side of a rough sawn board is because a planer will press a warped or cupped board flat and then let it spring back when it comes out of the planer, so you end up with a smooth, but still warped board.