Join Date: Mar 2010
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I made spreaders for my old O'Day Daysailer. I made them out of solid white oak, either 1/2" thick, probably 2" wide at the mast, tapered out to 3/4" at the tip. Holes for shrouds in the ends, and holes at the mast for the clevis pin, and a liberal application of 3 or 4 coats of spar varnish. I don't remember if I did anything to reinforce the ends from splitting. If I did, it would have been to drill a hole for a small bolt laterally behind the hole for the shroud to keep it from splitting along the grain against the inward pull of the shroud towards the mast.
I don't know how appropriate oak stock is as a spreader material for a larger boat, but since the spreaders they replaced were simply 1/2" aluminum tubing that I could bend by hand, it couldn't have been any worse that what was on there to begin with.
As for the longevity of the oak and the spar varnish, I couldn't say, because I then sold that boat shortly after making the spreaders. And yes, I did make sure to point it out to the buyer; told him I thought they were fine, but if he's not so sure, to be sure to replace them.
For what it's worth.