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Thread: UK Plywood Supplier for Small Tender

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    Default UK Plywood Supplier for Small Tender

    Hi All,

    I know there have been lots of questions in the past around this theme, but I'm looking for specific advice. I'm just starting out making a simple stitch-and-glue 8' tender (everyone has to start somewhere!) and I'm looking at plywood choices. It seems to me searching online that just about anything can achieve the BS1088 standard, and the cost (and presumably quality) of plywood online varies considerably.

    The dinghy I'm intending to build will be sheaved in epoxy and partially in fibreglass mat and will be kept outside over summer to serve as the tender to a yacht. It should have a relatively easy life, and should only spend a few hours in the water every week or so. I'll also use a cover to protect it from UV.

    So the question is, what type of plywood should I use? I've seen the likes of Robbins Elite plywood which is clearly designed for the job, but is expensive for my budget, and possibly an overkill for what I'm hoping to achieve. At the other end of the spectrum, there's plenty of places which supply 6mm sheets of okoume 'marine' ply for around 20, which suggests that it may be a fairly poor product. I know this question is going to be a matter of opinion, but has anyone got any direct experience who could point me in the direction of a specific supplier?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
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    Spring City, TN, USA
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    14

    Default Re: UK Plywood Supplier for Small Tender

    Hi and welcome
    I can't lead you in a good direction for you in the UK but if you have not already done so, i would recommend that you read the two threads on this page of the forum entitled ....Marine Paint vs House Paint and The Plywood Debate. Great useful and philosophical discussion contained in both threads....even though the one is titled Paint, it sort of gravitated to wood as well. And I'm sure searching the rest of the forum will be helpful also and some of the UK forumites will add their ideas for you locally.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: UK Plywood Supplier for Small Tender

    Try Fyne Boat Kits in Cumbria. The 4mm ockume ply I bought from them was top class, three equal thickness veneers. The ply was completely packed in cardboard covers and delivery was very reasonable as well, about 40.
    http://www.fyneboatkits.co.uk/suppli...plywood-sheet/

    Nick

  4. #4
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    Default Re: UK Plywood Supplier for Small Tender

    As an alternative to Robbins (who are generally the go to) until recently nobody distributed the respected French Joubert plywood, however it is now sold here by International Timber, London Rd, Purfleet, Essex RM19 1RE.

    When I enquired in April 2016, I was quoted 35 plus VAT for Occume 6mm sheets each (I was going to order 7 for a trimaran - it might cost more for just 1-2 sheets), less than the equivalent Robbins at the time. Delivery charge was 75 plus VAT if you can't pick it up. It's Lloyds approved (better than BS) like Robbins use. Might cost more now pound to Euro devalued etc.

  5. #5
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    London, United Kingdom
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    Default Re: UK Plywood Supplier for Small Tender

    Thanks for all the replies. I hadn't heard of International Timber but they're really close to where I live. Just got prices for their Lloyd's of London-approved 1088 Okoume plywood. 6mm sheets are 46.65 (+VAT), compared with 58.17 for Robbins Elite, which appears to be a comparable product. I'll have a think, but at the moment I'm leaning in that direction, as much as anything as it's only a 30 minute drive.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: UK Plywood Supplier for Small Tender

    How long do you expect your tender to last ?

    I built one very much as you describe in 2006 and it has much the same sort of use as you predict and it's still going strong. Not a thing of any great beauty, but functional.

    I used WBP ply from Wickes.
    Nick

  7. #7
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    Sep 2007
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    Benfleet Essex UK
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    Default Re: UK Plywood Supplier for Small Tender

    I hadnt heard of International timber but will check them out.
    As for generic far eastern plywood, there is too much of it that is useless, Wickes, local timber yards all use similar rubbish that might as well be stuck together with wallpaper paste. Worst i have used was marked Exterior WBP, i chucked an offcut in the water butt overnight & in the morning it had completely delaminated.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: UK Plywood Supplier for Small Tender

    If it is properly coated in epoxy and sheathed in correctly laid up GRP/epoxy laminate - as the OP suggests he will - then whatever ply is used is acting as the core of a laminate matrix. If it really is done correctly and the epoxy is properly protected from UV degradation by paint or varnish then water shouldn't get anywhere near the ply.

