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Author Topic: White Oak for boat building  (Read 926 times)

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Offline WV Sawmiller

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White Oak for boat building
« on: April 23, 2019, 07:05:23 PM »
   Have any of you ever used WO for boat building? Are there any gottchas associated with sawing and using it? Does it need to be quartersawn? Rift sawn or flat sawn ok? How thick is it typically cut? Any special processing requirements.

    I did a site visit to a potential customer about 16 miles away. She had a couple of WO down and had a couple of guys cutting some more leaning or uprooted trees of various species including some sassafrass which she seems to think is a valuable, high demand product.  ??? She asked me yesterday when she called about horse loggers and it just happened my old mule skinner I used a couple years ago was coming over so I linked them up and he is going to go check out the terrain and trees she wants cut and pulled. I gather she is a budding hippie type ready to move off-grid. To each his own - I like electric and gas and indoor plumbing. We will see if the job materializes and what she decides on the WO for boat building. 
Howard Green
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Offline moodnacreek

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Re: White Oak for boat building
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2019, 08:32:25 PM »
A few times over the years I have sold w.o. for wooden boats. One guy had a sailing ship off N.J. that he took parties out on. Although it could be anything they mostly took clear 2x12 no sap wood, plain sawn, long as they could get, air dry or green. I could not fill these orders today as I can't get the long butt logs. You really need fresh clear top grade for marine use.

Offline Don P

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Re: White Oak for boat building
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2019, 08:44:50 PM »
If its a large craft I'd say it would be fine, if a small human powered boat I'd say it's mighty heavy, part of the reason for cedar in a canoe.
The rails on a canoe are usually ash, it has good impact resistance. I re-railed a whitewater canoe with red oak one time at a canoe rental shop. Ash would usually take quite a few heavy bumps, the red oak came back broken after one weekend. I'd say white oak would be somewhere in between the two. If the sass is good straight grained stock and she wants a small flatwater boat, it is weak but light and rot resistant, if it is a glassed flatwater boat that would be lighter than oak. If it's good and you want to mill and sell it I'd be interested in some, people like it in my trays and wooden boxes, light and handsome.

off topic; I had a request about a week ago for rift sawn red oak. I thought I knew what that was but figured I had better check so I hit google and sure enough, it was all over the road.I finally hit what I think was a good description and reason for what I was seeing in the search results in a fine homebuilding link. Riftsawn lumber is what I think of and I think generally what a woodworker is talking about, between flatsawn and quartersawn ideally with the grain running at a 45 angle on the end grain.

Riftsawing a log is RRQS and produces all quartersawn lumber.

Quartersawing a log is the conventional method of quartering the log then flipping the flat faces back and forth producing mostly riftsawn to quartersawn lumber or the other conventional diagram shows a stack of cuts running perpendicular to bark, bisecting the quartered log, producing mostly quartersawn to riftsawn lumber.

So when I looked through my pile of red oak 8/4 it was my usual method of plainsawing, chasing the grade and turning the cant on my circle mill. The lumber that I call riftsawn occurs on 4-6" on each side of some boards that I would call flatsawn. I explained that and sorted through a stack. What was in his mind, no idea, crickets.

Uhh, hopefully that wasn't all clear as mud.

If she's building, WO is good porch post and beam material, or from your description she may like some heavy timber in the house. We've been sawing some nice white oak this past week. The butt logs were 24" or so and we got a lot of 6-12" wide 4/4 for paneling, trim and cabinets, I grabbed a 6x6 post out of the hearts, I sawed 6x8 RO for porch beams. The next WO logs up we've been alternately sawing up for flooring and as the grade went down 1.5x6" raised bed planter material, hey she needs some raised beds.
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: White Oak for boat building
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2019, 09:44:33 PM »
   I don't think she is building. She is just trying to salvage some of last season's uprooted and leaning trees and hoping to sell the lumber. I asked her plans and for a cut list but she has not progressed that far it seems. She evidently had some relatives in VA who made or repaired boats and she thought there was a market for WO for boat work. I pointed out the logs did not look that clear but she said someone told her the 10' long X 24" diameter butt log was clear 3 sides. I'm not going to argue with her. I have not made it to our Ga Bulldog shirt wearing Wood Doc's log grading class yet and I don't grade logs. I just saw them.
Howard Green
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Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline terrifictimbersllc

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Re: White Oak for boat building
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2019, 05:31:11 AM »
Riftsawing a log is RRQS and produces all quartersawn lumber.
Trying to understand this sentence. 
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Offline sprucebunny

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Re: White Oak for boat building
« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2019, 05:39:01 AM »
WO is usuallly used below the waterline for keel shoes and rudder panels on larger wooden boats. Say over 30'.

