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View Full Version : Poplar or willow gunwales?



davebrown
12-17-2001, 01:32 PM
Salty Dogs: I am finally finishing a Gypsy (Payson's design), and need to install the gunwales (or rubrails, as some call them). The rails will need to be about 16 ft long, and the best deal I can find here in Denver on some clear 1x2's is poplar or willow--much cheaper than spruce!

Is the poplar bendable--the boat has a 4'6" beam, so there will be some curvature in the first 7 ft or so...the willow is definitely bendable.

My instinct is that poplar will last longer, but will it take the curve?

Thanks in advance for your replies.

Thaddeus J. Van Gilder
12-17-2001, 02:39 PM
Poplar last longer? have I been smoking too much crack or did you use the words "poplar" and "lasting longer" in the same sentence?
last longer than what? newspaper? it might in that case!

I wouldn't use poplar in anyboat that wasn't a store front display or soaked in gallons of that vile epoxy. case closed.

Mr. Know It All
12-17-2001, 03:09 PM
DAVE.......WHITE OAK IS WHAT THE LYMAN BOAT COMPANY USED FOR RUB RAILS. IT'S ROT RESISTANT AND HOLDS FASTENERS WELL. IT TAKES A BEATING WELL TOO. IT'S MORE EXPENSIVE AND YOU'LL HAVE TO STEAM BEND IT BUT THE RUB RAILS ON MY 1961 LYMAN LASTED 40 YEARS. IF YOU USE WHITE (NOT RED) OAK YOU'LL ONLY HAVE TO DO IT ONCE.
BEST OF LUCK TO YOU.
KEVIN IN OHIO

blisspacket
12-17-2001, 06:10 PM
you mean even Home Depot in their trim dept doesn't have anything better? even something smaller that would bend easier and glue up to 1x2? dougfir???

Bruce Hooke
12-17-2001, 06:20 PM
Since you are in Denver I am guessing that this boat will spend most of its life under cover except when it is actively being used. In that case I wouldn't have any hesitation about using poplar or willow. Heck, spruce isn't know for its rot resistance either. I think poplar will take the bends you are talking about but the best thing to do would be to get a 3-4' piece, take it down to the right thickness if the specs have it as less than 3/4" and then try bending it around the tightest part of the curve. Heck, if you don't need to mill it to size to test it you could even return it to Home Depot after you try bending it (as long is you don't break it in the process http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif). I've never working with Willow so I can't comment on how it compares to poplar...

AndyFarquhar
12-17-2001, 08:00 PM
Such disrespect for such a great tree! The wood is light, easy to work and durable. Robb White swears by the stuff. As for durability, some of the oldest log homes here in Eastern PA are made of big old tulip poplar logs.

Poplar does split fairly easily so be sure to drill pilot holes that are big enough. Better yet, it takes glue and epoxy very well so just glue on the gunnels.

Regards

Andy Farquhar

NormMessinger
12-17-2001, 09:41 PM
Well, to me it would depend on what materials I had used on the rest of the boat. If you've used the finest marine grade plywood then why go cheep now. Otherwise what Andy said, I should think. I doubt if the left overs would last the season as tomato stakes abut then they wont be painted and kept up out of the dirt.

--Norm

LongJohn
12-18-2001, 12:03 AM
Andy -

The Tulip Poplars in your neck of the woods and on south are _Liriodendron tulipifera_. They are indeed fine trees and make nice lumber, though not very rot resistant.

What's sold around here and to the west as "poplar" is the wood of _Populus_ trees of various species known on the stump as Aspen. The lumber from these is not nearly so nice but they're plentiful and grow fast so it's cheap.

As far as willow - just don't let it get wet or it might sprout some new shoots. http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/tongue.gif

- John

DougC
12-18-2001, 09:57 PM
Last summer I saw a grown man reduced to a cursing sputtering mess -- by poplar! My friend Rob who's a picture framer and great craftsman, made the mistake of using poplar for a large frame. It warped and twisted and completely screwed up his hours of fine work. Before he had used it only for med. sized strainers (inside frame supports) now he won't even use it for that. As well as having no rot resistence, it lacks stability. I agree that tulip poplar is a nice wood to carve it has a tight grain and creamy color. Beautiful tree too.
Doug

wolfietuk
12-19-2001, 06:14 AM
True poplar has a horrible tendancy to warp twist and bend in ghastly ways. lets see 16'x3" is about 8 board feet. Poplar is about .50 per board foot or 4$. White oak is about 4$ Per foot or 32$. Even using Teak will be about 80$. Are you really saving that much in the cost of this boat?

Rick

Classic Boatworks - Maine
12-19-2001, 06:39 AM
NOw that we are done splitting our sides laughing .... how about some serious commentary?
Poplar is a catch all name. Each piece of wood must be judged by its own quality. Rubrails on a small boat, if they are not going to be rubbed much, can be made of most any species. A little steam will make any of them bend. Be careful ... it is hot when you are working with it.