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Stringer Kits...maybe

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Just did a test run making a stringer kit for a client and now to wait and see how the Postal Service treats them. 

 

I have been thinking about this for a long time. My idea was to make 8 foot stringers with scarfs cut on the ends. Ship you enough stringers for you to glue together for your boat.  Problem has always been shipping but to my surprise a bundle of stringers will go USPS VERY REASONABLE!!   

 

Assuming they make it no problems then this may come about.  My biggest issue is still finding suitable wood.  I was lucky and I found some very good 16' lengths locally.  I felt guilty cutting them into 8' lengths. But it went smooth and quicker than I expected.  If I can find a supply I would cut them in advance, so when you order I just pull and package them.

 

Cost? Well I still need to go over my time and materials on making these but I think this could be done for $200 or less. The big question is what will it cost me to have good wood shipped to my shop? 

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I think a total boat bundle package deal is very appealing to a certain person. It caters to a complete neophyte, a person with limited time, and a person looking for a nice kit package. Also, someone might not have access to equipment to rip stringers, but almost anyone can muster the tools to cut frames out of ply, so not having to rip stringers might be the tipping point...

This is a great idea for your future business, I think, and I hope it works out for you.

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I hope it works out for you. One option to consider in making it easier for clients to assemble is going with a hooked scarf joint. The jig is super easy to make and the joints are very easy to cut. The best visual of the jig and method comes from a member called "Boatman53" on another forum.

 

The joints look like this: (he used two different woods for visual)

hooked%20scarf.jpg

 

I like the hook, it keeps the joints from trying to slide around on the glue plus it looks cool and really only takes an extra minute per joint to cut, even less if you use two routers set up at different depths so you don't have to change depth mid-process. 

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I don't know that the depth of the notch above makes a lot of difference, but it is weaker than a simple 8:1 bevel.  The notch cuts off the grain at the step.  It has the same effect as using a piece of wood with grain run-off.  I like decorative scarf joints.  They have their place.  I don't think anything bent into place to remain under constant load like a stringer is one of them however.  

 

Is the step above weakening the joint significantly enough to worry about?  When stronger is an option I think it is.  If I am going to push the breaking point for strong enough, it will be to save weight.

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The notch doesn't weaken enough to matter in this instance. It's also a 12:1, not an 8:1 for what it's worth and the benefit is not decorative, but locking the scarf together so that the two boards don't try to slide while gluing together. 

 

Still, opinions vary and everyone has their preference. Ask a dozen builders their opinion and you'll get fourteen answers! I just offered it as a suggestion to make the scarfing process easier since people buying kits are usually ones with less woodworking skills and experience. 

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The notch doesn't weaken enough to matter in this instance. It's n builders their opinion and you'll get fourteen answers! 

You don't know that.  And it isn't a matter of opinion.  Any time you cut across the grain you weaken wood and the joint.  Enough to matter? What does that mean?  It is weaker, and that can matter.  

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Not to play devil's advocate, but if we trust this type of joint because cured joint is stronger than the natural wood, why would the cross grain cut make the stringer any weaker post-cure?

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Not to play devil's advocate, but if we trust this type of joint because cured joint is stronger than the natural wood, why would the cross grain cut make the stringer any weaker post-cure?

Are you asking me why continuous grain is stronger than a piece where some of it (the grain) is cut through?  A scarf gets its strength because the bias cuts, which become the joint are approaching the same direction as the grain in each piece of wood.  The step interrupts that.

 

When I build a boat I want the weakest points to be the materials.  Not my joinery.  With a stepped scarf you risk the joint being the weak point.  I just see no good reason to risk that when a simple scarf is so simple to do.

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Dave,

I'm guessing you missed the recommendation on another thread to use butt blocks rather than scarfs on the stringers...

Talk about devil's advocate. Maybe more instigator, eh? ;)

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This got off subject a lot! 

Getting back on topic.....

 

My source for lumber did not pan out. Turned out it was perfect except for the fact it was random length. That just will not work trying to resell it.  I have been searching and finally decided the only way I will ever be able to do this is buy straight from the mills in PNW.  While I am still waiting on more quotes I got one in today and ran some numbers.  

 

I still have to add in shipping cost but looks like a set of stringers for Ravenwsood or Vardo would be around $300-350. 

 

Short shot because of the mulit chine (extra stringers) would run $400- 450.  This one surprised me but double checked and that is right. A lot more lumber in it.  Most of the cost is the lumber. Of course there is my labor to plane it size, rip the boards to width and scarf the ends.

 

Tell me what you think about the prices. If you don't have a table saw is this going to be so high you will look for other options? It not going to offend me! There probably isn't as much profit as you would think and I don't want to go to all this work and expense if it is not gong to sell!

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Even with random sizes, it's an enormous time saver to buy pre-ripped stringers.

I bought the frames kit to save time in cutting. But that's a lot of intricate cutting.

 

I don't know if I could justify $350 a boat for the stringers tho.

For me: Cutting the frames for two boats seemed really tedious and a screw up meant throwing away a frame.

The stringers were pretty fast work with a table saw. But, I do own a table saw.

 

I think you're target for stringers will be a person without access to a table saw or band saw. There are a lot of those folks out there.

 

Would it be such a bad thing to offer ripped lengths and let the builder scarf them to the right lengths? That's already a time saver.

