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Thread: Ipe

  1. #1
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    Default Ipe

    Anybody have any experience with this wood? My local lumberyard doesn't have a whole lot of species. Clear Fir, Teak (untouchable), Ipe, and they can order White Oak. They also have some SYP, but it is number two and would require a lot of picking. I'm looking at a strip plank build and thought I'd use fir for the planks and was wondering about the suitability of Ipe for other components. It's pretty and appears knotless- very dense looking wood. I've read it's tough on hand tools and is difficult to bend, but is quite rot resistant. Better off going with the White Oak sight unseen? The lumber guy described the oak as number one (as is the rest of the lumber mentioned). This is for ribs, stem, etc.. Thanks- Aaron
    Last edited by potomac; 04-24-2012 at 12:08 PM.
    "A man builds the best of himself into a boat- builds many of the memories of his ancestors." -Steinbeck

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Ipe

    It's tough on hand tools and is difficult to bend. It is very dense, and very rot resistant. You don't really want to make ribs and a stem out of a wood that is tough on tools and is difficult to bend. That is why you use white oak rather than ipe.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Ipe

    Fair enough. I should have added that I'm curious where this wood would be suitable and in those applications how builders liked it. Would it be best for decking or nowhere near a boat.
    "A man builds the best of himself into a boat- builds many of the memories of his ancestors." -Steinbeck

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Ipe

    Are you talking about the little lumber yard just north of town on Rt.1, up past the airport?
    That was the only yard I found down there that had anything better than a cinderblock....
    But to answer your question, Ipe is good for decking your house. It makes excellent garden furniture too. It would probably make excellent keel/deadwood parts, but I wouldn't use it for much else on a boat due to it's weight.
    Never trust a man with a clean workshop.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Ipe

    That's the one. I can't imagine a more beautiful place to be or boat (a bit shoal I guess), but it is a wasteland for wood. The oak is cheaper anyway, I was just a bit hesitant to get it sight unseen- in my albeit limited experience, there is a lot of variation within grades.
    "A man builds the best of himself into a boat- builds many of the memories of his ancestors." -Steinbeck

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Ipe

    There's a cabinet shop/lumber dealer in New Smyrna that has/had some nice looking lumber, but both the Boss and I were so road weary by the time we got there (this is the trip where she tried to leave me with the hatchet faced guys from "Deliverence".) that I didn't really pay much attention to the name of the place.... But it's right near a concrete factory and train crossing, out by the swamp..... Just look for the pile of burning tires, and listen for banjo music....
    Never trust a man with a clean workshop.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Ipe

    You've just described an awful lot of places. In fact, it sounds almost precisely like some directions I've gotten before.

    As an aside: I should have noted it was our good forum member Kenjamin who put me onto the lumberyard. Thanks Ken.
    "A man builds the best of himself into a boat- builds many of the memories of his ancestors." -Steinbeck

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Ipe

    Also, ipé grain is problematic...a lot of interlocked/reversing grain. To prevent checks, endgrain needs to be sealed with Anchorseal (endgrain sealant) on cutting. You need to work it with carbide tooling and power tools -- tool steel won't...err...cut it (at least, not for very long), and unless your guns look like this



    I don't believe you'll have much joy trying to drive a handplane through the stuff.

    Also, holes for nails, rivets or screws must be predrilled (yes, even nails), or you're going to break or otherwise ruin a sizable portion of your fasteners.
    You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound. — P.G. Wodehouse (Carry On, Jeeves)

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Ipe

    Tabebuia serratifolia. I like ipe for boat work. SOME boat work. It's hard, dense, glues nicely, tough, resilient, and durable. I use it for skids or for outwale caps. It's a little bit like machining aluminum, it's so dense. However, it will snap with absolutely no warning if you try and bend it more than it wants. Same with nailing or screwing. Pilot holes are essential. The dust can be irritating. It doesn't look bad under varnish... but isn't remarkably beautiful, either. Sort of a monotone rich red/brown.
    David G
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    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "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)

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Ipe

    Quote Originally Posted by potomac View Post
    Fair enough. I should have added that I'm curious where this wood would be suitable and in those applications how builders liked it. Would it be best for decking or nowhere near a boat.
    I read somewhere along the way that ipe could be used to build a boat trailer out of wood, due to its strength and density (won't float as easily as other woods).

