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Thread: Best wood used in boats??

  1. #1
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    Default Best wood used in boats??

    Hey all, I've been looking at plans and listening to the different woods and I'm just curious is there list of woods that are best used in building wooden boats?
    Alex

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    Default Re: Best wood used in boats??

    Whatever is durable for outdoor use, grows and is milled closest to you, and is reasonble in cost. Call local arborist firms and ask who mills locally.

    You have White Oak, Black Locust, Black Walnut, Sassafras, Catalpa, Kentucky Coffeetree, Red Mulberry, Eastern Red Cedar and Baldcypress.

    Among the most common (and least expensive), White Oak or Black Locust frames and Sassafras or Baldcypress planking will make a nice local boats.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Best wood used in boats??

    As far as someone close to mill the wood that would be my dad and me. We have band mill and resaw and that's one of the other reasons I was asking. I'm not sure but I thought maybe we could help some of the other builders out there with their wood needs if I knew what sort of wood to look for.
    I assume that the cedar would need to be knot free? I haven't found many trees like that around here. Black Locust you say is good. For inside timbers or for lapping?
    Alex

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Best wood used in boats??

    white oak and black locust for structural work
    cherry for trim and interior work
    rock elm if you can get it
    poplar goes for dirt cheap but is great stuff
    I also use a lot of cedar or honey locust when I can get it in exterior trim for my various projects

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    Default Re: Best wood used in boats??

    Quote Originally Posted by growyoung View Post
    I assume that the cedar would need to be knot free? I haven't found many trees like that around here. Black Locust you say is good. For inside timbers or for lapping?
    Alex
    I think some knots in the cedar would be OK as long as they are small, tight knots.

    In general (and there are certainly exceptions) for small boats, strong, heavy woods like locust and oak are used for framing and other structural members, while lighter weight woods like cedar and cypress are used for planking. On larger boats heavier hardwoods become more common as planking stock.

    With boat wood, the first key quality is usually rot-resistance.

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    Default Re: Best wood used in boats??

    And since you live in TN - Eastern Red Cedar. Just read that the forestry folks are trying to get rid of ERC because it loves to blossom ultra-high flamage during a forest fire. You may even get PAID to remove a patch of ERC trees!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Best wood used in boats??

    Hey, thanks all. Glad to know that about ERC, I'm going to the woodweb to see if I can find out more.
    I used cedar for the floor deck boards on my cat boat and I noticed this summer how much cooler the floor was combared to the painted top.
    So far my instincts have been right on the different uses, but as I said I am new and thank you for your knowledge and wisdom.
    Boston, That is a beautful deck you have pictured there. Wow!
    If you all (I mean Ya'll) can think of any more advice, let me have it.
    Thanks
    Alex

  8. #8

    Default Re: Best wood used in boats??

    If I had one choice for strength, water resistance and accessability- wood to be used in a wet area (that's in the water), I'd definitely use black locust. It will last longer than you or I. White oak is seriously strong for interior bracing. Cherry is rot resistant but soft. Red cedar is not as strong as cherry and is very soft. Walnut is both hard and very rot resistant and also strong. Don't forget ash for interior strength, about equal to white oak. Rot resistant- check out cypress, not too expensive but can sit bare wood in water for years with no problem.
    On a side note: to preserve logs for later use, we sink them into our irrigation ponds. 7 years later, we can still use them in near new condition. "Sinker logs" used by the old timber harvesters in North Carolina have been soaking submerged at the bottom the Cape Fear River since the 1800's. They are still good as new and now sell for mega bucks---go figure.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Best wood used in boats??

    Using anything more 'spensive than CDX plwood and tuba fours is pretentious and elitist, I've heard.
    If this post did not meet all of your needs, please consult this thread for more options.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Best wood used in boats??

    You do know this is Woodenboat, not Duckworks, right?

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Best wood used in boats??

