Most boat builders will agree that when it comes to crafting a beautiful, yet functional boat, there's nothing quite like wood. Distinctive in appearance and satisfying to work with, wood is the traditional boat building material.
From a structural and economical standpoint, wood remains the most efficient engineering material. Lightweight, yet stiff, it gives a boat greater potential for performance and stability. It is an excellent insulator against condensation and sound and its resistance to fatigue provides lasting power against accumulated damage.
Because wood is a renewable resource, even the most expensive types of wood are more reasonably priced than competing materials. The need for only common tools makes working with wood even more cost-effective. Most of all, wood adds a feeling of life, warmth and craftsmanship that cannot be matched by manmade materials.
There are so many great reasons for building your own boat or restoring that lovely old woodie: the satisfaction, the sense of accomplishment, and the substantial cost savings, just to name a few. When you choose a wooden boat, it will truly be an expression of creativity, a source of pride and a lasting pleasure for years to come.
Problems of the past
As a boat building material, wood also has some well-known disadvantages which have now been overcome.
Because dry wood is much lighter and stiffer than wet wood, these desirable physical properties are diminished once wood becomes water-saturated. If a high moisture content is coupled with the presence of oxygen and warm temperatures, wood becomes subject to dry rot.
The use of mechanical fasteners can also create problems. Because the effectiveness of load distribution is limited, stress concentration can collapse the surrounding wood and ultimately cause fasteners to become loose.
The solution: Use of epoxy products
Epoxy products were developed to offset the disadvantages associated with using wood in boat building applications.
To protect against moisture and enhance wood's natural properties, all wood parts are encapsulated with epoxy. The wood is encapsulated at its ideal moisture level, thus capturing the set standards of weight and strength that will give it the greatest dimensional stability.
Coating the wood with epoxy helps eliminate dry rot problems. This is achieved by maintaining a moisture level below that which is required by fungi and by sealing out the oxygen necessary for survival of spores.
With epoxy use, fasteners are replace with bonded joints. This monocoque structure approach offers a number of advantages which include uniform load distribution, improved fatigue resistance and the elimination of stress concentrations. Where fasteners are needed, such as with deck hardware, epoxy is used to provide load transfer interface. This prevents the surrounding wood from collapsing and increases holding power.