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Thread: Sitka Spruce planking

  1. #1
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    Aug 2009
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    Default Sitka Spruce planking

    Could you use Sitka spruce for a glue-lam. carbon-fiber composite hull in the building of a 60' sailboat? A scaled up "strip" type construction?

    Strong, lightweight, used for masts, airplanes, spruce is used for Adirondack guideboats?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Sitka Spruce planking

    Well, if you wanted it to be as expensive as possible, I guess you could.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Sitka Spruce planking

    Cost not an issue.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Sitka Spruce planking

    Spruce,

    My first response is skepticism. But - fill us in on the details, and you might get a more informed answer.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    https://www.facebook.com/HarborWoodworks/

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Sitka Spruce planking

    Tony Castro "Sizzler" a 63' wood/epoxy day sailer, probably cedar? for weight and strength would Sitka be applicable?

    On a smaller scale there are a lot of examples of edge nailed bead and cove or straight carvel planked (small strips) boats.

    Does Sitka have the same rot resistance that say cedar does? Teak is so heavy. Does it hold a fastener as well as Port Orford?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Sitka Spruce planking

    Has this boat been built, and are you asking about its construction or is it something contemplated??

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Sitka Spruce planking

    I watched a bigish lapstrake wherry plank up with Sitka Spruce, after two years in the marina, it was getting pretty "soft" and some planks had to be replaced.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Sitka Spruce planking

    From what little I know of spruce's rot resistance, "No".
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Sitka Spruce planking

    we built a castro, 72ft rocco, with wr cedar, isnt that good enough , whats the reason for spruce

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Sitka Spruce planking

    Simply put, NO.

    Sitka spruce is 1) very expensive, particularly in long, clear lengths such as you would require, and made more so by the rather wasteful milling required for strip planking, 2) it has very low rot resistance, especially in any sheathed application, which promotes decay in any event, and 3) it has great compressivie strength in line with the grain, which makes it the wood of choice for spars and struts (and wood airframe construction) but it is quite weak across the grain, which is what one needs for planking material.

    If you are contemplating building Mr. Castro's "Sizzler," you should speak with him about construction details and options or you may find yourself ending up with a lot of "sizzle," but not much "steak."

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Sitka Spruce planking

    Western Red isn't as strong as Spruce? The red tends to be brittle. The soft planks I've had happen with Atlantic white cedar or Juniper before. This hull if built as a wood epoxy most likely will be encapsulated. The boat is still a concept.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Sitka Spruce planking

    There is no such thing as "encapsulation." It's a fantasy. Epoxy "breathes." Epoxy sheathed wood rots just like any other, only often faster. Western red cedar and other coniferous woods are also soft. Building an epoxy sheathed strip planked dinghy or kayak that will spend most of its life stored indoors out of such woods is one thing. Building a sixty foot hull that will live in the water out of the same stuff is quite another thing. (So's building a sixty foot carbon fibre laminated hull!)

    One can build a boat out of just about anything and in just about any fashion. The issue is practicality. What does it cost and how well will it last? A sixty foot Sitka spruce strip planked epoxy and carbon fibre sheathed hull is entirely "do-able." However, it will be hugely more expensive than conventional construction with conventional materials and will most likely have a much, much shorter service life given Sitka spruce's propensity to rot, especially when "sheathed." What's the point of that?

    Keep on conceptualizing... as long as it remains a "concept," you won't be constrained by reality! LOL

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Sitka Spruce planking

    I've never seen any other wood rot as quickly as spruce.

    And I've been a carpenter for 25 years and replaced a lot of rotten wood.

    Steven
    Last edited by StevenBauer; 08-26-2009 at 05:55 PM.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Sitka Spruce planking

    Do you already have a large store of spruce that you're looking to use? Is this why you're asking? If you do, I bet you could trade it for suitable planking stock and still come out way ahead.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Sitka Spruce planking

    Maybe. Spruce has been used in stripper canoes. Cottonwood rots faster than Spruce. I would worry more about it's movement. Volumetric Shrinkage is 11.5 for Sitka Spruce and 6.8 for WRC. Spruce moves allot. It works fine for laptrake boats and is very popular here in Alaska for that.

    Neil

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Sitka Spruce planking

    Windward Passage was planked in spruce, and I believe then covered with epoxy. Anyone know how she's doing?

  17. #17

    Default Re: Sitka Spruce planking

    Quote Originally Posted by johnw View Post
    Windward Passage was planked in spruce, and I believe then covered with epoxy. Anyone know how she's doing?
    My reply is 10 years late but for what its worth....

    18 years ago I built the Scottish Island Class Yacht Shona using Spanish Cedar strip core encased inside and out with structural woven glass/epoxy. This timber was chosen as durable and superior to Western Red Cedar in resisting crushing, splitting & shrinkage. Its a joy to work with, and its showing no sign of print through, unlike hulls built with Western Red Cedar. I have also used Douglas Fir, but this is harder to work with... its difficult to plane and sand fair.

    Like Ash, Sycamore and Gaboon, in my view Sitka Spruce has no place on a boat... not even a toy boat! All are prone to failure without notice!

    In strip planking I've found it un-necessary to cove strips... the angular difference, thus the gap between each strip is so tiny that suitably thickened epoxy (microfibres essential) will fill the gap, squeezing excess glue predominately outwards, making 'cleaning-up' easy. I do not edge nail, but simply temporarily screw planks to shadow moulds. Screws are removed and holes filled before outside glass sheathing.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Sitka Spruce planking

    Sound cedar is stronger than rotten spruce.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Sitka Spruce planking

    I guess he didn't get the answers that he wanted and disappeared.

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