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Thread: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

  1. #1
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    Default mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    I saw a thread yesterday that I can't find in which Michael, you let us know that you're on board with Red Oak as a boatbuilding wood if soaked in I think you said boric acid.

    Does anyone have any stats, or documentation on the longevity and suitability of red oak when so treated? Maybe someone can point me toward some research? As you know mmd, this province has lots of red but little white oak. My father in law has several hundred acres of mature woods in a handful of woodlots in the Antigonish region and if I can't find enough Red Oak of the right size for planking my boat amongst his forests, I'd be surprised. Assuming I can bring myself to get onboard with this philosophy on red oak. I'm open to the possibility but I'm also a traditionalist stuck in the old ways that "only" QA should go into a boat. Prove it wrong so I can access planking timber.

    The design I want to build is a heavy sawn frame schooner. I imagine buying a tropical hardwood keel timber like purpleheart or something, sawn frames in Black Locust that I think I can source locally, and planking in red oak because my in-laws have plenty of it. My reasoning is that the planks will more easily be replaced if they don't last and having rot resistant timber like PH and BL making up her backbone and framing structure means they likely won't rot readily and require replacing. If the Red does rot, it's easy to pull off a plank or 8 and replace them when the time comes. Probably after I'm dead and gone anyway. If I can't access a large forest of traditional "boat wood" like Steve has access to for Arabella, the red oak on my father in law's land should do.

    The boat would sail everywhere. I want to visit all the warm cruising grounds like the Caribbean, Med but also maybe go up north or far south in high latitudes. Great Lakes as well, so she'll see fresh water too. She's to be a go anywhere boat. Anywhere with sufficient water depth that is.

    Michael, what do you think of my reasoning?
    If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    Michael and I may be the only people here who think this way.
    Of course, I just hate white oak, and I assumed that red was even worse.
    Some years ago ,I worked on Avenger, a 50 yo Stevens Tancook Schooner. 47',16 tons.
    We could see trouble behind the planking...wide seams that kept growing...the boat was built with a full ceiling, and the owner was reluctant to cut it to even inspect the frames at the turn of the bilge.
    I eventually cut some away to reveal effed up oak frames...surprise surprise.
    Usually what happens next os me going in there with the back side of a claw hammer sharpened up like a mini adze, and buckets of rotton boatoak coming out.
    My first wack with the hammer on this boat resulted in my wrists screaming and the hammer bouncing off the NOT ROTTEN old oak frame.
    I am looking at half inch gaps where the frames are broken...too much caulking...too much backstay...but the wood is sound.
    Owner tells me these boats are framed with Red Oak..treated with boat soup.
    "Black Varnish", They call it up there I think.
    Thing is, that boat soup was applied to the frames long long ago, the full ceiling would have prevented constant full application, as I would imagine needed.
    Anyway, with this history, one wonders how red oak would do with CPES ?
    bruce

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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    Jebus..build the keel of greenheart...not purple.
    This schooner, Avenger, has traveled between Nova Scotia and the Caribbean regularly for a long time, lots of time in cold and tropical.

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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments


  5. #5
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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    CPES is another aspect I've kept in mind. We all know Red Oak wicks water up like a kid sucking down a 7-11 Slurpee so I would think it would wick up various poisons and epoxy products as well. And since Frank has so much timber on his various woodlots..... If I could make it work, I think it's at least one way to get a boat in the water. I should have mentioned you as well Bruce since I know you're good with red oak in boats as well. I think you commented in the thread I saw. Can't for the life of me remember what thread it was though. Plus mmd's comment was a bit of thread drift I think and not really related to the OP's topic.
    If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    Still, When the world comes back, (border crossing) I'd load a big trailer with AYC from Tacoma and haul it home .
    The guy who builds schooners two/three at a time by himself in Lunnenberg...that's what he planks with.David Westergard

    Ya know how I feel about the "easy repairability" of carvel construction...it is a self fulfilling prophesy. https://www.yachtworld.com/boats/201...TBJ5SeTuUHlhZs
    Last edited by wizbang 13; 03-24-2021 at 09:39 PM.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    OK, the fact that the thread I was looking for has it's two most recent posts from yours truly is embarrassing. LOL Thanks for the link Bruce.
    If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    Tim-bor is a good product. It's a white borax powder that you can buy in five gallon buckets. You mix it with water to whatever concentration you require. You could make a soaking tank, throw the pieces in for a couple of days while you work on the next ones. It would be best if the parts were cut to final size and bored.

