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Tony Sykes, builder of 'Galliard' and ex president of the eoa has written these tips for us. They were first published years ago in a booklet that was published by the old eoa.  Tony is  to have his arm bent to update it shortly.  For many years Tony was a director of a  company that was involved in the most exquisite timber work in large buildings, Hotels, ships etc.

I think today we would agree that plantation grown Iroko is the best all round timber, with Afromosia and teak for trim.  Tony lists a range of timbers that a merchant might be able to supply.   Armed with this information you should have a better chance of making your creation last!






GUAREA (Cedtata or Thompsonii)

Pale red coloured timber somewhat stronger than English Oak. Very durable with low shrinkage properties. Weight about 401b per cubic foot. Has similar bending properties to Iroko, works fairly easily. Cedrata exudes a little gum. The dust is irritant to skin, eyes and nose, especially when sanded so hence the moderate price. Glues well.

MAKORE (Tieghemella Hecklu)

Very similar weight and durability/strength to Guarea, probably bends a little better. Stains in contact with iron when wet and although not difficult to work will quickly blunt tools. Glues well. It has been successfully used :- every type of boat building. Makore Marine plywood is probably the best obtainable. Reasonably priced and an attractive dark red. Drawback - very irritant dust and if you suffer from hay fever allergies it is best left well alone.


MANGONIA (Mangonia Altissima)

Another timber with properties similar to Guarea and Makore. A little stronger than both and dark purple in colour. Bends and glues well, but again very irritant. Has higher movement properties, when subjected to damp Weighs about 38lb per cubic foot.


NIANGON (Tarrietia Utilis)

A medium weight brown/red durable timber with low to middle of the range shrinkage properties. A little Stronger than African Mahogany, glues well, works reasonably well and is moderately priced.


KARRI (Eucalyptus Diversicolor)

A heavy 55 to 571b per cubic foot, timber, about 50% stronger than Oak, durable but difficult to work, with fairly high shrinkage properties. Moderate bending properties but glues well. Often used for deadwood, Keels etc.


KAPUR (Dayo Balanops Aromatics or Dayo Bslanops Beccarii)

Reddish brown timber 45 to 50lb per cubic foot. Rather like Keruing but more difficult to work. Very durable with reasonable bending and shrinking properties. It is somewhat acidic and can corrode unprotected metals. Stains when in contact when wet. Glues well.


JARRAH (Eucalyptus SPP)

Orange red timber 45 to 481b per cubic foot, very strong and very durable, low shrinkage properties but does not bend well and is quite hard to work. It is subject to some surface defects and is not normally used where appearance is important. Very suitable for frames, deadwood, hog and stringers, is reasonably priced and glues well.


PADAUK (Pterocarpus Soyauxii)

African timber, readily available, but also comes from Burma. (African is considered slightly inferior to Burmese). Quite an outstanding timber being an attractive orange deepening to purple red. Very durable and stronger than Oak: Not too difficult to work and weighs about 45 to 50lb per cubic foot. However it is quite expensive.


PYINKADO (Xylia Xylocarpa)

A very heavy 60 to 64lb per cubic foot timber from Burma and India, with very similar strengths and properties to Greenheart. Very durable and said to be resistant to Teredo. Difficult to work.


SAPELE Entandronontagma Cylindricum)

A strong dark red wood with striped grain when quarter sawn, with a weight of about 40lb per cubic foot. Stronger than Oak but does not bend well, is only moderately durable and medium priced.



No Timber has quite as many good qualities as Teak. It is an attractive, strong, extremely durable and stable, bends reasonably well is resistant to Teredo and Gribble and can be left untreated and just scrubbed. It weighs about 40lb per cubic foot, but is very expensive. Teak is now plantation grown in the West Indies and Africa and shows no marked difference, as yet to the native Burmese Teak.




Probably the best all round timber for marine use. Strong versatile and very durable. Some has interlocking wild grain, but Iroko from the gold Coast is usually very mild and easily worked and still the best value for money.




To summarise, select a timber with good strength, durable or very durable with reasonable bending qualities and lastly, not too expensive.

Species that fall into these categories are :- Iroko - Makore - Danta and Guarea, all are presently good value. Teak and Afromosia could be considered for exterior varnish work but remember, the amount of time available for sailing is dependant on the amount of varnish that needs attention! With the proper use of WEST resin, many softwoods at half the cost of the above hardwoods give almost the same strength and properties.