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  #11  
Old 08-17-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveCox View Post
A laminated tiller is not "far stronger" than solid wood in and of itself. There are a lot of factors to be considered.
Depends on who you talk to. One manufacturer of airplane spars claims their laminated spars are 25% stronger than the same size & weight in straight wood. Others claim there's no difference. In my exceedingly short experiment with wood working, during which I did a lot of studying, I learned that a properly made up, properly glued joint, using modern glues will exceed the strength of the surrounding wood. (Excluding end-grain surfaces, of course.) I also learned that even the most perfect-looking piece of straight-grained wood can have hidden defects (knots, pitch pockets, grain anomalies) that will only be revealed when you try to work the wood (uncovering them), when it unaccountably moves or warps later on, or when it fails under load. Also there is the question of grain orientation vs. load direction. Lamination, properly done, solves all these problems.

Jim
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Old 08-17-2008
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Absolutely correct Jim!

Laminates are stronger and more reliable than solid. Keep it varnished and covered and it will out live you. There are also limitless possibilities in design or shapes. If you have access to the proper tools it's a really easy project. If you don’t, there are folks out there on the net . . . and I think in “Good Old Boat” ads that will make one to your specs for a very reasonable price. Just draw them a pattern and send it in.

The store bought ones are limited to the popular (marketable) ones such as replacements for Catalina, Hunter etc. I re-built mine last year (Chrysler 26) because I couldn’t find one that fit my boat. I plan to make my own custom shape this year to better accommodate a tiller pilot.

Go laminated!
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"I learned that a properly made up, properly glued joint, using modern glues will exceed the strength of the surrounding wood."

Absolutely correct if it is properly made up and properly glued. But what if your glue mix is off? Or, the temperature is outside the range, the joints are not tight enough or conversely depending on the glue, too tight and therefore glue starved? All of these factors are just as devastating as a hidden defect in a piece of solid wood. A piece of solid Sitka Spruce has a lot more flex to it than a laminated piece of the same size because the glue joints are more rigid than the wood itself. Depending on the application that might wind up being more survivable than a "stonger" laminated piece of wood. I did not really question the use of laminated tillers, for many reasons they are usually preferrable but I hate blanket staements like laminated wood is always better than solid. It just isn't necessarily so. BTW I have three years formal training in both boat building and furniture building and currently do most of my work in the latter.
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Steve,

I just looked back through the thread and couldn’t find the word “always” in it. I’m sure there are applications where solid construction is better in certain situations and laminate in others. I still have a solid ash tiller from my 1960 22 foot ocean racer built in Holland. It’s so hard you’d think it was petrified wood. It is my “opinion” that a laminated tiller is a better choice than a solid one. I think you’re trying to make tiller construction more complicated than it really is. Give me some ash stock, a bottle of Gorilla Glue, and a can of high quality polyurethane spar varnish and I’ll whip out a tiller that’ll last a life time. It’s not rocket science. If you see a wheel barrow handle on a boat please send the picture to the “Sailboat Hall of Shame” thread.

I don’t have as much to offer to the Forum as many in here . . . but every now and then something pops up I can speak to. I have extensive experience in laminating every species of wood imaginable. I spent almost 30 years as a master carpenter with references of several multi-millionaire clients I can provide . . . offline. I do not have any formal experience as a Shipwright but I have lived on boats and done work on my own. I have recently left the carpentry world for the engineering world. Getting too old to push the old Powermatic around.

My point . . . nobody is making a blanket statement. The Forum is full of opinions. If somebody likes a solid tiller they should get one . . . if they can find one. The original question was where to find one and why laminated ones are the norm today. Answer to question A: Can’t answer that. Answer to question B: Many think laminated tillers look better, are stronger and you can get much better curves and shapes.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveCox View Post
"I learned that a properly made up, properly glued joint, using modern glues will exceed the strength of the surrounding wood."

Absolutely correct if it is properly made up and properly glued. But what if...
Yes, if the joints are not proper, they probably won't be strong, much less stronger than the surrounding wood. Thus my proviso: properly made up, properly glued. Thing is: A skilled craftsman can see whether or not their craftsmanship is right. (Or should be able to.) But no craftsman can see inside a chunk of solid wood. If he or she really knows their wood, saw the wood in its natural element (as part of the tree), and selected well out of that tree, they can surmise certain things about the likely properties inside it. But that's as close as they can come.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveCox View Post
... I hate blanket staements like laminated wood is always better than solid. It just isn't necessarily so.
I did not say "always better." I said "A properly made laminate is far stronger than a single piece of wood and is more dimensionally stable." Certainly there's disagreement about "far stronger." (I've admitted as much.) But such disagreements assume a defect-free piece of solid wood. We're back to the point I made above.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveCox View Post
BTW I have three years formal training in both boat building and furniture building and currently do most of my work in the latter.
I have nowhere near the training or experience you do. All my "training" is self-taught from book larnin' and from talking to work-working craftspeople here and there. I certainly have no experience. (Turned out I didn't have the patience for wood-working.) So I bow to your superior training, knowledge and experience.

