Southern Woods for Boat Building

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Crimson Tide
Posts: 15
Joined: Fri May 04, 2007 10:59 am
Location: Savannah, GA

Southern Woods for Boat Building

Post by Crimson Tide »

Hey guys. I am getting ready to start building the Flats Flyer boat and need to find lumber to build with. I work for a building supply/lumber yard. So I can order materials through the company if the vendors we use have the material. I have found marine grade plywood and don't see that being an issue. However, I am not sure what local material I should use for the framing members on the boat. I live in Savannah, GA. Everything we stock on the yard is for residential house framing and most likely not appropriate for boat building. If anyone lives in the south and can offer suggestions on the types of local lumber I should use it would be a great help to me. Thanks for the help.

Rusty

FDMSIV
Posts: 407
Joined: Tue Jun 06, 2006 12:28 pm
Location: New Orleans

Post by FDMSIV »

I used cypress and I loved working with it. It was easy to sand, smelled great, looked great, and was a joy all around.

It does splinter a little when cutting, but after a couple of cuts you can get an idea of what it is going to do.

HouTexBBC
Posts: 125
Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2005 3:12 pm
Location: Houston, Texas
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Post by HouTexBBC »

I too am using a lot of Cypress on a boat I am building right now and so far, I love working with it. It is everything FDMSIV said and also it is light in weight. On this particular boat I am using some white oak for certain structural framing where strength is needed but Cypress pretty much everywhere else. If the place where you work can't get Cypress, there is most likely a specialty hardwood dealer in your area that has it. Warning though, it isn't exactly cheap.

Beyond that, there isn't much locally grown wood that is great for boatbuilding. In the South we have yellow pine, yellow pine and more yellow pine.

What you may be able to get from your work is things like white pine or douglas fir and those are decent materials to use. You just have to be sure and get wood that is clear of knots or you might as well use it as kindling.

Dennis

DonBing
Posts: 151
Joined: Sun Nov 16, 2003 9:52 am
Location: Northeast Ohio

Post by DonBing »

I was able to scavenge a truckload of cypress siding from a house that was being demolished. Must have been 50 yrs old and I had to waste a lot just to get the clear stuff. After varnish it has the most beautiful patina I can recall working with.

I wanted to keep some continuity with that wood so I bought some new cypress. Although it darkens up somewhat, that deep rich color just isn't there. Are you guys (HouTexBBC and FDMSIV) seeing any darkening of the wood color since you began? I just bought the new stuff a couple weeks ago.

Don

HouTexBBC
Posts: 125
Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2005 3:12 pm
Location: Houston, Texas
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Post by HouTexBBC »

All the wood I purchased was of a lighter color. The dealer had some boards that were darker, actually very brown in color. I wasn't sure if that meant it was just heartwood or what but decided to pick only the lighter color so as to be all the same. The Glen-L article of wood for boatbuilding seems to indicate that the color of the wood will vary depending on the location that it was grown. If that is so, you might have a hard time matching it.

Dennis

Crimson Tide
Posts: 15
Joined: Fri May 04, 2007 10:59 am
Location: Savannah, GA

Post by Crimson Tide »

Thanks for the input. I can definitely order cypress where I work. My concern is what I read here in the Boat Building with Plywood book, which I have and is posted here on the site.

CYPRESS, BALD
(red cypress, yellow cypress, white cypress)
32 lbs. per cubic foot, 2.76 lbs. per board foot
Grown along the Southeastern coastal states of the United States, often in swamps. Heartwood near salt water varies from reddish to almost black, while the heartwood from farther inland is only slightly reddish or yellowish brown. Moderately strong, it is highly decay resistant, but soaks up a lot of moisture. Its primary use is in conventional planking, and therefore has little use in plywood boat building.

I am using marine plywood for the hull and not planking so thats taken care of. Its the framing members I am concerned with. You would think having been a lumber salesman and now running a installed trim department, that I could get my hands on something suitable. It seems most lumber used in boat building is grown anywhere but around here. Africa, South America, Pacific NW, etc... HouTex got it right all we have is Southern Yellow Pine and lots of it. Well let me know what else you think. If cypress will work well I can certainly get that. Otherwise, I may have to pay through the nose and import some suitable material. Thanks again for your replies.

Rusty

DonBing
Posts: 151
Joined: Sun Nov 16, 2003 9:52 am
Location: Northeast Ohio

Post by DonBing »

I salvaged my cypress in '02 and built some adironback chairs the same year. They have been outside, unfinished and unprotected through 6 midwest winters. They are as solid as the day I built them. Not even any checking.

The wood is comparatively light though. I'm using it for window trim and cockpit seating, primarily. I had some pieces that seemed pretty dense but I'd be selective if I were using any of it for framing. I'm guessing encapsulation would mitigate the absorption properties. I've always liked SYP, especially if you can pick through the pile for the dense stuff. BTW, I paid about $3 bd/ft which is about as cheap as it gets around here.

Don

HouTexBBC
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Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2005 3:12 pm
Location: Houston, Texas
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Post by HouTexBBC »

I doubt you can build the whole boat out of it (Cypress). I have only worked with it so far on this one boat but I don't believe it is strong enough for the whole thing. That's why I went with white oak frames and a few other places where I needed strength.

That said, I think I don't want to use any white oak again. It's hard as a rock and is a real b$%#h to get a screw to go into. I maligned the SYP a little but, as DonBing alluded to it is acceptable for certain things and would make good wood for the frame. If I were doing it again, I would use SYP in place of my white oak.

I don't know much about the flats flyer but maybe you could consider something like good clear SYP for framing parts, Cypress for battens, sheers etc. and Okoume for the ply. The SYP will give you the strength you need and the Cypress and Okoume will help cut back on the weight. I don't know, just a thought.

DonBing - I believe you about Cypress being in the weather like that. The old Louisiana decoy carvers used to use the bottom part of the tree for duck decoys. Those things are a light as a feather last forever.

Dennis

DonBing
Posts: 151
Joined: Sun Nov 16, 2003 9:52 am
Location: Northeast Ohio

Post by DonBing »

Crimson Tide-- Got focused on the cypress and forgot to address your question. You're fortunate to work for a supplier. Southern yellow pine or doug fir are good materials. Learn to recognize quarter sawn lumber. If you don't already know; the growth rings will be vertical with the board laid on its flat. There will be several from every pallet and pull the best ones for yourself. Frequently you can saw the vert grain portion from the board w/o too much waste.

Don

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