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Old 09-28-2020, 09:12 AM   #1
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Build your own teak swim step?

Has anyone ever built their own Teak swim step?
Where does one source that much teak? Our local "exotic woods" lumber yard has one piece. And pricing seams crazy high to me. Could one use Sable or would the color be too far off to match the rest of the boats standard teak?

I like the style in the picture below.

(the next boat has a damaged swim step that has been cut up a few times, and is beyond repair.)
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Old 09-28-2020, 09:13 AM   #2
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Some people are swearing by the new plastic lumber such as decking....I made mine out of glass over plywood.
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Old 09-28-2020, 09:28 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RonR View Post
Has anyone ever built their own Teak swim step?
Where does one source that much teak? Our local "exotic woods" lumber yard has one piece. And pricing seams crazy high to me. Could one use Sable or would the color be too far off to match the rest of the boats standard teak?

I like the style in the picture below.

(the next boat has a damaged swim step that has been cut up a few times, and is beyond repair.)



Edensaw woods in Port Townsend

Whatever you think the teak will cost quadruple it!

HOLLYWOOD
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Old 09-28-2020, 10:08 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RonR View Post
Has anyone ever built their own Teak swim step?
Where does one source that much teak? Our local "exotic woods" lumber yard has one piece. And pricing seams crazy high to me. Could one use Sable or would the color be too far off to match the rest of the boats standard teak?

I like the style in the picture below.

(the next boat has a damaged swim step that has been cut up a few times, and is beyond repair.)
Easy to build, but first you need to find a source for the teak.
When I extended my swimgrid by 13", I bought 2 teak boards, each 2" thick, rough cut. One was 14' long, so I cut the continuous 1 3/4" boards from that one, x6, the other was just long enough to get all of the short pieces, where the supports would sit.
At the time I had a source of wholesale teak, so it cost a little less. Still a relatively expensive project. Then I spent another boat $ or so getting new SS supports built by my favourite welder. I have used one of the old bronze supports to make the bronze hooks for my boarding ladder. (One day I will melt the others down and make something fun, maybe a cannon?)
My home workshop is not sophisticated, I just have a good table saw to cut strips off the 2" stock, a good router, a jointer and lots of clamps. The project was done in a month of evenings and weekends.
Looks a lot like your picture, but has 5 supports, so 4 sets of open slats, and extends an extra few slats beyond what you show. Adding the extra depth is easy when you are starting from scratch, so be sure you make yours wide enough.
I have never worked with Sapele, though friends have and the finished interior woodwork looks a lot like teak. I don't know how it weathers.
Plastic imitation teak will retain its original colour longer than teak, but it also gets quite hot and will burn your feet long before teak will. I have the "Trex" plastic decking at home, and after a few years it has relaxed and no longer has the spacing I started with between the boards. I wouldn't use it, or any home use decking in a marine environment.
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Old 09-28-2020, 10:32 AM   #5
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Architectural Woods in Tacoma is my source for teak. They have a large stock of rough sawn teak in random dimensions. You will need to machine the wood to size.

Architectural Woods is a lumber and plywood wholeale distributor. I buy all my lumber and marine plywood from them. Their pricing is less than Edensaw.

Their website is; awi-wa.com
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Old 09-28-2020, 11:16 AM   #6
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Architectural Woods in Tacoma is my source for teak. They have a large stock of rough sawn teak in random dimensions. You will need to machine the wood to size.

Architectural Woods is a lumber and plywood wholeale distributor. I buy all my lumber and marine plywood from them. Their pricing is less than Edensaw.

Their website is; awi-wa.com

Thank you
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Old 09-28-2020, 12:37 PM   #7
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PlasTeak makes swim platforms from a teal looking plastic. We had a bow pulpit made by them and really liked it. Plus no maintenance.
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Old 09-28-2020, 01:49 PM   #8
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Try searching for reclaimed teak, run it through a planner to your desired dimension and presto....
Worked for me on my N46.
NO finish at all.
I would recommend you mount it high enough that even at full speed you are not dragging it in the water.
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Old 09-28-2020, 02:52 PM   #9
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Hi RonR,

Quote:
Has anyone ever built their own Teak swim step?
Where does one source that much teak? Our local "exotic woods" lumber yard has one piece. And pricing seams crazy high to me. Could one use Sable or would the color be too far off to match the rest of the boats standard teak?
"...Could one use Sable (Sapele)"? Sure, but color should be the least of your concerns with a swimstep. And the labor to fabricate a new swimstep FAR outweighs small reductions in material cost.

So the short answer to your first question is "yes, I've built my own teak swim step." However, I have a fairly sophisticated woodworking shop in my garage, with a large number of essential (and very expensive) tools in which to do so.

And while in my opinion, teak is wonderful wood with which to fabricate a swim step, such a swim step (such as you showed in your original post) will be VERY, VERY expensive. As you have already discovered, Martin Lumber (our Everett "exotic" lumber yard) does not stock much teak, and it is VERY expensive. Architectural Woods in Tacoma (thanks Syjos) may well be a source for less-expensive teak products. Ditto Edensaw in Port Townsend. But beware of "plantation grown" teak. It's a far cry from old-growth Burma Teak, and (in my opinion) ill-suited for a swim step, which is constantly bathed in moisture every time you're underway.

