Southeast Michigan Woodworkers

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PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2017 12:37 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2006 8:12 pm
Posts: 1826
Location: Ypsilanti
I have to make 12 ash rails roughly 5/8" square and 14--17' long. They will be the gunnels ("gunwhales") or side-rails for three fiberglass or kevlar canoes 13-1/2'--16-1/2' long.

The original rails were Vermont white ash and all have deteriorated from a combination of not being revarnished, and being stored outside in the weather for too many years. The hulls are not very stiff without these rails, and so the canoes are un-usable. And all the rest of the canoes' wooden structure: decks (the little triangles of wood at the ends), thwarts (what you might call "crossbars"), seats and seat rails, all these need the gunnels (also called inwhales and out whales for inner and outer gunwhales) to attach to. I'd really like to get these excellent canoes back on the water.

I have been saving long straight-grain ash boards 16-20' long for years, and just completed ripping them (on a bandsaw, with a lot of auxilliary supports) to about 3/4" square. It's amazing how hard it is to find a piece so long with nearly-perfectly-straight grain. A small pin-knot or defect disqualifies the whole piece, a slight bulge may disqualify the entire plank, and even 10% grain run-out is bad. But I think I have enough to do the job, plus a nearly equal amount of rejected, imperfect stock that I can use for set-up. (I suppose that pieces that are too-short can be joined with very long scarf-joints, but I'm hoping to not have to do that.)

Now I need to plane them to 5/8" square S4S and apply a roundover to two corners. Although most of these pieces have enough extra on the ends that I can tolerate some end-snipe, I don't think that running them through the thickness planer is the way to go. I'm afraid the planer will turn them to splinters. I suppose I could hand-plane them, too. It's not that much stock to remove. But I'd have to set up a 16'-long temporary bench to work on.....

I'm more inclined to make a temporary router table and insert it into my 18'-long roller table (which already has a DP and a RAS built-into it). It is in a 40'-long room and has a 7'-long fence. Then I can add a bunch of feather-boards or other guides and do all my planing and corner-rounding on this roller-table, against this long fence.

Your thoughts about this? I'm thinking of trying to find a maybe 1--1-1/2--2" diameter, 1" cutting length straight router bit with a lot of spiral flutes (4 or 6 flutes?), or a similar end-mill. Though any bit could do it, I think a spiral bit would be better. It's extremely straight grain, as I said. Tearout would be fatal. If the bit was bigger diameter, I'd run it slower. If the bit is opposite the fence (planer-style), there won't have to be a step in the fence as there would be if I was working jointer-style.

Four sides plus two corners, times 12 pieces, that's at least 72 passes for these 16-20' long pieces, which I am not looking forward to. But I don't have a better idea. A power-feeder would be good, too, but I don't have one. Advice and comments about recommendations for bits, process, technique, any other ideas, all are welcome.

PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2017 12:41 pm 

Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2012 10:04 am
Posts: 303
Location: Farmington Hills, MI

A thickness sander would be my 1st choice for this.

Kevin (Specialist in reconstituting the wood after a wayward toolpath)

PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2017 4:55 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2014 9:09 am
Posts: 170
Location: Ypsilanti
I would just cut them on a table saw. Have someone to catch on the other side.
Sand with your RO, then profile on the router, then sand the profile by hand. Done.

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