Wooden Boat Lumber

Discussion in 'Watercraft' started by Titus, Dec 4, 2009.

  1. Titus New Member

    Posts: 2
    Bangor, ME
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Starting a drift boat project, wondering if anyone here has built one using white ash for the chine/sheer/stem.......?

    Douglas Fir is tough to come by here in the northeast :hmmm:
  2. tomc Member

    Posts: 195
    Beyond Shelton, WA
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I have to say I have not used white ash on a drift boat yet (plenty of others though), but I would not hesitate to use it. It would have good mechanical properties for that application.
    Tom C.
  3. SilverFly Ancient Steelhead Sensei

    Posts: 374
    Camas, WA
    Ratings: +50 / 0
    Ash is a strong wood that works nicely, but not sure how well it handles water. I'd do a search on woodenboat.com. Everything you want to know about building wood boats.
  4. Jim Wheeler Full time single dad and pram builder

    Posts: 111
    Tonasket, WA
    Ratings: +25 / 0
    I use clear spruce on all interior parts of our wood prams. I would use the ash for gunwales but not for anything that will be that close to water. Also, if you use ash make sure it's eastern ash not western (swamp) ash. It DOES make a difference. My .02
  5. Sunkfly New Member

    Posts: 19
    Boise, ID
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I would not use ash for the chines or chine battens. Good white ash is certainly strong enough, and bends well, but will take up water and is not very rot resistant. White oak would be a much better choice for these parts.
  6. Frank R Member

    Posts: 110
    Dearborn, Michigan
    Ratings: +1 / 0
    I agree. But don't use epoxy on white oak if you need to scarf it. Something about the chemicals in white oak that doesn't play nice with most epoxies.
  7. Titus New Member

    Posts: 2
    Bangor, ME
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I would assume White Cedar is ok since we build canoes out of it up here in New England?

    I am having a difficult time finding a lumber mill that has 18' sticks of lumber, and I am not sure I want to scarf the chine/sheer.
  8. Salmo_g Active Member

    Posts: 7,472
    Your City ,State
    Ratings: +1,615 / 0
    Titus,

    Keith Steele used to build drift boats on the McKenzie River in Oregon. He used Port Orford cedar for chines and sheer. I think Port Orford is stronger by weight than our red cedar. I would think your white cedar is suitable, altho I know nothing about its strength to weight ratio. A nice piece of Honduran mahogany makes a nice stem piece.

    I scarfed ash for sheer on my canoe once and had trouble getting one of the joints to stay. I eventually replaced them with long pieces of spruce I was able to get, and they're still on the canoe.

    Sg
  9. Sunkfly New Member

    Posts: 19
    Boise, ID
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    White cedar is strong for its weight. But it's very light, and very soft. I would stay with a good hardwood for the chines and chine battens. And for the stem piece.

    Long, clear spruce should still be available in Maine -- check with some of the traditional canoe builders. If you really wanted to avoid hardwood for the rails, spruce would be a better bet than the white cedar.

    In traditional canoe building, white cedar is mainly used for the ribs -- it bends well. Rails may be hardwood for durability or spruce for lighter weight. Canoes are often seen with hardwood outer rails, and inner rails of spruce.

    To get your questions about the right woods for your drift boat answered by an expert, contact Professor Richard Jagels at the University of Maine. He wrote (still writes?) the Wood Technology section for Wooden Boat magazine.

    Richard Jagels
    Professor of Forest Biology
    128 Nutting Hall Orono, ME 04469-5755
    (207) 581-2884
    richard.jagels@maine.edu
  10. Mark Moore Just a Member

    Posts: 734
    Vancouver, Wa.
    Ratings: +66 / 0
    Many Good posts here with sound advice. Something a little out of the box but quite appropriate would be Tulip Poplar. Should be available in long lengths on the east coast and has very impressive properties.

    Google Robb White, he has written extensively regarding this (although, sadly he died unexpectedly a couple of years ago) and his website can help. I think if you read his work you may consider this unconventional species a good solution. It bends very well, has good rot resistance and is quite plentiful.

    Dr. Jagels would be considered authoritative in every regard.

    Good luck.

    P.S. Robb White work is thoroughly entertaining, Maybe the John Gierach of wooden boats.