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Old 11-06-2012, 20:21   #1
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Any Good Resources for Building a Wooden Mast from Scratch ?

Thinking I want to build a wood mast for current project and use galvanized rigging. Research starts here. Anybody have any favorite sites giving info on this subject? What Kind of wood, best curing methods cutting , assembly etc,,,Off I go to google!!
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Old 12-06-2012, 15:45   #2
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Re: any good resources for building a wooden mast from scratch ?

What size boat and mast? Solid or laminated? Solid is pretty easy, you start square, then eight side it, then 16, 32 and then go for round. Solid laminated is also pretty easy because you just stagger the butts and put a good scarf in. Hollow laminated is much trickier but also much lighter and more appropriate for most boats. I remember Wooden Boat having a decent article on it probably 5 years ago.
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Old 13-06-2012, 04:36   #3
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Re: any good resources for building a wooden mast from scratch ?

Im looking at a 50 foot mast. Heres the construction menthod that first caught my eye,
Duckworks Magazine
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Old 13-06-2012, 05:07   #4
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Re: any good resources for building a wooden mast from scratch ?

wooden boat forum... spruce i ideal, fir (a little heaver) can work, birdsmouth hollow construction with solid sections where hardware will go... before you go thru all the work look into round tapered aluminum light poles, that is what ben zartman put on his cape george 31 gaffer... sounds like a fun project
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Old 13-06-2012, 05:54   #5
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Re: any good resources for building a wooden mast from scratch ?

I built both our masts using the hollow birdsmouth technique -- the main out of spruce and the mizzen from pine. It's a lot of fun to build, and not very hard.

It keeps your weight aloft down significantly. Granted our mainmast is about half the size you're talking about, and the mizzen even smaller -- but I can pick up and maneuver our mizzen easily with one hand.
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Old 13-06-2012, 06:20   #6
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Re: any good resources for building a wooden mast from scratch ?

On the first two of my three boat projects, I looked into various alternatives regarding spars. This one is a "no brainer"...

An aluminum extrusion, perhaps as a complete "kit", would cost FAR less than a quality mast & boom built out of wood. (Quarter sawn, dry, clear, Sitka Spruce, WITH shipping, would cost far more).

The aluminum mast, with SS rigging, would have many times the lifespan, less required maintenance, and far less weight as well, (for the same strength).

If you really like the older look, you could LP paint the aluminum extrusions tan, rather than white. At 100', you would not know the difference.

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Old 13-06-2012, 07:21   #7
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Re: any good resources for building a wooden mast from scratch ?

No, but I have a story..Years ago I was visiting Caye Caulker, Belize and my friend Bobby who lived there. When I arrived I asked where Bobby was and was told that he went to ambergris caye to get a mast for his sailboat. The next day I see him returning with a 35 foot pine tree strapped to the topside of his 30' sailboat. we spent the next week turning that tree into a mast. I was very impressed...
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Old 13-06-2012, 07:52   #8
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Re: any good resources for building a wooden mast from scratch ?

email the leaky teaky yacht club, a yahoo group--this has been done there.
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Old 13-06-2012, 08:51   #9
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Re: any good resources for building a wooden mast from scratch ?

Getting a lot of good info off Duckworks.com. More I picture it Im coming up with a cutter rigged yawl. With a main spar of wood no reason to not go with a couple more. The boat came stock with a cat ketch rig with 2 unstayed masts. This one was the sloop option.
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Old 13-06-2012, 09:43   #10
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Re: any good resources for building a wooden mast from scratch ?

The birdsmouth method in the link you suplied is as good as any. The only issue with that method versus a boxed mast is the difficulty in inducing a taper and with a 50' mast you want to defo have it tapered.

The difficulty lies in building the jigs to induce the taper.

Couple of tips:

1. Make sure your router table and extended platforms or rollers can accomodate the full length 50'+ pieces, or: depending on your router and skill set sometimes it is easier to build a table and jig that allows you to cut your joints with a taper with the 50' piece remaing stationary on an extended table and the router moves along a jig. This "table" can then be used later on as a clamping surface.

2. If you are making a birdsmouth column make up the 50' or so pieces with scarfs first so that they can be routed in one go for a tighter more precise joint

3. Plan your scarf joint locations in advance to ensure that no two verticle pieces have scarf joints are closer than 6 feet from each other

4. Clamping pressure is very important - too much or two little is not good. I see they used packing tape? Ummm, maybe that works well but i wouldnt do it myself.

6. They said it on the ducksworth webpage but I wanted to emphasize it again - DO NOT USE EPOXY. Epoxy is known to catastrophically fail on wood joints that undergo rapid work cycles (flexing) and a mast is exactly that. The epoxy can be good for years and then with no warning suddenly let go.

7. If you are building a boom as well build it first using the same technique. It is a great way to test out technique as If it goes pear shape it is less time and money lost and you can go again before you commit to the stick itself


You are looking to build a 50' mast, I believe the link you supplied was a 27' (9meter) mast. It is WAY more difficult to do a larger mast, but very doable. It will cost you more than you think however and usually any cost savings from building your own mast arent acheived unless you build a couple...
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