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Help to identify timber please

Discussion in 'Traditional All-Wood Construction' started by samb, Jan 23, 2017.

  1. samb

    samb LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I’ve started stripping my board and batten canoe. I have discovered that the planks are made from two different species. The third plank up, (which has most of the bend in it) is a softer and lighter coloured wood than all the other planks. (Top plank in the first photo)




    I am no expert on wood species in the UK, let alone those used in Canada about 85 years ago. Can anyone help me out?

  2. Dick Persson

    Dick Persson Canoe builder & restorer

    Hi Sam,

    The majority of the wide board rib & batten canoes were planked with basswood and ribbed with rock-elm. Another early choice was Ontario white cedar for planking, but with dwindling amount of large cedars, basswood was mostly used later on.

    Some models from Peterborough Canoe Company finished clear, used a butternut top plank with the other basswood.
  3. OP

    samb LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Thanks for this Dick

    After reading the Canadian canoe co catalogues I expected it all to be basswood planking - but being in the uk, I wouldn't recognise basswood if some onewere to come up and hit me with a plank of it. Do either look anything like basswood to you?


  4. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    Second photo (with the fuzz) looks like basswood to me. Third photo looks like Spanish cedar (a form of mahogany).
  5. OP

    samb LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Thank you. I'm glad it's the third plank that needs all the repair /replacements as although I can't buy basswood here, I have got English Lime which is very close in looks and properties. Heaven knows where I'd get Spanish cedar

  6. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    First, I agree with Dan, the third board has the characteristic grain that suggests Spanish cedar (very mahogany-ish).
    In the UK Woodworkers Source is a possible supplier? Also Timberline Hardwoods. It may also be called cigar box cedar?

    WRT basswood availabilty.... bassword is common in Europe, perhaps not the UK but certainly in Germany. The very famous Berlin street Unter den Linden is lined with basswood...Linden.
    My grandfather and I used to make Linden (Basswood) honey in Berlin so I'm 100% positive about this.

    But I do think that you have it in the UK, the lime tree is a member of the genus Tillia.
  7. OP

    samb LOVES Wooden Canoes

    After looking, I can get Spanish cedar - but not Basswood. European Lime is not basswood - Basswood is a type of lime - Tilia Americana, and European lime is Tilia x europaea; similar but not the same properties, and a bit heavier.

    As I say, I have Lime so will use that as it is just one side that needs a big repair.

    Any thoughts on why the third plank on each side would be basswood? It is the plank with most curve so is it much easier to get the shape without splitting?
    Have I got a boat with a previous repair on both sides at that level - if so it was very well done - no extra holes in ribs, perfect fit right through, varnish of similar age.
    I've seen the 1894 and 1929 catalogues and neither mention Spanish Cedar as an option in full or part planking. Maybe a special order?


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