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Ipe

    Quote Originally Posted by orbb View Post
    I read somewhere along the way that ipe could be used to build a boat trailer out of wood, due to its strength and density (won't float as easily as other woods).
    Some of the Ipe I've used would probably make a better anchor than a boat.....
    Never trust a man with a clean workshop.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Ipe

    Quote Originally Posted by Mrleft8 View Post
    Some of the Ipe I've used would probably make a better anchor than a boat.....
    Specific gravity is typically over 1.0
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "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)

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Ipe

    Quote Originally Posted by potomac View Post
    Fair enough. I should have added that I'm curious where this wood would be suitable and in those applications how builders liked it. Would it be best for decking or nowhere near a boat.
    It's too heavy for decking. I have used it for some structural deck beams, which were sawn and glued. I also have a nice deck on the front porch made from ipe. Generally, the toxicity, hardness and weight tend to put me off for boat work, at least for now.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Ipe

    I've acquired several nice pieces of curly ipe over the years but have been reluctant to cut into it due to the dire warnings about skin irritation and general toxicity. One site recommended a full hazmat suit to work the stuff.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Ipe

    Quote Originally Posted by TerryLL View Post
    I've acquired several nice pieces of curly ipe over the years but have been reluctant to cut into it due to the dire warnings about skin irritation and general toxicity. One site recommended a full hazmat suit to work the stuff.
    I have never been very sensitive to wood dust. I've had some employees get a rash from various things that I - working side by side - never had a problem with. I use dust collection on the main saws, and the router table - but seldom on sanders or hand-held routers. I too have seen all the cautions. Lots of them! So... take my experience with a grain of salt --

    I've cut up a lot of Ipe, machined it, and sanded it. I've never had a hint of skin or respiratory reaction to it.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "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)

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Ipe

    So other than the toxicity, the lack of workability, the lack of bendability, and the weight, it's great.

    Dan, if the prices I saw today are any indication, you are a high class dude. That stuff was expensive for a deck.

    As for the toxicity, I've just finished a set of built-ins (bookshelves over cabinets) in red oak and had a pretty dramatic skin reaction to the sawdust, so I'd guess my future with Ipe is limited.
    "A man builds the best of himself into a boat- builds many of the memories of his ancestors." -Steinbeck

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Ipe

    I used it for the rubrails on my BlueJacket 28; perfect application for ipe. I also made my grabrails and anchor chocks from it. Rick

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Ipe

    Quote Originally Posted by Mrleft8 View Post
    Some of the Ipe I've used would probably make a better anchor than a boat.....
    Quote Originally Posted by potomac View Post
    So other than the toxicity, the lack of workability, the lack of bendability, and the weight, it's great.


    +1

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Ipe

    I like to use ipe, but as many have said above, it is not for everything. I learned the hard way, to wear gloves when handling it after ripping in on the saw. It is so hard that the edge is knife like. I used it for ice runners on my sneakbox, for small details where I wanted a wear hard surface, and am currently using it to make jamb cleats, cleats, and finger cleats. I have been told it is what the Atlantic City boardwalk is made from 50 years of exposure without treatment sounds durable enough for me! It is heavy, hard, and expensive! I do well collecting odds and ends off CL when folks build a deck, I buy the random leftovers.

    Dave

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Ipe

    Quote Originally Posted by potomac View Post
    So other than the toxicity, the lack of workability, the lack of bendability, and the weight, it's great.

    Dan, if the prices I saw today are any indication, you are a high class dude. That stuff was expensive for a deck.

