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Inwale material

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by Lew's Canoes, May 11, 2005.

  1. Lew's Canoes

    Lew's Canoes Canoe Builder

    Has anyone used Fir for inwales? I am having trouble finding long, clear spruce in my area (Western NY state), by I can easily find 16 and 18 foot clear, straight grained Hem-Fir 2x4 and 2x6 , which would easily rip into inwale dimensions. It is undoubtably kiln dried. Any thoughts or prior experience would be appreciated......
  2. dboles

    dboles LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I have used Douglas Fir for outwales.It is harder than spruce and a little brittle but I experienced no problems.Had to soak them to go around the curves and they bent fine.
  3. Paul Miller

    Paul Miller Canoe Nut

    Hem-fir is very different the Douglas fir. Much softer.

    Douglas fir has been used in boat builder for hundreds and probably thousands of years, but I don't recall reference to Hemlock Fir being used.

    It may have some problem holding the fasteners, as it is very soft.

  4. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    These guys seem to like hem-fir:

    I haven't used it, though I have made gunwales out of hemlock in a pinch. It's fairly soft and tends to be kind of stringy when you plane or sand it, but seems to have adequate strength to do the job. I don't see why hem-fir wouldn't make a decent inwale.
  5. dboles

    dboles LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Anyone have a latin name for this Hem-fir? Thought it was a market name for either or. Abies something or other,maybe?
  6. garypete

    garypete LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Old-growth Fir gunwale stock

    I've dealt with a sawmill in southern Wisconsin that can supply old-growth, very tight grain, clear Douglas Fir in lengths up to 26'. They buy salvage railroad bridge timbers and resaw the beams into custom sizes. Some of their customers have used this premium Douglas Fir for gunwales with apparently good sucess.

    The contact is Emile's Specialty Hardwoods. Office phone is 608-734-3157, shop phone 608-734-3599, E-mail:

    The USDA Forests Products Lab tables for wood properties indicate DF is stronger than spruce, nearly as light, and has all the properties you'd want in a gunwale.

  7. Found at url provided by Todd:

    "Hem-Fir is a species combination of Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) and five of the True Firs: California Red Fir (Abies magnifica), Grand Fir (Abies grandis), Noble Fir (Abies procera), Pacific Silver Fir (Abies amabilis), and White Fir (Abies concolor)."

  8. Douglas Ingram

    Douglas Ingram Red River Canoe & Paddle

    I use Douglas Fir for all my inwales. I think that it works great. Good Spruce is astronomical in price, and good Fir is very affordable. Haven't used it for outwales.

    I am almost ready to be convinced that Peterborough/Chestnut may have used it, though I will hapipily be proven wrong. When I have to repair the ends of the inwales, Fir is an almost perfect match, while Spruce is way too white. Haven't been able to acces any Red Spruce to try...

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