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Thread: Is Making A Wood Dock Pedestal Practical?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
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    Punta Gorda, FL
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    Is Making A Wood Dock Pedestal Practical?

    Dock pedestals that have power receptacles, a hose bib and sometimes lights can get pretty pricey. We've got a hodge-podge setup at our dock. A broken fitting feeding the hose bib (they used PVC rather then CPVC) resulted in days of hunting the leak down that led to the discovery. So now I want to do the whole thing right. The all in one pedestals are too expensive so I thought what if I built something out of marine plywood and.or pressure treated lumber.

    Anyone know if this is a bad idea? It's a salt water environment and I'm curious how well pressure treated lumber and/or marine ply will hold up to a marine environment. I don't want to make something that will be falling apart in a few years.
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

  2. #2
    I wouldn't expect a great deal of longevity for something like that made of pressure treated lumber or marine ply in a saltwater environment unless you plan to do a lot of upkeep. You might investigate the cost of the electrical stuff required to make your pedestal suitable for the application, too. Between the cost of those parts, the opther materials and your repeated input of labor to keep the thing in good shape, a manufactured pedestal might be a pretty reasonable investment. I did a quick look at Defender's site and see they have a dock pedestal with two 30 Amp 125 Volt Twist Lock Shore Power Outlets, two Water Spigots, and a Fluorescent Light with Dusk to Dawn Photocell for $610. Not cheap but for the convenience and minimal upkeep required, I'd be inclined to go that way.
    Last edited by Dave Richards; 02-24-2019 at 8:38 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
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    Modesto, CA, USA
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    6,078
    When I needed to make a box above the medicine cabinet to mount some lights I simply found a big beam and cut it to a 5x10 about four feet long. Drilled and routed some wiring chases and some holes for mounting screws that are hidden behind the light fixture base. Maybe a piece of pressure treated beam or big PVC pipe. Can you buy some 6-8" PVC off cuts cheap? I made a picnic table with a single 10" PVC pipe post in the middle.
    Bill D.

    PS: Decades ago the marina in Berkeley California had some oddball electrical receptacles. The only source of the male plugs was from the city at wildly inflated prices. You were not allowed to switch out the receptacles.
    Last edited by Bill Dufour; 02-24-2019 at 10:17 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    Waterford, PA
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    289
    Stuff from this place is amazing. It is Fiberglas sheet, mostly, I think. I don’t know where to find it, but a call to them might be a start.

    I found a piece of a 3/4" sheet on the ground when I moved into my house 35 years ago. I moved it from place to place all this time. It is the same as the day I found it, and it has been lying on the ground all that time. A couple years ago I washed it and started cutting it up, with a circular saw, and using it for special tasks.

    I’ll guess it can be bonded with resin or screwed together, or both. Round the edges with a router and it will look pretty.

    Maybe this place will send a little block as a sample.

    Shipping could be be a problem because it is heavier than you can imagine.

    Then again, maybe the company only will sell a tractor load.

    i could go see if I could beg a sample.

    http://www.haysite.com/products-proc...aminated-sheet

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Central North Carolina
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    Star Board is a color fast product designed for the marine industry. It comes in sizes and thicknesses similar to plywood, and machines much like plywood or PVC.
    The science museum that I do work for has switched from making plywood cabinets covered with high pressure laminate to Star Board because it is so tough, and kid proof. The color doesn't fade in direct Sunlight and deep scratches remain the same color. Gluing requires special glue, but you can assemble with pocket screws or just counter sunk screws just like regular cabinetmaking. In your case, I would go with stainless screws. This link should get you started, but a Google Search will find more. The scraps make great cutting boards too.

    Charley

    https://www.kingplastic.com/products/king-starboard/

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
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    I would think a well built one out of treated wood would last at least 20 years, if you wanted one exactly like you want it. Otherwise, I'd just buy one:
    https://www.starmarinedepot.com/cm-m...QaAn-cEALw_wcB

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
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    Punta Gorda, FL
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    The Starboard looks perfect. Just wonder what specialized tools you'd need for seam welding and bending.

    I was thinking of having to maintain a wood pedestal, mostly painting it when needed, and comparing that to the $300-$400 cost for a store-bought pedestal and the ambition to build a pedestal started to wane.
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

  8. #8
    We had some outdoor cabinet doors made with Richlite, an epoxy/paper composite. It is outrageously expensive and heavy but looks as good as the day it was installed 10 years ago. When I needed some more to match a cabinet I added, I found a cabinet shop with some offcuts. They had no use for them and gladly gave them to me for free. I’ve also used it for outdoor brackets where marine ply failed.

    I suspect it would last for generations on a dock. You machine it like ply but glue it with epoxy. It’s also very rigid so it would be good for a pedestal.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Central North Carolina
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    Quote Originally Posted by Julie Moriarty View Post
    The Starboard looks perfect. Just wonder what specialized tools you'd need for seam welding and bending.

    I was thinking of having to maintain a wood pedestal, mostly painting it when needed, and comparing that to the $300-$400 cost for a store-bought pedestal and the ambition to build a pedestal started to wane.
    Julie,

    StarBoard machines much like Baltic Birch plywood of the same thickness, but is a little more resistant to being cut. It seems more like Ash to me, when trying to use a router on it. We use the same woodworking machines and carbide blades and bits to build with it that are used for woodworking. Bending a large arc of thin StarBoard is easy, because it will bend the arc much like Lexan, but I have never tried heating and permanently bending any thicker pieces of StarBoard. It's plastic, so the right heat and bending techniques that are used to form thick plastic will likely work, but these aren't common in woodworking shops. The special glues come in matching colors, so a glued up seam can look very good and almost invisible. We use a lot of pocket hole techniques to hold things together "until the glue dries", but regular woodworking type clamping techniques work well too. A lock miter joint with the special glue will look very good when completed, but a glued miter joint will hold well too, if you can keep the pieces aligned while the glue dries. You can even round the corner with a router just like you would do with a wood corner joint. You will never need to paint it. The StarBoard color is the same all the way through it. In fact, I don't think the paint would stick to it for very long anyway. Most glues won't even stick to it. StarBoard is much like Corian in how it feels, cuts, and glues. A deep scratch can be sanded out and then the surface polished back to the original look much like they do with Corian.

    If you can build your pedestal from hardwoods using your tools, then you can build it with StarBoard using mostly the same tools and techniques. If your design is nicer looking than the manufactured pedestals, you may just start getting orders for them from your neighbors. Contact some of the StarBoard sources and ask if they can send you a few sample pieces. If that doesn't get you any, I think I might have a few small scraps left from a prior job. PM me your mailing address and I'll try to find some of the scraps and send you a few small pieces.

    Charley

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