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Thread: When is a boat wooden?

  1. #1
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    Default When is a boat wooden?

    Obvious isn't it, a wooden boat, everyone knows what a wooden boat is. On another thread the conversation side stepped to some fibreglass examples which prompted someone to say, hey, not here, this is the 'wooden boat forum'. I thought of making a smart arse comment about balsa cored fibreglass boats (but didn't). Then thinking more today I thought about my boat, a strip plank wooden boat, but it has glass inside and out and really has some structural properties of cored glass. Is it a wooden boat? Anyway, the more I thought, the more confused I got (ok there were a lot of paint fumes going on during this confusion, maybe just need to breath fresh air). I have also seen comments in various threads suggesting a ply boat is not a wooden boat... and I argued myself in circles over that too. Turns out, I don't know what is meant by 'wooden boat'. So, I hereby confess my ignorance and request clarification from those more enlightened than me?

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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    <shakes head> Well, there you go; you had to re-open this can of worms, didn't you! Just when all the shouting had died down.... <grin>

    This has been argued here many times over the years, Small. Everyone has their own opinion, some held on to rather fiercely. My own is that if the large majority of structural strength of the vessel is derived from wood, it is a wooden boat. This would encompass plywood boats and your strip-plank one. If the majority of the structural strength is from other materials, then it is not. This would be your balsa-core fiberglass boat example.

    Then there is hybrids such as boats built with wooden planking over metal frames, which is mostly not talked about because - despite the obvious 'not wood' structure - there were several America's Cup boats built this way and pretty American boats get to bend the rules because they are pretty and historical and, well, American! <wink & wicked grin>
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    Even before the internet, this was an issue. Those of us who had WoodenBoat from issue #1 remember the flame wars in the letters about "what's really a woodenboat?" matched only by the flame wars over marine preservation and of course other flames over CPES.

    The great thing, the genius of WoodenBoat Magazine, is that it is open to all forms of woodenboat building from positively aboriginal methods through the "tradtionals" like lapstrake/clinker and carvel and on to myriad plywood methods, epoxy strippers, and beyond to composites.

    I propose a sense of what's the fundamental structure. Laminated structures of wood held together by glue are wood, albeit of composite structure. A stripper with a layer of glass outside and perhaps inside is wood because it's the wood strips that are fundamental. A balsa core glass structure is glass because the balsa just keeps the inside and outside structural glass in place to make a very strong unit.

    Now go back to the early experiments with molding mashed cellulose in lacquer - the paper boats that preceded glass.

    When i doubt, let's be inclusive. Throw in enough cellulose and we'll go with it.

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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    Penbo built a number of Eastport Pinky sloops in the 60s and 70s strip planked, then glassed over. When a marina says "no wooden boats" its a composite boat. When they go to a boat show its a wooden boat.

    There is no reality, context is everything.
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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    Fifteen or twenty years ago this topic was brought up by a forum member who was (very competently) building a largish strip built/glassed sailboat. His question, "Am I building a wooden boat?", set off the usual argument of the sacredness of traditional construction vs. the practicality and inclusiveness of stitch-and-glue, and so on. The discussion culminated in what I think was the forum's best ever thread-ending slam dunk post of all time: "If you think it's not a wooden boat, try selling it." I'm still laughing. I'd love to give credit to both the boat builder and the author of that post, but sadly I just don't remember either guy's name.

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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    Wooden chu like to know....

    OK, for a serious answer - see #3
    David G
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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    Who cares? I was really disappointed when Bruce shut down his Arawana thread. OK it's a fibreglass boat, but like ACBs recent acquisition it has teak over ply decks and solid teak cabin sides. And it's old and funky and stuff breaks a lot and it needs constant upgrades and maintenance. What's more it's small, cheap has a fabulous history and took Bruce on a pretty incredible adventure which he generously shared here. I think by and large we are not very interested in round the cans racing on throwaway boats which need several new suits of laminated carbon fibre sails every season to remain competitive, and there's not much at "boat shows" that grabs our attention. But we are not all Jay Greer either.

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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    Wooden Yu Loh.
    Quote Originally Posted by David G View Post
    Wooden chu like to know....

    OK, for a serious answer - see #3

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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    When part of a boat is made of wood, that part is wooden.
    When only a little bit of a boat is made of wood, that boat is not very wooden.
    When a lot of a boat is made of wood, that boat is very wooden...
    Plywood boats, thank goodness, are wooden boats.

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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    Twenty-five years ago, I took my newly-completed "wooden" boat to the inaugural local wooden boat festival. My boat was a plywood/epoxy stitch-n-glue cobbled together with thickened epoxy fairing over poor joinery covered with paint to hide the mess. The festival sponsors refused to allow my boat in the display. They said it was not a wooden boat. They called it a "bondo-boat."

    If you attend that same "wooden" boat festival today, many of the boats on display are plywood/epoxy stitch-n-glue boats cobbled together with thickened epoxy fairing over poor joinery covered with paint to hide the mess.

