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Thread: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

  1. #1
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    Default 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

    Good Day,

    I am building a cedar strip small skiff. It’s the Bear Mount Boat Rice Lake Skiff. I am running into a small problem where I live. I can not find clear cedar. It simply seems to be sold out…. Everywhere. What I can find is like 3 or 4 times the cost it should be.

    My plan was, to paint the outside anyways and I have been looking at paint the inside white to show off the mahogany a bit more. Do you think it is possible to instead of ripping down a bunch of WRC I could rip up a bunch of ¼” marine ply into ¾” strips? Cove them just like the cedar and walla? I know it will not look like cedar but if I am paint both sides anyways?

    Thoughts?? Thanks for your help!!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

    I don’t think that 3/4” strips of 1/4” plywood would bend fair. Like Amish Rob said, use another wood. Strip boats have been made with many woods other than WRC including relatively soft hardwoods like mahogany and poplar. Your Rice Lake skiff, being a square stern design, is relatively low in difficult areas with sharp, complex bending and could be made with any reasonable wood. Another softwood would be the easiest

  3. #3
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    Default Re: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

    Ayup - get different material. Since it is 'glassed inside & out, you don't have to worry much about rot-resistance, so the issue is weight & strength. What species of pine or spruce are available to you?
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

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    Default Re: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

    Consider a boat design that uses plywood.

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    Default Re: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar



    Go to the lumber yard and get enough 2 x 12 tight and straight grained 16' Douglas fir framing to rip out full length clear strips. No sapwood allowed.

    The parts of the 2 x 12 that are unfit to use can be used for the building frame. Shorts can be used to laminate the stem, transom and thwartz.

    Plywood would not be suitable for strip planking.

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    Default Re: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

    Quote Originally Posted by Gib Etheridge View Post


    Go to the lumber yard and get enough 2 x 12 tight and straight grained 16' Douglas fir framing to rip out full length clear strips. No sapwood allowed.

    The parts of the 2 x 12 that are unfit to use can be used for the building frame. Shorts can be used to laminate the stem, transom and thwartz.

    Plywood would not be suitable for strip planking.
    Douglas fir is both heavier and stiffer than the cedar you’d use for strips. Consider making them 10% thinner than you’d have done in cedar.

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    Default Re: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

    Remember ply’s half cross-grain… not quite as sturdy as long-grain 100% wood. It won’t behave the same as solid wood either during building or in performance, even slathered in ‘glass fiber & epoxy.

    Maybe look at some of Iain Oughtred’s ‘traditional’ designs updated to work with ‘planks’ cut from ply? He’s done some truly beautiful boat designs since he took up the challenges decades ago.

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    Default Re: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

    Thanks for the advice... I was really considering the lumber route... if I am epoxy coating and glassing and painting inside and out I don't really see the downside. I know it is heavier but I am planning on putting it on a trailer so.

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    Default Re: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

    The way that plywood soaks up glue or resin on cut edges it might be impossible to even get them sealed enough that the strips would hold together. Then when you sand the stripped hull fair you would be exposing even more end grain, which is quite likely to suck the resin out of your fiberglass cloth during glassing, leaving dry spots which can not be fixed. This is simply a very bad idea.

    Strippers are not very hard to build and the vast majority of failures are from folks who didn't follow the clearly written and readily available directions. Despite the fact that they have never built one, they think they have a better or different way to do it. They don't.

    Spruce is another good wood. I always liked it better than cedar for strippers.

    18'-Micmac.jpg

    Nanaimo.jpg

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    Default Re: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

    Maybe give these folks a call: Westwind Hardwood or Windsor Plywood.

    They both have operations in BC (though maybe not within a reasonable driving distance) so lumber as you'd need maybe not that hard to find.

    Marine plywood may be cheaper presently but for what you desire it's just not a good idea as Todd and others have indicated. Buy once, cry once & you'll have a higher quality, longer-lasting boat as a result.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

    Quote Originally Posted by sp_clark View Post
    Maybe give these folks a call: Westwind Hardwood or Windsor Plywood.

    They both have operations in BC (though maybe not within a reasonable driving distance) so lumber as you'd need maybe not that hard to find.

    Marine plywood may be cheaper presently but for what you desire it's just not a good idea as Todd and others have indicated. Buy once, cry once & you'll have a higher quality, longer-lasting boat as a result.
    Westwind Hardwod is local to me, I've never bought cedar from them but my Chebacco was built with their plywood - good outfit and I see they can mill your strips for you. Worth a call.

    If the border is a problem, a US source is Redfish Kayaks in Port Townsend. They sell all the materials needed for a stripper, including red cedar strips (and others, if you want a contrasting racing stripe). I've never bought strips from them but I bought some epoxy and the price on that was reasonable to good at the time. Their website shows red cedar strips at 65 cents a foot - not cheap but that's milled and ready to use.

