Inwale material

Lew's Canoes

Canoe Builder
Has anyone used Fir for inwales? I am having trouble finding long, clear spruce in my area (Western NY state), by I can easily find 16 and 18 foot clear, straight grained Hem-Fir 2x4 and 2x6 , which would easily rip into inwale dimensions. It is undoubtably kiln dried. Any thoughts or prior experience would be appreciated......
I have used Douglas Fir for outwales.It is harder than spruce and a little brittle but I experienced no problems.Had to soak them to go around the curves and they bent fine.
Hem-fir is very different the Douglas fir. Much softer.

Douglas fir has been used in boat builder for hundreds and probably thousands of years, but I don't recall reference to Hemlock Fir being used.

It may have some problem holding the fasteners, as it is very soft.

These guys seem to like hem-fir:

I haven't used it, though I have made gunwales out of hemlock in a pinch. It's fairly soft and tends to be kind of stringy when you plane or sand it, but seems to have adequate strength to do the job. I don't see why hem-fir wouldn't make a decent inwale.
Anyone have a latin name for this Hem-fir? Thought it was a market name for either or. Abies something or other,maybe?
Old-growth Fir gunwale stock

I've dealt with a sawmill in southern Wisconsin that can supply old-growth, very tight grain, clear Douglas Fir in lengths up to 26'. They buy salvage railroad bridge timbers and resaw the beams into custom sizes. Some of their customers have used this premium Douglas Fir for gunwales with apparently good sucess.

The contact is Emile's Specialty Hardwoods. Office phone is 608-734-3157, shop phone 608-734-3599, E-mail:

The USDA Forests Products Lab tables for wood properties indicate DF is stronger than spruce, nearly as light, and has all the properties you'd want in a gunwale.

Found at url provided by Todd:

"Hem-Fir is a species combination of Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) and five of the True Firs: California Red Fir (Abies magnifica), Grand Fir (Abies grandis), Noble Fir (Abies procera), Pacific Silver Fir (Abies amabilis), and White Fir (Abies concolor)."

I use Douglas Fir for all my inwales. I think that it works great. Good Spruce is astronomical in price, and good Fir is very affordable. Haven't used it for outwales.

I am almost ready to be convinced that Peterborough/Chestnut may have used it, though I will hapipily be proven wrong. When I have to repair the ends of the inwales, Fir is an almost perfect match, while Spruce is way too white. Haven't been able to acces any Red Spruce to try...