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I am a relative newcomer to the Forum and hope that this topic hasn't been discussed to death.  In the time that I have been on the Forum, I have searched hundreds of threads, but have not seen this particular question discussed.

 

First, I have seen and appreciated all of the opinions about preferred woods, like boxwood, pear, apple and others. But some discussion about why, and discussions of preferred attributes would really be appreciated.

 

However, what I would like to get everyone's opinion on is this:

 

Are there preferred woods for

1. Keel and framing

2  Planking

3. Masts and yards

4. Decoration and ornamentation

5. Carriages and other structures

 

It is apparent that woods with natural colors are often used to highlight particular parts or sections as appropriate.

 

Especially important are opinions about what qualities certain woods have that make each type stand out in exception to another.

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Any reasonably hard wood with a fine, straight grain can be used for most parts of a model.  Best to pick out your own pieces if you can to get the best results.  That said some woods are better for some purposes.  For a general all around, low cost wood go with basswood.  Poplar is also a low cost alternative that is a little harder than basswood.  Not the best woods but pretty good.  I like cherry for most purposes but it doesn't seem to be the best for steam bending.  Apple and pear are good for just about anything.  Black walnut is excellent if you can find good pieces with out wild grain or knots.  Maple is good for the backbone of the model and decks but get wood with a fine grain, not the typical stuff you find at Home Depot.  Boxwood is an excellent wood for everything especially carving but it is expensive.  There are lots of woods that can be used in modeling and they don't have to be the ones found in kits or from wood suppliers.  I find that aracantha, dogwood, gardenia, plum, lemon, lime and other woods I find available around here work just fine and are usually for free.  You do have to season it and mill it yourself but it is easy to do with a little practice. 

 

One last thing.  Don't buy wood from sources in China.  What they label as cherry, walnut or boxwood has only a passing kinship with the real stuff.

Edited by grsjax

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You do not supply your location.  An answer to your question would depend on

where on the planet is your home.  Also, I don't think of "best" as being an adequate criterion.

A contest is not really what would answer the question. "Excellent for" would be a more reliable goal.

 

I prefer closed pore species.  No open pore species will scale in as attractive a way

as a closed pore one.   That is the one negative mark against an otherwise beautiful

wood= Juglans nigra - Black Walnut - if you get an older tree - a very dark rich color

but it helps if you live in the eastern region of North America for a good price.

Other species of Walnut - not so much of a good choice- most seem to have a lesser

color and more visible pores as well as some being brittle.

I agree with Grsjax on his choices,  although I seem to like Hard Maple as lot more.

The grain pattern depends on the plane of your resaw.  You can get clear low contrast

or tiger or flame from the same board.  It is hard and strong.  He is fortunate in having

access to temperate fruit wood species in Hawaii.  They are as good as it gets.

 

Oak either red or white are a hard strong wood - good for hull timbers and bracing or

planking as long as they are used where they can't be seen. Their pores are distracting.

 

Two species that do not get much attention, but seem like good choices = Rock Elm

( death on the edge of my cutting blades and very slow on my 3/4 hp band saw - seems a lot

harder than Hard Maple and that is hard.  There are pores, but small ones.)  and Honey Locust.

 

One species I do not like is Platanus occidentalis  American Sycamore - color is close to

Hard Maple, but another name  now is lace wood because of its busy pattern - it is close to

Black Cherry in hardness, but is brittle- splitting easily.  I was unfortunate in not realizing

that the species that Underhill called Sycamore was actually a species of Maple that is 

about 80% of the way to Hard Maple in its quality. I would have gotten more Hard Maple

and Black Cherry from the mill.

Edited by Jaager

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One thing I've found as a beginner is that suitable timber is not cheap and, at least in Australia, not that easy to come by.

I've only found one local source with a limited range so may have to look overseas for suitable stock. [Does anyone know if there are issues importing modelling timbers to Oz?]

I do have access to 'real' boat making timber locally (huon, celery and king billy pine and most Australian hard woods) but milling to required thickness is an issue, assuming what I can get is suitable at scale.

 

Regards

Geoff

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12 hours ago, Jaager said:

You do not supply your location.  An answer to your question would depend on

where on the planet is your home.  Also, I don't think of "best" as being an adequate criterion.