    Or just Google "cedar strips for canoe" and see what else comes up, maybe something closer to home. I think you'll find it worth starting with the right materials, whether cedar or spruce.

    Jamie

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    Default Re: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

    You might call Woodmizer in Salmon Arm.
    They would know all the local-ish small guys who might supply you with real wood.
    R
    Sleep with one eye open.

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    Default Re: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

    Todd, that upper photo is a really fine looking machine. It also looks like it was being used for an adventure. One of those guys you? Tell us about it. What a way to travel..

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    Default Re: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

    That was shot up in Quetico around 1975. The boat is an 18'x36" and 60 lb. Sitka spruce David Hazen designed Micmac from Wilderness Boats Inc. in Oregon. That may be Sarah Lake. You could sit up against the cliff and use one foot or a paddle to keep the gunwale off the rock face, and on the other side of the canoe it was over 100' deep. You could lean over and see the rock wall going down until it finally disappeared in the darkness. We would go out in the evenings using spoons and every lead sinker we had and troll for lake trout, right above the bottom.

    There were six of us, all from the store on that trip and two of the guys had worked summers up there as fishing guides. We would come in with three or four lakers in the six to eight pound range and they would delight in making dinner. We would delight in eating it, as it was a lot better than the freeze-dried stuff we brought with us. This trip was originally going to have all six of us in my big fur trade canoe, but was changed to three tandems because "certain people" didn't want to reveal their special fishing spots in 20 lb. pike territory.

    I was the farthest eastern dealer for Wilderness Boats. Hazen had sold his company and the rights to his designs to a couple of accountants who thought it would be fun to own a custom canoe company, so they hired some builders and set up a little canoe business. They soon found out that a small canoe company was more of a money drain than anything else. Picking the brain of the guy who was building their professional marathon boats and applying what I had learned in college as a sculpture major working with resin is how I got my start building strippers.

    The 18' Micmac is a fantastic tripping boat, faster than most, very unusually maneuverable for a fast boat, and rides very dry in big lake waves. I'm in the stern and my roommate, who also worked in our store is in the bow. Not long after that trip, the owners of Wilderness Boats offered me the opportunity to buy the company. I declined as I didn't want to become one more starving boatbuilder and they eventually went out of business. If you can find an intact copy of Hazen's "The Stripper's Guide To Canoe Building" it comes with three separate sheets containing plans for this boat, the double kayak I built shown below it above, and four others. The 17' and 18' Micmacs are both superb canoes, the other boats included in the plans, not so much. You can probably find better designs to build these days instead of Hazen's kayaks and his other canoe model.

    Before they folded, Wilderness also built a handful of fiberglass Micmacs - partially because I had been bugging them, as we were selling a fair number of Mad River Canoes with glass hulls and wood trim at the time and they were looking for ways to expand production. I now also own fiberglass Micmac #1. It originally sold to Norman Sims (co-author with Mark Neuzil of the book "Canoes - A Natural History In North America") who also worked at our store and was my boat building partner. It is the 17' x 34" model. A bit less capacity than the 18', but the same basic feel and performance.

    Micmac-17.jpg

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    Default Re: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

    Well, I got wistful for the days we could tramp in our canoe...
    330C4C18-C990-4B30-B1B6-3FFBF33AAA35.jpg
    One of the kids crammed in there now owns his own beetle. We’d leave the car, and go paddle off with our kids and dog for a week or two.
    That kind of stuff can ruin kids for life.

    That’s some local sugar pine for strips. The boat is literally made from trees cut where we paddled it most of its life. Oh, and some local ash furniture.

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    Default Re: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

    Quote Originally Posted by Robbie210 View Post
    Thanks for the advice... I was really considering the lumber route... if I am epoxy coating and glassing and painting inside and out I don't really see the downside. I know it is heavier but I am planning on putting it on a trailer so.
    Compare the price of Marine 1/4 in. by 4 by8 ply (8 B.F. ) with suitable lumber .Is it even any cheaper?

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    Default Re: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

    I found a couple more old pictures from that trip. This is one evening's batch of lakers. It was too dark when we got back to camp to take photos, so they sat out until the next morning on a stringer tied to a rock in the water, so they're a bit blotchy looking and losing their color.

    Lakers.jpg

    The blue jacket is first generation experimental North Face Gore Tex - the most miserable raincoat I have ever owned. The seams all leaked and the inner bonded knit lining layer worked perfectly to wick and spread that water evenly all over the inside of the coat.

