I've been looking for a lighter alternative to Meranti plywood, and been discouraged from Okume by both price and reports of brittle exploding hulls and a propensity to rot easily. I just came across a wood I have not heard of--Sande from Equador. It is quite a bit lighter than Meranti, and a tad cheaper as well. The sample I got feels more like a softwood than a hardwood, but that's about all I know about the stuff. Has anyone used and/or abused this stuff? I am tempted to try a boat build with it.

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I don't recognize the name, Sande, Brad. Is it the trade name for a wood as Meranti, for example, is for Lauan? If you have the genus name there is probably a pile of information on the wood somewhere.

Below is the HomeDepot info on Sandeplywood.  I did not see if it was made as an exterior plywood but because it is lists for interior use I would expect that the glue is not exterior or marine.  Here's the info. 



Sandeplywood is a Home Depot Exclusive. Every piece meets the highest grading standards for strength and appearance.

  • Key Attributes:- Minimal core voids - a quality core helps eliminate chip out that can damage or destroy the work piece when sawn or routed- Minimal core veneer overlaps - a qualtiy core helps eliminate telegraphing to the face/back which can cause an uneven stain appearance when a stain is applied- Calibrated panel - provides a uniform thickness to the panel from end/end that insures that all cut pieces of the project fit properly
  • Sandeplywood delivers durable beauty in cabinets, furniture, shelving, wall panels, entertainment centers, tables and varouis interior projects.
  • Sandeplywood can be painted, stained or laminated.
  • Other products neededwith Sandeplywood projects: saw blades, screws, hardware ( knobs, hinges and handles) wood conditioner, sealers, stains, paint, edge banding, sand paper, tack clothes and brushes.
  • MFG Brand Name : Sande Plywood
  • MFG Model # : 454559
  • MFG Part # : 454559
Hmmm. Well the supplier says this is a marine grade of Sande, whatever Sande is. It looks pretty boring and white, but light and knot-free. Maybe I'll chuck my sample in a bucket of water for a few weeks and see how the glue fares.
i like your idea here.  it would be interesting to do this w/ a variety of plywoods, interior and exterior to see how they hold up.  i did a similar test a while ago w/ stainless steel hardware (in a 5 gallon bucket of sea water) and would strongly discourage anyone from using big box (lowes and HD) stainless steel. 

Lowes has something they call "Patriot Ply" taht sounds like this stuff- turns out it is eucaliptus.  Sample survived a week in the dishwasher but hasthick cores and paperthin outer plys.   This Sande stuff sounds like it may not be for boats.  "minimum core voids, core overlaps"  If it dosen't have 5 (or more) equal thickness plys  I would not consider it for a boat.

It pays to use good materials- unless you want to gamble and hope for the best.  Okume is more expensive, easier on tools (Merranti eats the hell out of plane blades and jigsaw blades) and said to be less rot resistant but if you store the boat under cover between trips I don't think this is a problem.  I have 4 canoes made  with Okume and all are still in top shape.


Good Luck

The FPL says Sande is a member of the mulberry family, Brosimum utile is one of the species used.  I have used the interior ply for some work, it did splinter a bit and some pieces that got damp molded on the surface, a lot of mold.  I don't know if that was the wood or the glue that was molding. One of the species is Satine Bloodwood, nice stuff for turning.  http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/search/commonnamesearch_action.php?sorting...

Guys, what a great resource we have here.  Look how much information popped out of the "woodwork" in just a little while.  I am once again reminded that Randy has started aa great resource for us all to share and contribute to.  Good job everyone.


Rick Newman

There have been several posts on Woodenboat forum (less the "people") about sande, most of which were skeptical of its use in boats.


All in all, it doesn't sound like I have discovered the new, lightweight, affordable boat plywood. Drat. Thanks for all the input.
What about arauco plywood from Lowes? Anyone have experience with that? I know its radiata pine and I know the 1/2 inch is 5 ply and looks very nice if you pick out a good piece. It is also cheap and a bit lighter than fir I think. I built a boat out of it, so I guess in a few years I will know the answer! I've not seen the Sande in my area.

It's really not likly that high quality sheet goods will ever be available from Lowes or HD.  Their price points just don't mix with the custom high quality trades.  They would never be able to move enough of it to make it cost effective.  Jeremy and I both rowed boats built from the same frame set with the same okume.  I am not sure okume is below the mark for these boats even it is not what we were after, assuming we could get it at a reasonable cost, which we can't.  I will say that 3/8 is too light for boat bottoms which will be running above class III water.  I have used a bunch of it in the last few months on my current project in bracing and other items.  I will say the manufacturing is very high.  I have cut many small strips using 1/8 1/4 and 3/8 and have never found any voids.  Today I also made some cuts on 1/4 hydrotek which I had around from past projects.  No voids in that either.


I share shop space with a dumpster diver.  He has barrels of random pieces of wood from all over the world.  It is staggering what cabinet shops throw out.  95 percent of what he makes is from salvaged wood of every expansive variety you can imagine.  The table in the attached image was built from dumpster wood.  While it's not a boat the point is that there are a lot of materials available for clever folks. We have lots and lots of nice wood in the shop which we can't identify.  Many of the woods are harder to drill the steel.  Mesquite and the iron woods are the hardest woods I have ever picked up.  Many of them don't float.  We have hundreds of feet of mahogany strips which were ripped from planks then thrown out after the main board was cut to size.  They can be glued up for all kind of thing.  This was the stock I used to frame my plascore hatch covers.  If I had a wood fired boiler it would be easy to get enough wood to heat my home, all free.


The demands are so high that mahogany (of which there are so many) are going off the chart on price.  Veneer plywood is so thin it's no longer reasonable for use as cabinetry.  It's as thin as paper.  In 20 years of day to day use it won't hold up.  One mistake in finish sanding and we are down to the ply or MDF below.


The knock on mahogany plywood is that it's weak and the opinion usually comes from a comparison to doug fir.  There isn't much which has the strength and flexibility of douglas fir.  We just can't seem to get it in a void less marine configuration.  


As fast as a substitute is found the price goes up.  Makore is now closing in on mahogany price wise.  I remember when teak and mahogany were cheap enough that we painted them.  Back in the 70s I worked in a factory which got things packed in crates made from teak.  Local wood workers hauled it away for us.  On another thread someone mentioned ipe.  I picked up a piece of ipe at the shop the other day.  It was marked ipe as a sample from a vendor.  If it is ipe it is so hard and dense I can't see being able to make plywood from it.  Then again, like many woods there may be 50 types of ipe.


The problem with the idea of high quality 5 ply 1/4 fir is that it's not all that good looking as compared to mahogany for clear work and many custom boats don't get painted.  So the demand for high quality strong fir plywood is likely going down with the ever increasing production of molded cheap resin boats.  Too bad for us.



It's difficult to find suitable marine plywood in Salt Lake. Macbeath carries Aquatek meranti which I've read on here isn't a suitable alternative to Hydrotek. They also carry Okoume which I used on my last boat, but it is expensive and like you said, it's brittle. I asked if they could bring some Hydrotek in with one of their regular shipments from CA, but with shipping it will come out probably more expensive than the Okoume. Then the salesman said something which surprised me, that the Hydrotek has the same core as the Okoume, just different veneers. Is that true?


I'm going to use foam or honeycomb for the floor and bulkheads, and wood for the sides and interior. If building frameless with the sides sheathed in fiberglass and epoxy, is exterior grade plywood from the Home Despot a reasonable alternative, if the panels are glassed before bending?


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