The best you can get

May 3, 2018



Working with wood for boat building is a challenge.  The selection process is integral to the longevity and function of the boat, but also has an ethical component.  Sourcing the best materials is complicated because it often requires using some tropical hardwoods, which can sometimes be of dubious origin.

I feel that great care needs to be taken sourcing wood because deforestation is a huge problem for many of the world's most important ecosystems.  I take care to use only certified and sustainably harvested wood.  


This is why I thought it would be good for me to briefly discuss the materials that I use to build my boats.


 Okoume is a hardwood species native to Gabon, in western Africa.  The wood is harvested from tree farms that are tended as a renewable resource.  I use this wood in marine ply form as a hull and planking material in lightweight boats.  Any plywood used in Interlaken boats is certified as B.S. 1088, which is the highest standard of quality for marine plywood.  It is insured and guaranteed to be void and imperfection free.


Sapele is a finer plywood material, but heavier, and thus better suited to trailered boats.  It is currently considered a sustainable tropical hardwood.  I like to use Sapele boards for keelsons and backbones as well.  This is an exceptional wood for these uses, and I use it wherever applicable.  

Interlaken boat works is committed to using materials that do not contribute to tropical deforestation, so I will continue to monitor the status of these materials.  




Clear, vertical grain, Douglass Fir


 Douglass fir is very commonly available, but long clear lengths are expensive.  I like it for spars,  the weight is more than the lauded spruce, but strength is comparable.  Price and availability is vastly different for the two.



Almost nothing beats White Oak for strength, rot resistance, and longevity.  I use it in my boats for most structural parts, especially below the waterline.  I try to harvest my own trees for White Oak, and I do so very selectively.   I don't take down trees that need not be, but since one tree can provide material for several small boats,  selective harvesting can be sustainable.


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February 22, 2017

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