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Old 01-03-2010, 12:30   #1
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New Mahogany Toerail - Steam Before Bending?

Due to the cost of teak and other comparable woods, we've decided to replace the toerail with mahogany. We'll not be getting it milled to the original height specs but will maintain the original wedge shape profile. The stock will be 2.25"H x 1"W across the cap x 1.5"W across the base; segment lengths will either be 6 or 8 ft (undecided) for shipping purposes. The most radical bend, of course, is at the bow from the chock to just even with the cabin leading edge; appx 8-10 ft. Should I build a steambox for bending these pieces?
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Old 01-03-2010, 12:39   #2
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I guess a lot depends on which way the lumber was sawn and the grain direction in relation to the section.
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Old 01-03-2010, 12:57   #3
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I'm going to assume these will be in-line with the grain as these will be cut to length from MUCH longer pieces. The only thing that made me question the bend was due to the wedge shaped profile and the severity of the bend radius. Of course we'll be selective about which piece to bend, using the one with the straightest grain and fewest whorls.
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Old 01-03-2010, 13:02   #4
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What I meant was, when the section is right side up, is the grain horizontal or vertical. maybe you can specify how its milled
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Old 01-03-2010, 13:25   #5
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The grain overall will be horizontal (inline), but I see where your going. The ring grain features are what your referring to. Hmm, something I hadn't considered. If vertical, then there is an easier bend but a higher risk of splitting (separation of the layers) with or without it being steamed first than with a horizontal orientation. Looks like I better include that information when I order.

Sharp, Amy, real sharp!
Thanks!
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Old 01-03-2010, 13:31   #6
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Yup, you got it.
You can bend lumber to a surprising degree if your patient and work with it, not fight it. If you have a long bench or ply sheet, take reference measurments along the deck and transfer them , exagerate a little and mark the bench, screw down blocks and then when you soak or steam the rails, you can clamp to the blocks while they dry out.
Once dried, they will spring back a little, but the exagerated curve you marked should compensate for that
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Old 01-03-2010, 14:11   #7
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True. I'd planned on building a jig patterned on the old rail that was removed and I have plans somewhere on this machine for the steambox. Actually, come to think of it, I can use 4" schedule 40 PVC pipe for the box as I only have a couple of pieces to bend. No need for the bigger box.
Here are a couple of designs.
PVC Steambox to Steam Wood
Steambox
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Old 01-03-2010, 14:16   #8
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Yup, I used to use 4'' soil pipe, which is used for domestic sewerage.
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Old 01-03-2010, 15:30   #9
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I highly reccomend that you get the longest possible boards for the rail. The longer the material, the fewer the joints. No matter how skilled the carpenter and complex the joint, they eventually open up and degrade. Especially a problem if the piece is torqued to follow the curve of the hull. You could end up with the joint pulling apart against the torque, looking like crap and sticking out.

Don't know where Rockport is but there should be a specialty lumber supplier in South East Texas. I'd get a copy of the yellow pages for all the major cities within a days driving distance and get the best lengths available. You can 20 footers on the roof if you are fortunate to find them. A single 2x8x18 would make the job go a lot easier and result in a lot better looking rail.

Make the joint at the straightest part of the hull.
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Old 01-03-2010, 16:29   #10
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Yeah, but they don't mill to fit, otherwise I would by it down the street. We have a place in Rockport, a bit more expensive, but no where to get the milling done, nor am I equipped to do it. Exotic Lumber in Annapolis is skilled at doing this already, and for less than $500, I'd rather they do it. They will ship them in any length I want but it's a large difference in shipping costs. The original rail was in 8' segments and lasted 35 years on a bolted-thru lap joint.
In the end, as for chasing it down....to quote one of my favoite movies:
"Madam, I have the inclination, the maturity, and the where-with-all.
But unfortunately,.... I don't have the time."

The Cowboys
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Old 02-03-2010, 10:21   #11
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How are you going to scarf the pieces together after they are attached to the boat? Under tension, I don't think the scarfing will do very well. Typically for a bent toerail, the boards should all be scarfed together first and then installed.

If you don't scarf them all together first, I would definitealy use the longer pieces amidships and toward the stern (the 34 has a fairly narrow stern I believe) where the bend will be the most, and the shorter pieces toward the bow.

If you do steam will you install the steamed pieces wet?
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Old 02-03-2010, 10:35   #12
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Have you thought about milling the rail profile after creating the bend? It would be fairly simple on a router table with the correct chamfer bit.
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Old 02-03-2010, 12:37   #13
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Quote:
How are you going to scarf the pieces together after they are attached to the boat?
Using the original style bolt-thru lap joint. The pieces are very close to 9' per.

Quote:
If you do steam will you install the steamed pieces wet?
No sir, they'll be "jigged" first til they set to minimize the torque. Your not going to be able to flex a 7' piece that much without damage, I don't think. Plus the wedge shape we were considering may twist. Last night we changed to a 2.25"H x 1.5"W (cap and base) eliminating the wedge shape to make forming and installation easier.
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Old 02-03-2010, 12:46   #14
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Have you thought about milling the rail profile after creating the bend? It would be fairly simple on a router table with the correct chamfer bit.
One of the main reasons we changed to a "rectangular" profile instead of the "wedge" was for the ease of routing the standoff for the track and cars. Jigging and working a wedge profile is a lot of extra hassle and allows too much room for error so we're subscribing to the KISS method. The new rail will be taller amidships (original taper is from 2.25" at the bow chock to 1.25") as we're maintaing the 2.25" height all the way and the extra width (original 1.135" amidships) of 1.5" will allow the rail-mounted chocks amidships and aft to have some extra strength in the mount.
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Old 02-03-2010, 12:59   #15
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What is all this milling that is going on?? If it is at all similar to most of the toe rails that I'm familiar it's just ripping a 2x8 on a table saw. Any contractor has the tools in the back of hi pickup and certainly EVERY cabinet is set up to do the job. Finish it off with a router with a quarter round bit. You can buy a pretty decent table saw for around $600 and a minimally capable one for $200, or easily find one on Craigs List with the downturn in the construction industry. Rip the pieces yourself, and sell the saw afterwards if you have no further use or storage space for them. The only real skill involved in making the rail will be in the joint(s)

I'd keep the taper, it's minimal and will make the job look better.
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