View Full Version : Oh No! Keel timber not what I thought it was!
12-05-2002, 10:18 AM
The sboat story continues (albeit at a snails pace) ...
So I cut out my keel timber last weekend (see photo 1 below) and, to my horror, found (when I trimmed the end) that the pith of the white oak was included in the timber. When the pith is fully enclosed, I think this is called "boxing the pith" and is considered OK but in this case (see photo 2) it lies along the surface. I've planed it to the required thickness (photo 3)and the pith is still there at the butt end of the timber. This, I'm pretty sure, is not optimal. Naturally, I am barging forward regardless but I now think that I will put the pith down so it is always wet and is supported (to reduce the likelihood of it falling out) by the backing piece. At least that's my current thinking. I've finished building the bending jig so it's full steam ahead for bending.
Any words along the lines of ... "sure, that's common, no problem, don't worry about it" would be welcome though probably what I need is a good head slap and words like, "do it over"!
Here the right side is cut and the left side is half way to the end. The skill saw easily cuts through the >2" oak
Here you see my dilemma. The core of the tree is on the surface near the end where a butt joint with the fore keel timber has to be made. A stupid thing to have chosen this piece but, in my defense, long clear and thick hunks (not that this piece is particularly clear) of oak are not so easy to find.
Here I set up rails and used 8 black pipe rollers (same ones that will be used to move the ballast) to move the timber through the planer. Cost me $2.00 to have my kid run from end to end to relocate the rollers!
[ 12-05-2002, 11:22 AM: Message edited by: Lulworth ]
12-05-2002, 11:45 AM
In the future remember this:
Ya folla? ;)
12-05-2002, 12:16 PM
This keel has quite a curve to it, does it not (unlike Phoenix's, which is (or supposed to be, LOL, straight). If the heart wood is on the outside, will it tend to break out?
12-05-2002, 12:17 PM
In the future FOHC? Groan. Yeah, I folla. Thanks. I gather that you suspect that I am going to have to do this again if I barge ahead and use this piece? GROAN. Quarter sawn oak FOHC 12" wide would have to come from a tree at least 28" in diameter and that is tough to find (and certainly wasn't available at the sawmill I went to). So if one had one's druthers, would one: (1) go in search of a better piece of wood probably flat sawn (adding considerable time to the project as I wait for the right log to pass through the sawmill), (2) cut the offending piece of tree out of the existing timber and glue-in a long thin dutchman, (3) chop off the hard-to-replace section (the bit that requires droping the ballast) and scarf on a replacement (not a serious option), (4) cross fingers and hope for the best (very attractive short term appeal).
12-05-2002, 12:20 PM
Ed, yes, good point. On the other hand, if it breaks out during bending, the problem will be solved (go back to the saw mill and get another piece).
[ 12-05-2002, 01:58 PM: Message edited by: Lulworth ]
12-05-2002, 12:23 PM
What's the boat David? Ideally, like Dave Flemming is hinting, new piece, but tell us some more about the use this piece was intended for.
By the way, I don't think I'd buy that that's quarter sawn. The edges are, but with that heart...
12-05-2002, 12:26 PM
David, where are you? And how long is the piece? I'd avoid using a piece of oak that thin with that much heart running through it. The reason I ask where you are is: here in Virginia it is challenging, yet not impossible, to find oak pieces of a suitable size. You might try local timberframers -- often they have, or know of, some big pieces.
By the way, if you do decide to use your current, piece, get some sealer on it ASAP, especially those bare ends.
12-05-2002, 12:39 PM
David... I kinda know how you feel. I'm pretty fortunate, living where the term "boat grade" lumber doesn't make the yard clerks look at you like you're from another planet. But I, too, failed to notice a pretty obvious flaw on the first hunk of wood I selected that was actually going to go on the boat. The keel! In my case, it was only one small, tight knot, dead center in the timber, on one side only. But it still worried me once I spotted it. In fact, a question about it was one of my very first posts here. The "consenses", after telling me how foolish it was to have picked that timber in the first place, was to just drill it out and put a plug in it. So I did, and it seems to me it will be fine. And besides, I can keep an eye on it as I built it the with the bung side up. Still bugs me though, every time I see it.
