Redwood planking

Lew's Canoes

Canoe Builder
Can anyone comment on the pros/cons of planking a w/c canoe with redwood? I recently came across a source of long, clear, vertical grain redwood boards that would make beautiful planking, but before I "mortgage the farm" to buy them, I would like to know how redwod would perform. Seems like it is pretty close to Red Cedar - how is it to resaw, bend, tack, and how durable would it be?
Redwood vs WRC

I understand that Redwood is in the same family as WRC and it is much more readily available, at least here in the midwest. I was looking at it for a cedar strip canoe and it can be used but it is a little heavier and somewhat more brittle. Pretty much personal choice, otherwise...
I second Woodchuck's post

I have not used redwood for canoe planking but tried it for a small duck boat years ago. The brittle nature of the wood made it difficult to bend and required predrilling for even small diameter boat nails to prevent splitting. I wouldn't consider it a bargain unless it was darn near free as it will add hours to the project
I've built two or three strippers from redwood and in general, it works fine. It does tend once in a while to shatter from the impact of the staple gun going off, so I wonder a bit about how it will survive the twisting and hammering that goes on when making a wood/canvas boat.
Darkening redwood

I've used redwood and will second the builders above about the brittle nature of the wood.

Redwood also starts out darker in color than red cedar, and over the years seems to darken from sunlight much faster than cedar. I've seen 10-year old redwood strippers that are almost black and suprememly unattractive. Cedar mellows while redwood just blackens.

As a long time redwood/cedar strip and fiberglass canoe builder I would recommend that you keep the redwood for strip canoe building. The redwood is more brittle and unforgiving when bent, than cedar. The strength to weight ratio is about the same, but I think that you would lose a lot of wood to breakage when building a wood canvas canoe with redwood. It would probably break or split just as you are putting in the last clinch nail to that rib or plank!
On another note, redwood will bond well with polyester resin fiberglass, while cedar will not. Both seem to be about the same with epoxy resins. I still have one of my first canoes I made in 1971 with redwood and polyester resin. It has been on over 12 extended Boundary Waters canoe trips plus many other trips. The redwood has darkened (or taken on a "patina") over the years, but it is still very beautiful while looking like a dark red mahogany multi-colored canoe, and the fiberglass has not separated from the wood at all. It is still one of my favorite canoes, and the plans were from the Minnesota Canoe Association.
I have not used redwood in any of my wood and canvas canoe building projects, but would like to hear how your project works out.
Working with redwood is very time consuming, In the past I have built a few scale model canoes with redwood. The wood is brittle and is trouble when it comes to bending. I also had to pre drill every tack hole to keep from cracking..
The canoes I built had to be clear inside and out so I had to be very careful .


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Hey Joe,

If you are looking for some redwood for a stripper, I have some bead/cove, maybe 30 strips altogether. You'd be doing me a favor.
Redwood for a stripper

Dear Dave,
I would be interested. How long are the strips? Did you buy them from a known source or did you machine them yourself? The reason I ask this question is that I would have to machine more redwood (and cedar) to match the section dimensions and the curve with my router/shaper cutter bits.
How much are you asking for the 30 strips?
My phone #815-485-4411 Thanks!

I realized after my recent post that this was an old posting originally. But, nevertheless I didn't post as classified because I really would rather just give the strips to someone who can use them. So---
I have checked what's out there.
Redwood is 1/4" x 5/8" bead/cove 10 pieces from 6 1/2' to 13' for a grand total of abut 100 linear feet.
Western Red Cedar is 1/4" x 3/4" b/c 11 pieces 18' and one piece is 13'. for about 211 linear feet. Randy, Illinois may be too far even for free stuff but you can have it if you want. Or, if anyone closer to Lovely Lapeer wants it, I guess it's furst come, furst go home with it.

The cedar I got from my brother in Florida. We had a prospector made for dad by a guy who was going to make his fortune at building strippers. He rented from my brother and left station molds and strips behind when he left town. So my brother gave it to me. In those days I thought I'd try to build a stripper. But I lean toward w/c now. I gave the station molds away. But I had a nice trip to Florida.

The redwood I got from a friend here. Left over from Redbird. He started it I finished it and here it is.


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I've had some luck with redwood.

I found some redwood planking (leftover from a home addition) at a yard sale. Eight long boards (20 ft) that were unused, for 5 dollars. I figured I couldn't go too far wrong at that price. A cabinet shop milled them for me into thicknesses that I use for planking and ribs. Yes, it is a bit brittle.
However, I have had some pretty good results by soaking the planking for several days and then predrilling holes in the wood. I soaked the ribs in a piece of black drain pipe that was in the hot sun, for about a week. The water got so hot during the day that I couldn't put my hand in the water. I don't know if this helped with the bending, but after the long soak and steaming for 45 minutes the ribs bent very nicely. The most severe bend was the first rib after the end of the stem. It seems that the best wood for the ribs needs to have a lon-n-n-ng grain pattern to it or it will split away more easily than the white cedar.
I plan on staining the inside of the hull, so in my case the color difference in the wood is not an issue.

You were asking about REDWOOD. Sorry but my experience is with red cedar. Well, maybe my first post can help someone else. I'll have to read postings closer before I go runnin' my mouth!
Hi Ken.

the two bundles I have look the same to my uneducated eye. the only way I know what they are is that I know where they came from. The last time I bought Western Red Cedar I paid $4 per board foot, So I'd say if you have Redwwod OR Red Cedar---You made a very good deal.

Any relation to the riflescope maker?