View Full Version : Hardwood for Cabin Sole

Terry Etapa
01-08-2003, 09:13 PM
I'm to the point of needing to know how my sole will be constructed (thickness). I've got 3/4 inch plywood right now. I'd like to cover the plywood with a hardwood of some sort. The interior finish will be white paint and mahogany trim. Being a converted fishboat, I'm trying to stay away from anything too "yachty" (teak & holly, etc). My original plan was for oak but, I think that might not match the rest of the interior. I'm looking for something not too dark but, close in color to the mahogany. Any suggestions?

I did an internet search for flooring and, came across ipe. Anyone know about this stuff? I used the "searchy thing" on the forum with no luck.

Also, any suggestions for attaching hardwood to plywood? My sole will be in several removable sections. I'd like to keep it light. Any thought on hardwood thickness? 1/4 inch? 1/2 inch?

01-08-2003, 10:05 PM
Hmm, How 'bout cherry? If oiled, so it can oxidize, it darkens to a rich red color not to unlike some mahogany, if sealed it remains pinkish red. There was a thread about Ipe awhile back, but I don't remember where. I seem to remember it's a bear to work.

Good luck,


imported_Steven Bauer
01-08-2003, 10:28 PM
I rebuilt the exterior stairs of a church in Yarmouth this fall and used Ipe for treads. It is the hardest, heaviest wood I've ever seen. When you cut it with a miter saw the end grain feels and looks like glass. It's supposed to last forever. Finishes won't stick to it. It'll outlast you :D

Thaddeus J. Van Gilder
01-09-2003, 08:00 AM
varnished atlantic white cedar soles always look good...

Dan McCosh
01-09-2003, 11:57 AM
Ipe is dark brown, almost black. It's heavy, and so dense it's almost like working aluminum. Cherry seems like a good idea to me, if you want a color that blends with mahogany.

01-09-2003, 12:11 PM
Hardwood over 3/4" ply you say, coupled with a work boat provenance? Umm, I myself would be tempted to go with a nice deck enamel on the plywood, perhaps a color that would contrast with the mahogany, like a green or gray. Do a first rate job of installing the appropriate brass trim and pulls for the access hatches. Then have some nice "marine quality" removable sections of carpeting made (stitched/hemmed and whatever else they do) to fit your deck layout. Or if you want to secure hardwood to the ply you could vacuum bag the sections of decking after they have all been dry fit. However, you are powering that boat with a screaming Jimmy (471 ?), in any case the carpeting will help dampen/absorb the noise that filters out of your engine space. Ipe is not an appropriate wood for this application, as Steven indicates. Good luck. Reach me offline regarding the vacuum bagging.

[ 01-09-2003, 12:14 PM: Message edited by: RGM ]

01-09-2003, 07:48 PM
I like RGM's suggestion. But, if you decide to go with a hardwood deck I still think cherry would be nice. He did say he didn't want yachty RGM, but that he did want hardwood.

Tounge and grooved flooring could be edge screwed to the ply, with some kind of flexible, waterproof goop beneath.

Keep us posted.

capt jake
01-09-2003, 07:53 PM
The Blue Jacket 24 ( Tom Lathrop) was done in Cherry. It looked sweet!! It was a very nice looking sole.

Peter Malcolm Jardine
01-09-2003, 08:02 PM
I'd look at ipe... altho I have never used it, decking seems to be a popular use. What does ipe look like after being in the sun and the salt? it certainly seems to be tough stuff, and fairly reasonable in price

01-09-2003, 08:31 PM
Might want to look at locust. Hard, long-wearing and stable when seasoned. Looks good and work-boaty.


Terry Etapa
01-09-2003, 08:48 PM
Thanks for the ideas. SWMBO is pretty closed minded about some things. I've just found out hardwood flooring is one of those things. She is set on a very light colored wood. I'm leaning toward something that matches the mahogany trim. Humm, what to do...

Anyway, I came across a 3/8 inch T&G from Launstein Hardwood Floors. (http://www.launstein.com/flooring/quartersawn.html) They have a quarter sawn red oak that might do the trick for SWMBO.

I'm liking the brazilian cherry. I know cherry darkens when exposed to light. Anyone know how dark it will get?

For anyone who cares, this is what the hardwood flooring will be going into: Pacific Glider (http://www.home.earthlink.net/~tetapa)

capt jake
01-09-2003, 08:55 PM
I have seen that boat on French creek. She's a beauty! Good luck on your restoration!! smile.gif

Bruce Hooke
01-09-2003, 10:41 PM
I'd stay away from white oak because it readily turns black if the varnish isn't kept up. How about ash -- it doesn't have much rot resistance but that shouldn't be a big issue in this location. Vertical grain douglas fir or some good southern pine would be another way to go...

01-09-2003, 10:42 PM
Sources for ipe, cherry, others:


[ 01-09-2003, 10:44 PM: Message edited by: helvit ]

Gresham CA
01-10-2003, 07:57 AM
I have T&G ash on my cabin sole and it looks pretty good. The red oak would look good and if you get some of the 2nd grade stuff (more knots) it might help retain some of that work boat feel you want.

Roger Cumming
01-11-2003, 01:25 PM
Ours is teak which I believe is the traditional wood for cabin soles and ladders. I would not go near plywood for a cabin sole.

Rick Tyler
01-12-2003, 07:59 PM

I see you are in Seattle. Get thee over to Crosscut Hardwoods in south Seattle. They are my favorite hardwoods store around here, and they have a big selection of flooring, including finished samples.

Ipe is sold for outdoor use, too, and should be suitable for just about any marine application where its weight is not objectionable. It's hard on cutting tools, though. Use carbide cutters and plan on getting them sharpened after your project. (Based on comments of others. I have used jarrah, but not ipe.)

I have never thought of stained, aged mahogany as being a "light" wood. When I think light hardwood, I think of birch and maple - neither of which seems well-suited to an area that is likely to get wet frequently. Cherry might fit the bill if you don't stain it dark. The natural color of aged cherry is sort of medium brown, but is a little more reddish than mahogany.

- Rick Tyler

Mark Van
05-03-2003, 11:18 AM
I used Fir for my cabin sole, it looks really nice. The interior trim was Black Walnut. The fir was toungue and groove flooring from an old house. There are pictures on my web site



[ 05-03-2003, 12:22 PM: Message edited by: Mark Van ]