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Thread: Live Oak Rub Rail

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Biloxi, MS
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    38

    Default Live Oak Rub Rail

    I had some hurricane Katrina felled live oak quarter sawn in to planks and have been air drying it for a couple of years now. I want to use this wood to make a 4 inch wide by 2 1/2 inch high rub rail. Although the wood will be varnished or painted, I'm concerned the oak might check with constant exposure to sun and weather. Anyone have experience with live or white oak as an exterior wood? Thanks.

    Eric

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
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    fairbanks, alaska
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    1,571

    Default Re: Live Oak Rub Rail

    Ack, Not sure about that live oak, I have some here that I bought to make mallets out of and its good for that but its very hard and knarly stuff. Not sure it would bend well for a rub rail. It would make for good protection against cannon balls
    White oak , while it does check some is great for rub rails and I do use it for such.
    I like to give it a coat of epoxy as a sealer then follow up with varnish or you could paint it. If you don't want to use the epoxy then thin some varnish for a few coats to soak in. I mix a little pine tar in with the thinned varnish. If it checks , then at some point just fill the checks with something, I'd use a wood flour thickened epoxy but many things would work and repaint. I love white oak. Some live oak may be better to work with than that which I've seen and maybe others here can give you more info on that.
    Gary

  3. #3

    Default Re: Live Oak Rub Rail

    not about varnish and checking, but just repeating internet:

    Live oak wood is hard, heavy, and difficult to work, but very strong. Live oak is a separate category. It is extremely difficult to dry. It was often not dried at all. if it is Quercus virginiana. It was used in ship building (especially in areas that might get hit from a cannonball. In the days of wooden ships, live oaks were the preferred source of the framework timbers of the ship, using the natural trunk and branch angles for their strength, and the density of the wood grain allowed it to survive cannonade

    http://www.woodweb.com/knowledge_bas...d_species.html

    (there are several species that are called 'live oak')

    having your own live oak wood ...
    seems thE perfect rub rail wood to me; you can even tell stories and histories about it (and that matters).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
    Location
    West Boothbay Harbor, Maine
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    22,074

    Default Re: Live Oak Rub Rail

    It's going to be tough to bend that thick a piece of live oak, but send pictures when you've done it!
    "Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates." ~ Mark Twain


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Atlanta
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    Default Re: Live Oak Rub Rail

    I made white oak rub rails for my 24 footer , but they're only 3/4 in. thick at most , tapering in thickness and width toward the ends . I could just spring them in place . I have to wonder why you need such thick ones ,especially considering the hardness of the wood . I'd suggest using a thickness you can bend cold . If you notice excessive wear , or want a heavier look , then laminate another layer.

    I made a pattern out of press board , spileing the shape of the sheer so the rails didn't have to be edgeset as they were installed . This is well worth doing . In fact I think you'll have to . I made mine up of several pieces scarfed together .The scarfs aren't glued together straight ; they're doglegged . That is , they are angled to favor the curve of the pattern , which saves allot of stock .

    The maximum width is at the point of lowest free board , then tapers in thickness and width toward the ends .
    Last edited by Bill Perkins; 12-08-2008 at 04:52 PM.
    The creation of beauty is more satisfying and joyous than mere possession.

    John Gardner

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Northwestern Missouri
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    4,144

    Default Re: Live Oak Rub Rail

    Any tree damaged by Katrina are risky due termites..
    Missouri do not accept bagged or bulk "Garden Mulch" from that area..
    So be careful with that wood you're putting on your vessel
    Formosan termites is tough to control once it established
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formosa...ranean_termite
    save a nose, pick a banjo

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Biloxi, MS
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    38

    Default Re: Live Oak Rub Rail

    The rub rails are going to end up some where around 35 feet in length for a 45 foot sail boat. I have thought about the problem of bending those in place and my stock is only ten feet long so, yeah, that could present a problem. I might try steam bending the cut pieces to a shear pattern. Also, I've heard stories of carpenters soaking oak in salt water for a time to get it to bend for stair railing.

