When building a canoe, kayak, or other small boat, you want to use a wood that’s lightweight yet will provide durability for gliding through the water. Choosing the right wood requires knowledge of how it stands up to wet environments, as well as how heavy or light it is when crafted into planks. You’ll certainly want to know a boat’s going to hold up when navigating through heavy rapids and that it won’t be unnecessarily difficult to paddle thanks to unnecessarily heavy wood.
So, what specific wood should you consider for a canoe or kayak? Below are a few options.
Okoume plywood can withstand tough treatment as a small craft faces being tossed around in waves and rapids. When treated and finished properly, it has a smooth, light appearance and will hold up against water as well as minor bumps into rocks, trees, and other obstacles without showing obvious blemishes. In addition, it bends easily, a helpful quality for shaping canoes and kayaks.
Grown on the West Coast of the US and Canada, Alaskan Yellow Cedar also has a reputation for withstanding wetness, while also keeping weight low. Not actually a true cedar, this tree is in the cypress family. Slow tree growth results in a consistent color and grain pattern, lending this wood well to taking a fine finish. In addition, Yellow Cedar offers impressive resistance to decay, ensuring a boat will stay solidly constructed for many years with the proper care.
Similar to Mahogany (it’s in the same family) but less costly, Sapele wood contains dark and light stripes that result in an attractive pattern when finished. Grown in tropical regions of Africa, Sapele tends to resist rot well, a positive trait for a wood to use in a boat.
Note that some may encounter difficulty planing this wood with the rough grain. However, it glues well to ensure properly sealing out the elements.
One of the largest coniferous trees, Sitka Spruce grows along the West Coast. It survives well around salty water and air, making this softwood an excellent choice for a structure that will spend its time in bodies of water. In addition, Sitka Spruce tends to be exceptionally strong for its weight, providing stability to small boats. An even texture and fine grain make this an attractive wood that’s generally easy to work with.
As you can see, a number of types of wood are available that work well for building watercraft. Whether you’re wanting to build a boat for yourself or construct watercraft to sell to others, using the right wood is crucial. J. Gibson McIlvain offers the right woods for constructing canoes, kayaks, and other small boats, with the opportunity to customize to your needs.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods.
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums.
Contact a representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling (800) 638-9100.
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