Making a laminated teak tiller

AngusMcDoon

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My laminated teak tiller is reaching the end of its days. It's 1500mm long and at the stock end is 50mm by 36mm, tapering to the other end, with a curve of about 150mm depth in the middle of it. It's made from 6 layers of 6mm teak. Teak strip in 6mm is available, but it sounds a bit thick to bend that much without clever tricks beyond my bodging.

However, if I got a block of teak 50mm thick would it be a reasonable proposition to cut it into strips on a bandsaw of 3mm thick and bend them into shape and glue them together? How easy would the cutting be, and is 3mm teak sufficiently flexible to bend without steaming?
 

burgundyben

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Bandsaw will do it but no ideal.

Why not ask a tea supplier like Robbins or Howells to send you the teak ready cut in the correct sizes.

I reckon you are right, 6mm too stiff, 3mm fine.
 

lw395

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My limited experience of bending teak is that if the grain isn't really, really straight, it doesn't bend very much at all before snapping.
But 6 inches in 5ft is not a huge amount of bend if it's a constant radius? I was envisaging a sort of s-bent laminated tiller.
Shouldn't tillers tradionally be made from ash or carbon fibre? :)
 

AngusMcDoon

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My limited experience of bending teak is that if the grain isn't really, really straight, it doesn't bend very much at all before snapping.
But 6 inches in 5ft is not a huge amount of bend if it's a constant radius? I was envisaging a sort of s-bent laminated tiller.
Shouldn't tillers tradionally be made from ash or carbon fibre? :)

Carbon fibre would be great. Anyone got a 1.5m oven I can borrow? :)
 

Kukri

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The trouble with teak is that whilst is is very durable and very dimensionally stable, it isn’t very strong, it doesn’t bend well or take glue well.

It’s ideal for planking and for centreline structures, but not for more highly stressed parts, such as spars and tillers. For tillers, where strength matters more than weight, ash is what has been used for a few centuries. My ex boat has the five foot ash tiller she was built with after 82 years. It isn’t officially a “durable” timber but it is certainly durable enough - on deck - which is where the tiller is.

Ash steams to shape exceptionally well so a kettle, a stove and two metres of drainpipe and you are set, but you can also laminate it. In the Seventies striped laminations of ash (for strength) and mahogany (for pretty!) were very popular.
 

lw395

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...
Ash steams to shape exceptionally well so a kettle, a stove and two metres of drainpipe and you are set, but you can also laminate it. In the Seventies striped laminations of ash (for strength) and mahogany (for pretty!) were very popular.

Not everyone ever escaped from the 70s....
:-0
 

Rum Run

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Carbon fibre would be great. Anyone got a 1.5m oven I can borrow? :)

That would be an mdf box, small fan heater and £10 panel thermostat off eBay- simple for a person of your technical ability!
In fact if you use a normal marine epoxy the oven isn't needed to get the initial cure, but is useful to do a post cure cycle up to say 80 degrees C over maybe 18 hours.
Best results tend to need a vacuum bag but some research into technique should give fair results without.
 

Stemar

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I saw a beauty the other day at my club. A sweeping curve of ash and mahogany (probably Iroko or something a bit more PC than mahog, but the effect was the same) with a "squircular" handle on the end - a hollow square, but with no straight bits. It's an idea I intend to steal for Jissel, because my arms aren't quite long enough to hold the tiller comfortably when the boat heels and I want to sit straight, but the discrepancy isn't quite enough to justify a tiller extension.

While I've never done it, there are enough bodged up steamers on Youtube to suggest it isn't that hard to make one. For a tiller, a bit of drainpipe, some tube and some way of boiling water should be enough, though it'll need to be a bit bigger if you decide you want a handle on the end
 

lw395

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Is steaming the wood to bend it compatible with epoxying it?
I'd go for thin enough strips not to need steaming.
Unless you're going to steam it, bend it, dry it, then glue it, or use a non-epoxy glue such as polyurethane?
 

Quandary

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My S shaped Moody tiller is laminated from strips of mahogany and ash, the strips are about 6mm. thick. The boat is nearly 25 years old and the varnished tiller is still immaculate. (though I do have a sock for it and it comes off in winter now) On that basis I would suggest trying those two timbers rather than teak. There must be a good reason why teak is not favoured for laminating deep curves? If going for mahogany I would not favour Iroko with its irregular grain, Utile or similar might be better? There is plenty of info. available on line regarding the flexibility and durability of common hardwoods.
 

Quandary

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PS If you are using Google to search do not mention laminating, you will just get pages of ads for hardwood flooring, try something like 'bending and gluing hardwoods' which will be a lot more useful.
If you need to use teak I think your plan to cut strips with a bandsaw should be fine, probably better to glue it without sanding, spend time scrubbing all the surfaces with acetone to get them as oil free as possible before gluing, polyurethane glue might be better than epoxy.
I once made curved roof bars with strips of ramin strong enough to carry a Mirror dinghy and they are still okay iin my garage after forty odd years but now too short for a modern car, not recommending ramin though It was available cheap in suitable strips at the time but it is a characterless wood.
 

MM5AHO

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I seem to make a new tiller every year - don't need to, but enjoy it. This year's is solid teak. Bandsaw cut to curve and spokeshave to get shape. The original wood wasn't quite thick enough for the rudderstock yoke, so I clad it in copper sheet on that end. My experience with teak is that it doesn't bend well, and I had thought of laminating it, but rejected that idea. One timber I found to be useless was bamboo. I've often used odd flooring pieces, and the best has been oak. The flooring pieces (odd remnants) can be obtained at low cost and through the thicknesser takes the shaped underside off them.
 

Stemar

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Is steaming the wood to bend it compatible with epoxying it?
I'd go for thin enough strips not to need steaming.
Unless you're going to steam it, bend it, dry it, then glue it, or use a non-epoxy glue such as polyurethane?

People doing this sort of thing on YouTube generally seem to steam the laminations and shape them in a jig while they dry.
 

Motor_Sailor

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A stripey laminated tiller with those sorts of bends doesn't need any steaming. 3mm strips will bend easily.

Although Ash / Mahogany is traditional, the ash has a tendency to go black if the coating is chipped Alternatively, you can use alternating layers of things like Sepele and and a reasonably clear fir from your local wood stockist rather than a marine supplier that might involve shipping. If you've got a bandsaw, then look for a structural grade of fir, (C16 or C24) and buy a plank that is as thick as your finished tiller. Then slice the 3mm bits off the side. There's a much greater chance of getting clear, knot free larger dimensioned timber than poking around with the 2 bys in the hardware store.
 
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Some oily woods, like yellow cedar ,don't glue too well, if you don't wash them down with laquer thinner first, and let it dry. Teak is a bit oily, so it wouldn't hurt there either.
Roughing up the surface with a rasp also helps.
I find formaldehyde glue works as well as any epoxy on dry , clean wood. Make sure it drys properly, after steaming, if you go that route, altho I don't think steaming is necessary.
 
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