    Quote Originally Posted by Boston View Post
    white oak and black locust for structural work
    cherry for trim and interior work
    rock elm if you can get it
    poplar goes for dirt cheap but is great stuff
    I also use a lot of cedar or honey locust when I can get it in exterior trim for my various projects
    Is that a deck or a Kitchen? wow. thats the nicest looking deck I've ever seen.



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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Best wood used in boats??

    Me too, think of the maintenance on it though! It sure is a beauty though.

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    Default Re: Best wood used in boats??

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Smalser View Post
    ....
    Among the most common (and least expensive), White Oak or Black Locust.....
    I just had a look at the properties of Black Locust in some Dutch data banks, and they claim that Black Locust is indeed very hard and rot resistant, but also has the tendency to shrink and swell much more than the average wood type. Is there possibly a difference between the original Black Locust from the US and our European "descendant"?
    When you're chewing on life's gristle
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  14. #14
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    Default Re: Best wood used in boats??

    Quote Originally Posted by cookie View Post
    I just had a look at the properties of Black Locust in some Dutch data banks, and they claim that Black Locust is indeed very hard and rot resistant, but also has the tendency to shrink and swell much more than the average wood type. Is there possibly a difference between the original Black Locust from the US and our European "descendant"?
    Same species. North American locust was brought to Europe commencing in the 1600's as a hedgerow tree.

    While seasonal stability is an important factor for planking, it isn't for framing. But Black Locust rates quite well in seasonal stability compared to other framing woods. It depends on the context of what your references considered an "average wood type". As a does-everything-well wood, it all fares badly compared to Cuban Mahogany....that's why it has been commercially extinct for a hundred years.

    Order of Stability in Wood Species

    Percent Shrinkage Green to Oven Dry as an Indicator of Relative Seasonal Stability


    Radial… Tangential… (R+T)/2
    (Quartersawn) (Flatsawn) (Riftsawn)

    Northern White Cedar 2.2… 4.9… 3.5
    Honduras Mahogany 3.0… 4.1… 3.5
    Khaya 2.5… 4.5… 3.5
    Redwood, 2d Growth 2.2… 4.9… 3.5
    Western Red Cedar 2.4… 5.0… 3.7
    Eastern Red Cedar 3.1… 4.7… 3.9
    Atlantic White Cedar 2.9… 5.4… 4.1
    Eastern White Pine 2.1… 6.1… 4.1
    Teak 2.5… 5.8… 4.15
    Incense Cedar 3.3… 5.2… 4.25
    Alaska Yellow Cedar 2.8… 6.0… 4.4
    Purpleheart 3.2… 6.1… 4.65
    South American Cedar 4.0… 6.0… 5.0
    Iroko 4.0… 6.0… 5.0
    Sassafras 4.0… 6.2… 5.1
    Okoume 4.1… 6.1… 5.1
    Spanish Cedar 4.2… 6.3… 5.25
    Black Cherry 3.7… 7.1… 5.4
    Black Spruce 4.1… 6.8… 5.45
    Tamarack 3.7… 7.4… 5.55
    Baldcypress 3.8… 6.2… 5.6
    Port Orford Cedar 4.6… 6.9… 5.75
    Dark Red Meranti 3.8… 7.9… 5.85
    Black Locust 4.6… 7.2… 5.9
    Sitka Spruce 4.3… 7.5… 5.9
    Sapele 4.6… 7.4… 6.0
    Douglas Fir 4.8… 7.6… 6.2
    Longleaf Pine 5.1… 7.5… 6.3
    White Ash 4.9… 7.8… 6.35
    Black Ash 5.0… 7.8… 6.4
    Yellow Poplar 4.6… 8.2… 6.4
    Rock Elm 4.8… 8.1… 6.45
    Slash Pine 5.4… 7.6… 6.5
    Apitong 4.6… 8.2… 6.5
    Light Red Meranti 4.6… 8.5… 6.55
    Black Walnut 5.5… 7.8… 6.65
    Tangile 4.3… 9.1… 6.7
    Western Larch 4.5… 9.1… 6.8
    Angelique 4.6… 8.2… 7.0
    Ipe 6.6… 8.0… 7.3
    White Oak 5.3… 9.1… 8.0
    Live Oak 6.6… 9.5… 8.0,
    Greenheart 8.8… 9.6… 9.2

    Last edited by Bob Smalser; 10-29-2009 at 02:45 PM.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Best wood used in boats??

