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Plywood
for use in boats

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Plywood

Plywood suitable for interior material and building material for use in boats.

New technologies and glues dunged the way builders looked at working with wood. These new glues made waterproof plywood possible.

Plywood is a manufactured wooden panel or sheet composed of many thin wooden layers, which are called veneers or plies. The veneers are sandwiched at right angles to one another and glued together under great pressure. Initially, primitive adhesives relegated these manufactured panels to furniture and other protected applications including building boats.

Plywood and marine plywood, or cross-veneer as it used to be known, comes in thicknesses ranging from one to several millimetres, and consists of between three and twenty layers of crossed veneer of various kinds of wood.

Plywood is by far the most common material in our boats, next to the hull's glass fibre reinforced plastic. It is incredibly versatile and can be used for almost the whole interior (or actually, to build the whole boat). The material is strong, easy to work with and cheap. But you have to find the right plywood. It depends very much on what you are going to use it for. If it is for the interior and not the structure , fairly basic plywood is adequate. If it is visible, the top veneer should be good and flawless. Simply speaking, the more thin layers there are in the plywood, the finer the quality.

Boating: Epoxy Basics

Epoxy is a 2 part material consisting of a resin and a hardener. When the resin is mixed with hardener a solid plastic is produced from a liquid starting stage. Additionally a filler can be used to make the epoxy thicker or to produce a desired characteristic.

You can manipulate epoxy to accomplish many boat repair tasks. Epoxy has many uses both on boats and in other applications. On boats epoxy can be used for small fiberglass repairs, both cored and solid fiberglass repair, and rudder and keel repairs. Gaining knowledge of epoxy will also allow you do perform tasks such as bonding bricks and repairing toilet tanks.

Types of Plywood and Treatment

All visible plywood should be treated - up to 12 coats of varnish to get that perfect finish, which makes the wood surface look like it has been dipped in glass. If better protection is needed, a two component lacquer or epoxy can be used. Epoxy, however, is not as UV-resistant and should have a coat of protective varnish if used outdoors. The edges in particular should be saturated with epoxy if the environment is at all damp.

Marine plywood

is of exceptional quality and totally waterproof. It is made of pine, but also some purer grade woods. The veneer is glued together with no air pockets.

Mahogany plywood:

The top layer of mahogany plywood is roughly 0.5 mm (0.02 in) thick and 90% of the veneer is made of other, cheaper wood types. But it is still called mahogany plywood, even though only 1 mm out of 12 (0.05 in out of 0.5 in) is mahogany. The rest is probably some other African hardwood, such as lauan.

Darkened type:

Most types of wood turn block when there is mould from water. It can be bleached out after the mould has been killed . The black will remain, but can be bleached a little. If you want a perfect finish, you have to re-veneer or replace the wood. Teak or khaya plywood (1.5 mm/0.06 in) is good for re veneering. Teak and mahogany veneer change colour with time, ond it can be hard to match a new veneer. To a certain degree, you can varnish to achieve a better match.

Special type

: Plywood is particularly well suited to creating materials for specific purposes. Lightweight plywood has a honeycomb centre of plastic or waxed board, to keep the weight down. It is used, among other things, in doors where the frame is of solid wood and the centre is of lightweight plywood. There is also plywood with a layer of heavy bitumen in the centre, which is made for sound- proofing the walls of engine rooms, for example. Another type can be bent to a small radius.

Assess the Plywood quality

One way of grading the quality of unmarked plywood is to look at the board from the side. If there are a lot of holes, the quality is lower and lower . As mentioned earlier, the number of layers may also be an indication of the quality.

The top veneer may be cut with a knife or lathed. If it is important to have a perfect surface, then knife-cut or matched plywood is best. Even plywood of the same material may vary in structure and colour. It is hard to find good plywood, but it is available from some special timber yards or you can osk to buy some from a boatbuilder. Some major plywood suppliers unfortunately do not sell odd boards to private persons.

some Wood Suitable for plywood & use in boats:

Birch

is a 10-20 m (32-65 ft) tall tree with a whitish bark with darker spots wood. Birch is a relatively heavy, hard and strong wood, but the resistance to rot is poor. It can easily be moistened with steam (bent), used for laminating, and glued. Weighs approx. 660 kg/m3.

Pine

is a tall tree that can be up to 1300 years old. The pine tree has long needles in pairs. The colour of the wood is yellowish white when the timber is just planed, and becomes a darker yellow with time The Pine is a soft wood, which is relatively resistant in relation to its density. The heartwood has annual rings close together and is fairly rot-resistont. It tends to have knots that can develop cracks and make it difficult to work with the material. Suitable for interior plywood and building material. Weighs approx. 450-500 kg/m3

Oak

is a large tree that grows to up to 30 m The bark, which is coorse, is pole grey and cracked and the tree often has a big crown.

The wood is heavy, hard and strong. The heartwood is light brown to brown and very rotresistant. The splintwood is less rot-resistant. Oak woood is suitable to moisten with steam and perfect for interior, frame ribs in wooden boats.

The hardness of the wood makes it difficult to work in and a hard metal cutter is recommended. Suitable for frame ribs, tables and boat interiors. Weighs approx. 720 kg/m3.

WALNUT

or "Juglans regia"

Walnut has a greyishbrown to brown colour wood with irregular darker stripes. American walnut is an even dark brown, sometimes with a hint of purple. It is medium hard and sensitive to pests. Easy to bend and to work with tools. European walnut has a greyish- brown to brown colour wood with irregular darker stripes. American walnut is an even dark brown, sometimes with a hint of purple. It is medium hard and sensitive to pests. Suitable for veneer for carpentry as it is very expensive. Easy to bend and to work with tools. Weighs approx. 640 kg/m3.

TEAK

or "Tectona grandis"

fresh timber is greenish yellow, but darkens to a dark reddish brown. Teak is very hard, heavy, flexible and oily. The wood has a good resistance to rot and insects. The natural oil content means it does not need to be treated to be weatherproof.

The high content of ingrained silica weors heavily on the tools when working with the material, and it is advisable to use a hardmetal cutter that is changed/ honed often.

Material suitable for boat decks and for both indoor and outdoor carpentry, also available in plywood. Weighs approx. 650 kg /m3.

IROKO

or

African teak

Suitable for interiors, table tops and floorboards. Similar wood to teak, iroko is sometimes called 'budget teak'. Can be used as an alternative to teak, but does not possess the same weather-resistant properties... [part II]


Epoxy Tips By David G. - "How t"o Epoxy Tips & Tricks

Tips and solutions - Fiberglass, Plywood, Woodworker Building Tips

The Barrow Boat Company Limited (UK) - plywood Boats, range of models