Been looking high and low for 18' lengths of white oak for gunwales.  The only thing I could find was a Phillipine Mahogany in 18' lengths.  Does anyone have experience/opinion on it?  Greatly appreciated. 

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If you can find that length great but, it's not very likely. If you can't come up with full length stock you will need to scarf them together.

I build a jig for making the cut. I will try to dig it out later today and post an image.
I could be out of line here, as I don't know how this blog & stuff works; I provide mill direct Port Orford cedar in lengths up to 22 feet from my POC mill in Gold Beach. I do not know if POC is appropriate for gunwales. I sell Port Orford cedar to boat builders but mostly for ribs and such. I would like to learn more.
Hi Mark;

I consider Port Orford Cedar the best framing lumber for drift boats. On my last personal boat I also used it for my gunwales. It will far outlast any hardwoods for this type of boat. It will also keep the boat lighter in weight. I have used Douglas Fir, Sitka Spruce and Alaska Cedar also for this application but Port Orford is best. I think any of the above woods will work better than Mahoganys or Oaks for this type of boat.

It is nice to know you are able to provide this type of material.

Ray Heater
Hey Charles, I'm from Vancouver, B.C. wondering if Port Oxford cedar would be any different than the cedar I would get up here that comes from the North coast around the Queen Charlotte Isl? What would the differences be? would strength or durability be compromised? I'm asking because I happen to have access to a lot of it in 18 to 20 ft lengths. Another question from a newbe, would you need to use quarter sawn or is flat sawn fine?
Here are some images of the jig I use for cutting scarfs on gunwale stock. If building a jig like this make it longer and wider so it will be easier to securely clamp to a work table. Scrap melamine or MDF works fine. I took these photos at home not at my shop, at the shop I use 2 small C clamps to hold the stock against the fence on the bottom. I also shoot 2 or 3 23 gauge micro pins through the fence into the stock if it does not sit tight against it.

Not all saws are the same so use the same saw every time. The saw in these photo is not the one I use, it's only in the picture as an example. It doesn't sit against the fence properly. I built the jig for a Porter Cable saw which is at the shop.

Double check the blade clearance at the clamps on the underside and make sure everything is clamped solid before starting the cut.
I appreciate your help.
You can also make the "sled" to fit on your table saw using the miter gauge slot and the clamps to hold things tight. 8:1 up to 12:1 will do nicely. Scarph the longer section in the middle of the boat- like an 8 ' section with 2- 4 ' sections on each end- less stress on the scarfs. With this setup you might need an infeed and outfeed table for the table saw to keep things managable.
Good luck
Hey Jay,
I used some Phillipine Mahogany on one boat for the same reason as you, I could get it in a 20' length. It did work and looked very good as that boat was a light colored boat. My only issue was that the wood realy made a lot of noise when I was bending it, it never broke but made me very nervous (mostly on the inner gunwale). I decided the stress was not worth it and went back to scarfing white oak (I LOVE white oak, bends like a dream). I have a jig for scarfing with a router if you are interested I will post it.

I have a 3 HP router. When I needed a jig for cutting scarfs on gunwales I just didn't think or using it. I you get a chance could you post an image of your jig? I like the idea of a router over a circular saw.

Hey Larry,
Here are a couple of pics. They are just wedges cut from 3/4" plywood at a 12-1 slope. I screw them to the workbench from under the bench so the stock just fits in-between. I use a pattern bit with a top bearing to keep from cutting into the wedge pieces. I also found it faster to clamp the stock make a cut then unclamp move an inch or so then re-clamp and make another cut. My router is not super easy to adjust depth on, yours might be easier.

I believe the wood you have is Alaska yellow cedar. I consider it nearly as good a boatbuilding wood as Port Orford Cedar. Alaska Cedar is just a little heavier.

For gunwale use Alaska Cedar is just fine. I would select a cut somewhere between flat and 60 degree quarter sawn.



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