Tamarack 'stumps' are often used for knees that would be little almost right angles that support the ceiling or side decks.
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Offline Don P

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Re: White Oak for boat building
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2019, 07:57:46 AM »
Dennis, this is an old thread on it, I'd say dboyt nailed it in his first reply;
http://forestryforum.com/board/index.php?topic=79020.0
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Offline Woodpecker52

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Re: White Oak for boat building
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2019, 09:11:36 AM »
cypress is a great wood for boat building.
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Offline Jwswan

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Re: White Oak for boat building
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2019, 10:04:33 AM »
WV sawmiller;

I've been buildling wooden boats professionally for the last 19 years, and in the last seven (finally!) got in to sawing my own lumber.  I largely cut tamarack (both knees and long lengths) and white cedar for myself and to sell.  As for white oak and how it gets used/sawn, there are a few approaches.  I'd say the big use for it is for bending stock.  Steam bent frames (they're called frames, not ribs in the U.S. btw-lots of weird, vestigial marine nomenclature to contend with i know!).  The most important consideration with bending stock is to minimize grain runout.  Most everything i saw, I start with cutting parallel to the bark (I was literally just emailing a guy in CT about this for using tamarack as planking stock- he was having a tough time with the skinny ends of his boards- he has an english boat he's rebuilding and needs a larch substitute).  Anyway, back to bending stock.   In my shop, I prefer to have two live edges and a board that's been cut parallel to the bark, if that makes sense, and then I can rip straight edges that follow the grain on either side.  I end up with a trapezoid of sorts, and rip out framing until i get a tapered section in the middle of the board.  That's the ideal, though if i have a straight edge, i'll just start from that too. Great looking bending stock can bend terrible, and gnarly stuff can be awesome.  I think genetics and growth location are big factors too.  Green lumber is the best for bending stock, though air dried works fine too.  Btw, this is also true for windsor chair making, though the fundamentalists only use riven stock.  As for bigger timbers on a boat, there are floor timbers (trapezoidal pieces that bolt and connect the keel to the framing.  Milling 8/4 stock and letting it air dry is likely your best way to go, though the thicknesses can vary greatly. This can be rift/flat sawn stock.  8/4 is a really safe bet.  The rest of any backbone timber can vary greatly from small craft to bigger boats.  Often on small craft, keels are made up in two pieces to create a "T".  The inside of the "t" creates a rabbet where the first row of planking (the garboards) fit into.  4/4 and 6/4 is a safe bet for boats up to 16' or so. 8/4 stock is also great for stems and transom framing/transoms.  Don't box the heart into anything and keep the sap wood off as much as possible, and again, air drying.  The hardest part will be finding the right customer in your area, but us wooden boat guys are like cockroaches that way;).  wooden boat/folk schools also might be a good place to get in touch with.  It's always a scramble to find good stock.  I also just delivered a bunch of canoe cedar to a folk school in northern MN early this week as they were having a hard time finding someone to cut it how they wanted.  oh yeah, and (obviously), I anchor seal the ends really well.  For bending stock, MC% is your friend.  I know pictures are worth a thousand words.  I'll dig through and see what i have if you'd like.  It pains me to see all the great white oak (or sub species thereof) we have here down where I grew up in west central WI get turned into construction matting and pallet wood.  I know it's a way more reliable market, but I see lots of great wooden boats in those chewed up mats! Sorry for the novel.  I can go on waaaay too long when you wind me up. 
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Offline sealark37

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Re: White Oak for boat building
« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2019, 12:24:28 PM »
It sounds like your customer has fallen for the "highly valuable logs" syndrome.  Be careful with her expectations.  Please don't ask how I know this!       Regards, Clark

Offline Jwswan

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Re: White Oak for boat building
« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2019, 01:06:15 PM »
p.s.  Saw the sassafras tree listed too- that's a great bending stock wood, and was used lots in the framing of small craft.  not sure how "valuable" it is tho.  And to sealark37's comments, I've had those issues with butternut and cherry around here (likely we all have).  Folks will find the highest bdft price online for FAS 12" or wider, and then do some reverse math to assume what it's worth off the stump.  Same with White Cedar.  I don't think they quite get what it means when it's only selling for 15$/cord, which I'll admit is low. Anyways, good luck.  I hope it works out to get some of that wood into a boat some day...
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: White Oak for boat building
« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2019, 04:07:53 PM »
   Thanks guys. Great info there. I remember reading where the Viking longboats were strong and flexible because they were typically made from split planks rather than sawed boards. I watched Africans in Cameroon and Guinea make big plank pirogues and they were masters at their craft. Many were used to harvest sand and gravel in the mangroves at the mouths of the rivers. The wood seemed to be about 5/4 to 6/4 planks and of course over there they were cut freehand with a chain saw. They planed the edges and often nailed them together with wide staples and filled the cracks with oakum and sissal fiber. I have seen some even melt styrofoam and fill the cracks. 

   I had an old mentor who made several flat bottom fishing boats when i was growing up and he used cypress or juniper boards about 12-14 inches with for the sides. I'd say they were 4/4 - 5/4. He used marine plywood for the bottoms and used brass screws or nails. I always regret I never got him to build me one. He'd have helped me and showed me how and would have been a great experience but I missed out on that experience.
Howard Green
WM LT35HDG25(2015) , 2009 4wd Dodge PU, Kawasaki 650 ATV, Sthil 440 & 441, homemade logging arch (w/custom built rear log dolly), JD 750 w/4' wide Bushhog brand FEL

Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"


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