Which plywood to use for hull

Outboard designs up to 14'

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Which plywood to use for hull

Post by allanfullerton »

Hello, I'm building a Zip and am at the stage of purchasing the plywood to use for planking the hull. I'm in New Zealand, and I'm told I have two options of marine plywood. One is called Meranti, which is deemed a slightly lower grade of marine ply, and the other is called something else, but is intended for use where strength is very important. I know that hull strength is important, but because there is a huge price difference between the two types of ply, I don't want to choose the wrong type. Can anyone offer any advise on what sort of strength is required from a plywood hull?

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Bill Edmundson
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Post by Bill Edmundson »

Meranti is fine. There is a little weight difference. But, on this boat it is not a problem.

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Post by kens »

I used BS1088 Meranti, and do not consider it lower grade. Lower grade than what? Sapele, or Afromosia, or Mahogany?

What grade was it? BS6566, or BS1088.
BS6566 is a lower grade than BS1088. these are grades in the glueing of the plywood, not a grade of specie wood.

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Post by Drew »

i used BS1088 Meranti and one sheet of sapele. Meranti is cheaper and seemed a lot stronger. Sapele is really light but expencive. I ran out of wood and insted of driving an hour for one sheet of meranti i drove around the corner and payed 20$ more.

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Post by karearea »

I'm in NZ also. I found there was little difference in price between Meranti and Gaboon, especially once I found a specialist plywood supplier. Prices were $99 for 18x1200x2400mm $40 for 6x1200x2400mm

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Post by HouTexBBC »

Meranti is a decent choice. Like kens said, the BS rating is important. Most boat builders would say that you probably should stick to BS1088 for the hull, and only use BS6566 inside the boat for flooring, bulkheads etc. Meranti is a little heavier than other marine ply products out there but if weight is not an issue then by all means save some money.

A few things to consider about Meranti: Meranti is not a wood species per si, but simply a name given to a particular type of plywood product. It’s kind of like the description “Cola”. I mean there is Coke and Pepsi and a million other brands and they all taste similar, but they are different. Meranti is typically made from Lauan, also known as “Philippine Mahogany” (though Philippine Mahogany is just a trade name, not a wood species either). Lauan represents about 70 different species of wood that vary widely in characteristics, i.e. from soft to hard, strong to weak and rot resistant to not so rot resistant. So I think it is important to get your Meranti from a quality manufacturer.

Now with all that said if you want me to tell you the exact brand to get, I think I’m going to have to leave you hanging because I don’t know. I have never used Meranti so I never needed to figure that out. I have only used Okoume. I will say, however that the products known as Hydrotek and Aquatek seem to be what most people are using. I don’t know if that is due to it being marketed heavily by suppliers or because it is of superior quality. You may want to check into that some more yourself.


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Post by boat-bill-der »

I used 1/4" hydrotek, and I think it looks great.

The only problem I had with it is that it's kind of stiff, so the bend up to the stem was sort of difficult, but I got it to work with some ratchet straps and temporary deck screws.

The other problem is it splinters like crazy, and when my boat was upside down on the building form I grazed my calf on it a few times and got some nasty splinters. I mean like 2" long splinters. I felt like an old western digging them out with tweezers.

Other than the splinter thing i was very happy with it.

It's rated BS1088, and I got 4X8 sheets of 1/4" for $35 each. Not bad at all.

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Post by Buckeyesmith »

I'm also starting Zip and have been shopping for plywood. One supplier showed me Meranti and Hydrotek but said they are discouraging customers from using Meranti because they are finding numerous voids. They are recommending Hydrotek for our application.

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