Selecting the Right Wood for Marine Applications: A Few Tips

Although materials like plastic and various other composites are extensively used nowadays for building boats and several other marine applications, wood is still considered the most suitable object for this purpose. Besides being incredibly useful, wood is also preferred by various boat manufacturers across the globe because of its aesthetic appeal and longevity. The texture and colour of the wood grain, the way a teak gunwale is made, or the warmth of a particular wood under the sun; all these elements have been adding to the romantic nature of the sea for thousands of years.

Despite the fact that all variants of woods are buoyant, certain species of woods are needed to be chosen to make the boat strong as well as efficient. In South Africa, there are certain companies that offer a vast range of exotic woods acquired from various countries of different continents for wooden boat building. With so many options available, you might get confused at times while making your choice. In this article, some key factors are discussed that would help you to choose the right wood for marine application:

1. Considering the nature and application: Different types of woods are required for building different parts of a boat. For example, to build the outer portion of your boat that includes gunwales, decks, etc, you would require strong, dense, and corrosion resistant woods like white oak or teak. On the other hand, for building the dinghy part of the boat, lighter woods are preferable than heavy woods like ironwood. Therefore, before purchasing the woods for your boat, you need to have a clear idea about their specific applications to avoid any kind of problem in future.

2. Deciding the grain colour and texture: It is important to decide the proper grain colour and texture of the wood. Different species of woods come with different grain colours and textures. Also, it is important to know whether the wood is susceptible to micro-organisms and certain chemical elements.

3. Considering the budget: It is important to have a certain budget for the timber you are purchasing as their price differs greatly, according to the quality. You have to make sure that the quality of the wood and its price are balanced.

Timber Options for Boat Building:

Timbers belonging to these species are often used for various marine applications:

  1. Ash: Despite being a lightweight timber, ash exhibits incredible sturdiness and decay resistance. It is one of the most popular choices for boat making.
  2. Oak: People have been using this timber for boat building for a long time. Oak is preferred for its incredible grain texture and strength. It is very useful for heavy marine applications.
  3. Utile: Utile is used for its incredible finish. This timber comes with a unique combination of strength, resistance, and low weight. Utile also has a magnificent grain texture and does not rot easily.

There are five popular techniques for boat building namely carvel, cold moulding, clinker, strip planking, and clinker ply. With the right timber and technique, you can easily build your wooden boat.

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