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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mo 'Poxy View Post
    Twenty-five years ago, I took my newly-completed "wooden" boat to the inaugural local wooden boat festival. My boat was a plywood/epoxy stitch-n-glue cobbled together with thickened epoxy fairing over poor joinery covered with paint to hide the mess. The festival sponsors refused to allow my boat in the display. They said it was not a wooden boat. They called it a "bondo-boat."

    If you attend that same "wooden" boat festival today, many of the boats on display are plywood/epoxy stitch-n-glue boats cobbled together with thickened epoxy fairing over poor joinery covered with paint to hide the mess.
    Maybe festival organisers could create categories based on Spirit's comments in #9: a) very wooden; b) wooden; c) somewhat wooden; d) not very wooden.

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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    When in decked or un-decked form,she is encapsulated in naturally grown cellulose fibre, any sane mind would recognise the wooden identity.
    Even a raft or paddle board comprised of the same cellulose fibres from end to end, will be rocognised as wooden

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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    My boat is carvel - AYC planks over oak frames built before epoxy & fiberglass were invented. When I bought her, she was glassed externally from the waterline down. The Coast Guard classified her as a fiberglass boat.

    Hmmm... Now that the glass is gone, guess I need to update my documentation info!
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    I actually had one of my letters to the editor printed in the magazine way back in the beginning. It was in response to some gal who was saying that wood strip/fiberglass canoes didn't deserve to be in the magazine. As it turns out, I think any boat that contains some obvious wooden elements and can gather enough interest to get the attention of the readers is probably the best bet for the good of the magazine and the forum.

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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    It seems your view Todd is in practice the prevailing view, and a good thing too or we would miss out on some really interesting and beautiful boats.

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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    Composite used to mean timber hull over iron frames in some times , some of the clipper ships for example , or the famous Robinson boat ,Varua. Its a bit different now isn't it.

    Yes I've picked up the odd negativity about my boat over the years because its cold moulded. The fact is its 4 x 1/4 skins of resorcinol glued Kauri over wooden frames and stringers etc ,and has a light boat cloth covering on the outside to seal it. Ply bulkheads and a crazy amount of interior timber joinery. No structure at all in that cloth. 45 ft of a one heck of a lot of tree.
    I have friends with strip cedar core boats in the 40 ft range , but even those are clad with a light cloth ( but both sides ), I call that wooden . I suppose my other friends balsa core boat is different just because of the glass scantlings.
    Last edited by John B; 06-25-2018 at 07:03 PM.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    The following suggestion might throw some light -- imagine taking the wood out of the craft, and see if what remains could be called a boat.

    Composite, as in skin on frame (whether animal skin like leather, or cloth, would not leave a boat.
    Same with planking on a metal framed composite boat.

    Any laminated craft has it's wood content determined by the structural significance of the cellulose fibres......take the balsa out of cored composite, and you are left with two useless fibre/ matrix skins, little better than the leather skin of a curragh without the wooden frame

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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    We know that alloy, steel, sold glass, foam core, balsa core are not wood. Sold wood, ply , strip plank and cold moulding are wood. Most of the heat in the discussion is around traditional methods of using wood, trenails, oakum and plankin' Thats real boatbuilding
    whatever rocks your boat

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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    How about this - if it could fall apart due to rot, it's wood.
    Has BigFella and SkyBlue on ignore.

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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    The problem started when they replaced wooden trunnels with iron nails!!! Should never let it go that far,,, look where it brought us!!!

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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lugalong View Post
    The following suggestion might throw some light -- imagine taking the wood out of the craft, and see if what remains could be called a boat.

    Composite, as in skin on frame (whether animal skin like leather, or cloth, would not leave a boat.
    Same with planking on a metal framed composite boat.

    Any laminated craft has it's wood content determined by the structural significance of the cellulose fibres......take the balsa out of cored composite, and you are left with two useless fibre/ matrix skins, little better than the leather skin of a curragh without the wooden frame
    Interesting exercise. Removing 500 kg of wood from my boat would leave about 100 kg of resin and glass and 675 kg of lead. If handled very gently it might hold its boat shape, especially if the wood was replaced by foam core. The mast however would fall down as soon as a seagull tried to land on the windex.

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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    Furum wise is it not the connection to the magazine that is responsibile for the forum name. A more accurate description could be wooden and spirit of traditional boats. Compared to many this is a warm, friendly and enviting forum, something we should all be very proud of. If someone had a fibreglass dinghy and wanted advice on a lud rig we would offer help regardless of the hull material. We recently offered a guy help on a scratched refrigerator which is great.

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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    Quote Originally Posted by tink View Post
    Furum wise is it not the connection to the magazine that is responsibile for the forum name. A more accurate description could be wooden and spirit of traditional boats. Compared to many this is a warm, friendly and enviting forum, something we should all be very proud of. If someone had a fibreglass dinghy and wanted advice on a lud rig we would offer help regardless of the hull material. We recently offered a guy help on a scratched refrigerator which is great.
    Oh yes, but only because the fridge holds the beer that feeds the man who will eventually build a wooden boat... meaning of course that the fridge is actually a wooden boat building tool.