Your problem seems like it might be a bit more serious. That offcut you showed with the pith in it looks to be pretty badly "cupped" already. Has the rest of keel in that area cupped at all? Any "movement" since you planed it? (LOVED the planing picture, btw... Brought back LOTS of memories!) From your desription, it sounds like the boxed heart "wandered" into your timber along only the last few feet of it's length? If so, I wonder if perhaps scarfing a short piece in way of the "affected" area might not be less objectionable than risking a cupped or badly checked section in such a critical timber? (Isn't the pith more subject to rot as well?)
Just to be clear, this isn't a "recomendation", I'm just thinking out loud and am as interested as you are in what some of our more experienced members will council here. One thing to keep in mind if you should ultimately decide to start over with it. I've had to buy LOT'S of hunks of white oak that I was sure were MUCH bigger than I'd ever need or even be able to use on my project. Yet just yesterday, I had to hunt through my scrap pile, almost to the bottom, just to find a piece big enough to make a small backing block... I suspect you'd find plenty of places to use your "rejected" keel's wood on your project as well. Good boat quality oak doesn't generally come in small pieces. If you're gonna have to buy another big hunk of oak later on in the restoration anyway... well... how many frames do you need to replace? That looks like pretty nice framing stock! ;)
[ 12-05-2002, 02:48 PM: Message edited by: Art Read ]
12-05-2002, 01:03 PM
How far up the board do you have to go before the pith is no longer in the board? If we're just talking about a few feet at the end then I'd be inclined to use a router to make a V shaped groove and then glue a 'Dutchman' in. Put the router on a sloping bed so that the V-groove gradually tapers to nothing rather than ending abruptly. Use Resorcinal glue so that you can really be sure the water won't affect it...
12-05-2002, 01:16 PM
That piece of wood shouldn't be put in a place where you would have to take apart much of the boat's backbone to replace it. Cutting it off and scarfing on a piece beyond where the pith shows is not a solution. You still have the pith in the center of the rest of the plank, and as Dave F. says, that's a no-no. The fibrous tentacles of fungus have a merry time romping through pith. I guess I would just voice the appropriate groans and start over with a better piece. It's the old story: use the best materials you can get to prevent all the troubles that poor materials will cause down the line.
12-05-2002, 01:23 PM
Hmmm.. Bayboat's got a point. DOES the pith run from the center of the timber up to the surface at one end, or does it "merge" with the timber at the end with the rest of the timber "clear of heart"?
12-05-2002, 01:29 PM
Do I catch, at the beginning of your post, that this is a plank keel for an S boat, or is that a typo? If this is for a project like that...buy a new piece. Even if you could make this one work, it will nag at you the whole way through...the last thing you need at the very beginning of a major project. Look at Art, still worrying a small knot he bunged. Which should be no problem at all, BTW.
Oh and the advice about being sure to buy big enough pieces of wood is good advice. Nothing worse than getting your rough shaping done and find an end check or shake you missed.
[ 12-05-2002, 02:42 PM: Message edited by: ishmael ]
12-05-2002, 01:53 PM
David have you seen this site for locateing wood ? http://www.woodfinder.com/home.html
12-05-2002, 03:02 PM
Thanks all for the response! Not what I wanted to hear but probably what was needed!
The boat is an s-boat down on its luck (and considering who's working on it, things are not looking up smile.gif ) described in previous threads and also shown here: http://www.imagestation.com/album/?id=4291348939
Ed is right about it being a bent keel -- very similar to the one in Art's masterpiece. But, I quickly add, I am not aiming (or able) to match Art's level of work.
The off-cut picture is at an oblique angle which exaggerates the cup. Also, the pith seems to emerge about 36" from the cut end (obviously I was staring at the other end when I bought it!) Regretably, the butt joint needs to be about 15" from the cut end (left long to keep the bend fair)
Of course its the time and not the money that is the main factor here, and in any case, in my experience, white oak, in the north east, is fairly cheap at least compared to white cedar. I'll call around for a new piece and if a nearby saw mill has a suitable log I'll go get a slab and see if its any better.
Decisions decisions ... Maybe I shouldn't have committed myself to sailing in the Herreshoff rendezvous in 2004!
12-05-2002, 03:33 PM
Now I got the picture. Definately buy a new piece, the boat deserves it. How is the rest of the framing and decking? and everything else?