Maybe offer free plans to make a scarf jig for a hand saw.

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I think the value comes not from not "having" a table saw.  I "have" one, but it's a cheapo Sears special that really wasn't intended to put out the precision cuts we all would like.  I make do, but at the cost of hours with a power belt sander to clean up all the saw marks.  I think the real value comes from them being planed down to plan dimensions and having the scarfs cut, and that's the selling point I'd market.  

 

That said, I think a lot of us are building these because we enjoy the process as much as, if not more than the product itself.  Against better judgement, looking back and counting up, I was around $400 deep into FreeB with no plans as I ran the gauntlet of the school of hard knocks learning what and where to source materials.  Tadpole was also around $400, but that includes the plans and the upcharge for the 6 oz premium fabric.  The two Gentry Kidyaks were less than $150 each, and the Wallops Island was around $280 including plans.  All that to say in the cost benefit analysis, the 100% increase in cost for around 4-5 hrs of labor and $35 worth of my sourced materials just doesn't balance for me.  So to your question, hands down I would go buy a (better even) table saw before I'd pay $350 for a stringer kit because I like the low "project" cost, getting new tools, the process itself, and the pride that comes from doing it myself more than the final product.

 

However, to the person who values the product more than the process, all things considered and knowing what it takes to walk the walk, it seems like a fair market value to me as well.

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Thinking about this last night I think it is just to high to ever sell enough to be worth doing. The lumber costs are just to high. I am waiting on some other quotes, this one was clear, not the c and better grade I asked about. So maybe the price will be better on the next one.

 

As for random lengths it would be a real pain in the butt putting kits together and making sure that I have enough material to assure you could build your stringers.  Plus the fact that scarfs scare the hell out of a lot of people regardless how simple you make it look. That is going to add labor cost and just be really annoying. Then there is packaging and shipping and that is why I want one length, makes it much simpler on me.

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"or around 4-5 hrs of labor and $35 worth of my sourced materials "

Just curious what are you using for stringers? For that price it can't be WRC.

I get rough cut cedar from a little local shop and can almost always pilfer through the stack to find 4-5 knot free 2x6x10s to the tune of $17 per stick plus tax. 2 sticks per boat, and I usually have half a board leftover after ripping them down.

Now, am I 100% certain it's "western red" cedar vs. some other kind of cedar? Nope, not really, but I guess you've seen my build threads, so if that's not what you're seeing, please let me know. They're stamped "SELKIRK" on the ends.

0329161831_zpspzv4pwvb.jpg

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I get rough cut cedar from a little local shop and can almost always pilfer through the stack to find 4-5 knot free 2x6x10s to the tune of $17 per stick plus tax.

 

Holly cow!  The price I just got for a 1x4 x 8', clear, planned 4 sides was over $20 a board plus shipping!   I think siding which is s3s is about $17 locally. 

 

Of course that is just the first quote, maybe the other will be more reasonable.

 

Meant to add that looks like WRC, not the clear grade but I would happy what ever it is.

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It might be cheaper to order rough 2 by stuff, Jeff. Less work on the wood itself generally means less cost per board, and you have the tools to clean it up. Plane it to 1 1/2" rip it to 5/8, then rip the rest down.

Fence and deck suppliers are the way to go for that stuff, probably. I get cedar and sequoia from a fence and deck guy, and in small amounts from a local mill. Fence guy does the old CPO routine for me, for a small up charge. I get clean wood pretty cheap.

My fir, pine and ash all comes from small local mills.

Peace,

Robert

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WRC only grows about 2,500+ miles from me so there are no local mills. ;)  

 

But cypress grows here in the south, it is plentiful along the coast. I just received a quote on cypress and it MUCH cheaper!!  I need to get details about what grade he quoted me. Then I need to get a price on shipping and factor that in but it just a few hundred miles, not thousands of miles. 

 

I would say if I switched to cypress $200 string kits are realistic. Short Shot could probably be around $250-275. They could ship USPS very reasonable too. Those numbers look a lot better!

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Well, you are getting WRC somewhere, there. Why not try a fence and deck place? Or a wholesale supplier of fencing and decks? Lots of two by stuff in the outdoor deck market, less in the fences.

I mostly, like I said, get cedar and sequoia from a fence and deck guy. Big stacks come on a train from somewhere. All that jazz. He pulls out nice stuff for me as he piles up orders because I bribe him with gifts.

For, pine, and ash I only use local stuff, but other stuff I get from a yard.

Now, cypress would be cool. A regional flair, if you will. I intend to build a castaway for a friend of mine next spring, maybe I'll get him to spring for some stringers and a kit, save me all the unpleasant work. :)

Either way, I think you are on a good track. I think these stringers could make the difference for some people, and I think a "complete" kit is a cool idea. And a great thing to take to your classes, eh?

I wish you much luck, as always.

Peace,

Robert

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What a roller coaster ride! Finding wood has been like trying to find fabric but I have talking to mill here in the South about cypress. Price are MUCH more reasonable and I like working with cypress. Have never used in stringers but I am going to have to try it soon

 

With the cypress a Ravenswood kit would run $200 +/-.   Short Shot would be around $275 +/- 

This is right in the range I wanted to be!

 

That is plus shipping but I have shipped one set as a test and it was surprisingly cheap.

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