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Thread: Japanese Larch issues?

  1. #1
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    Default Japanese Larch issues?

    Hi there.
    I'm in the UK and I've got some nice Japanese/hybrid larch sawlogs that I'm hoping to mill up for clinker/lapstrake planking. I have been advised that it is not a suitable timber for boatbuiliding. European Larch is common used here for planking and I found a paper stating that there is negligible difference between the durability of European, Japanese and hybrid larch. So, does anyone know if there is some other property than durability that makes it unsuitable, or is this just unfounded heresay?

    Appreciate any advise.
    Thanks
    Pete

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Japanese Larch issues?

    According to this, a common usage is for boatbuilding.
    https://www.wood-database.com/japanese-larch/

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Japanese Larch issues?

    Advised, by whom?
    I'd much rather lay in my bunk all freakin day lookin at Youtube videos .

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Japanese Larch issues?

    I’d look further into the advice you were given before taking it at face value.

    Reading the page Kunzwerks linked , my concerns would focus on the “greasy, oily” feel and how that may affect any gluing necessary in your build. It may be that that particular characteristic requires a more studied approach when choice of glue is considered if your design depends a lot on the durability of glued joints.

    Too, that mention of high silica content may be worth your time to do some sampling, see how the stuff affects your tools. Try some typical glue-joint tests as well, test to destruction, see how the stuff behaves before milling up the lot. The type of ‘boatbuilding’ referred to may not be for the kind of boat you envision taking on.
    Last edited by sp_clark; 08-22-2022 at 06:23 AM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Japanese Larch issues?

    Thanks for the thoughts. I was advised against it by a professional boat builder I was thinking of buying dinghy plans from.

    Planking is for a small traditionally built clinker dinghy so glue adhesion shouldn't be an issue. Good thinking though.

    I have worked a lot with larch over the years and the high silica content does mean the bandsaw blades on the mill need sharpening more often but isn't a serious issue with other tools.

    If I am going to build a dinghy from the plans of a boat builder and he has said DO NOT use Japanese larch, it does seem quite fool hardy to ignore that. However I do have 15 tons of nice slow grown sawlogs, 20ft long with few knots and little sapwood. Its going to be very hard to find similar quality European larch, and evidence seems to suggest it'll be fine...

    Thanks again

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Japanese Larch issues?

    Were these cleared as a way of dealing with the recent fungal problems?

    There was a lot cleared in n South Wales after the discovery of Phytophthora ramorum infection,. I have no knowledge of the effects of this infection on the strength of the timber.

    Did you boatbuilder give any reason.
    I'd much rather lay in my bunk all freakin day lookin at Youtube videos .

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Japanese Larch issues?

    There is a lot of myth surrounding larch wood, your boatbuilder might be infected with it (I would certainly ask him about the specifics of his opinion.) Larch durability depends on how the tree manufactured and stored certain compounds, and this has to do with where it has grown and can't be seen with the naked eye. Density and ring count only impact mechanical properties, not durability.
    If your larch is nice enough for boatbuilding just use it. Don't expect miracles of durability from it, it's not a class 1 wood, just keep it clean and ventilated.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Japanese Larch issues?

    Quote Originally Posted by Peat View Post
    Thanks for the thoughts. I was advised against it by a professional boat builder I was thinking of buying dinghy plans from.

    Planking is for a small traditionally built clinker dinghy so glue adhesion shouldn't be an issue. Good thinking though.

    I have worked a lot with larch over the years and the high silica content does mean the bandsaw blades on the mill need sharpening more often but isn't a serious issue with other tools.

    If I am going to build a dinghy from the plans of a boat builder and he has said DO NOT use Japanese larch, it does seem quite fool hardy to ignore that. However I do have 15 tons of nice slow grown sawlogs, 20ft long with few knots and little sapwood. Its going to be very hard to find similar quality European larch, and evidence seems to suggest it'll be fine...

    Thanks again
    Where are you?
    I am looking for larch for carvel planking, to replace some bad planks. A 20-foot log sawn through and trough is just what I need.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Japanese Larch issues?

    I think people in general fuss too much about what wood to use.
    Sure, if you're building a big yacht or a ship, and expect some money return at a resale after you're done with it, it kind of matters.
    But woods like spruce and aspen, which are considered bad for boatbuilding, has been used for ages, and with proper maintenance the boats have lasted for decades.
    Some wood, like maple or birch, should be avoided, but I doubt that Japanese Larch is very similar (high sugar content).

    /Mats

    Diagnosed with autism. Sorry, not much I can do about it.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Japanese Larch issues?

    A friend recently built a Nordlandboat from local larch that was probably japanese. I would not hesitate to use it but expect it to be stiff so the first straks will be hard to fit. Steaming is not so effective as with elm or oak but it helps. And take your time. Frank
    www.oarandsail.nl

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Japanese Larch issues?

    Yes European Larch was best. I think Hybrid can be ok. A lot to do with the tree itself and if it grows in the right conditions. Scottish boatbuilders frowned on Japanese Larch. Maybe it is better now than the early trees that came here, or they are mostly Hybrid now Even with European larch, there will be poor stuff. At least you have what you need rather than be at the mercy of sawmill selling you anything. Pop into a few boatbuilders with some samples and ask their opinion.
    Problem is that there are no real standards. I don't think half of the mills selling Boat larch up here can verify exactly what it is.
    Many a stately house has been built in the "finest Sandstone" only to find it very poor and soft after shortish period of time. Sometimes it is only time that tells.

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