A contest is not really what would answer the question. "Excellent for" would be a more reliable goal.

 

I prefer closed pore species.  No open pore species will scale in as attractive a way

as a closed pore one.   That is the one negative mark against an otherwise beautiful

wood= Juglans nigra - Black Walnut - if you get an older tree - a very dark rich color

but it helps if you live in the eastern region of North America for a good price.

Other species of Walnut - not so much of a good choice- most seem to have a lesser

color and more visible pores as well as some being brittle.

I agree with Grsjax on his choices,  although I seem to like Hard Maple as lot more.

The grain pattern depends on the plane of your resaw.  You can get clear low contrast

or tiger or flame from the same board.  It is hard and strong.  He is fortunate in having

access to temperate fruit wood species in Hawaii.  They are as good as it gets.

 

Oak either red or white are a hard strong wood - good for hull timbers and bracing or

planking as long as they are used where they can't be seen. Their pores are distracting.

 

Two species that do not get much attention, but seem like good choices = Rock Elm

( death on the edge of my cutting blades and very slow on my 3/4 hp band saw - seems a lot

harder than Hard Maple and that is hard.  There are pores, but small ones.)  and Honey Locust.

 

One species I do not like is Platanus occidentalis  American Sycamore - color is close to

Hard Maple, but another name  now is lace wood because of its busy pattern - it is close to

Black Cherry in hardness, but is brittle- splitting easily.  I was unfortunate in not realizing

that the species that Underhill called Sycamore was actually a species of Maple that is 

about 80% of the way to Hard Maple in its quality. I would have gotten more Hard Maple

and Black Cherry from the mill.

I live on the Kansas, Missouri border. I belong to a ship modeling club. Several of the members have large stocks of seasoned wood (pear, apple, walnut, maple etc.), which they generously offer.

 

My main question is would you use one type of wood throughout, or, would you use specific types of wood for masts, another for the keel, perhaps another type for planking.

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Your fellow members have the right stock.  There is no golden choice.  Lots of species will

do just fine.

The key factor is the look that you are after.  Are you doing POF and showing the frames?

Will it be clear finished wood with the color pallet determined by species used?

The keel vs frames vs beams etc.-  not much difference with POF- as far as what to use. 

Planking - unobtrusive grain - some species bend more readily than others.

There is a cachet around using Ebony for black wales,  but there are aniline wood dyes that can

turn many species black and still show grain effect.

The spars are a different matter.  Unfortunately - the traditional species are tropical in source

and I think pretty much now protected =  Lancewood, Degame,  Pau Marfim  and all but impossible

to source.  

One way is to find a board with straight grain, from a closed pore, tight grain species like Hard Maple,

Beech, Birch and split out the pieces - so that the natural grown shape is straight.  Over time, the wood will

"seek" its equilibrium state.

 

As far as all this goes,  should you be considering POF as an engineering demo showing the innards -

I am thinking that this is a yacht cost situation - at your present experience level - if you have to ask........

Another factor - with POF - the frame timbers require a lot of stock - depending on the size of the vessel and

your choice of scale.  50% going to saw dust is probably on the low end.  A 1:48 liner ( 74 or< ) could require

20 bf or more. 

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Geoff,

 

Looking at the Wood Database for Australian domestic lumber

I would look at the following:

Tasmanian Myrtle, Myrtle Beech

Raspberry Jam

Lemon-Scented Gum, Lemon Eucalyptus

Kauri, Ancient Kauri

 

If you paint/copper  some of the Gum species may be useful

course grain is not so bad if hidden.

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8 hours ago, Serapis1779 said:

I live on the Kansas, Missouri border. I belong to a ship modeling club. Several of the members have large stocks of seasoned wood (pear, apple, walnut, maple etc.), which they generously offer.

 

My main question is would you use one type of wood throughout, or, would you use specific types of wood for masts, another for the keel, perhaps another type for planking.

 

You have some great woods available then it would seem.   As for specifics, well that, as they say, depends.   It depends on how you want the model to look.   Not so simple answer, I know.   I'd suggest looking through the scratch area and see what "looks" are appealing to you.   The Russians have theirs as do the French and you'll see the differences.   Everyone else, it's pretty much what the builder likes.