    Thank you for your response.

    On three websites (two of which are from lumber traders) they claimed that it's expansion coefficient exceeds that of White Oak, Sipo Mahogany and Douglas Fir, which are the other wood types I've been looking at.
    My confidence in those traders has just suffered another blow. Your post clearly provides evidence against their statements and I found another dutch source of info which claims that it actually shrinks less than Sipo, etc.
    It really pays to educate ones self before getting started.....
    When you're chewing on life's gristle
    Don't grumble, give a whistle...

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Best wood used in boats??

    alkali based stain under tung oil
    just mop on more oil once or twice a year and let it dry
    should last forever
    if it fades new stain will penetrate the old oil just fine
    then mop on more oil to bring back the shine
    no sanding and no sealing needed, as a mater of fact white oak likes to breath so trick is to let it. Problem is some fool will come along and put some plastic product on it like verathane or poly and that's when the maintenance issues begin
    as far as the wood is concerned its sectional with the pieces attached in such a way as they can expand and contract without tearing themselves apart, for instance there are sleepers under the planks that keep the planks moving in unison with the skirts bla bla bla
    its actually relatively maintanance free unless some dodo uses the wrong oil on it
    boiled lindseed would completely screw it up
    straight linseed is ok but on white oak outdoors I always use tung oil
    no sanding and it shines beautifully

    Bob
    great chart
    I gotta agree with you on this one
    seasonal stability is key in most of what I do
    but the rate at which a particular wood dries (shrinkage and its natural green moisture content ) just doesn't seem like a good comparison to its stability within a structure
    although it is a good indicator of the woods untreated response to variations in humidity and temp seldom is wood left untreated
    a basic tenant of kiln drying is that the more water repellent woods will dry extremely slowly in a kiln
    white oak being a prime example, 8/4 is a hopelessly slow to kiln dry and yet is very stable once dried; takes an equally long time to soak up atmospheric humidity. Expose northern white cedar ( top of the list ) to a few extremely humid days and it swells like a balloon, do the same to white oak and it wont budge. Its the rate of change that defines stability for me at least.
    I supose WO is equally famous for season checking as well, but that reflects more on the guy drying it than the wood itself
    Last edited by Boston; 10-29-2009 at 04:03 PM.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Best wood used in boats??

    Quote Originally Posted by cookie View Post
    ....On three websites (two of which are from lumber traders) they claimed that it's expansion coefficient exceeds that of White Oak, Sipo Mahogany and Douglas Fir....
    Well, it just might.

    I have no idea what your local "locust" wood looks and behaves like compared to what's grown here, or even whether it is Robinia pseudoacacia at all. Unlike here, Europe has many other acacias that could be lumped into a commercial marketing category called "Black Locust" (although ours is a legume and not an acacia).....just like we have "Hem-Fir" and Spruce-Pine-Fir", neither of which contain any of the more desirable Douglas Fir. But here the data is based on an average of hundred years of testing of recently-harvested woods at the USDA Forest Products Lab.

    And in any natural product you can expect variance based on soils, climate and other growth factors by as much as a third.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_locust

    Last edited by Bob Smalser; 10-29-2009 at 03:24 PM.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Best wood used in boats??

    This is what ours looks like, according to German Wikipedia.

    They say it is a Legume and drying it is rather difficult. It loses moisture very rapidly and has a tendency to tear due to the stresses in the wood. However, once dry it is very slow to re-uptake (is that a word?) moisture again.
    So far so good, I just might use it on my project.
    When you're chewing on life's gristle
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