basswood stripper?


New Member
I know cedar is the first choice. where i live in minnesota finding cedar clear of knots is tough and expensive. I personally love the look of basswood. I like a lighter colored canoe with dark accents. I havent found white cedar anywhere. I can find basswood anywhere. I can see about 10 trees out my window. I have heard basswood is more vulnerable to rot. Does this matter if you are glassing the boat? This will be my first canoe. I have replaced gunwales in my inlaws stripper. I realized just how amazing these canoes look. I cant wait to get started. Any help would be appreciated.:D
Basswood under 'glass is fairly common on wooden paddles, where it does work. The difference is the 'glass... on paddle shafts, which don't typically get 'glassed, anyplace the water can get through the finish (miniscule cracks in the varnish, etc) will start to blacken the basswood fairly quickly. You won't even know there's water in there until it turns black. Worse yet, once the water gets in there, it starts peeling the varnish, and spreading underneath, continually exposing larger & larger wood surfaces. My paddles that have basswood in them need a lot of maintenance. I don't use Basswood any more.

So there are two areas I'd be concerned about in a basswood stripper: the top edge of the hull, where the gunnels go, and anywhere the 'glass overcoat is penetrated, whether it be due to screws (holding on gunnels, stem bands, keel, etc) or due to crunching against rocks, and cracking the 'glass.

I'm sure others on this forum with more expertise than I will be along to add comments, but that's my perspective...

Basswood has been used for small craft as I recall. BUT you can likely find redwood siding and it works well for strippers. Western Red cedar should be available. Try yellow pages. Clear white cedar is hard to find, but it IS out there, and not too expensive. I've got a bunch of it. 8 footers. REdwood and Western red comes long. If you want to use basswood go ahead and take precations against it getting wet.
I don't know how light basswood is by comparison.
I talked to a guy recently who is saving up his scrap bamboo to make a stripper. He's a rod builder. I think you could use most anything, but some woods are better.

You don't indicate where in MN you live, but, if near the Cities,

Scherer Bros carries (or used to) Aye (clear) grade western red cedar to 20 ft and Clear redwood to 20 ft at the Medberry store (35W in Shoreview),

they carry D grade western red cedar at the MPLS store but it's only to 16 ft.

If your insistant on white ceder, there used to be guy with a sign on 35 W just north of Sandstone. I never contacted him to see what he had/has.


btw, in MN white cedar is tough/tougher to find because (I was told) that the DNR and FS in the Northern part of the state have in recent years pulled white cedar from their sales, something about saving it for the wildlife, so any cut would have to come from private stands.
A year or two ago I purchased some white cedar from a gentleman who logged it off his own land north of Duluth and he told me the same thing about the white cedar restriction. I actually found the cedar on the trusty ol' craigslist, though I haven't come across much since that time...
thanks guys for the info. I found some western red at my local lumber yard. They said it had knots in it but I went to look anyway. Stuff looked good to me. They let me pick through the pile. Hope this stuff will work OK. Thanks for the heads up on the white cedar. I talked to quite a few people and could not locate any. I decided against the basswood in fear of alot of hard work going to waste. I will put some in for accent strips. This board is great!
The original board and batten canoe of the Peterborough type were built using all Basswood planks. You could use it with no fear.

Short planks for a stripper are fine. I once built a canoe using clear cedar fence boards, 6' long each. OK, it was a pain to do all the fitting, but the canoe didn't care.