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Hello Geoff,

Have you considered using Privet. I recall reading on the forum a couple of Australian members recommending this. Apparently it's readily available as it's considered a weed there and grows into a small tree. Sorry but I can't remember who they were,perhaps if you PM Jim Lad he may know.

 

Dave :dancetl6: 

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On 8/10/2018 at 8:47 PM, grsjax said:

Any reasonably hard wood with a fine, straight grain can be used for most parts of a model.  Best to pick out your own pieces if you can to get the best results.  That said some woods are better for some purposes.  For a general all around, low cost wood go with basswood.  Poplar is also a low cost alternative that is a little harder than basswood.  Not the best woods but pretty good.  I like cherry for most purposes but it doesn't seem to be the best for steam bending.  Apple and pear are good for just about anything.  Black walnut is excellent if you can find good pieces with out wild grain or knots.  Maple is good for the backbone of the model and decks but get wood with a fine grain, not the typical stuff you find at Home Depot.  Boxwood is an excellent wood for everything especially carving but it is expensive.  There are lots of woods that can be used in modeling and they don't have to be the ones found in kits or from wood suppliers.  I find that aracantha, dogwood, gardenia, plum, lemon, lime and other woods I find available around here work just fine and are usually for free.  You do have to season it and mill it yourself but it is easy to do with a little practice. 

 

One last thing.  Don't buy wood from sources in China.  What they label as cherry, walnut or boxwood has only a passing kinship with the real stuff.

Thank you. A very good and informative answer. It covers almost everything I was wondering about.

 

Btw: I am scratch building a British Roebuck cross-section and have started with a keel a false keel, and keelson of oak. I will not use it for any other part of construction, but thought it would be fun to have a heart of oak in this model.

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18 hours ago, Jaager said:

Your fellow members have the right stock.  There is no golden choice.  Lots of species will

do just fine.

The key factor is the look that you are after.  Are you doing POF and showing the frames?

Will it be clear finished wood with the color pallet determined by species used?

The keel vs frames vs beams etc.-  not much difference with POF- as far as what to use. 

Planking - unobtrusive grain - some species bend more readily than others.

There is a cachet around using Ebony for black wales,  but there are aniline wood dyes that can

turn many species black and still show grain effect.

The spars are a different matter.  Unfortunately - the traditional species are tropical in source

and I think pretty much now protected =  Lancewood, Degame,  Pau Marfim  and all but impossible

to source.  

One way is to find a board with straight grain, from a closed pore, tight grain species like Hard Maple,

Beech, Birch and split out the pieces - so that the natural grown shape is straight.  Over time, the wood will

"seek" its equilibrium state.

 

As far as all this goes,  should you be considering POF as an engineering demo showing the innards -

I am thinking that this is a yacht cost situation - at your present experience level - if you have to ask........

Another factor - with POF - the frame timbers require a lot of stock - depending on the size of the vessel and

your choice of scale.  50% going to saw dust is probably on the low end.  A 1:48 liner ( 74 or< ) could require

20 bf or more. 

Thank you, thank you.

 

I am a newcomer.

 

I am working on my first wooden shipmodel: An Aeropiccola HMS Serapis. Its attributes, and, shortcomings are very apparent and widely known. It also has nice potential. I am pursuing that by building it first according to the plans and materials (mostly basswood) as much for practice and experience, and fun. Any, and all, mistakes I make on the first model will be lessons learned to build a much better quality second model of the same ship.

 

I have already begun building the second model, using the lines and design and plans to build it as a plank on frame admiralty style model. On this model I am using other wood, fine hardwoods.

 

I am also building a cross-section model of the same ship.

 

I have no concerns about cost or yacht cost. My main concern is my age (64) and finishing this long dormant project. I have built models all my life, just not in wood, so the technique of crafting in wood is the "new", experience for this newcomer. I'm really trying to rev up the learning curve.

 

I have a nice variety of well seasoned hard woods of most popular varieties for ship modeling.

 

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19 hours ago, Jaager said:

Geoff,

 

Looking at the Wood Database for Australian domestic lumber

I would look at the following:

Tasmanian Myrtle, Myrtle Beech

Raspberry Jam

Lemon-Scented Gum, Lemon Eucalyptus

Kauri, Ancient Kauri

 

If you paint/copper  some of the Gum species may be useful

course grain is not so bad if hidden.

