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I guess the first question is what do you have available?


Beech or hardwood dowels are a good economical choice and walnut would work well also. Basswood would not be the best choice  for the smaller yards as it may bend under rigging strain, but it can be used in larger diameters. 

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I have used birch, basswood (in a limited fashion), and western alder.


I avoid store bought dowels whenever possible since they are hardly ever straight and if they are straight, they have a nasty tendency to warp over time.


Alder is nice because it typically has very straight close grain. That is the key in spar making material. Straight grain, close grain, and no wavy knotty areas. Cherry would be nice to work with, but its grain can be wavy, shaky, and knotty. Avoid walnut and mahogany since they are rather open grained. Boxwood can be good as well, but I have pieces in my stash that have warped over time. The birch I have has been pretty stable and it has some strength to it, but it is not as hard as cherry.


Hope that helps a bit.



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I model in 3/16" to the foot and use built up spars. I create a center spindle and attach additional strips of wood around the spindle, with the grain running in the opposite direction. This is supposed to forestall warping. For my current build, I am using "yellowheart" and "ebony". But, by using this method, I have been told you could use just about any wood you wanted too. Hope this helps some.

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