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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    Quote Originally Posted by Small boats rock View Post
    Oh yes, but only because the fridge holds the beer that feeds the man who will eventually build a wooden boat... meaning of course that the fridge is actually a wooden boat building tool.
    Impeccable logic!

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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fredostli View Post
    The problem started when they replaced wooden trunnels with iron nails!!! Should never let it go that far,,, look where it brought us!!!
    It brought us here:
    Quote Originally Posted by Small boats rock View Post
    Oh yes, but only because the fridge holds the beer that feeds the man who will eventually build a wooden boat... meaning of course that the fridge is actually a wooden boat building tool.
    Management is the art of counting beans. Leadership is the art of making every being count. --Joe Finch

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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    Quote Originally Posted by MN Dave View Post
    It brought us here:
    Wait a sec! A re you saying beer wasn't an important part of boatbuilding before there were refrigerators? I find that difficult to believe...
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    Boats and cars are alike in that some are classic and some are not. Classics are traditional, both in design and construction methods, but "traditional' is a moving target. At present, "traditional" in the boat context ends around the beginning of WWII, generally what might be called the "BP" era. ("Before Plywood"... little was used in small craft construction until wartime technological advances reached the general public.)

    The cars below are each "pre-War," 1936 Mercedes Benz 540K Special Roadsters.

    I sold this one for $15,000.



    This one, on the ramp at Pebble Beach, is worth around $8,000,000.



    One is "metal" and the other is "fiberglass." The "fiberglass" one has a metal frame and engine and so on, but, as with traditionally built boats, there is a difference.
    Last edited by Bob Cleek; 06-26-2018 at 08:59 PM.

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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    Which one has a tow bar and can I fit my kit in the boot (trunk).

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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    A boats a wooden boat when structural hull work is done by a woodworker. Sure, a laminator or welder can work on a wood boat, and vice versa, but, to quote a congressman "I know it when I see it".
    Nicholas

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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pelirrojo View Post
    A boats a wooden boat when structural hull work is done by a woodworker. Sure, a laminator or welder can work on a wood boat, and vice versa, but, to quote a congressman "I know it when I see it".
    Nicholas
    HM,,, so me beeing an academician... inspired by whatever I find in the fridge,,, building a boat out of threes growing around the house ,,, are not allowed to call it a wooden boat ,,, even if it floats? and a real "woodworker" can build a boat out of ,,, the fridge (by removing the door of course) and call that a wooden boat?

    I might have misunderstood something here,, I am just a simple norwegian

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Fredostli View Post
    HM,,, so me beeing an academician... inspired by whatever I find in the fridge,,, building a boat out of threes growing around the house ,,, are not allowed to call it a wooden boat ,,, even if it floats? and a real "woodworker" can build a boat out of ,,, the fridge (by removing the door of course) and call that a wooden boat?

    I might have misunderstood something here,, I am just a simple norwegian


    Provided that there is some wood (or bamboo) yes

    The great thing about fridge boats is the insulation provides built in buoyancy






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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    Well, I'd figure if you build it outta wood that qualifies you as a woodworker

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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    Talking of motor cars and whether they are the real thing or not, much like this here wooden boat question -- it might be relevant to mention the Marcos, which had a wooden monocoque chassis.

    Of course, it was that plywood stuff, not oak planks nailed together with iron spikes, so doesn't come close to being wood.

    We should know that car a like the model T is the 'real thing', not some post war laminated contraption.

    Like cars, many boats are reliant on metal for their structural integrity, and then there are the real wooden boats (the ones relegated to the scrap heap, like the model T) which were fastened with fibre lashing or sewing.

    Pure and proper, along with throwing out the adhesives, points to going back to this old fastening system.
    Last edited by Lugalong; 06-29-2018 at 04:16 PM.

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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    'Fibre lashing or sewing'... wasn't that where 'the problem started'... we all know that proper wooden boats are made by hollowing logs with help from fire. Once builder's abandoned logs in favour of this newfangled fibre lashing craze they were well on the path to ocean travel in fridges.

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    Default Re: When is a boat wooden?

    Quote Originally Posted by Small boats rock View Post
    'Fibre lashing or sewing'... wasn't that where 'the problem started'... we all know that proper wooden boats are made by hollowing logs with help from fire. Once builder's abandoned logs in favour of this newfangled fibre lashing craze they were well on the path to ocean travel in fridges.

    Yep!, pretty much as soon as the time honoured use of fire manipulation was abandoned, along with use of piffling pieces of wood from trees of mere decades growth, rather than real trunks of a hundred or two years age, the decadence had set in.

    Proper wooden hulls of hardwood trunks a thousand or two years old, showing traces of excellent burn shaping and hollowing, could be admired as worthy examples of the genre.
    Last edited by Lugalong; 06-30-2018 at 06:22 AM.

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