Thank you very much. Everyone who is sharing their thoughts are providing me with useful information. The sum total is very helpful to me and also, hopefully, to others.

 

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6 hours ago, davyboy said:

Hello Geoff,

Have you considered using Privet. I recall reading on the forum a couple of Australian members recommending this. Apparently it's readily available as it's considered a weed there and grows into a small tree. Sorry but I can't remember who they were,perhaps if you PM Jim Lad he may know.

 

Dave :dancetl6: 

Privet is one thing I would not have thought of! As you say, it is a weed here and can get quite big. I also have access to cheesewood (Pittosporum) which migh be an option. I live in the main apple growing region of Australia so apple, pear and any other suitable fruit tree is readily available, tress are always being removed - and burned.

What I need to do is to read up on how to mill thin timber. I volunteer at a local wooden boat group so have access to most tools I'll need if not the expertise - 2mm think planks are not a lot of use on a full size boat!

 

Regards

Geoff

Edited by geoffs
spelling

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Geoff,

You have made if you have access to Apple.  It is excellent for about everything.

What I learned about harvesting Apple:

Get it into 1 or 2 inch thick billets, bark removed, and end grain areas sealed with

old paint, varnish,   melted paraffin  - something to block rapid water loss from

the cut ends of the bundle of straws that are what wood resembles -

as soon as you can.  Apple has sugar in its sap,  and if you do not get it dry soon enough,

fungus will destroy the wood.

I find 2 foot lengths to be as long as I need. 

Your wooden boat group should have a bandsaw.  That is a good way to get a log cutinto billets - that you sticker and dry. 

Buy your own blades  ( 3 tpi hook - 1/2" wide works  well enough for this)  for the bandsaw, 

resawing wears out blades fairly quickly and Apple is fairly hard wood.  Fix the logs to

a carrier plank to keep them from rocking or rolling during the cut

- 1/2" ply works - with brackets and screws   2x4 framing braces, 2" drywall screws,
and 1/2" pan head screws to fix the braces to the carrier   work for me- .   Two right angle flat

surfaces and the carrier is no longer needed.

If you have access to a kiln  - use it.

I made my own kiln -  house insulation foam (a foil surface inside)  to make the box, 200-300 watts of incandescent

light bulbs for heat and computer ventilation fans to pull out the moisture.  It is not

a true kiln,  but if the wood is at a higher temp than a fungus likes, you win the race.

A theory of mine:

If I had access to a lot of Apple,  for a large butt.- in my imagination, I see me  cutting the trunk high up, 

and using the chainsaw to made a vertical cut down the middle  to cut the  4-5 feet still on the roots.

I can see that a kick back of a chainsaw at head level could be a bit dangerous,

Trying a similar rip cut on a log - I could never think of a safe and practical way to

secure the log.  The wood loss to a chainsaw's kerf is painful to think about.  But

there those who use a chainsaw to mill out planks.   But the machines have the saw fixed in place

and the log doing the moving.

Anyway, you will appreciate having one flat surface if you can get one.

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43 minutes ago, Jaager said:

If you have access to a kiln  - use it.

Good advice.  A make do alternative is a hot attic.  Don't know what your weather is like there but if attics get hot then you can sticker the boards there and get some dry wood.  Down side is you can't really control the moisture levels very well.

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14 hours ago, grsjax said:

Good advice.  A make do alternative is a hot attic.  Don't know what your weather is like there but if attics get hot then you can sticker the boards there and get some dry wood.  Down side is you can't really control the moisture levels very well.

This is an interesting tip.

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15 hours ago, Jaager said:

Geoff,

You have made if you have access to Apple.  It is excellent for about everything.

What I learned about harvesting Apple:

Get it into 1 or 2 inch thick billets, bark removed, and end grain areas sealed with

old paint, varnish,   melted paraffin  - something to block rapid water loss from

the cut ends of the bundle of straws that are what wood resembles -

as soon as you can.  Apple has sugar in its sap,  and if you do not get it dry soon enough,

fungus will destroy the wood.

