Building a Cedar Strip Stand Up Paddleboard
Building a Cedar Strip Stand Up Paddleboard: Planking the Deck

Building a Cedar Strip Stand Up Paddleboard: Installing Ribs

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Unlike typical production SUPs, which are a fiberglass layup over foam core, this board is hollow. One major disadvantage of a hollow board is that if there is a leak, water will accumulate inside. Since the wood inside the board will be left unsealed, the strips will warp if they get wet. It will be important to not only to install a drain or a vent to allow free air flow to dry out the inside if this happens, but also make sure that water can drain through channels placed along the entire length of the board.

The instructions call for limber holes to be cut along the bottom edge of each rib on both sides of the spar. The holes are simple triangular notches made with a saber saw. Stagger the placement of the holes so that they are offset slightly from each other. Placing the notches in a straight line will create a weak spot in the structure.

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This board has 28 ribs. Each rib is numbered and slips into its corresponding slot in the spar. Just as the spar was secured using mounting sticks and hot glue to the workbench, the ends of each rib need to be secured to the workbench to provide a rigid structure for “planking” (stripping).

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Each rib needs to be perpendicular to the spar, and level and plumb with the workbench. It is helpful to have two people for this procedure. One person holds the rib in position, making sure it is square with the the spar. The mounting stick is temporarily clamped to the end of the rib. The other person uses hot glue to secure the mounting stick to the workbench, and then puts a bead of hot glue to secure the mounting stick to the rib before removing the clamp. After all the ribs are secured, look down the length of the board to check for any unevenness or twist.

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At this point, the ribs are still floating within their slots in the central spar. Since the structure seemed rigid enough for stripping, we left it this way. But I recommend placing a bead of Gorilla Glue where each rib meets the spar to secure it. Once the board is removed from the bench after stripping the deck, it will be more rigid with the ribs glued to the spar.

 

Installing the Rail Strips

The rail strips are 1/4 in x 1/4 in strips that run along the top and bottom edge of the ends of the ribs. They hold the ribs secure for planking the deck and define the edges of the deck and hull. The instructions say they are not structurally important. 

The rail strips were ripped from the 1/4 inch thick strips we already had. We only had 12 ft stock to work with, so for our 12 foot long board we needed to make longer rail strips because of the additional length that comes from the curvature of the board. We scarfed strips together, placing the scarf joint at the middle of the board where the rail strip would be relatively straight.

The instructions recommend installing the rail strips with superglue and an accelerator. We installed them with superglue alone plus masking tape. Each rail strip was held against the top edge of the end of the rib and a bead of superglue was applied, then the rail strip secured with masking tape. We started in the middle of the board and worked out toward the ends, using clamps to hold the ends of the rail strip in place throughout the process. After the superglue dries, a bead of Gorilla Glue is placed at each joint to reinforce it. The rail strips do not need to extend beyond the first and last ribs.

The instructions recommended installing both the top and bottom rail strips before planking, but we only installed the top rail strip and installed the bottom rail strip after the deck had been planked and the board had been detached from the workbench and turned over. It was simply easier to install the bottom edge rail strip with the board upside down.

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Next: Planking the Deck

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