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Thread: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

  1. #1
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    Default question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    All -
    I am building my first boat; a Diablo by Dynamite Payson and had a quesiton.
    Plans call for AC Exterior plywood or Marine Grade. I plan on using AC exterior, but the lumberyard closest to me tell me that AC plywood is the same as AC Exterior. Is this true? I am not very experienced with woodworking but I see differing info when I "google" for more info, and figure I would ask the experts.

    thanks for any assistance -

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    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    You can get "interior" or "exterior" plywood. As long as your lumberyard is giving you A/C plywood that is "exterior" rated, it's the same.
    Happiness is worth waiting for!

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    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    I'd be very surprised if the lumberyard carries only ACX plywood. It would be much more likely that they'd have CDX and interior AC plywood.... Slightly off subject but, ABX is available and is much nicer to work with than ACX.

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    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    If you really want this boat to last, I would suggest you spend the extra money and use marine ply. Because you don't want the following to occur.... "what ever happened to that nice little boat you made?" "Well, she wasn't used for a few years, and it ended up rotting". I built my first boat out of ACX and even put epoxy and fiberglass cloth over it, and the plywood eventually delaminated. My current boat is BS1088 Okume marine ply, and it is 7 years old and still like brand new, and plan to give it to a grandkid.
    The wife says I can have a mistress as long as she has ribs made of white oak.

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    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    AC is not ACX. That's why they have different names. It's possible that someone could make AC plywood and use exterior-rated glues and processes to make it, but why not then call it ACX and get more money for it? Because somehow (and they're not telling) it doesn't meet the specification for ACX, of course. AC is not ACX. (And ACX is not Marine, but that's a different question.)

  6. #6

    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    I agree with esingleman, if your going to build in plywood, and you don;t go with the good stuff, your gonna be sorry, big box stores don't even know what the 1088 stuff is, much less sell it. To save me typing for 30 minutes, google 1088 marine ply and educate yourself. Then you have to beware of the chinese junk that is out there on the market that calls itself 1088. I will only use Joubert imported from France, The Okoume is 65 a sheet for 1/4 inch.
    http://www.freewebs.com/onobleboat/

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    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    I agree with the last two or three posts -- you'll be a lot happier with better plywood. Construction plywood (like ACX) and even marine fir plywood isn't what it was when Payson wrote his first two Instant Boats books. There's a good-quality plywood out of Indonesia (Meranti) that works well for boats like your Diablo, or you could do what I did on my second (of course) boat, and buy okoume. This is a link to a commercial site, but their description of different plywoods is good: http://plywood.boatbuildercentral.com/

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    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    My family was partners in a plywood mill here for many years. I can tell you that most all the softwood, construction-grade plywood these days is made with exterior glues. APA - the national grading authority - specifies exrerior glues only. Anything else would be some sort of ungraded, likely imported, off-brand. Look for the APA grading stamp

    http://www.awi-wa.com/_hidden/apagrades.htm

    The primary difference between AC & ACX will be the quality of the core veneers and the precision of their layup. Fewer knots and voids is better when it comes to allowing moisture infiltration and rot pockets as the boat sees some use & abuse.

    Whichever softwood plywood grade you use will check over time if you don't coat it with something - usually a light (like 2 oz.) glass cloth set in epoxy.

    Face veneers - the nicer the better. I'd only use A (or maybe B) for the exterior of a boat. I'd prefer it for the interior as well - esp. for an open boat like a Diablo.

    Conclusion: for your Diablo, you could use either panel you've mentioned, but ACX is a bit better. The better part will never come into ply if the glass/epoxy skin is never compromised - or the breach is dried & repaired promptly.

    Alternative Suggestion: Have you considered MDO? Typically a top-grade softwood plywood panel with kraft paper bonded to one or both faces with a tough phenolic resin. Wonderful boat material, and not all that spendy.

    http://www.olypanel.com/common/pdf/C...0-%2011-07.pdf

    Or, you could step up to marine-grade plywood. I very seldom hear anyone complain about using too good of materials on their boat. I've heard plenty the other way.

    BTW - It's likely you know already know, but - just to make sure - your Diablo was designed by Phil Bolger, not Mr. Payson, though you may have bought the plans from Mr. Payson.

