Larch for Clinker/Clench-Nailed Canoe Building?


New Member
I've decided to make a canoe found in the Mystic Seaport Museum plans catalogue, Chic, 2' 4" beam, six planks to a side. The book calls for (Northern White) Cedar, but I found some beautiful Larch with tight grain from an estate in Woodstock Vermont. I bought twenty pieces 3/8" x 4" - 7" x 16' rough sawn and have them stickered and covered. Is this a good use for this wood, or should I save it for something else? It's not soft like western cedar, seems like it would be better. It's more like old growth Doug Fir, but lighter.
It'll be heavier than a boat made of cedar (though not as heavy as the original Rob Roys that were planked with white oak...!). I haven;t worked with it outside of knees for stems, but I would be concerned about whether it has a propensity to split. White cedar is about as perfect a canoe building wood that one can find...
I'm with Dan. Larch is good for stems,knees,framing pieces. Make nice decks. Never heard of it as planking for canoes, again likely due to its density. Great to have different types and grades of wood available in your shop.
From a Woodstock, VT estate, this is almost certainly European larch (Larix decidua), not native tamarack (Larix laricinia). There is probably more around as some of the earliest european larch plantations in North America are on Woodstock's Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park which is dedicated to interpreting the evolving history of forest stewardship. A late 1800's plantation was thinned last summer and the logs went to at least two small local mills. But I digress..

I'm not sure our native larch and european larch have identical wood characteristics. I can tell you that it is fairly dense (My fuelwood included thinnings from this plantation 25 years ago.) You might want to experiment with a piece before deciding it will not work.

Congratulations on getting a piece of history.
Yes Jon, that's the place; And it is a piece of history. GoodWood is milling what he got of it now, and when I picked up my little order, I had an extream attack of wood envy. It didn't occure to me it was Larix decidua. Thanks for that nugget. I guess the next step is buying some copper clench nails. I saved one potential plank out to dry clamped to a roof ladder under the shop to make more battens, but maybe I'll try to make garboard and broad hood ends, or a basket for harvesting peas - a Vermont pea-pod ? Sorry.