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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    I was thinking some sort of soaking tank Jim, exactly as you mention.
    If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
    -Henry David Thoreau-

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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    On the Wooden Boat Forum facebook page, we have discussions about this with regularity. Tim Clark, shipwright at Clark & Eiselle shipyard, is a proponent of red oak. Maybe proponent is a strong word. But its not the instant rot trap that some would make it out to be. There's plenty of red oak in east coast boats, and they aren't sinking by the dozens because the red oak suddenly disintegrated. It won't be quite as long lived as white oak in the same setting, but wood boats are made to be maintained.

    Fire up the saw mill!
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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    The more I hear, the more ok I am with it. How else will I find enough wood to build the boat I want after all? And who knows, maybe by the time I get to planking her, I'll have found sufficient black locust to plank her in that. Lotsa butt blocks or scarphs though if she's planked in BL.
    If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
    -Henry David Thoreau-

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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    Keep in mind that the borax is water soluble and can be rinsed out. With that in mind you'll want to provide easy access so that you can apply more from time to time, the more and the more often the better, or you can seal it after soaking and drying in places that will get rinsed like in the cockpit.

    Also, you'd better start sawing so that it has time to dry, and do your best to saw out VG. Oak is very unstable and FG will shrink and swell a lot. The seams will only open half as much with 4" planks as with 8".

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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    I have a decent timeline. I am eligible to retire in 8 years or so. If I do or not is yet to be determined at this point but my FIL asked about going halves on a bandsaw mill this weekend and I'm leaning towards doing so. I could start milling logs now for use when I retire and get to that part of building. I think I'd be looking at using it for planking and other stuff that would be painted. I hate the grain of red oak, it's too busy. But if it's been soaked in poison or sucked up a ton of CPES then painted, I'm ok with that.
    If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    Maybe someone can point me toward some research?
    John Gardner calls for red oak, and extols its virtues, in numerous references in his books.

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    Ooooh, I have at least one of his books, I'll have to dig through it and see what he says about it. Thanks Kevin.
    If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    I think it also depends a bit on where the tree grew. If it's from a tough hardscrabble environment at the northern edge of its range, it'll be denser than a southern tree, and I suspect more rot-resistant.

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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    Sailor,

    You boat plans are big... deep down you really know what material you should use for the hull

    Ha ha,
    Mark

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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    I sure do Mark. Wood. My career has me in steel ships. I'm done with rust.
    If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
    -Henry David Thoreau-

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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    Seems to me that CPES would just turn red oak into an inferior version of white oak, in other words it will soak in a bit, maybe even a couple inches on the end grain, but will then harden. If you go with red oak I think you want to keep the ability to absorb more sauce in the future, so something that doesn't harden would be better. Boat soup or copper naphthenate or such.

    Maybe CPES on the outside of the planking as a good barrier and primer coat, but I'd do boat soup inside, with a dollop of creosote mixed in if you can get it. Or at least a good amount of pine tar. By the tenth or twentieth soaking, cut it halfway with varnish so it skins over to keep the nasties somewhat contained. That is how my bilge is treated, with good results.

    Just musings, we don't have red oak out here.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    I'd love to be able to use Black Locust throughout but finding sufficient quantities for planking in reasonable lengths is probably impossible here. Red oak may be the lesser of two weevils as the good doctor learned.
    If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
    -Henry David Thoreau-

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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    Just so you lot are aware, European Oak is different from American White Oak and Red oak.

    European oak, after centuries sitting in the southwesterlies gets very strong and the acid and tannins make ours very durable (when used right). Not as durable as Teak or AYC but stronger, local and available. It grows like weeds.

    Our European Oak has the tubes running through it that your American White Oak doesn't. That works both ways obviously, you can get Cuprinol or other liquids to soak into it a bit. Sheds surface coatings. Useless for epoxy glued construction.

    Anyway if you read about Oak on a European boatbuilding website, be aware it's not the same stuff as your White (that we don't have) or your 'red' which seems to have a poor reputation.

    One other thing. Our Eurpean Oak makes branches that seem to fit the requirements of boatbuilding stems and knees etc. Hard to get now, the tree surgeons just want to saw right through a bend and be out of there by the end of the day working like a dog. Your White Oak doesn't make the same bends apparently, so alot of traditional boatbuilding thus used/ used crooks here whereas the USA had to develop and use steam bending practices more.

    Shame or our Elm went. Strong. Didn't split and could be glued. Uttterly durable when left immersed.
    Last edited by Edward Pearson; 03-26-2021 at 05:30 AM.

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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    The timbor is easy to use. But they warn not to mix it ahead of time or leave stored. In a couple of days, it precipitates to the bottom and doesn’t remix as far as I can tell.

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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    Quote Originally Posted by Edward Pearson View Post
    Shame or our Elm went. Strong. Didn't split and could be glued. Uttterly durable when left immersed.
    You shouldasaid couldn't BE split that stuff was.

    Street where I grew up was lined both sides with 'em. That was '50's, they've been gone for decades.

