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Finding good material to make spars for our boats has always been difficult.  I love Sitka Spruce, nut the cost and availability are prohibitive for me.  Lumberyard spruce works.  But it is getting harder to find.  I read something on the Duckworks Facebook page that I thought was interesting enough to share.  Several builders there have used poplar for their spars.  They say that you can bleach out the green by exposing it to sunlight for a few days.  What are your thoughts about using poplar?

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I’ve had success with Southern White Pine.  It has a good strength to weight ratio, but fairly expensive for clear pieces.  A few knots are tolerable, which can be drilled out with a hole cutter saw and then plugged.  Also Douglas Fir — available at Home Depot in large widths (2 x 10s or larger in long lengths).

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For what it’s worth... I used a 10 foot 5/4 x6” deck board from Lowe’s to make the boom for The Wheezer’s Spindrift 10.  I cut it to length, ripped it in half, and epoxy glued them together for a full two inch thickness.  The boards here (at Lowe’s) are southern yellow pine.  It was easy to select a completely clear board with no bend or twist from the pile and many great boards had interesting grain patterns. It was pressure treated and I let it dry some before working with it.  I glued opposite end-grain together. 
 

Since the outside surfaces were planed and sanded, bringing it down to plan dimensions, the green treatment disappeared leaving the nice yellow appearance.  (Southern yellow pine is what has been in the kits I picked up from B&B.)

 

In the photo, the top and bottom two pieces are SYP from B&B for my ski-boat build. The top two were epoxied. The middle piece is the boom I made from a Lowe’s deck board. 

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Sitka Spruce is my #1 choices.  But price and availability are why I didn t use it as well

 

Alaskan Yellow Cedar is great, if you can get it.  When I was in RI it was available 10 minutes down the road.  I made my oars for my Lapwing out of it.  Here in FL no one has even heard of it.

 

Douglas Fir is a tad heavier than ideal, but it is what I used.  I made my Spindrift boom, both Lapwing masts and sprits. You can likely get some nice pieces if you are willing to create a little scrap getting the best parts even at a big box store. (cringes at the thought of big box stores) By the board wide if you have to and figure out how to get the best part of it.

 

I am skeptical that you can bleach Poplar and lose the green.  I would try it first.  I like Poplar, but it is ugly. The heartwood is white, but hard to find.

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I’m not making new spars at the moment.  I was mainly sharing this info off of the Duckworks page.  Because of some of the stuff I see on that page, I was initially skeptical,  but they said that Dave Gentry and Dudley Dix recommend it.  One guy used it for his yard and boom, and was pleased with its performance.  It is good to have options, when Sitka Spruce is so hard to come by.  Next time, I’ll dig a little harder for Doug Fir.  But it’s good to know that Poplar might work.  We have loads of that around here.

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