Green Rib Species
|Home | Boatbuilding | Baidarkas | Bibliography | Glossary|
Species for Green Ribs
What Species to avoidOther than species that don't bend well or don't produce straight branches, you should also avoid species such as poison oak and oleander both of which are toxic. Poison oak produces severe skin rashes and blistering in some people. Oleander if eaten is fatal in small doses.
What Species to use for round ribs
I hesitate to make specific recommendations since a good part of what makes a species suitable is availability. You will be confined to what you can find locally, and I have no way of knowing what that is. The suitable rib source will have branches that bend properly and have adequate length and it will also be plentiful enough that you can pick a branch here and there to come up with a boat’s worth of ribs without making any visible impact on the neighborhood. Avoid if you can, any species of which there is only one specimen and which would necessitate that you strip an entire bush of its branches.
Having made my disclaimer, I want to mention a few species that you might consider.
Willow is a good species to look for. There are actually quite a few species of willow, some more suitable than others, but they seem to grow in all temperate zones of the northern hemisphere wherever there is water. And willow is abundant and puts out lots of straight shoots.
Alders grow in abundance in the northern parts of the temperate zone and like willow, like wet ground. I have not used alders for ribs myself but have heard from other boat builders who have used them successfully.
Red Osier Dogwood is a bush which grows in abundance in the northern parts of the US in marshy areas. As the name implies, the bark of the twigs is red. This is most apparent in the winter when the bushes have no leaves. I have used this species for ribs, but it isn't quite as abundant as willow so you actually have to make a trip to a marsh to collect some. It is also grown as an ornamental for its red bark. Its native name is kinnikinik. The white inner bark, scraped and dried was used in smoking mixtures.
Apples and relatives such as quinces have nice dense wood which bends nicely. They like to send up vertical shoots especially when pruned heavily. This might be a good choice if you live near orchards where they prune vertical shoots each year.
While many species are suitable for ribs, when you actually collect ribs for your boat, stick to a single species since bending characteristics vary from species to species and consistent results will be much harder to achieve with multiple species.
What Species to Use for Flat Ribs
Collecting wood for flat ribs is a little more work than collecting wood for round ribs. For one thing, the diameter of your stock will be larger. You will be collecting pieces of wood from one inch diameter upwards. This diameter is in excess of what a pruning clipper can handle. You will need to venture out with a saw.
As with round rib stock, you will have to select sections of wood that are at least as long as your prospective ribs. While it is much harder to unobtrusively cut down a small tree with a saw than to cut a twig here and there with a pruning scissors, the supply is still relatively large and you get a fair number of ribs out of each tree. If you live in a city with trees, check with arborists or whoever it is that prunes and cuts down damaged trees. They typically just chop them up into short sections. They may be willing to give save you some pieces of length that you specify.
All content copyright © 2005 Wolfgang Brinck. Personal non-commercial use permitted.