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Thread: Wood for backbone: Oughtred Caledonia

  1. #1
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    Default Wood for backbone: Oughtred Caledonia

    I am seeking advice for sourcing wood for the backbone (stems, keelson, keel, floors) of my Caledonia Yawl. I live in western Maine.

    What species is preferred for structural parts of a large glued lapstrake boat like this? Can anyone recommend a supplier in Maine with stock I can look at?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Wood for backbone: Oughtred Caledonia

    I’d try to find some Black Locust. Do you have any hardwood suppliers up there? In Southern Maine we have Atlantic Hardwoods in Portland, Days Hardwood in Freeport and Fat Andy’s in Yarmouth. Maine Coast Lumber has been bought by Downs and Reader who have consolidated Maine Coasts two locations into one in Gorham.

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    Default Re: Wood for backbone: Oughtred Caledonia

    Welcome! Please keep us posted. I'd love to build that boat.

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    Default Re: Wood for backbone: Oughtred Caledonia

    Dont you have Larch/ Hackmatack up there? That would be fine.

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    Default Re: Wood for backbone: Oughtred Caledonia

    While White Oak is much preferred for keels stems and steamed frames there are other woods such as Locust. Purple Heart works well for keels and floors. Out West we sometimes use Douglas fir for floors and sawn framing and dead wood. Seeking wood on farm property often can yield locust, oak and rock elm. Look for wind breaks that are dying and or need removal. Larry Pardey got all of the natural grown framing for his "Taliesen" free!
    All Larry had to do was to fell and remove it from the farmers property!
    Jay

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Wood for backbone: Oughtred Caledonia

    Any and all of the above woods will work, go with what is local. Don't worry about weight as 9 out of 10 folks end up putting ballast in anyway and the keel is as good a place as any to have the weight. There are good discussions of the pros/cons of the options in Oughtreds clinker plywood book and Rossel's boatbuilding book. FWIW I went with western larch for structural parts of my CY. If oak or locust was locally at hand I would have considered it, but I would have spent a lot more time at the stones. Larch is a lot easier on the edge tools.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Wood for backbone: Oughtred Caledonia

    Thanks for the suggestions. I can get white oak easy enough, but am reluctant to begin with something that has a reputation of poor gluing. Glued lapstrake construction isn't tolerant of suspicious glue joints. I gather there are lots and lots of opinions on that subject, yes?
    I used local tamarack for similar parts of a Acorn skiff a number of years ago. Found it very suitable. It's hard to source, though. Not sawn commercially.
    I'd prefer to find something ready to hand, rather than go logging.
    Anyone in Maine or NH with specific supplier suggestions?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Wood for backbone: Oughtred Caledonia

    Black locust is virtually an invasive species there. I'd be looking for it and would expect to find it readily. Best boat wood in North America IMHO. Good for everything but masts if you can find clear lengths which can be a bit more tricky I must admit.
    If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
    -Henry David Thoreau-

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    Default Re: Wood for backbone: Oughtred Caledonia

    I have been in the woods of Maine for a fair bit, in a rough triangle between Millenocket, Machias and Bar Harbor, and I have not seen a lot of black locust, except perhaps for some some scraggly volunteers along the roadsides.

    West Systems did a test regarding white oak and epoxy, and I seem to recall that their conclusions were, shall we say, somewhat at odds with James McMullin's. It was in Epoxyworks, I will try to find it when I get back to a desktop tonight.

    Consider white oak with Gflex, which has superior adhesion and flexibility characteristics. Your sourcing problem is solved.

    Or you could take Wizbang's perspective, and consider red oak, there should be no problems sucking up epoxy given its open cell structure. In all seriousness, this may not be a bad approach if the boat is to be a trailer sailor.
    Steve Martinsen

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    Default Re: Wood for backbone: Oughtred Caledonia

    It is my understanding that White Oak (WO) is known for fairly significant dimensional changes due to moisture, so it might not be the best option for a glued lap boat. It is different for solid wood boats such as my dory skiff, where the rivets and fasteners allow enough movement to avoid cracking.