    Good Luck


    "The journey of a thousand leagues begins from beneath your feet" -- Lao Tzu

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    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    Quote Originally Posted by teledelux View Post
    All -
    I am building my first boat; a Diablo by Dynamite Payson and had a quesiton.
    Plans call for AC Exterior plywood or Marine Grade. I plan on using AC exterior, but the lumberyard closest to me tell me that AC plywood is the same as AC Exterior. Is this true? I am not very experienced with woodworking but I see differing info when I "google" for more info, and figure I would ask the experts.

    thanks for any assistance -
    You could go with Exterior ply but I wouldn't recommend it. And I have some direct experience here for ya..

    In the early 90s a guy that I worked with built your boat, the Diablo - 15 ft version. He owned it for a bit but wanted to sell it to fund another project. He pestered me about it for a while and I ended up buying it.

    He built it with exterior Douglas Fir plywood. Completely shiethed the outside of the hull with glass and epoxy, but only taped the seams and painted the interior. Actually I think he glassed the bottom of the interior too.

    Anyways I used it for the first summer then stored it outside with a loose fitting tarp over it. That winter it snowed about 3 feet one night and the tarp collapsed and the boat filled up with snow. I shoveled what I could out, and put the loose fitting tarp over it again, with the drain out so the bit of melt water could get out.

    Next spring I uncovered her and couldn't believe the damage. I had to replace the transom - although completely glassed over fir ply it had rotted. I had to grind out and restitch a big portion of the lower seams. This took me about as much time in the end as it did for him to build the boat. Mind you I expoxy glassed the interior after repairs as well..

    No matter how good of a glass job you do, with epoxy, some water will find its way into the plywood eventually. If its good quality marine ply, not an issue. Anything else and rot-delamination will spread like wildfire. I know, I know, the good stuff is big bucks. But if you compare it to the total cost of the build its a small percentage of the total.

    Good luck with it. They're a pretty cool lil skiff actually..

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    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    thanks to everyone for the responses. It looks like (what I originally thought I should do) marine-grade IS the best way to insure I won't have serious regrets.

    One last question though - if I intend to keep the boat in a garage, is that a factor? I won't be able to leave it in the water anywhere as I don't own, though I will probably leave it in for days at a time when on fishing trips in South-Central Michigan and North Central Wisconsin.

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    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    Keeping it in a garage will certainly prolong its life over what it would be oterwise but, considering all the labour you are about to put into it, and the size of the boat, I cannot fathom why you would consider using anything the best quality materials.

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    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    If you keep the boat in a garage the rot issue is much much less of a factor. Providing you keep it clean and dry as much as possible. Leaving it for a few days at a time though could be enough for water to get to the wood. Unless you do a bomb proof job of glassing the inside and outside.

    Still, you know how I feel. I totally get your point considering non marine ply. But I've been burnt once, that's enough. Another thing to consider is down the road if you go to sell a plywood boat its worth - next to nothing. But if you sell a "insert snobby British accent" Lloyds of London bonded and insured marine plywood vessel - people will pay attention. For good reason too.

    Good luck with whatever you decide.

    Dan

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    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    Check out the link to this thread from someone who went cheap materials on his first boat and is now buying top quality materials for new boat.

    http://www.messing-about.com/forums/...p?topic=6286.0

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    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    No plywood that is made in the US is built to a standard other than what the various plywood associations concoct for themselves. Since they all can sell everything they make there is no effort made to enforce whatever regulations they have come up with. If you had access to a sonagram machine and could examine each sheet before you bought it you could logically build with exterior grade. Even then the ply will, probably, be made from fir which is guaranteed to develope checks after a certain amount of exposure.
    BS (British Standard) ply is built to an extensive set of rules you can still find on the web. Even tho' the BS1088 and 6566 standard have been superceded, ply manufacturers still claim to abide by the old standard. If you pay the big money for BS and you find the stuff doesn't comply you have a legitimate beef and should get your money back.
    The best manufacturers have a paper label or a stamped logo on each sheet so you are not buying blind.
    There is one exception to the sorry state of domestic plywood. Somewhere there is supposedly, ply that is labeled "Mil Spec". It is supposed to conform to a government specification. I have never seen any and wouldn't know where to look for some.
    Last edited by Cuyahoga Chuck; 08-13-2008 at 02:21 PM.

