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Old 27-09-2013, 10:01   #31
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Re: What wood for a bowsprit?

Sitka Spruce would be the bees knees. Do a search and see if they still sell "propellor blanks". I made one out of that. It's clear vertical grain spruce made for shaping airplane propellors.
Old Growth cedar might be nice if it's a big enough section. As you likely know cedar is a bit crack prone in thinner sections. CVG Fir is great. Oak would be way down my list, unless it's white oak.
I'd say Spruce first, then Fir then Cedar. Unles you get into the exotics....
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Old 27-09-2013, 10:10   #32
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Re: What wood for a bowsprit?

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Originally Posted by minaret View Post
How do ya know its old growth? Is it reclaimed lumber? Almost the only way to get it any more. The only "old growth" left in the US is in our national forests...
alot of cedar coming out of BC is old growth, but yeah... how do you know? The small cedar logs and regrowth is not nearly as rot resistant as the old growth. There are cedar fenceposts up here that have been in the ground since I was a child.... and they are still there! THAT's old growth!

I would imagine most any CVG fir as big as a bowsprit section you might assume is old growth. It takes a pretty big log to get CVG with say a 6x6 or 4x6 crossection. Otherwise you will see the round rings on the end of the lumber.... you dont want to see that if you want old growth!
The modified rapid grow trees they replant in the last few decades dont grow as big and grow faster... which creates softer wood. A big chunk of old growth Fir is a sight to behold... at least in my eyes! Then again... I have this thing about wood...
The fir support beams (6x14) for my deck were salvaged off an old offshore barge. They had been laid with the 14" vertical... so that deck was 14" thick!
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Old 27-09-2013, 10:53   #33
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Re: What wood for a bowsprit?

Cheechako, Ummm, I'm guessing you are talking about a deck for your house, right? You're not holding out on us about the 600 foot traditional, wind-powered, sailing freighter you're hiding up in one of BC's remote fjords?
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Old 27-09-2013, 11:25   #34
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Re: What wood for a bowsprit?

Yep, Mo Debbley the house deck!
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Old 27-09-2013, 15:14   #35
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I second Ipe... You won't find a harder rot resistant piece of hardwood and it is reasonably priced. Wear a dust mask when cutting and have a few saw blades on hand when you get into it.
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Old 27-09-2013, 15:50   #36
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Re: What wood for a bowsprit?

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How do ya know its old growth? Is it reclaimed lumber? Almost the only way to get it any more. The only "old growth" left in the US is in our national forests...
Because I'm the contractor that disassembled the original 110 year old home.

I'm also doing the interior hull sides in the old growth clear Fir.
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Old 27-09-2013, 15:51   #37
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Re: What wood for a bowsprit?

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Bow Sprit on Idora also old growth Douglas Fir. Congrats, looks like she is really coming along.
Todd
Thanks Todd,

She IS coming along, slowly but surely.
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Old 27-09-2013, 15:53   #38
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Re: What wood for a bowsprit?

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Neat boat! Is that the one listed on Sailboatlistings.com?
I think it was posted there years ago before I bought her, yes.

Thanks,
John
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Old 27-09-2013, 16:31   #39
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Re: What wood for a bowsprit?

Funny you should ask. The bowsprit on our Skookum 53 had substantial rot requiring replacement. The original was made of Mahogany as is most of the bright work on the boat. Wanting to do the "right" thing I looked to teak as the replacement, $38/bdft would have cost nearly $4500, ouch. Next I looked at African mahogany as used by the original builder, (what did he know), $7/bdft at around $700 for the project seemed more reasonable. The replacement was fabricated and installed this past week a thing of beauty.

The original lasted for 35 years with very spotty maintenance, that should more than do me.

I'll try to attach pictures later.
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Old 27-09-2013, 16:38   #40
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Re: What wood for a bowsprit?