    Eric

  8. #8
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    Mar 2005
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    Biloxi, MS
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    Default Re: Live Oak Rub Rail

    Bill, good idea on spileing, although I'm not sure my stock is wide enough to allow for that. Wish I had this idea when I had the lumber rough cut-- I would have made the planks a bit wider.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
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    Atlanta
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    Default Re: Live Oak Rub Rail

    I'd encourage you to make a pattern .You can just scribe the sheer curve directly on it .Then you can see how much curve the rails will have . On the straighter sections maybe your 10 foot stock will work . On the curvier parts you may need to use shorter pieces . I scarfed and glued up my 4 piece rails right on the bench ( I also had narrow stock , and had to cut around some knots), useing the full length pattern as a guide. This is not too bad with a power plane : which you need to beg borrow or steal for this job .

    I think you'll find that bending the stock sideways to make the curve is no go . At best that's doing it the hard way . Also a bit of taper for and aft makes a big difference aesthetically , which you could also experiment with on a pattern .
    Last edited by Bill Perkins; 12-10-2008 at 02:25 PM.
    The creation of beauty is more satisfying and joyous than mere possession.

    John Gardner

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    Oriental, NC USA
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    3,226

    Default Re: Live Oak Rub Rail

    None of the live oak trees in my experience would generate a straight plank long enough to make the best rub rails out of. Are you certain this is live oak. Live oak does not have a long central base and spreads curved and knarly limbs for long distances in all directions. These make great ribs or frames for small boats and futtocks for larger ones. I have some offcuts from futtocks for the Spirit of South Carolina. Very heavy, tough, strong and durable wood with a very tangled grain pattern.

    Might not be all that pretty but but if you can get suitable pieces, it would probably survive any collision other than with concrete.
    Tom L

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Home Port Washington DC but now wandering around the US West Coast on our Schooner
    Posts
    1,166

    Default Re: Live Oak Rub Rail

    Your rub rail sounds to be on the "large" size order that ours is. The boat is 54' and the rub rail goes from the stem back to within a couple inches of the transom. Tapered from 2" in height to about 8" in height and 1" thick to 6" thick midships. Its huge. Its like a side-ways battering ram or something else!

    I can't imagine making these out of oak, even laminated it would be quite a bear to bend.

    The original rubrails we had were steam bent yellow pine. They started life w/o scarfs. Seems to have been one long piece on each side. Don't know how they did it but do know that the Lawson boatyard didn't just build little yachts so expect they had the right tools and experience on hand.

    The original rubrails were repaired in several spots and rotted in a few others. We used "extra" sapele from our planking stock to laminate new rubrails using the old ones as a pattern. We had 2" thick stock to work with and a couple of our boards were 34' long so we didn't have to do too many scarfs. David and John put it on in three layers laminated and screwed together. Hard work but it looks good now. The originals had 1.5" half-oval brass/bronze all along the outside edge. It was in bad shape, mostly pink, so we used 1.5" half-oval black PVC along the outside edge. The rub rails are painted a medium brown that compliments the boat's brightwork and the creamy white hull.
    "If you are going to do something, do it now. Tomorrow is too late." -Pete GossWhat we're doing now--with the boat and then with other stuff and you can Follow us on Twitter

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Biloxi, MS
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    Default Re: Live Oak Rub Rail

    Bill, nice ideas. Thanks very much and to all for your input.

    Eric

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Long Beach, Mississippi
    Posts
    82

    Default Re: Live Oak Rub Rail

    ACK,
    I live to your west on hwy 90 in Long Beach and have worked a few pieces of live oak. I think I fall into the "it is not what you want for rails" category. My only advice is to be sure you are using only heartwood from the logs. The sap wood is suprisingly prone to rot. I am also glad someone got some of those Katrina trees made into lumber. By the time I had my house, shop and business back in service the trees were all gone.
    Live oak is a real adventure to work but it is sure stout when finished. good luck and keep the sharpening stone handy.

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