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Butternut uses?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous' started by JPembleton, Mar 16, 2012.

  1. JPembleton

    JPembleton Chest Nut

    I looking for opinions on the possible use of butternut for thwarts and seat frames. I have seen it mentioned for use in decks but not much mentioned for other uses.

    Basically, can butternut be used instead of the traditional ash for seats and thwarts? I have a bunch of it, and what ash i find can be kept for gunwales.


  2. Dave Wermuth

    Dave Wermuth Who hid my paddle?

    I've used it for paddles and would not hesitate to use it for thwarts and seats.
  3. john hupfield

    john hupfield fire starter/wood burner

    Peterborough used to use it for decks and gunnels. I never thought about the thwart, see no reason why not.

    John in slippery muddy Nobel
  4. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    Before you commit to using butternut for structural members, you should spend some time bonding with the USDA Forest Products Wood Handbook, especially the tables that give its relative strength. It is not a very strong wood when compared with the usuals - ash, oak, mahogany, maple, etc. You may need to increase the scantlings of these pieces if you are going to use it.

  5. Andre Cloutier

    Andre Cloutier Firestarter. Wicked Firestarter.

    Its a dream to carve, but as Dan said you might want to increase your dimensions. IIRC i once heard it referred to as the softest hardwood, so that about says it all. It does make a wonderful paddle, and it makes nice decks for sure.
  6. john hupfield

    john hupfield fire starter/wood burner

    Sure and the old Petes had large dimension Thwarts.
    I thought it was style or the lack of paddling seats. Just maybe it was the type of wood involved, and since these thwarts are a hundred years old, just maybe the old boys knew what they were doing. Again.
  7. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    I've used it for decks on strippers and for accent pieces on paddles, but I probably wouldn't use it on a W/C.

    Also, I'm reasonably sure I either had a reaction to it or it had poison ivy oil on it, as I sure broke out with blisters that looked, felt and itched just like poison ivy. :(

    It is a pretty wood though.

  8. john hupfield

    john hupfield fire starter/wood burner

    Dan, Not that I would ever doubt your conclusion....
    Do you have a breed of blonde, large dimension, machinable Poison Ivy in Minnesota?
    Are you sure that you were not weeding your Poison Ivy Patch that very hour?
    Do you get Bruises from your Walnut gunstock?
    Nothing personal. Just curious. Never have I heard of that though Pine Pollen makes my eyes water and Meranti Ply makes me sneeze, and I don't like chlorine and formaldyhyde gives me a nice rash, maybe Purple Heart too, and that solvent in Epoxy Paints.
    Never heard of Nasty Butternut, and I've burned all manner of sticks and boats, normally in the shape of sticks.
  9. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder


    Well, it happened in the middle of winter. And I got the board from the usual hardwood lumberyard here in the Twin Cities, so I really don't think there was any poison ivy oil on it. (and to my knowledge we don't have any on our lot at home)

    Yes, it took me by surprise, as I sure wasn't expecting any reactions.

    A couple years later I did start reacting to red cedar dust, such that if I sanded for as little as 20 minutes without protection, I literally couldn't breath. And this came on fairly suddenly, as on previous projects I didn't have any problems. After the 1st bought of not breathing, I took to wearing a mask and having a vac hooked to sander. I've been OK sense I started doing that.

    Really don't know if it was the butternut or not, but that was the only time I got a reaction while working in the shop.

  10. john hupfield

    john hupfield fire starter/wood burner

    Respirator is wise, Long may you sand (wether you want to or not)
  11. Ossineke

    Ossineke Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Lot's of chatter over butternut! Our thoughts would be for thwarts it would bwe just fine, mostly 15 footers or less. Seats? Could depend on the size of your paddlers! Keep in mind butternut is the softest of the hard woods yet strong enough for fine paddles. Keep us posted.

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