    I know nothing about tamarack or black locust other than what I've read here, but if they will be more dimensionally stable than WO I'd certainly consider them, local or not.

    Ian is online these days, and I think there are several Oughtred builders forums on Yahoo and probably Facebook -- well worth asking there.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

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    Default Re: Wood for backbone: Oughtred Caledonia

    http://epoxyworks.com/index.php/white-oak-redux/

    I think this is the article you are looking for.
    Steve

    Boats, like whiskey, are all good.
    R.D Culler

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Wood for backbone: Oughtred Caledonia

    That's the one, thanks, Steve.
    Steve Martinsen

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    Default Re: Wood for backbone: Oughtred Caledonia

    I'm using Iroko for the backbone of my Oughtred build. It's quite heavy and, I understand, dimensionally stable.

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    Default Re: Wood for backbone: Oughtred Caledonia

    Offcenterharbor.com has Geoff Kerr's instructional videos on each step of the Caledonia build. You might even contact him at Two Daughters Boatworks. He built the CY I bought a few years ago from a member of this forum. My keel and stems are douglas fir, I believe. Good luck!

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Wood for backbone: Oughtred Caledonia

    I'd like to hear more about Red Oak. My impression is that it's bad reputation (for boats) is due to lack of durability. Do you agree? Are you suggesting that epoxy encapsulation takes this issue off the table?

    I'm a forester by profession, so I can confirm your observations about black locust. It's found along the coast and widespread in southern New England. I have happy memories of splitting some for firewood with my Grandfather on Cape Cod many years ago. It's traditional uses included rail fences and wagon suspension parts. Isn't widely sawn for lumber. "Scraggly volunteers" is it's typical style of growth, I think, though I've seen some tall and straight-ish examples in Southern Vermont recently.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Wood for backbone: Oughtred Caledonia

    I've seen the Kerr videos and plan to re-visit them as I go along. Good stuff!

    He uses some very fancy looking VG Doug fir for his structural backbone. I'm sure it's fine, but I'm attracted to find something harder, heavier, and less expensive. I also haven't found a good source for Doug fir yet, either.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DanSimonds View Post
    I've seen the Kerr videos and plan to re-visit them as I go along. Good stuff!

    He uses some very fancy looking VG Doug fir for his structural backbone. I'm sure it's fine, but I'm attracted to find something harder, heavier, and less expensive. I also haven't found a good source for Doug fir yet, either.
    Cherry, ash, walnut, spruce, you're obsessing about White Oak and yet you want to consider Red Oak? OMG! don't even go there LOL

    Sent from my LG-M430 using Tapatalk
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

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    Default Re: Wood for backbone: Oughtred Caledonia

    Quote Originally Posted by DanSimonds View Post
    I'd like to hear more about Red Oak.
    Why you don't want red oak in boat building.

    https://youtu.be/L6t2AZubF8U

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Wood for backbone: Oughtred Caledonia

    OK - maybe I should start at the beginning. I have a pretty good understanding of wood physiology, and a general appreciation of the challenges for wooden boats in service. A glued lapstrake boat is a special case, though, isn't it? By definition, it's a hybrid. Lots of inflexible, structural glue joints. So we need everything to be as stable as we can - that's why we used plywood for planking. But the backbone and floors are solid wood, and on the CY they're pretty substantial. So stability there seems to be pretty important, no?

    Here's my short list of criteria:
    1) stable (not likely to change size & shape)
    2) durable (not likely to rot)
    3) hard (hold fasteners well, and able to take some abuse)
    4) available (something I can locate and buy)

    The choice is far from obvious. Everything I've considered seems to fail on one or more of these points, and the relative importance is also less than obvious.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Wood for backbone: Oughtred Caledonia

    Quote Originally Posted by Project-Avalon View Post
    Why you don't want red oak in boat building.

    https://youtu.be/L6t2AZubF8U
    Fair point - that's why I asked my question.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by DanSimonds View Post
    Fair point - that's why I asked my question.
    You could also laminate the stems and backbone.