But I stand by my earlier assertion . However I will qualify it with it is my understanding.

Jim
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Old 08-17-2008
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My laminated, ash and mahogany tiller broke at a very bad time, causing a spreader to the water knockdown during a squall. The tiller looked perfect from the outside, but split between glue joints where it was bolted in. I have seen a couple others do the same thing. Water runs into the mounting bracket and gets into the bolt holes, and inside the unfinished wood. Over a period of years, the glue joints can fail from repeated swelling and drying out. I made a new tiller from osage orange wood, with the grain running vertically to the mounted tiller position. It's absolutely beatiful wood when varnished and "aged" a few months. I think you could lift the boat with that tiller. osage orange wood is also extremely rot resistant. I've seen fenceposts made from osage that were still completely solid after being in the ground for 75 years.

I make my living making laminated wood archery bows. If you are going to make a laminated tiller; be sure you make a perfect form, use proper clamping methods, and spread enough waterproof glue to every clean,mating surface. I cure the laminated bows in an oven for 5 hours to get best results.
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I made a new tiller from osage orange wood, with the grain running vertically to the mounted tiller position. It's absolutely beatiful wood when varnished and "aged" a few months. I think you could lift the boat with that tiller. osage orange wood is also extremely rot resistant. I've seen fenceposts made from osage that were still completely solid after being in the ground for 75 years.

Sorry to hear about that tiller break. I hope that’s all that was bad and no serious damage came from it. I doubt a solid tiller would have lasted any longer. I drilled, cleaned and sealed the bolt holes on the inside before re-installing mine. I went with 7 coats of spar varnish on the whole thing and keep it covered when not in use.

Osage orange, great wood . . . and hard as hell. We call it Bodark down here and most folks think of it as a nuisance tree. They are not pretty trees and one tree will cost you several chains. We have Bodark out the wazoo in our area. I had thought about making the new tiller out of ash only but bodark sounds pretty good. Are the laminates run vertically or is it solid with the grain run vertically? I’ll probably stick with horizontal laminating due to the tiller extension / Tiller Pilot holes I’ll be drilling. Regardless . . . you sold me on Bodark. Glad you stumbled across the thread okawbow!
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Quote:
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Sorry to hear about that tiller break. I hope thatís all that was bad and no serious damage came from it. I doubt a solid tiller would have lasted any longer. I drilled, cleaned and sealed the bolt holes on the nside before re-installing mine. I went with 7 coats of spar varnish on the whole thing and keep it covered when not in use.

Osage orange, great wood . . . and hard as hell. We call it Bodark down here and most folks think of it as a nuisance tree. They are not pretty trees and one tree will cost you several chains. We have Bodark out the wazoo in our area. I had thought about making the new tiller out of ash only but bodark sounds pretty good. Are the laminates run vertically or is it solid with the grain run vertically? Iíll probably stick with horizontal laminating due to the tiller extension / Tiller Pilot holes Iíll be drilling. Regardless . . . you sold me on Bodark. Glad you stumbled across the thread okawbow!
Other than some scrapes and bruises to my wife and I, from being thrown across the boat; no damage. The old Bristols were made well.....

I used solid osage cut from a 20 year old 2" flat sawn plank. The grain is vertical as viewed from above. if you could find a quarter sawn plank with a curved grain that matches your tiller curve; it would be strongest. I laminate osage all the time for bows. it's best ground in a thickness grinder with 36 grit. It should be wiped with acetone before gluing with Smooth-on epoxy or Urac 185. However, I think good quality solid bodark is stronger than laminated ash and mahogany. Your local sawmill might have 2"osage that they cut for pallets. It's hard to find clear wood, but if the tree was big enough, sometimes you can get it. I've also made grab rails, and winch bases from osage. It cuts best with a bandsaw, and use as coase grit to sand as possible.
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The temptation will be to use epoxy as it is billed as the glue of choice for marine work. There are several problems however.
1. A glue starved joint is very easy to create if you are not experienced and careful.
2. Water penetration due to holes or finish not properly maintained can cause the joint to fail.
3. Excessive temperature can cause the glue line to fail.(not likely for a tiller)

In factory controlled conditions a laminated tiller can be excellent.
Home made it requires some skill and experience.
It's small make two.

I submit that a major driving factor in laminated everything is cost. It is cheaper to get thin wood and laminate in a factory setting then getting high-quality large dimension clear straight grained solid wood.

The bottom line is that either laminated or solid can be screwed up or good depending on craftsmanship.

It's been 30 years since I've seen Osage orange but I believe you want only the heart wood. It is very pretty though.


http://www.sailnet.com/forums/gear-maintenance/38885-pardey-says-epoxy-should-not-used-structural-glue-wood.html
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http://www.landlpardey.com/Tips/2007/April.html
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Okay, some are going to laugh at me for this (my wife did) but I am considering using a baseball bat to make into a tiller handle. I have a Kent Ranger 24' that has a straight tiller handle that is pretty small and feels a little fragile.
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