    As for the toxicity, I've just finished a set of built-ins (bookshelves over cabinets) in red oak and had a pretty dramatic skin reaction to the sawdust, so I'd guess my future with Ipe is limited.
    When I was buying it last, it was half the price of white oak around here, and less than the pop-bottle stuff for decking. Dunno why. I haven't priced it recently.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Ipe

    I think about $4.75 a board foot here. White oak is closer to $4.00. I wonder if it would be worthwhile to try it as a sacrificial, typically submerged part of the boat like a skeg or keel shoe. I think DavidG was getting at this. Though ultimately, it sounds like it might be less effort to simply run a half round of brass. Could the keel timbers themselves be built of this wood? Sounds tough.
    "A man builds the best of himself into a boat- builds many of the memories of his ancestors." -Steinbeck

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Ipe

    The builder of the Schooner "Susan" used ipe for the cabin sole... for its toughness and because his strip/cold molded hull is lighter than the original built in carvel. His cabin sole will outlast the entire boat.

    There were threads about Ipe ... a guy named George in South America built a 50+ foot schooner using Ipe for planks... he said he was using acetone and a match to clean the surfaces before gluing. He also said there were pilings in the water where he lived that had been there for over 40 years. Ipe certainly has some positive features if you can deal with the negative.

    RodB

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Ipe

    I think my boat neighbor used it for handrails on his schooner. Looks great.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Ipe

    [My two cents.. I'm a home builder and have put down about an acre of Ipe decking in the last 15 years or so. We always fight over the scrap and I have used it for lots of projects, a few small odds and ends on my boat, but it machines well with carbide tools. i have also had good luck with handplaning it, sharp irons of course. I use it for any shop jigs I make, very durable and a slick surface. We just finished a 800 sq. ft. deck and we sanded the top with RO sanders, 80 grit. It took two of us about two hours, mainly to remove any handling marks and smoothing out the bungs around the perimeter. The dust is mildly irritating, but nothing to shy away from using it. We coated it with Penothin oil and it looks great. As said, I have also varnished patio tops and other things I've made in the past. It is very heavy, would want to limit boatbuilding uses to structural strong points I think. In Annapolis, MD, I just paid $3.65 linear foot for 1x6. It was $1.45/ft just 4 years ago, but as the plastic decking has gone up with oil in the last few years, the suppliers have kept the Ipe price right there with it. I used to use 5/6x6 for decking at $1.80/ft, but now it's over $5. Going to make a pair of Adirondack chairs with scrap from tihs last job.

    Kimball

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Ipe

    I have also been looking at Ipe (also called iron wood by some) for some parts on my boat project. Specifically for my bow cap. It polishes up very smooth and makes a nice accent piece. I am also looking to use it on the transom as a decorative stand-off that my small outboard would rest against and clamp to. My other option for this application would be stainless steel. does anybody have any thoughts on this matter?

    Tim

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Ipe

    Tim - your plans sound perfectly reasonable to me. Those sorts of applications make sense for Ipe.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "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)

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Ipe

    Quote Originally Posted by David G View Post
    Tim - your plans sound perfectly reasonable to me. Those sorts of applications make sense for Ipe.
    Thankyou.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Ipe

    I turned my stantions out of Ipe on my last boat. They polished out beautifully and all i did for the finish was oil them maybe once a year. They were stronger then the metal stantions they replaced. Here in Nicaragua it is called Cortez and cost about a dollar a board foot. In my current build I have used it for the keel timber and deadwood.

    David G, the information I have here tells me that we have two species of Ipe here, Tabebuia guayacan, and Tabebuia chrysantha, both called Cortez, and a third one, Tabebuia rosea that has beautiful red, yellow, and green running through the normal dark redish brown grain called Roble or Macuelizo. The specific gravity of these three are respectively 1.23, 1.18, and 0.97. If I am correct, Tabebuia serratifolia grows in southern Mexico. It makes me wonder if the difference is where they grow. I am using Macuelizo for my samson post, and the saloon sole, because it is so beautiful and strong. capt. Z.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Ipe

    Don't know about the cultivation or locations, really. What I know is that around here we get Tabebuia serratifolia, T. ipe, and T. guayacan.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "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)

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Ipe

    Just did a deck with ipe. I second the Hazmat comment.

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