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    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Frechette Jr View Post
    Check out the link to this thread from someone who went cheap materials on his first boat and is now buying top quality materials for new boat.

    http://www.messing-about.com/forums/...p?topic=6286.0
    I'll state up front that I agree with using the best materials (though I used cheap big box stuff on my cheap canoe). However, reading through the thread linked by Ray; the builder not only used bad exterior grade ply but glassed it with polyester resin. That boat didn't have a chance.

    I had the choice of building with big box materials or not building. I picked the best material in the stack, I immediately repair damage to paint. I have very little time or money invested in it and the boat lives in my garage when not in use. It felt it was the best choice for this boat and my situation.

    My next build will be a Monk skiff, and because of the time and $$'s required for that boat, I won't build it unless I can get good materials.
    Happiness is worth waiting for!

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    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    Yeah I noticed he used Polyester resin instead of epoxy. Mostly my point is that he now wishes he might have used better materials, though atthe time that would have been a hardship for him.

    BS 1088 Merranti is no t abad alternative.

    I can buy 6 mm hydroteck for $38.00 a sheet. If I am comparing that to 1/4 luann, at 16.00 a sheet, it is a no brainer.

    The chinese mill seems to amproved the luan a bit though as now you can find panels that are not prewarped at Home Depot. For a while every sheet was warped!

    If going thicker than 6 mm, and price was a significant pressure point I would consider MDO, but again, IIRC Hydroteck Merranti is not a whole lot more money.

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    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    For the record I have built a boat using Home Depot Luann.

    It was a Bolger Elegant Punt. Used a 2x10 ripped down for the stringers.

    I had just had my tender stolen from me at Baot yard I I couldn't see buying another one to have stolen.

    I built the Punt in a weekend and had a grand total of $50.00 invested in ti between stainless screws bought in bulk, two sheets of luann and the 2x.

    And I left every single lofting line on it and layout line and slapped on a quick coat of epoxyu and let the drips stand proud!

    I wanrted a right ugly boat!

    And if someone did steal it I didn't want to give them good materials!

    Well I never left that boat at the Marinna becasue when I hauled it off the van every one oohed and ahhed over it about what a pretty boat!!!

    And that was with it purposely built cockeyed and othe port side way flatter than the starboard side and the longitudinal seat a good 3 inches off diagonally.

    I couldn't win even when I tried to make it ugly.

    So, I should have esed better materials even then and odne a proper job and just brought it home every time becuase that is what I ended up doing anyway.

    I learned a ferw things. You can do a crappy job, and as long as some wood grain is showing the public will ooh and aahh.

    And by the way the cheap luann is holding up fine even though I simply left the boat upside down in the back yard under a tree on stickers. Irt could probably use a coat of paint as the UV is getting to the epoxy, but the wood panels are fine so far.

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    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    The luan I used has three equal plies and I've yet to find a void anywhere. Just hard to find sheets that aren't warped. Even ploughing through almost a whole stack of sheets (with some impatient customers waiting), the best I could find still had a bit of warpage. You have to look really hard to find it's effects on my boat, though. I'd use it again on something small and simple like my pirogue, but nothing that's gonna eat up a lot of my time.
    Happiness is worth waiting for!

  19. #19

    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    One quick and easy check, I always do it, get a sample, if your buying at the big box stores they always have those little 2x2 pieces you can buy for 4 bucks, cut out a little 2inch square piece and put it in a pot of boiling water for about 2 minutes, if you can take a knife and seperate the plies, its trash, no waterproff glue, I even do this with Okoume, don't want to waste my time and money on stuff that will fall apart a few years down the road.
    http://www.freewebs.com/onobleboat/

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    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    Please visit my web site for photos of what happens to ACX over time.
    http://mysite.verizon.net/vzeokhsb/Diablo%20rot.html

    the bottom line is, you get what you pay for. I had a blast in this boat and miss it dearly. 10hp Johnson longshaft and it would go 15 mph.

    If you do go for the ACX, please go with 5 ply stuff for the transom as it is much more stable than the 4 ply and less prone to water infiltration between the plys.

    If I were to do it all over, i would go for better ply.


