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Hi folks. I'm trying to find a US supplier of Alaskan cedar planking strips, and am not having a great deal of success at the moment. I've been going through the list of vendors on this site, but so far have not had any luck. Cutting my own strips from larger blocks is not really an option for me. Even if I were prepared to put the money down on a saw, space limitations in my tiny apartment would prevent it. 

 

I received an order from the Lumberyard, but they were too thick and I have been told that's the best they can do. I know Syren supplies cedar, but they don't offer pre-cut planks.

 

Has anyone recently had good luck with a US source? 

 

Thanks for your help, 

James

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Unfortunately I don't think there are any (or at least none that I've seen). I've mainly been hunting for milled sheets and (aside from Syren) I haven't seen anything outside of cherry in the US. There are some more options coming from overseas, but I don't think Alaskan cedar is one.

 

Small table saws aren't "that" big but I can definitely understand not having space regardless.

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Chuck has sheets cut especially for ripping planks. I learned to rip my own, it's quite rewarding.

 

I don't think you're going to find sources in the US for any pre-ripped planks anymore and especially not Alaskan Cedar, I believe it's a bit of a Syren specialty. It's a topic that's been around for awhile, the US sources simply couldn't make a go of it.  

 

The Lumberyard is not a good source for wood despite the name in my experience.  I ordered boxwood from there is was so bad I sent it back.  There are some European sources for maple and a few other woods, but definitely not Alaskan Cedar.

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46 minutes ago, RichardG said:

Absolutely agree but not for planking strips 😉.

True.  I missed the part where he does NOT have a Byrnes saw.  I'm not sure you can get any GOOD specialty (i.e. not basswood) wood without ripping it yourself.  I live in a 850 sq ft condo (although it has a garage) and have a Byrnes Saw.  I couldn't imagine modeling without it.

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37 minutes ago, glbarlow said:

I ordered boxwood from there is was so bad I sent it back.  There are some European sources for maple and a few other woods, but definitely not Alaskan Cedar.

I have used Ocooch (https://ocoochhardwoods.com/ ) for cherry, maple and beech, but it requires ripping.

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19 hours ago, RichardG said:

it's not a fun or very profitable business.

This is the problem.  There are no real suppliers in this area because no one want to pay for the time to do this correctly.  It is super easy to rip planks but it does take time (rip them, package them and then ship them).  Everyone in this country is so used to super cheep stuff shipped same day for no cost.  Wood suppliers like Syren have made the calculation that no one is willing to pay a fair price for their time.  It would be super nice to get 100 strips for 5$ with no shipping and 2day delivery but it is just not worth it for the business.  I bet if someone was willing to pay 5$ a strip (for a set minimum order) the calculation of time spent vs profit could possibly change a bit.  
 

9 hours ago, glbarlow said:

I learned to rip my own, it's quite rewarding.

I think this is the answer.  The small table saws (i.e. Byrnes) have an initial cost but that one in particular will last a lifetime as it is of exceptional quality.  I understand space considerations but if you can fit a basketball 🏀 somewhere in your living quarters you can fit a Byrnes saw 😄 
 

I really don’t want this post to sound harsh.   It began before but this pandemic has made the business environment very difficult if not impossible for many.  

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Thanks for the replies guys, and for the recommendations for the Byrnes saw. It does indeed look like a great piece of equipment, and owning one will be a goal for me down the line. I know it will be extremely useful to be able to cut my planks in future. It's not workable for me right now, but when my  budget and space have expanded a little I'll aim to get one. 

 

I did check with Ocooch - looks like a good source for lots of wood, though they don't have Alaskan cedar in stock at present. 

 

3 hours ago, MEDDO said:

It would be super nice to get 100 strips for 5$ with no shipping and 2day delivery

 

You sir have a deal! 

 

Joking aside, the point is well taken. I imagine the profit margins must be incredibly narrow - as I imagine they must be across most of this hobby. 

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I like the Byrnes saw/basket ball analogy. I also took the plunge and bought one and I am building my ship model on a boat, in the engine room. Very compact and easy to move/store. Well worth the money. You can see how small the saw is relative to the model in the second photo.
All my planks are ripped from pre milled billets from Syren, affordable and exceptional quality wood when finished.

JJ

 

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763B3DC0-57ED-45DD-9128-70B46BE25BB0.jpeg

Edited by scrubbyj427
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18 hours ago, whitejamest said:

That's a beautiful job on that hull JJ. If my planking looks half as tight I'll be a happy camper indeed. Can I ask what you have coated the wood with? Is that just wipe-on poly? 

Thank you, it’s the first time I planked a hull like this. Chucks guide to planking is wonderful.

as you see the hull there she only has WOP but I’m currently adding just a bit of color to give a little warmer color.

JJ

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Further to this discussion, I too cut my own planks and can because I have a large tablesaw and a large bandsaw. Cutting wood from the large sizes that Bill in Idaho mentions uses up as much of the wood cutting the sheets as the sheets themselves. Using thin blades on large saws gets a bit tricky and is limited by the diameters of the blade on tablesaws not so with bandsaws but with bandsaws you have to have one surface smooth so a jointer planer is needed to accomplish that, then after the wood has been sliced off on the bandsaw it needs to be finished on the cut side by running through a thickness sander. The wood would be too thin to run through any sort of thickness planer. 

