Hi everyone, I'm just getting started.  I've gathered all the tools, read Fletcher's book about 6 times (so great), and read quite a lot of these posts (also great).  I've decided to build a 17x54.  Went to the lumber dealer in town, and decided i'm definitely going to use the Hydrotek BS 1088 6mm for sides, and 12mm for floor.  I'm going to use Mahogany for the Stem.  I'm planning to use Port Orford Cedar for the frames, and was thinking i'd match that with White Oak for the rails/chines.  I hope to have the boat for the rest of my life, and while i want it to be the most beautiful boat ever built, I truly want to use materials that will last and be effective.  So, first question... Instead of White Oak, anyone ever use Port Orford for rails?  It seems like the color would be similar to White Oak, but i wonder about durability as a rail.  appreciate any insight you might have.

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I don't know that much about wood, but having built a boat I'd say go with something hard for the gunnels.  They get hit, bumped, knicked, etc.

White Oak Janka Hardess is 1350

Port Orford Cedar is 570

Now, I used ash and so far its been awesome, I made sure to use quartersawn as well which I think will be less susceptible to movement

Wood data base says POC moves a good bit more than oak so you may consider that

BUT! I'm pretty sure a lot of the old boats have doug fir gunnels so I think it really may not matter

Thanks Bennett.  I think i'll stick with the white oak.

Hey Dusty,

Steele boats have P.O.C.Gunnels. Steve told me they mostly used it for weight savings. It is very soft which on the Steele boats is also needed because they used small Gunnel bolts and tightened the nuts well into the inner Gunnel for stacking boats. I wouldn't use it for the chines. Stick with White Oak or Mahogany on the inner and White Oak on the outer. It looks more like Fir than it does Oak. Great look on a dark boat.

I (and a lot of other builders) prefer 1/2" Fir for the bottom over Meranti. Longer stronger fibers and lighter weight.

Good luck!



I'm glad you commented.  I enjoy your insight on other posts.  I was thinking of the Meranti for the floor simply because i thought it would be a consistent look and still durable.  But weight is a priority. Do you paint your floors or leave them clear on the inside?  if clear, how does the fir and Meranti look together?  

Depends on what people want. If you do it clear you will definitely want to put some thin glass on first on the inside to prevent checking. It's a good look but the lighter wood does get dirty looking. I really like the look of grey paint on the floor. Bilge paint works well. I oiled one of my boat floors once, never again. Just too much of a pain to take out the floor boards and re oil.

ok, thanks for the advice Mike.


You still use floorboards in your boat?

(couldn't help it :)


Ha Ha! Still don't paint 'em green and no bananas on board either.

Bought the Meranti plywood for my sides a couple days ago, got my work bench set up...today is scarf day.  (yes, new years eve)  I'd been planning to use the router method, then belt sand, but 6mm Meranti sure is thin.  I've been tempted to go straight to the belt sander.  I had purchased some 50 grit for this, but now 50 grit seems a bit like mowing my lawn with a combine.  Is 50 grit too much for the scarf sanding?     I also learned that 6mm @ 12:1 is 2.83465 inches... so I'm borrowing my daughter's ruler.

50 is fine, I use 36. Light pressure when you are getting close. Don't sweat the 2.83465, 3" is fine.

Happy New Boat Year!

Today was my first official notification from my wife of my behavior change.  Not negative, I have a great and patient wife.  But it was noteworthy.  Paraphrased: "every morning when I get up you're on the computer looking at wooden boats". 

I view this as the christening of the build. 

Hi Dusty,

I cheated with my scarf joints and found someone online selling a West Systems 875 scarfing jig works out very well bolts onto you circular saw


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