Looking to build my first boat...wood questions

See: "Useful Information and Suppliers" for a list of lumber and plywood suppliers. Also see: "Wood & Plywood Information". Both located in the left-hand column of the Home page.

Moderator: Bill Edmundson

dereks
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Oct 07, 2007 5:04 pm
Location: Lincoln NE
Contact:

Looking to build my first boat...wood questions

Post by dereks »

Locally I can find some douglas fir, mostly pine building lumber... and AC plywood, Lowe's said they might beable to get marine ply on a special order. can I go with the ext AC ply, and the douglas fir/pine...or should I look for something else?
"Is a dream a lie if it don't come true; or is it something worse?"

Nova SS
Posts: 2434
Joined: Sat Nov 15, 2003 10:42 pm
Location: Stirling, ON

Post by Nova SS »

At the risk of going against the grain here I'll say go for it. Personally I see nothing wrong with what your thinking of doing. Even Glen-L says you can use exterior grade plywood and really the only thing that is different with it compared to Marine ply is that the cores on exterior grade ply may have some voids in them that the marine ply will not. These voids may or may not be a problem if the ply has to make extreme bends to sheet the hull.

People tend to get the mind set that only the best of the best will do and if they cannot afford the best of the best then they will just not do it. This mind set keeps many people away from reaching their dream. BTW less expensive materials doesn't immediately mean the boat will look cheap or and home built. That part is more reliant on the skill set of the builder. I have seen many a boat built with the expensive building products that to be honest were not very professional looking. The final finish comes down to the builder not the material being used.

I, for one, will be using exterior grade ply and pine for my Rebel. One reason is so the boat is more affordable to build and the other reason is to show it can be done and still look great. Yes, I will use some Ribbon stripe mahogany veneer for the main deck and two or three mahogany boards for the showy parts like the dash and coaming but the rest will be pine and exterior grade ply. I guess time Will tell if I made the right choice. :)

User avatar
ttownshaw
Posts: 2337
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 7:33 am
Location: Owasso, Oklahoma
Contact:

Post by ttownshaw »

dereks,

You may find, as I have, that you will get your ply from one source and hardwood from another.

Look for a local source of acceptable hardwoods like white oak, mahogany, d-fir, or whatever approved species you select. I found a small (and I mean small) mill that is run by a father and son. The advantage is that they let me dig through each board to select the best pieces for my application. Plus you know what you are getting with knots, checks, and demensions. You might pay a little more for the frame material but in the end you will find this to be a minimal additional expense. Is Central Lumber one of these kinds of places?

IMHO, I disagree with novass on the exterior/marine ply issue (these are not fighting words...just my opinion). DF ply is not what it used to be and the grading seems to have relaxed too much over the years. Additionally marine ply does not allow any significant gaps in the plys whereas exterior does. These gaps will eventually telegraph through or worse. You will also need to finish every single edge/side of DF ply (marine or not) to prevent checking. There is also a difference in the number of plys between exterior and marine which results in differences in strengths (3/4 ext is 5 and marine is 7 I think). I have used DF Mar for my gussets, keel lamination, transom knee, stem, breast hook, chine block, and transom (although I will veener over the transom with something more attractive). For the skin, though, I will use BS1088 Okoume and perhaps something a little more exotic to veneer on the deck. The okoume will come over the web from a reliable source like Boulter Plywood.

So for me it is one source for ply and another for solid.

On a side note...since you are in Lincoln I have assumed you are a Husker fan...sure wish you guys had beaten USC. Hopefully things will improve up there so us Sooners will see you at the Big 12 Championship. I miss the yearly OU vs. Neb game.
Bill

I told my wife we needed a three-car garage for my projects...she told me to ask her for permission next time before I buy a house.
http://www.unitybuild.net

Nova SS
Posts: 2434
Joined: Sat Nov 15, 2003 10:42 pm
Location: Stirling, ON

Post by Nova SS »

ttownshaw wrote:IMHO, I disagree with novass on the exterior/marine ply issue (these are not fighting words...just my opinion).
So for me it is one source for ply and another for solid.
Not trying to fight either but every bill of material list I have seen for Glen-L boats including the newer designs like the Gentry (just designed in the last few years) list exterior grade ply as acceptable though Marine grade is preferable. It does not say that exterior grade is unacceptable. It also will say that the descion to use Exterior grade ply in leiu of marine grade lies with the builder who must factor in things such as intended use, ect.

