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3 hours ago, mitchmellow said:

If you do a search of this forum for paulownia you will find it discussed and/or mentioned a number of times.  It appears a number of people have used it successfully.


Yeah, you will have to go to the B&B section to find them.  There are several Australian contributors there.

It is native to Oceania Jeff.  And we have several species near us with similar characteristics.  No demand to import it.

From what I have learned about it I bet it would be a good choice, but do more homework on its characteristics first though.

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Hi Teasea, I used Paulownia and can't speak highly enough about it. Plantation timber grown in central and north NSW, Australia and Asia, its a delight to work with hand tools similar to Western Red Cedar and has comparable strength and marginally lighter in weight.  Also glues well.   The photo shows the colour difference between the ply stem, keel, chine, stem,gunwhale and WRC sheer riser.  Search   paulowniatimber.com.au   and you can order sizes to you needs DAR and they will pack and ship. I don't know if they ship to USA but an email will inform our American friends,  they were pleasant to deal with and small orders not a problem and cost effective as the timber could be used as delivered.




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I used Paulownia for the stringers of my Curlew and it was good. One thing I would recommend is not to change the dimensions of the stringers. I used slighty oversize because it was easier to obtain and I had no easy way of sizing at that time. I also thought that being slighty lighter than WRC it would also be weaker. This does not appear to be the case and the slightly larger size does change the bending characteristics a little so it's best to stay with the design dimensions.


There are 2 suppliers I know of -

- If you are in NSW or Qld try Bywater Design:  http://bywaterdesign.com.au/paulownia-timber-sales/

- For Vic or SA try this one (offshoot of Port Philip Plantation Shutters):  http://www.paulowniatimber.com.au/


If you are in WA I guess the freight will about the same from either source.

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Thanks for the info guys, I was as you were Labrat a bit worried about the strength, as it lighter than WRC and thought of upping the dimension but I guess i will stay with the plans as per Kudzu. As he says change something and you are on your own. 

I have used paulownia in a previous strip built Redfish kayak a few years ago I enjoyed the build of this but they take a lot of time that we don't always have and now i am getting on

bit older I like the idea of the light weight of skin on frame construction, i will be ordering my plans for a Curlew in the next few weeks. Pics below of the kayak and a skin on frame canoe, the canoe was completed just before Christmas and has had a couple of outings Narrabeen lake and middle harbour upper reaches. Have had some fun so far but I like the idea of a light weight kayak. so here I go.




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My build thread is now on page 24! It's nearly 4 years old but I still can't believe how far back it is. Despite a few quiet periods there has been a lot of activity on this forum - I think that's a testimony to Jeff's designs and the level of support he offers.


If you click on the title shown below it will link to the thread..



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Hi All


Another new member here. This is a very interesting and timely discussion for me. Having “discovered” kayaking  April last year, I was intrigued with the idea of building one and completed a SOF during a course in July by way of introduction. I am now starting my first solo build and have ordered a set of Ravenswood plans from Jeff. I am also considering Paulownia as a replacement for WRC.


I am a complete beginner and at the moment I am simply trying to absorb as much information as I can. Apologies in advance for any dumb questions as they occur.


Labrat, I know you said you like the Paulownia. Can I ask how your Curlew has held up over the last 4 years. Much use?


In the photo from Trakka, the lashing seems to be cutting into the Paulownia quite deeply. Is this a potential issue?


Thanks for your time

Edited by Quiet
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6 hours ago, Quiet said:

Labrat, I know you said you like the Paulownia. Can I ask how your Curlew has held up over the last 4 years. Much use?


I checked my paddling log tonight and was surprised how little I have used it - 9 trips for a total of about 17 hours ( so under 2 hours per trip on average).


A couple of years ago I took it up a shallow, rocky channel with lots of sticks/timber while trying to get through to a larger backwater. Eventually had to turn around and go back as it was completely blocked. There was some skimming over submerged logs and a few bumps into trees but everything held up. 


It's all still tight and in good condition and despite the low use I am confident it will last well even if usage pics up.


Here are some pics of the interior taken tonight. Only the stringers are paulownia - frames are hardwood ply. I'm surprised how close they are in colour as the paulownia is quite pale to start.

P1060638 [800x600].JPG

P1060635 [800x600].JPG

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Thanks for the replies folks.

Trakka - I can see now what you mean regards making grooves for the lashing. And Labrat, thank you for the interior pics. Helps a lot.

Looks like either WRC or Paulownia are eminently suitable so I'll probably end up going with whichever I can get in best quality (long, straight grained, clear, etc) at a reasonable price.

I have built a simple workbench and am now building the stands and strong-back while waiting for the plans to arrive.

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