    In any case, the difference between exterior WBP and marine ply specs isn't in the glue but in the number of voids and imperfections in the laminates. Good WBP can be better than poor marine spec ply and considerably cheaper. Which you use if on a tight budget depends on your planned method of construction, planned usage and how long you want it to last under that usage.

    For a working tender with relatively light usage built as epoxy coated stitch and glue, I've found that WBP has lasted 12 years so far and is still going strong.

    If, however, this were to be - say - a glued clinker ply wherry for pleasure use and picnics, then I would be the first to recommend good marine ply.
    Nick

  9. #9
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    Default Re: UK Plywood Supplier for Small Tender

    I've cut up a fair amount of Birch plywood, it was Latvian/ Finnish or maybe Russian. The trees peel well and it was voidless, even veneers and pretty clear faces. I was impressed with it. The quality was on a par with Lloyds boards but at quarter the price. Used it for patterns. On the downside the Birch is heavier (but stronger). That could be ameliorated by swapping down from 9mm to say 6mm, but I think going from 5 ply 6mm to 3 ply 4mm wold be a drop in strength though.

    What has been hanging around in my garage has gone black speckled on the surface where exposed to air, but where other boards were onto, its still quite clear. I think fully covered in a glass and epoxy encapsulated hull or well covered with paint it would hold up fine, or well enough for the cost invested. I don't think it would last as long, Birch is less durable/ non durable once a crack opens and water gets in with any neglect. Keeping rain water out of it and a decent cover would make or break it probably, but its cheap, or certainly was cheap stuff.

    A tender is probably better light though, and Occume would be the job for that. Alternatively if you have a table saw cut up some wood and glue up one of the Gartside strip plank tenders that were in a past Watercraft edition. He published two, the bigger one had a nice bit of V in the sections and was 10ft long, a good sized yacht tender pram. It had very nice sections. Design 206 it was.



    His chined plywood 9ft tender 172, was in a different Watercraft. He seemed pretty pleased with it too. Your other avenue would be to order an Oughtred Humble Bee pram kit from Jordan Boats. Another good pram, the planks would all be cut out for you to stick together quickly but will cost more. He uses Robbins Occume I think, but it would just arrive in the post! There is a sailing rig for that one, which can make for a nice 'micro sail' out and back to a mooring. This one is cold molded...

    Last edited by Edward Pearson; 12-13-2018 at 05:44 PM.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: UK Plywood Supplier for Small Tender

    Pete the editor's Chebacco is Birch. I can't decide if my pattern stock is 'rotting' or superficial discolouring. I think a prequel to the former, but it's only the top layer. Its not got wet. Its absent where another board was on top. Spores in the air? Oxidation? Don't quite know. Certainly if you keep it dry, build it and quickly coat it, fillets on the inside where water would collect etc I think it would do OK until any water got into it. I think Tom's Phoenix 3 is birch and thats done fine painted. It was about 15/ sheet 5 years ago. Its substantially stronger stuff to begin with, so even if it did rot a bit, it would probably retain sufficient strength. Its not always cost effective though - cheaper material needs more expensive coverings etc.

    If using cheaper materials a design feature of a good pram tender is to make the top of each forward and aft transom 'tall' - an extra couple of inches height means when you turn it over to store it in the winter - no rain can end up in the bilges - but the boat is held off the ground by a few extra inches and air can circulate underneath and inside to keep it dry.

    Most tenders will be deigned for 1-3 people and a bit extra boat weight over occume won't make a difference, if anything it will have more carry and stability, but it's just pulling it out or up on to a boat, you'd want a light occume boat then. A glass and tape boat will be a bit heavier though anyway than a planked occume boat. The Gartside 172 design was for low grade plywood. A 'strong' and cheap tender that means you don't have to be too precious with it is no bad thing for the rough and tumble of a tenders life. If it was going to be left on a tender mooring with rain water collecting in it, be sure to put several coats of epoxy n glass inside to half way up the topsides and fillet the corners, as it's what falls from the sky that will kill it.
    Last edited by Edward Pearson; 12-14-2018 at 07:03 AM.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: UK Plywood Supplier for Small Tender

    Birch ply grows black mould really quickly.It needs sealing at the earliest opportunity,but is really nice to work with.Not sure if it is the best material for a tender as they tend to get dragged onto shingle beaches,which soon chews lumps from the finish.

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