tape instead of wire

I am building a shesapeake 17 from plans and have to find an alternative for the copper wire since ir is not available here. I am thinking of using tie rips or duckt tape, anyone familiar with tape instead of wire? to me it seems a good option, 

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RE: tape instead of wire

I have built 2 CLC boats (wherry and shearwater) and I really doubt either could be pulled and held tight with tape (not by a longshot I'd suppose).

Plastic pull ties have been reported as a good alternative, but the holes for the smallest ties would be considerably bigger than for wire.

You could get some wire shipped to you (where?).


RE: tape instead of wire

The wire doesn’t need to be copper. I used 1mm steel wire from the local hardware store on my Pax20. Definitely not as pleasant to work with but a fraction of the price. I have used cable ties befor but never again. Very difficult to make fine adjustments. Ok for a panted hull though.

I stitched up a Kaholo hull last week and used tape in between stitches to fine tune the edge joint. . I don't plane bevels so this method was very useful. I wouldn't use tape exclusively but It could be used to reduce amount of stitches.

I have a enough copper wire now for many, many boats. I scored a roll of electrial cable that is no longer in spec and just strip the copper out as I need it. 8 stitches per 3" length of cable.


RE: tape instead of wire

I ran out of copper wire on my current Wood Duck double build and couldn't find any locally.  I eventually found some 18 gauge aluminum wire at a Hobby Lobby, and I'm hoping it will be adequate to finish the project.  It's a little softer and weaker than the copper, but it seems to do the job except in some of the really tough locations (e.g., the bow and stern).

RE: tape instead of wire

  This stuff works well. I ran out of copper on an earlier build and had some left over in the shop and have been using it since. I'm not sure how it would do if you fillet over them, I 'tack' the seams then remove the stitches. There have been a few times in bow and stern areas when I had to heat the wire to remove and it worked fine. Most hardware stores have it.

  I should add that CLC sells the copper and their shipping is fair and fast.

  You may find the residue left by some tapes - duct tape in particular can clog the pores of the wood and prevent penetration of epoxy. It's a headache to clean it off the wood too. If you do use tape I suggest a wiping with denatured alcohol before applying epoxy, it will remove a lot of residue and expose any that is left or embedded in the grain.

  Here's a pic of the aluminum wire in use, lots of strain on that horizontal piece holding the panels in, works well for me.

RE: tape instead of wire

I had bad experiences with duct tape on a boat whose curves weren't as extreme as on the CH17. The tape held at first, but when the epoxy fillets heated up while curing, the tape softened and the adhesive let go.

I think you'd have to also wrap tape around the boat to hold everything together, but then you'd get into the residue problem that sskiff mentions above.

Nylon zip ties work really well if you don't want to use wire. The only problem may be that the holes have to be larger than for wire. That's not a problem for painted boats, though.

Good luck,



Aircraft SS safety wire

and wire twisters worked real well for me.  .032 is the diameter I had.


wire twisters:


Very tough, and not very expensive.  It comes in handy for more than boatbuilding, too, especially since it won't rust.  If it gets stuck in the fillets, it comes out easily when heated.


Good luck!

RE: tape instead of wire

Thanks for the replies, I've been investigating and I think zip ties is a good alternative, I will keep you posted on the progres.




RE: tape instead of wire

I don't know why you are having trouble finding copper wire.  I found it at Lowe's (we don't have a Home Depot but I'll be they have it too).  The problem with zip ties is that it's very hard to loosen them if needed.  I suppose you could cut them and replace with new ones.  The whole idea sounds a lot more expensive even than copper wire. 

The only thing I don't like about copper wire is that it breaks so easily when you need to tighten it a lot.  I suppose steel would be better in that respect, but a lot harder to work with.

My "two cents" is stay with the copper wire, even if you have to strip electrical wire (just be sure it's solid, not stranded).

RE: tape instead of wire

Agree with Diving Duck above.  I ran out of the wire provided by CLC (probably cut the pieces too long) in the kit but only on the last few stitches.  I took a piece to the local electrical supply store and the guy just gave me a bunch of leftover thermostat wire that I stripped.  It cost me all of 0 dollars :)

RE: tape instead of wire

Diving Duck is right that the only way to loosen zip ties is to cut them, but since copper is so much more expensive than nylon the cost difference is actually in the ties' favor (especially if you can get hold of a contractor's package - 1000 ties or more i a bag).

Steel wire can cut right through okoume and any pieces staying in the joint have the potential to rust and spall, so you need to be a bit more careful with steel than copper.

I like nylon ties in high stress spots because they spread out the stress over more surface area. If there's too much stress, though, they stretch and eventually the locking mechanism breaks.

One last difference is that you pretty much have to use the tack method for fillets when using ties. If you don't remove the ties the fillet ends up as thick as a garden hose. But I prefer the tack method anyway.

In my experience you can build an equally good boat with ties or wire, you just have to be aware of the differences and use them properly.

Happy New Year,



RE: tape instead of wire

The copper wire that works best is 18 gauge, single strand.  18 gauge is .040" diameter.  I purchase mine from Mc Master Carr.  Their part number is 8873k15 for untinned  and 8873k35 for tinned.  $6.00 and $6.17 respectively.  This wire is dead soft and does not break when pulled and twisted.  McMaster Carr, www.mcmastercarr is a fantantastic place to buy nuts, bolts' wire, drills, power tools ...  Check it out

Another option if you are in a bind is to use " bell " wire or thermostat wire.  However, it is probably a little too small a gauge.  

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