I am looking for 16’ or longer ash for replacement rails on my current project boat. I was able to find some a few years ago but not now. Do any of you know of a source in wisconsin or minnesota? Alternative woods I can get include oak and Honduras mahogany. Any experience with them? Or I could go aluminum and easier to live with for about the same money. Hurts me a little estheticly on a Kevlar explorer but maybe that would be easier to sell. Thoughts?
Spruce was one of the early traditional gunwale material for wooden canoes. You can find 10’ to 12’ lengths of a family of spruce at Home Depot or Lowes. It is imported from New Zealand or Australia. Can not remember which. Then use a scarf joint and a good water proof wood glue like Tite Bond III. Used this on a couple of canoes. Very surprised at how good it works, looks and feels for how inexpensive this method is. Just make sure to use at least four coats of oil over a couple of weeks on the side of the wood that is against the hull.
Then there is edscanoe and others for knock down gunwales. They make gunwales that are shipped in three or four lengths all ready made with the scarf joints.
Emerald Ash Borer
In Northern Illinois, all the Ash trees are dying, thanks to the introduced Emerald Ash Borer. If you are willing to put in some effort up front, you may be able to find 15’, straight trunk being removed. Easily split into the strongest, best Ash lumber imaginable. Just yesterday I split up a 6’ length for some projects I’m working on.
White oak or hickory
Make great gunwale material. Both are a bit heavier than ash but are very strong. You can compensate by making them a bit thinner, to save weight. Don't use red oak as it isn't very rot resistant.
They have two locations in MN one in Shakopee and one in North St. Paul give them a call they tend to be able to either supply or source everything I need.