    David Jost

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    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    Of course 20 yrs life span ain't too bad neither...

    I think you got your money's worth.

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    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    I agree. 20 years was pretty good for a boat that was built for $150.

    However, I would not be boatless right now had I done it right the first time.

    I am looking for a suitable rebuildiing project if anyone knows of any.

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    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    dnjost, don't mean to beat up on you, but if it wasn't turned turtle, if it was left on the ground, if you don't keep it dry, and if you don't keep good paint on it - the best ply money can buy wont' last 20 years. I really don't think that boat's demise is the fault material choices. By your photos, I see a lot care issues that are more to blame.

    I really believe the boat gave you more than you could expect.
    Happiness is worth waiting for!

  24. #24
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    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    As to AC -- The real question is whether waterproof glue is used in making the plywood. Odds are that any plywood made in this country was made with waterproof glue. To test: run a chunk of it thru the dishwasher a few times. If it stays together, the glue is waterproof.

    Imported luan at the big box is more likely to have been made with water-soluble glue.

    I built a skiff 15 years ago out of 1/4” AC fir plywood. Glassed outside, epoxy coated inside. I did not use the best materials because I was only trying it as an experiment to see if I liked the whole boatbuilding thing, working with epoxy and glass, etc., and had no expectation of passing it down to my grandkids. It still sits on a trailer in the yard under a tarp most of the time. It is showing no signs of deterioration so far.

    Marine plywood is superior, no question. Carefully selected AC with exterior glue is maybe good enough. Your choice. Given reasonable care, either will last. Neglected, neither will last long.

    Wayne

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    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    Careful now. Glues ain't all there is to this.

    Signal MDO is designed to be used in full sheets with full edge sealing and there is no standard for lam species. The interior lams are high quality heartwood sliced from peeler logs, but they can be....and are often around here....cottonwood peelers. Keep it under 20% MC and you'll be fine. Fail to promptly repair your scratches and you won't.

    Marine-grade plywood in turn is required to be entirely DF or Western Larch lams of good quality in North America....two rot resistant species.....and just like MDO, high quality means heartwood you won't see much of in ACX/CDX sheets designed mostly to compete in price with OSB for house sheathing. What do you expect for 12-20 bucks a sheet? Certainly not boat wood.
    Last edited by Bob Smalser; 08-14-2008 at 11:35 PM.

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    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    The real question is whether waterproof glue is used in making the plywood.
    For domestic plywood this may be true, but for inexpensive imported plywood there's another issue you haven't mentioned: How much glue was used?

    Lots of imported plywoods use WBP glues these days, but some of them don't use enough of it -- so the plies delaminate anyways even though they were glued with waterproof glue.
    Kenneth Grome
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    www.bagacayboatworks.com

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    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    As the original poster said, Payson recommends either AC exterior plywood or marine plywood for building what he calls “instant boats.” The poster’s question is whether AC plywood in the big box stores is, as the clerks have told him, “exterior” grade.

    Supposedly, use of non-waterproof glues for bonding plywood ended more than 50 years ago in U.S. mills. Plywood bearing the APA stamp should be made in the USA and that bearing the “Exposure 1” stamp should be made with fully waterproof glue. I believe this is the plywood Payson is referring to. It is not the equal of marine plywood. There will be interior voids and other issues which make it unsuitable for continuous exposure to water. Payson thinks maybe it is good enough. You decide.

    I’ve never seen a piece of plywood stamped “ACX.” What you will find is “AC” with “Exposure 1” and the mill number, etc. I have seen plywood stamped “CDX” and I would never consider it for use in a boat.

    I’m not aware of ordinary construction/industrial grade plywood in the U.S. being made from other than Doug fir/Western larch or Southern (yellow) pine. Maybe my information is outdated. Southern pine is too heavy, IMO. I would consider only Doug fir.

    I haven’t seen AC plywood thicker than 1/4” in a very long time. I would consider using 1/4” AC again if I wanted to build cheaply because I can see two of the three plys. I would check that the plys are of equal thickness, that no interior voids are visible on the end grain of the middle ply, and that the outer plys looked good.

    I would not consider grades other than AC, (or AB, or AA if it could be found) and I don’t think Payson recommends other than AC, or marine.