I find 2 foot lengths to be as long as I need. 

Your wooden boat group should have a bandsaw.  That is a good way to get a log cutinto billets - that you sticker and dry. 

Buy your own blades  ( 3 tpi hook - 1/2" wide works  well enough for this)  for the bandsaw, 

resawing wears out blades fairly quickly and Apple is fairly hard wood.  Fix the logs to

a carrier plank to keep them from rocking or rolling during the cut

- 1/2" ply works - with brackets and screws   2x4 framing braces, 2" drywall screws,
and 1/2" pan head screws to fix the braces to the carrier   work for me- .   Two right angle flat

surfaces and the carrier is no longer needed.

If you have access to a kiln  - use it.

I made my own kiln -  house insulation foam (a foil surface inside)  to make the box, 200-300 watts of incandescent

light bulbs for heat and computer ventilation fans to pull out the moisture.  It is not

a true kiln,  but if the wood is at a higher temp than a fungus likes, you win the race.

A theory of mine:

If I had access to a lot of Apple,  for a large butt.- in my imagination, I see me  cutting the trunk high up, 

and using the chainsaw to made a vertical cut down the middle  to cut the  4-5 feet still on the roots.

I can see that a kick back of a chainsaw at head level could be a bit dangerous,

Trying a similar rip cut on a log - I could never think of a safe and practical way to

secure the log.  The wood loss to a chainsaw's kerf is painful to think about.  But

there those who use a chainsaw to mill out planks.   But the machines have the saw fixed in place

and the log doing the moving.

Anyway, you will appreciate having one flat surface if you can get one.

Thanks for this sourcing information.

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It is my impression that Asian Teak has relatively course grain and open pores.  With the high silica inclusion, carbide edged saw blades are probably required.  If it is Rhodesian Teak -  it looks more promising.  The pores look smaller and the grain = not so much contrast.  It is difficult to beat free,

I would try it and see,  Twice as hard as Hard Maple,  it would be difficult to take too much with a single cut. 

If you are POF,  most any hull component -  given that it is strong and likely to hold a crisp edge.  You will have to determine if the color , grain contrast are something that you like.

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Bummer,  You can try it,  On the Wood Database - the JPEG reminds me a bit of Oak  in that the grain is course and it is open pore.

Be mindful of scale - if the grain and pores dominate,  you may not wish to use it - but it is about your taste.  If you do not paint with natural wood and actually seal and use paint and do not mind it tending to dull steel cutting edges try it.

The wood is apparently expensive for most of us,  You do not state a preferred scale, at mine (1:60) a 10 inch piece is 50 feet long in scale.  This is longer than most any piece of a ship.  I will use 6 inch pieces , it is just fiddly milling short stock.  If you like it, and have any pack rat tendencies,  stock as much as you can store.  Situations change and it may not be there for free in the future.

Edited by Jaager

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For many years, I used exotic woods for the Color.

Now I use only 1 kind of wood easily obtainable in my area.

Cherry has an excellent workability.

 

As a general rule; fruitwood are the best woods to use, thighter grains than hardwoods.

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One way to keep the chainsaw kerf from using up all the wood is to not cut widths any smaller than your bandsaw can handle. If your bandsaw will take 6 inch wood than don't cut smaller than 6in. with the chainsaw.

 

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I too favor cherry (Prunus serotine) aka wild cherry and rum cherry.  It grows in the eastern half of the USA and up to Nova Scotia.  Tight grain, warm color, holds an edge, beautiful wood...…..

 

Depending on your scale, avoid using open pored wood, or wood with a strong figure.  

 

Other favorites of mine include: costella, box (any variety), maple (both hard and soft), birch, apple and pear.

 

Keep building and above all, have fun.                     Duff

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Was just reading the most recent issue of the Journal and there is a nice article on Lady Isabel by Steve Wheeler and he was talking about red alder. Never heard of anyone using this type before.  Seemed to work well there.  Anyone else have experience with it?

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Red alder is good furniture wood. Tight grained and hard. Also takes stain well. Often used by furniture factories for kit furniture and cheaper things like end tables etc. Pretty hard for model wood but stable. Turns nice and if traeted right can be left on the ground for about 6 months for spalting which gives nice color.

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