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Tamarack

Discussion in 'Wood and Canvas' started by slk, Oct 30, 2018.

  1. slk

    slk Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Has anyone ever used Tamarack for canoe building? I was just wondering if it might be a good choice for the inside or outside gunwales. It is suppose to be great for rot resistance. I have loads of tamarack on my property that are quite large, and I do have a sawmill. When I lived in Florida and made canoes there I use to use Cyprus for the gunwales. Now live in MN and was wondering what woods would work.
    Thanks
    Steve
     
  2. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    The information at https://www.wood-database.com/tamarack/ indicates that it may not be the best option when compared to white spruce at https://www.wood-database.com/white-spruce/ for example. It always interested me that Old Town used a variety of woods for various parts of a canoe over the years but gunwales were nearly always made of either spruce or mahogany depending on the grade. Try it out and let us know what you think.

    Benson
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2018
  3. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    Can you get a piece long enough and straight enough without knotts?
    And isn't it a heavy wood?
    But yes, if you can find suitable pieces try it and let us know.

    Dan
    ps, welcome to MN
     
  4. Rob Stevens

    Rob Stevens Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

  5. Gary Willoughby

    Gary Willoughby Boat Builder

    Air dried northern white cedar weights 22 lbs per cubic foot .Tamarack weights 37 lbs per cubic foot. I have sawed a lot of tamarack and have never got a clear board they have a lots of knots. Getting a gunnel from what I have seen is impossible.
     
    Dan Lindberg likes this.
  6. MGC

    MGC Paddlephile

    Spruce for inside rails seems to be hard to come by again...or is it?
    Piling on to the question about tamarack, has anyone used Englemann spruce for rail material?
    I have a source for clear 20 foot old growth and I'm wondering if I should give it a try. I need to make pocketed inside rails for a Veazie/Morris restoration. Thoughts? Experiences?
     
  7. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    Clear old growth spruce and you haven't ordered some yet?
    How does the mechanical properties of Englemann compare to White?
     
  8. OP
    OP
    slk

    slk Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Yeah I was wondering about the knot issue with tamarack. Englemann spruce is what they make fine guitar tops out of. It is on the expensive side. I can't find any mills here that have any spruce.
    Steve
     
  9. MGC

    MGC Paddlephile

    If you follow the link that Benson provided you can do a comparison of the various spruce woods. The Englemann seems to be reasonably comparable to white...
    I plan to commit to it...my son will take down a tree for me and have it rough milled locally...he lives in Idaho so this will be a drawn out process. Sometime next year I'll be trying to figure out how to get it moved East. The wood has a gorgeous orange hew and is knot free for 20 plus feet.
    Tamarack is best used for guide boat ribs and fence posts.......
     
    Dan Lindberg likes this.
  10. Gary Willoughby

    Gary Willoughby Boat Builder

    Has any tried Douglass Fir you can get it in long clear length's
     
  11. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    I can see a small side business for you Mike.
     
    MGC likes this.
  12. MGC

    MGC Paddlephile

    The thought crossed my mind when my son told me about one with 30 feet of clear orange wood.. that and hearing from several folks that they can't get nice clear spruce right now.... check back in about a year;)
     
  13. dogbrain

    dogbrain I can take this, but not much more

    Are you sure you're talking about Englemann Spruce here? I would never describe it as orange. The only Englemann spruce I've ever seen is white, almost colorless, maybe with the slightest cream color, indistinguishable from Sitka Spruce. Also, finding long clear boards that are 20+ feet in length would be unusual since these spruce tend to have lots of small pinhole knots. I am able to find clear spruce boards up to 16' here in Montana, but it's from a high volume sawmill. I doubt any individual tree produces more than a couple long clear boards from the north side of the bole. It is really low density wood, comparable to western red or northern white cedar I have bought over the years. The last few boards I bought were 19lb per cubic feet. I'd check the density on the wood to confirm. Idaho has lots of Ponderosa Pine and Doug Fir, which I would describe as being orange in appearance. Idaho and western Montana also have Western larch, also known as Tamarack. This species is a bit heavy, but one could get 20+ foot boards from them.

    Mark
     
  14. MGC

    MGC Paddlephile

    I've not seen the trees he has been cutting but the person that is milling them for him is a pretty experienced local rancher and knowledgeable. The tree that he just dropped was quite a big one and over 145 years old give or take...when I say orange, it has an orange hew, not the clear white we expect from spruce. This particular tree is clear for over 20 feet, he says 30...he is cutting from from some very old growth.
     

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