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Stripcanoe & kayakbuilding - Wood recommendation

When choosing a suitable wood for your stripcanoe or -kayak, there are a few criteria by which you should choose. What is absolutely irrelevant is the resistance of the wood to moisture, since the wood is protected by a layer of fiberglass-reinforced plastic (GRP) in the strip construction anyway. By the way, we have described how you make a clean laminate in this article. In addition to the criteria for selecting the wood, we will show you some wood species as examples and tell you our favorites.


Rumpfleisten Kanubau Red-Cedar
cedar strips - sawn and milled

The criteria for choosing wood


Weight

perhaps the most important factor, since the final weight of your canoe will depend on the weight of the wood used for the hull. A canoe built from lighter woods will also weigh less in the end. However, lighter woods also tend to absorb more epoxy, so the lighter wood weight cannot be subtracted from the final weight completely. Lighter wood species include many softwoods like red cedar or fast-growing hardwood species such as paulownia or poplar.


Suitability for fiberglass-epoxy-lamination

In order to ensure that the wood absorbs the epoxy resin well and that a strong bond is formed between the wood fibers and the GRP, the wood should be able to absorb the epoxy resin well. Lighter wood species have an advantage here, as they have more pores than harder woods. In addition, the content of natural resin should be taken into account. Natural resin can make the epoxy resin adhere less well and, in the worst case, the GRP will not be able to bond properly. However, your final sanding also affects the adhesion of the epoxy. We recommend that you do not sand the hull too fine (e.g. with 120 grit) so that the epoxy resin has a relatively rough surface to which it can adhere.


Appearance

A stripcanoe or -kayak is visually quite appealing, although the wooden hull itself plays hardly any static role in the final stability of the boat. The statics of a stripplanked boat are mainly based on the glass fibers of the GRP coating. Therefore, the static characteristics of certain wood species are of little consequence. You should choose a type of wood that you find visually appealing and that ideally is also suitable in terms of the other criteria.


Workability

Machinability of course plays a big role during the building process, but not when the boat is finished. We built our first canoe from pine. Compared to lighter woods, this is hard to work with and difficult to bend and twist. However, the end result is appealing and you will have forgotten the higher amount of work when you paddle the canoe for the first time.


Free of cracks and knots

The wood should ideally have no or few cracks and knots. Knots also for aesthetic reasons in order not to make the hull look too rustic. Very knotless types of wood are best suited.



Wood species recommendation


Red Cedar (Thuja plicata)

The wood of choice for stripconstruction. Lightweight, extremely appealing visually, smells good, very rot resistant, good adhesion for epoxy, usually very knot-free or knotless, easy to machine and bend. The wood is hard to come by and requires some research. As lumber, Red Cedar is usually available in lengths of 490cm or longer.

Red Cedar is our definite recommendation for the production of strips!


Spruce (Picea abies)

Quite homogeneous wood, but often has a lot of knots. Epoxy resin adheres well to spruce wood. It is easy to work with and bends and twists better than pine.


Pine (Pinus sylvestris)

Pine can be resinous and is somewhat harder to work with than spruce. The grain can also be more pronounced than spruce. The wood is very yellowish.


Paulownia (Paulownia tomentosa)

A very light and visually clean wood without many knots or other defects. Epoxy resin adheres well to Paulownia. Unfortunately, the wood is not available in lengths over 3 meters, so strips must be tapered. The wood is available as furniture boards in the hardware store or as lumber in the lumber trade.


Holzkanadier am See
Freedom15 built from red cedar strips

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