    Dan, because you are a Forester, could you maybe obsessing over it more than most of us?
    Last edited by DeniseO30; 03-11-2018 at 02:02 PM.
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Wood for backbone: Oughtred Caledonia

    Quote Originally Posted by DanSimonds View Post
    I am seeking advice for sourcing wood for the backbone (stems, keelson, keel, floors) of my Caledonia Yawl. I live in western Maine.
    What species is preferred for structural parts of a large glued lapstrake boat like this? Can anyone recommend a supplier in Maine with stock I can look at?
    You might try:

    Premium Specialty Hardwoods
    1180 Route 2]
    Rumford, ME 04276
    (207) 364-7500

    They have a pretty good selection of ordinary hardwoods (oaks, ash, cherry, walnut), some in good, long lengths, as well as some figured and odd/exotic stuff. They are not much of a hike from you -- a bit over an hour's drive I would guess, but if they have what you want in stock (give them a call), it would be worth the drive (I've driven over from Dover-Foxcroft -- a bit further away than you). They are happy to let you roam through their stock to pick out just what you want.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Wood for backbone: Oughtred Caledonia

    Quote Originally Posted by DeniseO30 View Post
    You could also laminate the stems and backbone.
    I was just thinking about that myself as plans I'm looking at show a 24' long 6x9" keel timber.

    ~Daniel

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Wood for backbone: Oughtred Caledonia

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Nolan View Post
    You might try:

    Premium Specialty Hardwoods
    1180 Route 2]
    Rumford, ME 04276
    (207) 364-7500

    They have a pretty good selection of ordinary hardwoods (oaks, ash, cherry, walnut), some in good, long lengths, as well as some figured and odd/exotic stuff. They are not much of a hike from you -- a bit over an hour's drive I would guess, but if they have what you want in stock (give them a call), it would be worth the drive (I've driven over from Dover-Foxcroft -- a bit further away than you). They are happy to let you roam through their stock to pick out just what you want.
    Yes I've been there. Nice people and and very helpful. Said they could order most anything I need, but the inventory was fairly thin when I was there. I also realized quickly that I didn't exactly know what I wanted/needed. That's why I started this thread. They are definitely the closest and most convenient to me, so I'll do business there if I can. Unfortunately, they don't carry the plywood I'll need.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Wood for backbone: Oughtred Caledonia

    Quote Originally Posted by DeniseO30 View Post
    You could also laminate the stems and backbone.

    Dan, because you are a Forester, could you maybe obsessing over it more than most of us?
    Not much doubt about that!

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Wood for backbone: Oughtred Caledonia

    Quote Originally Posted by DanSimonds View Post
    I am seeking advice for sourcing wood for the backbone (stems, keelson, keel, floors) of my Caledonia Yawl. I live in western Maine.

    What species is preferred for structural parts of a large glued lapstrake boat like this? Can anyone recommend a supplier in Maine with stock I can look at?
    I wouldn't use white oak for the backbone on a trailer sailor that will be in and out of the water ... drying, soaking, drying, etc. I've seen oak check badly on a dry-sailed boat. If it was always soaking, then yeah, lovely stuff. (If you don't put oak on your trailered boat then it really won't matter if it can be successfully glued or not.)

    I don't know anything about suppliers in Maine. I do like Maine, however, and am confident in its historically-proven capability to produce wood for boats.
    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    Yeadon is right, of course.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Wood for backbone: Oughtred Caledonia

    Quote Originally Posted by kelso View Post
    Offcenterharbor.com has Geoff Kerr's instructional videos on each step of the Caledonia build. You might even contact him at Two Daughters Boatworks. He built the CY I bought a few years ago from a member of this forum. My keel and stems are douglas fir, I believe. Good luck!
    Is your boat Jasmine, Kelso? I’ve spent lots of quality time sailing in her. I made her third mast, too. I hope it’s holding up better than the first two.

    Dan, did you call Days Hardwood in Freeport? I really think Black Locust is the best for your project if you want locally grown wood. If you’d consider imported maybe you could find some Angelique.

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