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PostPosted: August 11th, 2006, 9:48 am 
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Location: Wenatchee, WA
I am thinking about building my first stripper- a Wee Robbie- 10 1/2 feet. Plans are available from Laughing Loon. The advice on Laughing Loon is to go with Northern White Cedar. Trouble is I live on the west coast. It would be much cheaper to get Western Red Cedar, rather than something which grows on the other side of the continent. Would I be fine with Western Red Cedar? What about Alaska Yellow Cedar? What about Spruce? Any of you experienced builders have advice?


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PostPosted: August 11th, 2006, 10:12 am 
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Western red cedar will be fine, and will probably be a nicer (ie. darker in tone) color than the others.

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PostPosted: August 11th, 2006, 4:02 pm 
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John Marshall wrote:
.... Trouble is I live on the west coast. It would be much cheaper to get Western Red Cedar, rather than something which grows on the other side of the continent. Would I be fine with Western Red Cedar? What about Alaska Yellow Cedar? What about Spruce?


Your "trouble" is what most of us builders dream of!! :D Being a West Coast builder, you have access to some of the best of the best. Canoe & kayak builders in the rest of the world would give their left arm to have access to quality inexpensive WRC. Having said that, many builders make do with whatever wood is available locally and as a result boats have been successfully built from a vast array of woods, though there are pros & cons to each. A wood which is denser & stronger can often be milled thinner without a strength penalty. In fact, I would recommend looking into that since it's to be a small canoe, for a small person, why not scale down the thickness of the strips a bit too? Consider using 3/16" WRC strips rather than the standard 1/4".

I used 80% WRC and 20% Alaskan Yellow Cedar in my kayak and was suprised at how different these woods are, not just in colour but also texture, workability and smell (it's actually a cyprus I found out later). Maybe it was the particular sample of the wood I had to work with but the AYC was easier to plane and work with than was WRC, being slightly denser and of more even grain. The yellow-white colour is great for accents, providing good contrast compared the dark WRC I had on the rest of my boat.

Cheers,
Bryan

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PostPosted: August 11th, 2006, 5:14 pm 
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Location: Wenatchee, WA
I am glad to know western red cedar is fine. What about Sitka Spruce or Englemann Spruce?
John


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PostPosted: August 11th, 2006, 10:08 pm 
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Cedars ,have natural preservatives that will keep them from rotting even if there's a bit of moisture in them. If you're going to put all that effort into a boat, use something that will last a long time. For accent, Walnut has a high resin content and is also pretty moisture resistent, but I wouldn't use any spruces, birches maples , aspen, poplars, general rule, if it's white and not a cedar...it sucks.

The downside of cedar is it is a bit more difficult to work, the farther west they grow, the more difficult to work with, as a general rule. I looked for a reference for what I'd call the machinability or workability of different species. I can't find one, so I'll just offer my opinion having worked with almost all comercially available woods. Eastern Cedar is the easiest to cedar to work with, and compared to working with white pine, it's a nightmare. Working with Western Red Cedar would be like graduateing form nightmare level to hell level.

If you'r filthy rich go with teak, rosewood and ebony, tropical woods that are full of natural preservatives. Of course your boat will be worth over 10k just in wood by the time you get it done...and those woods have so much resin in them it's hard to get glues to stick to them..so they may fall apart over time...but boy will it be perty.

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PostPosted: August 12th, 2006, 12:34 am 
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I don't understand the importance of preservatives in the wood. In a stripper the wood is encased on both sides by fibreglass and resin. I would think that the fibreglass would totally protect the wood from rot. I also would think that the fibreglass and resin would have more to do with the strength of the hull than the wood. Tell me why I am wrong.


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PostPosted: August 12th, 2006, 6:07 am 
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John...you're not wrong. For strips, the type of wood depends on what you are willing to sand and carry after it is encased. I have had damage that has penetrated the hull on my strippers, but it is one of those things where you dry it out afterward and fix. It would only be a problem if there was constant water damage, for instance, a crack you didn't see and left for a summer. One of my students finished an 18 1/2 foot Quetico this spring, and we used white pine. Quite nice to work with, smelled nice, sanded well, not as poisonous as cedar and only $1.25 a board foot. Only added a few pounds to the boat. One could argue that type of wood is more important for trim, but I'm sceptical about that too, if you look after your canoe and store it indoors. I've even used birch for gunwales, etc, and to date have not had any problems.


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PostPosted: August 12th, 2006, 7:24 am 
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JM,

Strippers are built mostly because they're attractive and the hand-crafted quality looks great. Other reasons are that you can build exactly what you want into them, and make them as light, or as durable as you want. I'd choose the best-looking wood available, IMO most likely to be WRC since the difference between the lighter sapwood and darker heartwood adds a lot of appeal. A darker mahogany or cherry can be used for trim, white ash with it's strong grain patterns also looks good.

Strippers usually don't get bashed around like Royalex or poly boats, although they are easy to fix, since you've built it, you'll know how to fix it.

Building a stripper might change the way you see canoes, and you might - never - want to go back to paddling plastic or metal again.

:wink:

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PostPosted: August 12th, 2006, 10:00 am 
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So the preservatives in cedar only come into play if your fibreglass/resin skin has a flaw in it and water gets in?


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PostPosted: August 12th, 2006, 11:38 am 
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Some woods, like balsa and basswood, have been reported to blacken under glass if water gets in. Choosing cedar should help prevent that, especially with the darker heartwood strips, since these should be the most decay-resistant of all.

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PostPosted: August 12th, 2006, 12:11 pm 
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Cedar has been the traditional wood of choice for canoe building because of its rot resistance and its light weight. That's for traditional canoe building, birch bark and cedar canvas. I think it is used in strippers primarily for its light weight and the ability to get red cedar in long knot free pieces. All woods will stain if they get wet, andf i have strippers with water stains on the white cedar...it would be less apparent on red cedar......however, "flaws" are not what I'm talking about...when you finish your stripper, there will be no flaws. When you crash into several rocks or drag your boat over sharp rocks, you may get cracks or slices that will expose the wood, or let water seep in. I'm willing to bet that most stripper owners don't abuse their boats like I do, so you may never have that problem.

However, all this talk is silly, because you are on the west coast and you can get red cedar, maybe even at bargain prices. Its the wood you should use, and it will give you a beautiful canoe.


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PostPosted: August 14th, 2006, 9:23 am 
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R Haslam-
Thanks for the clarification and advice. I am thinking of a boat that is a combination of WRC and Sitka Spruce.


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PostPosted: August 16th, 2006, 6:14 am 
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What's the price of Western Red Cedar in Canada?

I recently cut 150 strips of 4,9m length from the planks I bought and paid in total less that US$ 200,=. About 25 strips have (knots) and can be used only for the Football.
Price suprised me because I always read WRC was more expensive. I expected to be around 500,=

By the way, the WRC was imported to The Netherlands from North America...

Michel


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PostPosted: August 16th, 2006, 7:30 am 
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You got a good buy! Clear western red at a lumber store around here is over $5.00 a board foot, in long lengths even more.


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PostPosted: August 16th, 2006, 3:51 pm 
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Western Red Cedar (WRC) is pretty much the standard for strippers, whether you are on the east or west coast. So you don't actually have a problem.

Eastern White is pretty rare in long lengths. Usually requires butt joining.

Sitka Spruce is the preferred choice for trim if you are building lightweight and want softwood gunwhales, decks, etc. Dings easier and needs to be kept varnished to keep the water out, which blackens it where it gets wet.


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