pine plywood

i want to build a ‘wa’apa’ style ‘3 board outrigger canoe’. i want to avoid using rainforest woods “harvested from plantations” (haha) for several environmental reasons. the local plywood is ac pine, grown locally and very renewable. its disadvantages include weight and difficulty in glueing. i can deal with extra weight but what about the glue issue? construction will be traditional screw and glue using chine logs. options include epoxy and/or 5200 as adhesive. i’m leaning toward 5200 because it becomes a ‘caulk’ and may seal better than epoxy which is more brittle. i can then tape and epoxy the chines. what say ye?

I’ve had better sucess
with bc fire, exterior of course. You have to seal the ‘footballs’, just coat them with epoxy. Gorilla glue also works well, as long as you are going to tape the seams.

i like fir but
fir is not available locally. i live on the sc coast. i tried ordering some from harbor sales, the wood was $160 and the shipping was $275. ouch. i may go that route but i’m trying to stay as local as i can. thanks!

Try this on for environmentalism
You would be better off buying the good stuff from a responsible harvester. I had a discussion with a paddler maker and he told me that it was cheaper to purchase mahogany than it was walnut. The folks living in those regions see those trees as being in their way. They can cut them down, often burning them, to clear land for beef cattle which makes them a profit. I’m not talking oil company profits, just enough to sustain them. My paddle maker friend was telling me that there are sustainable harvesters who pay the locals to not cut down all the trees and they go in and selectively cut. A win-win, but because of the stigmata that the would has, no one wants it, therefore it can be found cheap.

Good plywood is never cheap regardless of the wood its made. Pine grows too fast to be worth more than wall sheathing. It will warp, delaminate, weigh a ton and will be ugly. Sorry to be blunt, but 5200 is an awful adhesive for what you are doing. Chewing gum would offer the same benefits. It sounds like you need to do more research. You can build it right and enjoy your boat, or you can build it your way and when you ship it off to the landfill as a failed project, where’s the environmental offset?

please be more specific

– Last Updated: Sep-16-08 12:11 PM EST –

who is selling environmentally responsible exotic plywood? i need specifics. tell me something more substantial than what somebody told you. wood suppliers say its 'plantation grown'. your friend says 'the forests are being destroyed anyway so why not use the wood'???. i feel that if i buy that stuff i am contributing to the depletion of the rainforests. in addition, the stuff is harvested in west africa or maylasia, gets shipped to a european or chinese manufacturer, then gets shipped here. thats a lot of shipping. whats a carbon footprint for a few pieces of okoume? i'd rather not spend the remaining time i have left on this planet contributing to its destruction. i'm no longer able to rationalize the use of exotic hardwoods. i need alternatives
southeastern alternatives: pine, poplar, cypress, cotton,???

your info is bad
"i’m leaning toward 5200 because it becomes a ‘caulk’ and may seal better than epoxy which is more brittle."

Unless you’re using some very specialized (or very cheap) epoxy, it’s not brittle.

You do know both 5200 on epoxy are petroleum based, right?

IF you wanted to build a canoe
with a minimal environmental impact, what would you do? i know theres no perfect solution (maybe recycle an old boat) i’ve considered a sof but theres a lot of oyster shells here. thanks!

build it to last
build it to last or you’ll be building it twice.

I don’t know your sources of distrust for all okoume or exotic wood. maybe this link will shed a little light.

Could they be lying? Sure. But World Panel has always been pretty reputable. It’s the source of the plywood for my kits (cheap shameless plug).


JEM Watercraft

wanted to add
You cause is noble and I can understand your purpose. I’ve also thought about ways to be better environmental stewards to the planet.

I think you’re overlooking the biggest impact you can make is one that you’ve already made: You’re paddling, not motoring.

thanks jem i appreciate your response
and others. the industry’s descriptions of forestry practices are often self serving. i remain skeptical. i’m considering making my own panels or strip building with edge glued cypress and/or fir, available at my local lumberyard. as i mentioned, fir ply is a more renewable product but its not easy to get in our region. would you consider offering fir ply as an alternative? i have three fir hulls that have lasted 10-20+ years and are still in good shape… these hulls are ‘stored’ outside.

If it’s available use luan
otherwise known as door skin. Should be available at most Lowes etc. I forget the thickness but I built a greenland style boat out of this 5 years ago and it is still on the water. Need to make sure it is well sealed though because it will disintegrate if it gets wet.

For glue use thickened epoxy, glass seam tape, etc. The luan ply isn’t pretty so I mixed tinting into the resin as a first coloring, then painted with marine grade paint from West Marine.

luan is another rainforest product
rainforests are being destroyed to ‘harvest’ luan. i think its tragic that luan is being wasted by using cheap glue to make it cheap. i have some leftover marine grade luan, its great stuff. hard, dense, and as waterproof as the glue. my goal is to avoid using imported rainforest hardwoods. thanks for the suggestion, i have used a lot of tropical woods over the years. great stuff. i’m looking for alternatives that have less environmental impact.

you mean fir for a precut kit?

– Last Updated: Sep-17-08 7:51 PM EST –

I don't have any canoe plans like you're looking for... at least I don't think so. I do some custom design work though. Your idea sounds pretty straight-forward.

Do you mean offering fir in a plywood kit? I can get marine fir in 1/4" but not any thinner. You understand the trade offs of weight and quality so I won't get into that.

If you decide to do woodstrip, pine and cedar can be purchased pretty reasonably. Cypress would be bullet proof but very heavy.

Not sure which rainforest yours came
from, but the stuff I used was crappy old domestic hardwood veneer over crappy leftover chip core and was something like $15 per sheet.

google luan?

– Last Updated: Sep-18-08 1:59 PM EST – they didnt grow it in the lumberyard. i'm looking for wood product that is not causing tropical deforestation, and preferably locally grown (southeast us)

Dude you don’t want to build
just argue. Go to and look under plywood. 30 seconds of searching gives you 1/4-inch (6mm) ply doorskin (generally known as luan) in oak, birch, fir, and pine. Not sure where the rain forests containing these trees are, but since we have them in abundance in the US it seems silly there would be any reason to import them as plywood.

dude you know not whereof you speak

– Last Updated: Sep-19-08 8:34 PM EST –

and youre right. i dont want to build any more boats using rainforest woods. thats the point of my post. i'm looking for alternatives. the 'doorskin' products you describe are not what i would use to build a boat. silly you are clueless about where those 'doorskins' are made and what's in them

Luan Plywood
luan is a type of mahogany, it’s not just door skin.It’s also used for furniture, underlay, cabinet backs, and boat’s available in 5/16" to 1 1/8" plywoods. The other doorskins you refer to are veneers, usually on hardboard or particleboard.

One option you may want to check out is Russian (or Baltic)Birch- a very fine grained plantation birch available in 3mm to 30mm with a waterproof glue and in 5x5’ or 4x8 or 10’ sheets

lauan/luan/philippine mahogony, etc
Has become a generic term for several tropical woods native to southeast asia. It’s not really mahogany, sometimes it’s marketed as such because of ‘similar’ properties.

"seal better"
seems to me the biggest problem sealing will be the end grain and entire surface of the panels, not the method of joining panels and particular adhesive/sealant.

Anyplace end grain isn’t sealed, things will start wicking and swelling.

So whether you used caulking or epoxies at joints, if water finds a spot, it’s in, and it’s in plywood.

Sounds like a fun project. Nuthin like exterior latex for affordable projects.