User avatar
ttownshaw
Posts: 2337
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 7:33 am
Location: Owasso, Oklahoma
Contact:

Post by ttownshaw »

novass,

You and I are "on the same page"...this is up to the builder.
Bill

I told my wife we needed a three-car garage for my projects...she told me to ask her for permission next time before I buy a house.
http://www.unitybuild.net

HouTexBBC
Posts: 125
Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2005 3:12 pm
Location: Houston, Texas
Contact:

Post by HouTexBBC »

I have built 2 boats with ACX from Lowes and 2 (1 plus the one I'm building now) using Okoume marine ply. The boat will work either way and as far as how it will look is determined by the craftmanship of the builder. If done right, you will have a hard time visibly telling an ACX boat from a boat built using any other material.

Are there differences? Sure, and it is up to the builder to decide how much those differences matter. In my opinion, there are 3 main differences between using ACX and quality marine ply and for me, these differences eventually led to a decision to upgrade my materials, but also more than double, maybe even triple the cost. The big differences are:

1.) Weight. In my neck of the woods the ACX ply is made from yellow pine which is something like 1.5 times heavier than Okoume. I have had performance issues with my first boat which is partially (but not completely) due to the fact that the boat is kind of heavy. Weight matters when it comes to how fast the boat will go, getting it up on plane etc.
2.) As discussed before, the structural integrity of ACX is SIGNIFICANTLY less than wood designed for boatbuilding. It doesn't mean your boat will fall apart or that you will ever even have a problem. The possibility is simply greater. If you chose your ACX carefully and try to work around voids and other bad spots you improve on the issue.
3.) Cost. The cost of a 1/4 sheet of Okoume today is around $80 to $85 delivered (tax plus freight etc.). I don't know but I guess a 1/4 sheet of ACX is probably $20 or less. So this is a huge factor, especially if you are building your first boat and not sure how it will all go. You may not want to put out a bunch of money on wood that is priced like gold.

Now on my fourth boat, and having taken boatbuilding on as a hobby that I intend to keep on with (I don't know what I'm going to do with all the boats), and having gained some experience, I have decided to spend the extra bucks. You may not want to do that.

As far as lumber, I think fir is decent lumber. I have used it and will continue to use it, although I think I am going to try some cypress on my current build. Just make sure you pick out good straight wood that is clear of knots.

Dennis

Nova SS
Posts: 2434
Joined: Sat Nov 15, 2003 10:42 pm
Location: Stirling, ON

Post by Nova SS »

HouTexBBC wrote:1.) Weight. In my neck of the woods the ACX ply is made from yellow pine which is something like 1.5 times heavier than Okoume. I have had performance issues with my first boat which is partially (but not completely) due to the fact that the boat is kind of heavy. Weight matters when it comes to how fast the boat will go, getting it up on plane etc.

When I was living in Georgia and had some home improvement projects to do I was shocked how heavy Yellow Pine lumber was and especially how heavy it was when preasure treated. :shock: It is WAY heavier then the equivilant lumber here in Canada. SO I can totally believe that plywood made from SYP would be heavy as heck

HouTexBBC
Posts: 125
Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2005 3:12 pm
Location: Houston, Texas
Contact:

Post by HouTexBBC »

It will make a difference what species is used for the ACX. What do they use up there? White Pine?

Dennis

Nova SS
Posts: 2434
Joined: Sat Nov 15, 2003 10:42 pm
Location: Stirling, ON

Post by Nova SS »

I just did a quick search and there is 2 main types of wood used to make softwood playwood in Canada. The first is Dougfir(DFP) and the second is Canadian Softwood Plywood (CSP) which can also be made with popular and Aspen(POP).

DFP

Face/Back

Douglas Fir

Inner Plies

Douglas Fir
Western Hemlock
True Fir
Sitka Spruce
Western White Spruce
Western Larch
Western White Pine
Ponderosa Pine
Lodgepole Pine

CSP

Face/back

Western Hemlock
True Fir
Sitka Spruce
Western White Spruce
Western Larch
Lodgepole Pine

Inner Plies

Douglas Fir
Western Hemlock
True Fir
Sitka Spruce
Western White Spruce
Western Larch
Western White Pine
Lodgepole Pine
Trembling Aspen
Balsam Poplar

POP

Face/Back

Balsam Poplar
Trembling Aspen
Black Cottonwood

Inner Plies

Balsam Poplar
Trembling Aspen
Black Cottonwood
True Fir
Western Larch
Sitka Spruce
Western White Spruce
Lodgepole Pine
Western Hemlock
Yellow Cedar
Douglas Fir
Western White Pine
Ponderosa Pine
Western Red Cedar

basilkies
Posts: 496
Joined: Wed Sep 22, 2004 9:19 pm
Location: Marin California

Post by basilkies »

There is also the secondary issue of stuff that is called Douglas Fir that is a different type of pine and is not suitable for boats.

As for plywood, you can get around the void issue by using half the thickness of plywood and laminating another to it. That way you will stop all voids half way through. It's not going to save you money because epoxy ain't cheap.

