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spruce for kayak ?

Submitted by rudi on Tue, 04/03/2018 - 16:24

spruce strip

Hello to everybody 


Firstly a huge thank to Nick for you wonderful an inspiring work and all the free YouTube videos.

I wonder what you guys think about using alpine spruce for building a kayak or canoe?

I’m living in north Italy (south Tyrol) and here we don’t have red cedar.

Initially I wanted to order wood from overseas but not long after I switch my mind to using only local wood. My question coms late since I already buy the wood at the sawmill 100 meters from my house. He provides me the best quality of high alpine spruce around hometown LASA (BZ). I try to add some pictures from the wood. maybe you find this a ridiculous question but I don’t have any knowledge about structural strength or thinks like that. 

Thank you very much an best greetings 



P.S sorry for my bad English


Tue, 04/03/2018 - 17:21

Spruce is one of the strongest woods for its weight. Don't know "Alpine spruce" but it looks like beautiful wood. I think you have "gold" with that stuff. Is it expensive?What's it used for - just normal construction?

Thank you for your reply.

i bought then bords 14 feet long 1 feet wide and 1,5 inch thick  in the best available quality “ 0-1 “ at around 110 US $ 

this quality its used for finer construction or is laminated whit veneer  it’s not so weather resistant such as larch is and therefore not so much appreciated.

our forests have spruce, larch, chirp pine, and in our valley at the sunside scots and black pine. At homeopathic doses are birch, walnut, apricot from gardens and chestnut. 

Oak, ash, maple and so on are marginal and are imported from the rest of Italy, Slovenia or other countries 


Most spruce would work well for kayaks.  It is only slightly heavier than red cedar, it is stronger, if the grain is straight it works very well.  It is not rot resistant but that does not matter if you seal it well.  It does not stain well it gets pretty blotchy.  It glues well and works well with epoxy.  If you can get some heart wood it would give you more variation in color but I think it is really a pretty wood.  My current build is tulip, linden, and aspen and I have enough cedar to build 2 or 3 kayaks.  Spruce is a little stiffer so where you have extreme curves you will want to make the strips a little more narrow.  You can  go for the 3/16 inch size with spruce 1/4 inch would be very stiff.  Be sure and post pictures.  As mentioned spruce has a great strength to weight ratio.  You may find this information interesting. http://www.wood-database.com/wood-finder/?fwp_name=S&fwp_paged=2 

Björn Thomasson recommends to use fir (which I think is just another name for spruce). I used spruce for my kayak, but the spruce you have in Italy. and the spruce I have in Estionia, are different. What I have here is probably Norway Spruce (Picea abies). I say probably because lumber yard sells spruce, and not Picea abies, boards. Even the highest quality Norway spruce has knots and I don't have a single knot free strip on my boat. You are very lucky, if your boards are clear. The knots won't affect the strength of the boat, but working with knotty wood takes significantly more time. 

Thank you Björn 

In the meanwhile a friend of my, he is a forest public officer, told me that this spruce (in german Fichte) scientific name it’s also picea abies but the are slightly different types depending wehere and in wich conditions they are grown.

We also have Douglas Fire (in german Tanne)but very very rare.

Of course there are knots in my boards too but I can saw out at least from 5 to 20 strips with 6mm of thickness whiteout knots.

There are from high mountain areas and more ore less slow grown. In Swiss near the border to Italy were im from their ist a company (http://www.tonewood.ch) the got the finest spruce you can dream of. Of corse mor for instrument building for soundboards and so on. The harvester also only in good moon conditions what ever that means.

Tom Larson

Sat, 04/14/2018 - 21:27

Rudi, what are the screws between the forms doing do you have blocking behind in between the forms for the first strip ? Tom

hi Tom,

yes I did screwed the first strip on the forms. Later on the gun rails are covering this holes. The strip is overlapping the forms by the half, approximately 1cm.