 

With wood that is in rough plank form say nominally 2" (it is less than that even if rough) in order to get accurate planks the rough plank needs at least the face (wide side) and one edge planed flat and square before it can be processed on the larger saws. The 10 inch delta unisaw table saw that I use has 0 clearance inserts and the hollow ground thin kerf blades are only 8 inch diameter I cannot use these blades on the 2 inch planks I have to use a regular tin carbide blade which is thicker than the planks by double, but is gives a fairly fine finish right off the saw. So now I have a small sheet that is say 16th thick by 1 5/8" now in order to convert that to 1/16th x 1/32 planks I either need a micro saw with the fine slitting saw blades .010 to .025" type thicknesses for the blades, or I can use the table saw I have with my 8 inch hollow ground thin kerf blade and slice off the the 1/32 planks from it indexing the blade over as each plank comes off.and for each 1/32 plank I have used up at least 3/32nds worth of wood.

 

All that said one can see why it is not profitable at even the bare minimum of wages to mass produce wood planks on a small scale for a limited market. without having some very sophisticated and expensive processing machinery. On top of all that exotic woods are becoming harder to get anyway, as it gets used up by ever more users for various industries.

 

I hope that this rather long winded comment gives those who cannot process their own model supplies some of the challenges facing those who do supply these materials for us.

 

Michael

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The one obvious solution to this common problem is one that is rarely mentioned these days.  I feel compelled to mention that it works quite well.  I realize it may not be possible in some areas of the country but it does work well.   I am of course talking about local clubs.   Years ago this was how most folks got their wood stock or their rope, or books and research.... but local clubs started shrinking in the 2000's.   The internet played a huge role in this and its a shame.

 

My local NJ club has many members that have some or even all the tools needed to mill wood.   Its was not uncommon (pre-pandemic) for our guys to get together and help each other out in this regard.  This includes pooling $$$ and resources to buy a Club ropewalk,   or buy a large quantity of boxwood reducing costs, or pear etc.  Then we get together for a fun day to reduce the labor and time to make some sawdust and deliver the needed materials etc.  Folks in my club drop by all the time to make their own rope or use my saws and machines.

 

I know it can be hard for individuals to join a club locally and I have about 100 customers right here in NJ who despite being prompted/encouraged to join our New Jersey club,  just havent done so.   I am unsure why.  Many might be scared or nervous becaus e they might be new and fear if they are not master builders they cant join.  Nonsense!!!  Everyone is welcome and we have so much to offer.

 

I would recommend that you sit in on a zoom meeting and join us.  Pre-pandemic.... I have had guys from my club over all the time to use my machines and resources.....and other club members do the same depending on where you are in the state.  In fact we always met in my shop once a month just together outside of our regularly scheduled meeting at the public Library.

 

I would recommend and urge all of you to join a local club or even try to start one if none exists in your area.   Use Model Ship World as a good starting point.   Try to start one in your geographic area or find out if one already exists.

 

James you live less than 20 minutes from me.   If we werent in this pandemic I would invite you to our club meetings and over to my shop.  I cant possibly cut and sell wood for the masses through Syren for all the reasons already mentioned.  But for our local close knit group we do it all the time.   If I cant do it there are at least a dozen New Jersey club members that would have.  I would have shipped them the billets and they would have cut the planking strips for you no questions asked.  Its what makes a local club so wonderful invaluable to be a part of.

 

You should consider it....Contact Bill our current President with any questions.  We would love to have you.

 

http://www.shipmodelsocietyofnewjersey.org/

 

Our club routinely shares tools, materials, books and plans......and most important our time and love for the hobby.  If it wasnt for this pandemic, I would have invited you over and got you in front of my Byrnes saw and you would have been milling your own strips in about 20 minutes.   Thats the value of joining a local club and at least a dozen of the guys would have offered the same.   I have two Byrnes saws and many club members have even more.  Once you learn how.....borrowing a saw or other tools is a wonderful resource.  I recently shipped my mini-lathe to a club member who used it and then returned it promptly when he was done using it.  

 

For those of you in an area that doesnt already have a club....you dont need 50 people or even 20 people to form a club.   If you can find 4 or 5 guys close enough, you have the start of what could be a great group.

 

Chuck

 

 

 

 

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I want to say thanks again for the enormous expertise members on this site share with newbies like me. And more than that, I've had a couple offers like Bill's from members moved purely by generosity to offer their help. It's another sign of what a great community this is, and it is, for lack of a better word, pretty heartwarming. 

 

I was also very pleased a few months back to learn about the Ship Model Society of New Jersey. I've made it to only a couple of the zoom meetings, as my schedule has been all over the place lately, but it's a very welcoming group, and I hope I will have more opportunities to pick their collective brains in the future. I hope when the pandemic subsides I can meet folks in person. I know exactly 0 ship modelers in a face to face capacity, and it would be very nice to change that. 

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Since the Ship Model Society of NJ was mentioned by Chuck, I wanted to add a few things to his wonderful post.   I am the current president of the club and I consider myself a novice builder.   Since joining the club my skills have improved greatly due to the simple fact that there is no better tool in your toolbox than your local club.  For all the reasons that Chuck already stated.    These days the term “local” has expanded as we have been meeting virtually since April and have welcomed folks from many other states.  We are strongly considering keeping the virtual meeting option alive, assuming we have the bandwidth at our library meeting location, once we can meet in person again.     
Until then I encourage you to join one of our virtual meetings.   Contact one of our bridge members and we can make sure you get an invite.    Our last meeting featured a great talk on the Spitfire by Susan McClure, Executive Director of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.   In November we have Dan Lieb from the NJ Historical Shipwreck Museum speaking.    We are also planning on having a talk by members of the Hudson Maritime Museum and their model collection coming sometime in the near future.   To be clear there is no substitute for in person meetings but the virtual meeting ability has allowed us to have some excellent non local speakers and guests.  
 

James, I know you have been able to join a few of our meetings which I think is great.   Your modeling skills are superb.   I look forward to meeting you in person someday soon.   Until then if you have any questions or modeling needs don’t hesitate to reach out to the club for support.    We hope to see you at our next meeting.   Until then be well.
 

Bill

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