    Here is one with a smallmouth bass. I had a big flyrod with me (9' stainless wrapped guides with a fighting butt and a #10 rocket taper floating line), so much of the time if we were near shore I'd troll a bare hook with just a ripple rind (like a leather twister tail) on it and hold the rod between my knees as I paddled. It would swim nicely at any speed and usually wasn't in the water for long before something would grab it.

    trolling.jpg

  18. #18
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    Default Re: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

    Quote Originally Posted by Robbie210 View Post
    Good Day,

    I am building a cedar strip small skiff. It’s the Bear Mount Boat Rice Lake Skiff. I am running into a small problem where I live. I can not find clear cedar. It simply seems to be sold out…. Everywhere. What I can find is like 3 or 4 times the cost it should be.

    My plan was, to paint the outside anyways and I have been looking at paint the inside white to show off the mahogany a bit more. Do you think it is possible to instead of ripping down a bunch of WRC I could rip up a bunch of ¼” marine ply into ¾” strips? Cove them just like the cedar and walla? I know it will not look like cedar but if I am paint both sides anyways?

    Thoughts?? Thanks for your help!!
    Apologies, I didn't realize you were in Calgary when I posted my first reply - for some reason I thought you were in the US. In Calgary, you might try the Cedar Shop - that's where we bought the wood for our canoe around 1981. Here in Victoria, I've found decent spruce in Home Depot, in the 2x10 or 2x12 sizes.

    Jamie

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    Default Re: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

    So glad I asked for some backstory on the gorgeous canoe piled high with gear and 70's haircuts and sunglasses.
    Enjoyed your post too, Amish Rob.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Bradshaw View Post
    The blue jacket is first generation experimental North Face Gore Tex - the most miserable raincoat I have ever owned. The seams all leaked and the inner bonded knit lining layer worked perfectly to wick and spread that water evenly all over the inside of the coat.

    so much of the time if we were near shore I'd troll a bare hook with just a ripple rind (like a leather twister tail) on it and hold the rod between my knees as I paddled.

    And this account gives rise to two of my own memories from that era... I also had a very early goretex rain jacket. The magazine ads of the time and various articles all touted this fabric to be fantastic. What a load! The parka leaked like nobody's business every time it got wet. After seeing yet another Goretex ad that exclaimed its (imaginary) virtues I wrote a long letter to the company. I didn't mince words telling Mr. Gore exactly what I thought of his fabric. Among other things I said he ought to be ashamed in sending unsuspecting folks out into the woods with crap. I actually got a letter back with more or less of an apology. Also got a couple of cold weather jackets, for my wife and I, made of the now new next generation Goretex. That stuff was better, but we were back to always carrying coated fabrics for rain protection.

    The happier memory.... I too loved trolling in my canoe, early morning on a calm lake, fishing rod supported by my knees/leg. Catch one or not... didn't really matter. Bliss.

    Jeff

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    Default Re: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

    Is redwood still available out west? Both my 22' fur trade canoe and my drift boat were built from redwood strips. It tends to be a bit more brittle, so you need to be a little more careful bending the strips, but it works fine if you don't mind the more uniform color when varnished.

    Redwood with spruce accent strips.

    D3.jpg

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    Default Re: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Bradshaw View Post
    Is redwood still available out west? Both my 22' fur trade canoe and my drift boat were built from redwood strips. It tends to be a bit more brittle, so you need to be a little more careful bending the strips, but it works fine if you don't mind the more uniform color when varnished.

    Redwood with spruce accent strips.

    D3.jpg
    I use it often. It makes great SOf stringers.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

    Redwood doesn't grow in BC. We have red and yellow cedar, both still available although good quality is getting harder and more expensive to find.
    On a trip south, we didn't see any redwood trees until we reached the California border.

    Jamie

  24. #24
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    Default

    I haven't seen redwood for sale here in Seattle, ever, in a lumber yard (and I've been here since '93 or '94). You'd see the occasional batch redwood staves from old water tanks on Craig's List, but that would be about it.

    Alder or Aspen would be a good choice for a stripper. Weighs a bit more than Western Red Cedar, but should be readily available.

    White Spruce, Balsam Fir and Balsam Poplar would probably work, too, and they're woods local to Alberta. Here's a sawmill up near Cochrane. http://brookssawmill.com/ - I imagine they could cut what you'd need.

    Westwind in Sydney BC says they have Western Red Cedar in stock.

    B+C canoe strips 1/4 x 3/4 at CAD $0.70 per lineal foot. 1x flat grain canoe stock 6-8 inches wide and 18-20 feet long at CAD $12/board foot.

    And they ship to Calgary.

    https://www.westwindhardwood.com/pro...ern-red-cedar/
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    Default Re: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

    Gee, I guess the days when Norm and I used to order a pile of clear 20' Sitka spruce 1 x 12s for about $20 each and have them shipped in from Fred Tebb & Sons are long gone. Then we had a guy at a local lumber yard with a big radial arm saw who would rip them into 3/16" strips for $5 per board. This was before anybody started with the bead and cove stuff, so we built everything with straight edged strips. As I remember, a single board would yield somewhere slightly over 30 strips and when the board got thin enough to make cutting dangerous it left apiece suitable for an inwale.