There certainly are less-expensive materials suitable for swim steps. I'm sure someone on this forum will chime in with "I built mine from reclaimed cutting boards", or some such. But if you're heart's set on duplicating a classic teak swim step, there is no free lunch. You must have access to large and expensive woodworking tools (planers, joiners, table saws, etc.) to deal with milling of rough-sawn wood, the ability to design a suitable replacement within the scope of your material at hand, the ability (and shop space) to mill, shape, cut, plane, bend, drill and assemble the thing.

You must also have the ability to either re-use the original step supports off the transom, and/or the ability (again, bring $$$) to buy or have fabricated replacement supports.

Lastly, you must have the ability to manipulate what will probably be a several-hundred pound assembly while mounting it to your transom. Almost impossible to accomplish with the boat afloat, unless you are very clever and fortunate to have multiple friends to assist, and you're able to attach your new swimstep supports without sinking the boat!

So again, in answer to your original question: yes, but I'd never do it again. Nor could I entertain the cost of a new teak swimstep these days. I would recommend you contact Your Boat Shop in the Everett Craftsman Marina building (https://www.yourboatshopeverett.com/) and ask for a planning estimate for a professional job. That may well aid you in your planning.

Regards,

Pete
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Old 09-28-2020, 03:01 PM   #10
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I plan on it this winter.

Island Teak - Custom Teak Milling.
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Old 09-28-2020, 03:08 PM   #11
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We used manufactured lumber for our platform rebuild, BUT inside the boat we used mahogany and sapele when we needed a good match for teak because it was more easily accessible and less expensive....and it is BEAUTIFUL!
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Old 09-28-2020, 03:29 PM   #12
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The current boats step was in poor shape when we got it. I took it home and restored it. Also build 4 new SS support brackets. I have a small wood shop, but limited experience (never stopped me before). Plainer/jointer/drill press/table saw/router/table router. Also Tig/Mig/Stick and a few other metal craft items.

The boat we are looking at has a swim step on it, brackets are solid, but the step itself is damaged, been smashed, repaired and then cut up and plywood screwed in to hold a kicker.. not fixable

I think I can make a jig to get the shape, and would use ss screws and west system epoxy. I have found some re-claimed flooring in 1"x5.5" but it not an ideal size as I would like 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 step. So a lot of ripping and dust. He also wants 25.00 a bf. Not sure if that's a good price or not yet. I have found a company back East that will make one for about 3800.00 shipped, finish is natural, so I would then two part it and varnish. But I think I can make one for about 1/2 the cost and have a nice little winter project.

(pictures are from our current Egg Harbor 33')
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Old 09-28-2020, 08:32 PM   #13
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A good alternator is IPE.
A south American hardwood. Now commonly used in decking. It’s about 20% of the cost of teak in New York.
It has a tighter grain, and is harder than teak.
The color is redder but if left unfinished, will match in the same tone of grey.
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Old 09-28-2020, 09:39 PM   #14
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We used ipe wood for the handrails at the pier at Powell River as a recommendation by an architect several years ago. Wears like iron.
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Old 09-28-2020, 09:58 PM   #15
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If you decide to buy, try Butler Marine (butlermarine.com). I have one of their steps. Great product, great service and as I recall 1/3 less than the price you quoted, although 3 years ago.

Are you sure you want a varnished step? Seems slippery.
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Old 09-28-2020, 10:00 PM   #16
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Edensaw had some decent teak last time I was over there, but don’t go. Every time I go there I end up dragging home something “extra”. Too bad second wave is no longer around, I remember all the teak swimsteps/doors/etc they had piled in the back. The place up in Bellingham had them too. Good source to reclaim some lumber. I also watch Craig’s and amazed at how many “we have been storing this lumber in a barn” posts that you see over time. Plenty of teak, at least they claimed.

It’s about time to start thinking over the coming winter projects!
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Old 09-28-2020, 11:45 PM   #17
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I worked for a department store chain in the 70's. They were importing a lot of large merchandise like pottery, chests, furniture etc from Tailand, Burma and other emerging countries from the area. The large items came packed in crates made out of rough teak lumber. Employees were taking the teak home for firewood!

I took enough home to build a large greenhouse built from teak.

Furniture from Eastern US came in crates made of oak, maple, walnut or pine.

Now teak is like gold!
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Old 09-29-2020, 09:03 AM   #18
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If you decide to buy, try Butler Marine (butlermarine.com). I have one of their steps. Great product, great service and as I recall 1/3 less than the price you quoted, although 3 years ago.

Are you sure you want a varnished step? Seems slippery.

Butler is the company that quoted me ( I have seen their work and its top notch by all means), the swim step is 12'x25" with a drop down ladder, crate and shipping are a few $$ as I am on the West Coast.


I Varnished the last one, we never had any issues with slipping on it. But we also do not run around barefoot.
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Old 09-30-2020, 01:22 AM   #19
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At some point, all swim steps do double duty as a bumper, so I would build it HEAVY, and secure it well with above the waterline fasteners.
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Old 10-01-2020, 06:59 PM   #20
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In Sultan WA. I would use synthetic, IPE, or industrial fiberglass grating if it were my boat.


Teak - Ipe Decking - Millwork - East Teak Fine Hardwoods
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