    Had two big'uns standing watch by driveway where I used to live in Illinois, both had the disease. When a huge limb broke off around 1985 I ripped some planks out of the biggest part, let it air-dry in my garage/shop, made some smallish furniture bits out of it. Wonderful to work with, smelled awful, took finishes nicely.

    The rest I cut for firewood. Learned quick the value of a power splitter. Even frozen that stuff wouldn't take a wedge whatsoever. Mustabeen why pioneers favored elm for wagon wheel hubs.

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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    Alot of the top end carvel boats had Elm transoms. It takes the plank fastenings into it's end grain coz it won't split. I think also garboards, again coz it won't split and it lasts forever when covered with water on both sides. It was used for buried water pipes here once.

    There's still Elm is Scotland. Wych Elm it's called up there. Slightly green hue. It moves an awful lot though with changes in humidity. I bought a piece of Burr Elm to use as a mast foot. I thought all the grain swirl would help take the load from all the different mast directions, that and not splitting.

    Check out this guys Wych Elm table top. An interesting place to sit for breakfast...the joys of a horizontal Woodmizer bandsaw mill!



    Last edited by Edward Pearson; 03-26-2021 at 12:36 PM.

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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    Quote Originally Posted by Sailor View Post
    I sure do Mark. Wood. My career has me in steel ships. I'm done with rust.
    What about scaling it down to something that could be cold moulded ? Seems to me getting timber for a big boat is really a thing for other areas of the world now.
    A nice 45' pilot cutter would be sweet !

    Cheers,
    Mark

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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    Anyone have thoughts on ash? In my parts it’s plentiful and dirt cheap. I know it’s considered rot prone but since we’re rethinking red oak.

    In a past life I was a renovation carpenter and I’ve had enough red oak to last a life time. Ever since the Stickley furniture craze died out white oak has been cheaper than red in Minnesota.

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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    It sounds as if you have access to lots of red oak. If I were in your situation I would be looking at harvesting and selling red oak to provide money to purchase AYC for the planking. PM me an address and I'll send you a small scrap just so you can get a feel for it. You'll like it.

    https://www.westwindhardwood.com/pro.../yellow-cedar/

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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    I was having just that thought this afternoon Gib when I was playing with the last of my scraps. I about choked at the retail price at the link you provided.

    Sailor I was wondering if you have come across references for swamp juniper in your area. Tamarack and hackmatack are other names, apparently you want the wood from boggy locations for boat work. If my memory serves. / Jim

  29. #29
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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    I think the best wood for a boat is what grows locally, better to cut your own trees than somebody else's- and it keeps the freight cost down.

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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    Quote Originally Posted by J.Madison View Post
    I think the best wood for a boat is what grows locally, better to cut your own trees than somebody else's- and it keeps the freight cost down.
    Yea, I think the Acorn to Arabella project is pretty awesome in this regard ! The only thing I worry about this philosophy is if your local timber isn't really good for the long run. If someone is building a boat I would like to think the lifespan is projected to be longer than what a typical working craft would be (20 years?).

    Thinking about the man hours involved, you are really building a boat for the the next owner (ha ha), so it should be done with materials up to the task.

    Sailor is planning a big build, so maybe the best thing to do is located the project in a place with timber , like the sailcargo folks did.


    Cheers,
    Mark
    Last edited by Mark0; 03-27-2021 at 09:32 AM.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    Then there is Leo, 2 hours drive from huge AYC yards in Tacoma.
    Not one bf of it on his boat.

  32. #32
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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    Some notes on red oak from John Gardner's, Building Classic Small Craft. I know he has referenced red oak in many other books/ articles, as well.

    Page 280 ( Notes)

    “Some of the best wood for framing is from young white oak butts. Wood from upper parts of the tree is softer and weaker. Some of the red oaks are worthless for timbers, especially the weak, brittle, fine-grained wood from old, large slow-growing trees of the species appropriately known in boat shops as, “piss oak.”

    P371 ( Rushon Rowboat)

    "Most of Rushton’s rowboats had flat plank keels of red oak and I know why. White oak twists and turns in small sections and pulls out of true. Old-time boat builders referred to white oak as, “ too strong” for light keels. “

    “ As for lasting….red oak keels in Rushton boats have lasted 70-, 80--and 90- years.”

    P408: ( Yacht Tender)

    For the keel …. dense, close-grained red oak was preferred because it doesn’t warp and twist like white oak."
    "For steam bent timber though, young white oak from the butt logs of young trees is best.”



    Page 491 ( 16 foot Swampscott Dory)

    “ For the stem..dry white oak is best. Red oak is almost as good.”

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  33. #33
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    Default Re: mmd's recent Red Oak and rot resistance comments

    Thanks Kevin,
    He does not even mention the difference in the porosity.

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