Good project! Beautiful boats. And you got me signed up for Sony picts site. Shh, don't tell 'em over on the picture thread. ;)
12-05-2002, 09:20 PM
Doesn't that just pith you off??
12-05-2002, 09:34 PM
Get a new piece. That doesn't look like such great stock to begin with. The tree must have been barely bigger than that plank. Lots of mills in CT. can cut you a much better piece if you call them and give them a week or two to locate the proper log.
12-06-2002, 08:59 AM
There ain't no good wood out there now 'days.
I'm surprised I've haven't seen any recommendations on laminating. Need a big piece of wood? Laminate a bunch of smaller pieces. Stronger, lighter, less apt to rot (if done correctly), more dimensionally stable. And it's a piece of cake once you get the system down.
Can you tell I've done some laminating recently?
12-06-2002, 10:47 AM
"There ain't no good wood out there now 'days."
Hmmmm... Perhaps not everywhere, or easily found, but it IS still out there. Not too long ago, I saw an 12/4" hunk of clear Doug Fir about 15" wide by sixty-odd feet long... 'Course that was a pretty special order for the "Virginia V" re-build, but still... The place I get my "bending" oak from always seems to have a pretty big stack of nice, fresh stuff up to 3" thick and twenty to twenty-five feet long, and I've never had a hard time find Mahogany in as big a hunk as I could ever imagine needing either.
Then again, none of this stuff is ever priced at the board/foot cost I've read about other folks on the forum paying elsewhere, but you CAN get it...
(Not that there's anything "wrong" with laminating, if that's how you want to go.)
12-06-2002, 11:06 AM
"But, I quickly add, I am not aiming (or able) to match Art's level of work."
While I appreciate the sentiment, David, I'd hate to see you sell yourself short. Just remember that all of the pictures of my project that I've posted here were, uhmm, ahhh, "selectively" chosen! ;)
No way in hell I'd ever let you folks see how some of that stuff got done! (I still shudder to think about the way I drilled for my rudder port the other day...)
Looks to me like you're doing just fine.
12-06-2002, 04:02 PM
David, if your local lumber suppliers can't seem to get you the piece you need try finding a small sawmill in the area. Usually the smaller mills either have their own stands of trees or work from stands with which they are familiar.
Many times the smaller mills will have just the piece you need socked away somewhere. The larger suppliers are more interested in servicing the contractors and often don't have this kind of stuff.
12-06-2002, 04:10 PM
since we do it for a living, watch everybody's fingers when using and jumping rollers. when you roll the keel, have a prybar real handy to float the nose to fit a roller when surface is uneven. and a wood wedge or two for 'brakes'.
12-07-2002, 05:17 PM
Lul - isn't that a pretty narrow board for a keel timber for an S boat? I would have thought it'd be thicker.
Gary - hope you are feeling better. Hang in there, bud.
12-07-2002, 05:21 PM
NGH's (I can never remember how to spell his last name :D ) were engineered close to the edge. Remembering we're talking about an inshore racing class in the s boat, I'll bet that keel batten thickness is just what came out of the boat.
12-07-2002, 05:41 PM
I was just looking thru Lul's album (until my computer malfunctioned and kicked me out) and it does appear to mimic the original. Just seems too thin for the size of the boat. But heh, I'm not NGH.
12-10-2002, 01:28 PM
So despite being a lazy SOB, I got up at dawn on Sunday and took a drive out to the woods where I met a man about a piece of wood...
Only one piece, the one at the bottom of a huge snow covered pile, was even close to being big enough. Here it is in my garage where, when not up to my knees in snow, I could give it a closer look. It's not quartersawn and it has flaws but no pith.
You can see the chaulk outline of the old new keel and the centerline string that I will use to carefully lay it out (again!). I was able to avoid this ...
but some of this bad boy is going to lay on the rabbet...
It's not all that bad since the knot -- believe it or not -- doesn't pass all the way through the board and I will be able to move the outline to avaoid most of it. I will then dutchman it. And, anyway, no pith and at least the residual knot is in an accessible spot.
True: The keel is specified on the original plans as 1 7/8" thick and 12" wide (at its widest). Frames and floors are spaces 9" apart. Since I have to bend it, it sure seems plenty thick enough to me!
Gary: Yup, I folla. Thanks for the reminder.
Proponents of laminates: Yeah, but then it wouldn't be a true S-boat.
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