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    Default Re: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

    Yeah, gone Todd... just like this 14' stripper scow I built over winter of '72-73 in McHenry IL:

    PS100_'79-small.jpg

    Bought six or seven clear FOHC redwood 16' 1x10's at Heller Lumber in Arlington Heights, loaded 'em onto the roof of the Honda Civic I was driving then up to a guy with a table saw in Buffalo Grove where we rip'd those boards into 1/4" strips one afternoon. I think the cost was maybe $50-60 for those boards?


    Ten years later, living in that house in the pic out near Algonquin I bought some 5/4 clear FOHC redwood 1x8's at Geister Lumber in Elgin. I'd been asked to make up some custom window screens (bronze screen was what the gal wanted) for a house in Riverwoods that never had any, all the trim and siding was redwood. That stuff was S4S, 10'-ers cost me maybe $25 each, not unlike the 5/4 S2S sitka I found up in their loft one day for another boat that never got built.

    I saved that sitka, finally used some for the mast & spars for a Waterlust expedition canoe I'm almost ready to launch, boat #2.


    That radial saw must have wasted a lot of that WRC! I remember watching 20"ers cutting 3/16" or wider kerfs in yards back then... Tebb's still in business it appears.

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    Default Re: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

    Quote Originally Posted by Robbie210 View Post
    Good Day,

    I am building a cedar strip small skiff. It’s the Bear Mount Boat Rice Lake Skiff. I am running into a small problem where I live. I can not find clear cedar. It simply seems to be sold out…. Everywhere. What I can find is like 3 or 4 times the cost it should be.

    My plan was, to paint the outside anyways and I have been looking at paint the inside white to show off the mahogany a bit more. Do you think it is possible to instead of ripping down a bunch of WRC I could rip up a bunch of ¼” marine ply into ¾” strips? Cove them just like the cedar and walla? I know it will not look like cedar but if I am paint both sides anyways?

    Thoughts?? Thanks for your help!!


    Well maybe the boatbuilding Gods intend you to just glue lap it in 6mm Occume. It'll be the same weight maybe even a bit lighter. 6mm Cedar is a bit lighter than Occume but after glassing/ filling etc that technique usually finishes a smidge heavier.

    That's not a difficult shape to glue lap at all. Its even got a convex horizontal waterline entry, a fairly straight run and no tumblehome to make it even easier. You'll have to line it out but no stripping/ routing/ glassing/ gooping/ fairing or filling later.

    The finished boat will be better - it'll have slower roll speeds and be significantly drier under power. Nice forward sheer - it'll look very fine lapped, but make the upswing progressive (study a few Oughtred's and his book) not a single repeating mathematical fraction (the traditional Amercan way) which looks artificial, inorganic and worse (no disrespect to y'all).
    Last edited by Edward Pearson; 05-10-2021 at 04:45 PM.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

    Still good wood floating around these parts, but super expensive unless you are in the right place at the right time. I bought a few really horrible looking 20' cants of Sitka a year ago that I stacked in the shop thinking it had bugs and rot, but recently got it re-sawn and it was mostly amazing. Redwood comes around sometimes, but it's mostly Sequoia, which seems to be very fast growing with very widely spaced growth rings. I'll bet it would make fine strip planking stock, but it's not like the Redwood we know and love.
    Red cedar has become really expensive (10 to 15 bucks a board foot), but still deals to be had. If one were to tour sawmills on the Olympic peninsula you could drive home with some Cedar and Fir for a decent price. Even second growth cedar is getting expensive here, which is surprising because the trees are everywhere. I cut a big one down in my back yard and had a portable sawmill guy come to mill it up. A monster pile for about $300 in milling. Plus weeks of cleaning up branches, cutting sections, winching them in place, stacking & stickering, air drying for a year, etc. My friend built a plug for a 25' racing boat from it, I paneled the inside of a cabin with it, built a deck, and there's still a pile left. I guess my point (if I have one) is that people have piles of wood everywhere, the trick is finding it when they want to get rid of it, buying it when it comes around, selling it when someone else has a need, etc. People who have sawmills (even portable ones) know who has wood.

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    Default Re: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

    Did I kill another perfectly good thread? Sorry, I was just rambling about finding wood.

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    Default Re: 1/4" Marine Ply Instead of Cedar

    Quote Originally Posted by Russell Brown View Post
    Did I kill another perfectly good thread? Sorry, I was just rambling about finding wood.
    Even though my potential build is on hold due to sudden vision problems I bought two of your E books and an Off Center Harbor subscription. You have shown me much and I read it as my eyes allow.
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