You can also spot voids by looking at the end of plywood. Then you could butt block over it to re-enforce the weak spot. You could even cut it and scarf it if you felt especially enterprising.

User avatar
Caber-Feidh
Posts: 828
Joined: Mon May 07, 2007 7:50 pm
Location: Battle Point, Leech Lake... tundrasota

Post by Caber-Feidh »

Sometimes the local home depot will have ABB or ABC aval at a decent cost. ABB will be some pretty decent stuff, more than sufficient for most boat builds.

IMHO, for most sheeting in small craft builds BS1088 is allot of $ for a material that is beyond the necessary quality level. On a side note, DF has a higher impact resistance, and shear strength than Okoume or Meranti. (and why it's usually not found with high ply counts.)

Okoume, nor meranti are all that rot resistant.

Also of concern is the fact the main source of aucoumea klaineana comes from selective logging throughout the Congo. the harvesting process is not environmentally sound. The damage is further compounded by the fact most of the funds gained from the loss of these forests does not go to the people of the Congo, but to 6 foreign companies handling the export.

HouTexBBC
Posts: 125
Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2005 3:12 pm
Location: Houston, Texas
Contact:

Post by HouTexBBC »

Caber-Feidh wrote:Sometimes the local home depot will have ABB or ABC aval at a decent cost. ABB will be some pretty decent stuff, more than sufficient for most boat builds.

IMHO, for most sheeting in small craft builds BS1088 is allot of $ for a material that is beyond the necessary quality level. On a side note, DF has a higher impact resistance, and shear strength than Okoume or Meranti. (and why it's usually not found with high ply counts.)

Okoume, nor meranti are all that rot resistant.

Also of concern is the fact the main source of aucoumea klaineana comes from selective logging throughout the Congo. the harvesting process is not environmentally sound. The damage is further compounded by the fact most of the funds gained from the loss of these forests does not go to the people of the Congo, but to 6 foreign companies handling the export.
I mostly agree with you. I think the question of whether okoume is beyond the necessary quality level is in the opinion of the builder. For me, the light weight is the main factor and rot resistance is less of an issue because I epoxy everything and glass as much as I can.

I guess the reason okoume has become so popular is because it is one of a few types of readily available marine plys that is made to standard and is very light yet still somewhat strong for its weight. Meanwhile the quality of other types of marine ply have become inconsistent

I have only recently discovered articles regarding the threat to Aucoumea klaineana (okoume). In general, based on what I have read, I think the threat level at this point is considered low. Some areas have been over-harvested of all species but in areas where replanting takes place Aucoumea klaineana tends to grow back fairly well, but the jury is still out. It seems, based on what I have read, the species is being watched closely to see how things go. I too will pay attention and if the threat of extinction were to become real I would definitely quit buying it.

Dennis

John Bowen
Posts: 997
Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2005 9:09 pm
Location: Mount Dora Fl.
Contact:

Post by John Bowen »

Lets start here:
http://www.glen-l.com/wood-plywood/wp-index.html

Go to "Search" and take a look around, here at Glen-L. Then do a "google search as a follow-up on the types that your thinking for your build. Look and read through the post on plywood,here. Yes, there are a "few" but, you will gain by doing such.

In the end, it's realy up to the builder.

Voids? Void'em! They are a hidden virus.
One day.

kalbo
Posts: 24
Joined: Sun May 20, 2007 6:06 am
Location: florida

use what you have.

Post by kalbo »

I looked around where I live and came to one decision. I used what was available. I had ¼ and 3/8 BC Pine for plywood. I used poplar and whitewood for whatever I needed as a brace or whatever. I encapsulated the boat in epoxy. It worked. The boat has not rotted or delaminated or “exploded and sank” because it didn’t have $80 a sheet plywood. If you are building a boat that you are going to paint, use what is available. I believe building a boat should be fun, not something that will deny your children braces or college. So have fun, get out on the water, and I hope we see the pictures soon.

Nova SS
Posts: 2434
Joined: Sat Nov 15, 2003 10:42 pm
Location: Stirling, ON

Re: use what you have.

Post by Nova SS »

kalbo wrote:I looked around where I live and came to one decision. I used what was available. I had ¼ and 3/8 BC Pine for plywood. I used poplar and whitewood for whatever I needed as a brace or whatever. I encapsulated the boat in epoxy. It worked. The boat has not rotted or delaminated or “exploded and sank” because it didn’t have $80 a sheet plywood. If you are building a boat that you are going to paint, use what is available. I believe building a boat should be fun, not something that will deny your children braces or college. So have fun, get out on the water, and I hope we see the pictures soon.
Amen brother! My thoughts exactly. :)

Post Reply

Return to “Wood and Plywood”