I believe you can still order Sitka Spruce spar grade from here:
Fred Tebb and Sons, Inc
P.O. Box 2235
4109 192nd St.
East Tacoma, Wa. 98446

Phone 425-823-8473
or 253-847-1951

I believe they ship internationally also.
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Old 27-09-2013, 16:45   #41
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Re: What wood for a bowsprit?

This we site can give you a bunch of info on woods: The Wood Database | Hardwood and Softwood Lumber Identification
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Old 27-09-2013, 17:43   #42
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Black locust best choice. Sitka near the bottom. White oak old growth mid choice. Yellow pine old growth mid high choice.
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Old 27-09-2013, 18:03   #43
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Let me add. something like Purple Heart or a tropical wood like iroco might also be an alternative. live oak from the Carolina's which is a evergreen oak with outstanding rot properties may be good too if you can find it. I'm a tad out dated so some suggestions might be horrific in the environmental impact. Black locust you should be able to find and turns into concrete once cut .
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Old 27-09-2013, 18:49   #44
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Re: What wood for a bowsprit?

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Having been a shipwright for many years now, I always enjoy hearing of the individual choices for wood on boats. Some folks choose apitong for applications where high abrasion resistance is warranted, others choose high strength-to-weight species like spruce or even vertical grain fir for spars that need the flexibility, others use teak for its durability in static applications such as decks. Reading that some folks have made the decisions to turn some of these applications on their heads is entertaining, but a little sad. The bowsprit has a physical purpose, not ornamental. It has to stick out there, holding a high tension headstay, buttressed by the complementary bobstay to keep it from snapping off. It is a spar which flexes slightly as the sails pull it one way and the force of crashing into the seas cause it to sag a small amount the other way. But it is best served by a forgiving material that tolerates a degree of flexibility and LIGHT WEIGHT. Using apitong or teak makes it considerably heavier, with no redeeming value. It's like having a permanent, HEAVY crewmember sitting on the bow doing nothing. Building a mast of teak probably sounds like a good idea for someone who doesn't know much about strength of materials or how boats work, but it doesn't work well at all as a spar. Save the dense, hard woods for purposes that are better suited such as skid plates for anchor chain, deadeyes in traditional rigging, or belaying pins that get lots of friction. Use the spruce, cedar and light fir for spars. Save the teak for cabinets, and if desperate, for decks. Don't just use a particular wood species because it looks nice, or is unusual, or because you have a seasoned trunk laying in the backyard that is going to waste. Do some research to check out if your particular need is satisfied with a certain wood. You will be using the collective wisdom of centuries of boat builders who learned the hard way what works and what fails over time.

The other part of the discussion is what do you do to protect the material from failing. Spars don't do well when left unfinished, or even clear-coated with varnish. Ultraviolet light is powerful stuff, leading to minute fractures in the protective finish, allowing water to enter, and if it's fresh water, that means dry rot, the subject of the original issue with the bowsprit. If you can't keep up the maintenance and elect to use a tougher wood species like apitong, mahogany, teak or whatever, you will still be facing the issues of the natural forces working on the wood, but you will be thinking it's taken care of because your wood doesn't rot. In reality, you may be simply substituting one issue for another. Use the right wood for the purpose, maintain it religiously, and enjoy watching the bow rise to oncoming waves, rather than drag upward with effort.
Uh, if you are implying I bought and installed a teak bowsprit for aesthetics, I clearly worded my post incorrectly. I did a lot of research, weight the pros and cons of different material, and decided on teak. Wasn't my first choice( SS) but in the end it was perfect for what I needed. My boat could easily handle the difference in weight. I was merely commenting that the ease of care was a tipping point for me. Sorry if I made you sad
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Old 27-09-2013, 19:10   #45
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Re: What wood for a bowsprit?

I'm not sad. I'm glad you are happy with your choice. We make our choices and (hopefully) accept the consequences as our own responsibility. Some of us simply rely on the collective wisdom of our elders, others explore new directions without restraints. What works for you may expand the options of others, and conversely, what doesn't may act as a warning. Time tells. Best of luck!
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