    I believe Payson also used polyester resin to make fillet joints and to laminate with glass. I would never consider using polyester rather than epoxy. I guess we’ve all got to find our own comfort level.

    Back to the original question: Plywood in the big box stores stamped with “APA,” “AC,” “Exposure 1,” and the mill number is the stuff Payson is talking about. It is not the equal of marine plywood, but maybe it is good enough for a trailer boat kept under cover.

    Wayne

  28. #28

    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    Another alternative to marine ply is high quality underlayment, like Ultraply or Multiply. I used the latter in building Slider, a 16 foot open cruising cat of my own design.




    There haven't been any problems with the ply so far, but I like the boat a lot better than I expected to, so I wish I'd used the best materials now.

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    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    Slidercat, welcome to the forum! And thanks for providing the pic of your pretty boat; I've been touting the use of underlayment for a while now, I find it to be a perfectly acceptable alternative to doug-fir provided I pay scrupulous attention to sealing. What I save on plywood I probably spend on paint and epoxy, so it's a wash, but I know the local Borg outlet has it in stock and they're open 24 hours a day in the event I get a midnight urge to build a boat...

  30. #30

    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    Thanks, Cap'n--


    Yes, the good underlayment seems to work pretty well, plus, when I was halfway through planking Slider, the local Lowe's decided to stop carrying it and put it on sale, so I got a lot of what I needed at less than the price of cheap lauan underlayment, which really isn't good stuff for boatbuilding, in my opinion. The Multiply looked like birch to me, which doesn't have much rot resistance, but on the other hand, neither does okoume. It did have three equal plies in 1/4", instead of that big soft interior sawdust ply, or whatever they use in the cheap lauan.

    I've had a few pieces lying out in the back yard under a bush for a couple years, and though it's starting to decay, it hasn't delaminated. I did my best to avoid any exposure of edges-- the only edges that aren't covered by epoxy and glass are the laminated cockpit coamings. I may have to fix that, since the sheets tend to wear the paint off the coaming edges.


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    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    If you really want this boat to last, I would suggest you spend the extra money and use marine ply.
    Well, maybe. I built my first boat (a Bolger Gypsy) using ACX fir right out of the lumberyard, with polyester resin. That was nineteen years ago. It's still going strong, despite intermittent care and being kept outside for most of the summer. That said, marine ply is better, a lot nicer to work with, and, alas, quite a bit more expensive. I have more money now, and I don't use ACX anymore. I don't know where you're located, but Noah's has pretty good prices on BS6566 Meranti. Look here:

    http://www.noahsboatbuilding.com/noa...tatus=0&Tp=&Bc=

    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

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    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    Maybe there not making plywood like they used to but shown in the image is a boat I built to a friends plan. It was 40' long built with lumber right off the rack in a HD type store back in 1975. "Great Expectations" was it's name and a place for my friend to live in after his divorce. It was still around 20 years at least. I lost track of it after that. I'll be telling more about it in this thread soon.

    http://www.woodenboat.com/forum/showthread.php?t=61697

    She made it down to Fla via the ICW.




    Thats my son working on "Great Expectations'

    JD
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  33. #33

    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    I agree with all of the above... re build with top quality British rated Ply... I built mine of rated Meranti and I recently built a "helm" out of "Marine Plywood" purchased from the local high quality lumber yard.

    It was a pleasure working with the Meranti - it was less so working with the Marine Plywood. The Meranti bent beautifully and the Marine Plywood bent - but it didn't bend as "true"... plus the Meranti was perfectly smooth and a joy to fair - as much as fairing is joyful ; ) the Marine Ply's grain was slightly raised, the Meranti wasn't at all...

    Bottom line, build with the best wood available if you can afford it.

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    Default Re: question re: AC Exterior vs AC plywood

    If built carefully and cared for in the same way AC is okay for most hobby uses. We forget here that the goal for most hobby builders is to get on the water and for most money is an issue.
    I have build a few craft using AC and never had issue until I let fresh water have its way. This goes for marine plywood, just it will last a bit longer through the abuse.Common sense and sheathing goes a long way here. If you just want to get out there on short money go for it.
    Thats kind of the deciding factor.

    I run on the theory that ply boats are never built to last a hundred years. Its up to the builder to decide how long in that time frame he wishes it to last.

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