TEAK toe-rail refinishing tips (and photos)

TEAK toe-rail refinishing tips (and photos)

Joined: July 15th, 2005, 8:09 pm

September 17th, 2005, 4:45 pm #1

Here are some old photos I thought would be of interest and of use to people, so I'm reposting them here.

regards, Paul






Heres what I bought with my Commander, some rotted teak, patched with bondo. After considering a total replacement, I decided to keep the old beat up teak and try to salvage a few more seasons out of it.


Heres the patched teak I put it in, it was fastened and epoxied after a wash-down with acetone to get the natural oil off the wood, and I put a piece of wax paper under the epoxy line to avoid setting up a stress-line. Several years later this patch still looks as good as new.


Heres what it looked like after a few coats of varnish.


Heres a sanding job for you. It seemed like it would never end. Lots of small nicks and fills to hide. The step pads were horribly eroded and simply could not be fixed. On the port side, however, I had a big split to contend with. I had to squeeze it together, put a slip sheet under it and glue, and then fix down without splitting the work. So far its held nicely, which surprises me a lot.


Heres the other side, similar conditions.


Heres a solution for the eroded step pad wood substrate, and it ended up being an improvement over the original design. Note how all water that falls on this step pad will drain out naturally. The grooves in the wood grab a deck shoe very nicely and so far these have provided great service and they look so much better than that metal strip.


Here is a shot of the aft deck area. Again, nothing like good ole work on your knees, sheesh.


Heres the result of careful finish sanding and a washdown with acetone prior to that first coat of varnish thinned fifty percent for a good soaking grab onto that oily wood. Using this technique keeps the varnish from peeling. Subsequent coats are not thinned so heavily. Final build coats arent thinned at all. Between every coat of varnish you must sand with a wood block with sandpaper wrapped around it. The object is to fill the valleys and sand off the peaks. Twelve coats were eventually applied, but with so much sanding there is only about 5 coats of true film.


The old boat is starting to get some attention now, even from the wood boat guys. This teak shines like gold in the sunlight.


During this same time I finished the helm and added new wood on each side of the helm. The existing wood panels were painted white. I found some good looking marine Philippine ribbon stripe in New England and it matched up nicely to the original mahogany.


Heres another look at the helm station under restoration.


Heres a look at the wood work, being enjoyed by a happy guest from Dallas Texas.

During the stripping and varnish work, I pulled the boat out of the slip and moved it over to our gas dock. During the cool season there werent too many people there and I could work away without interruption. Here are some shots of the boat with all the hardware off during this work. Now, several years later, Im getting ready to do this all over again, but this time it will be a light sanding and retopping. I do not intend to go down to bare wood unless there are some damaged areas that need that kind of attention.


Were located on a quiet little creek off the Cumberland, just outside West Meade, in Nashville. I can be on my boat in 15 minutes from the office or from home.


Starboard side getting the Full Monte.


Heres a general view of the boat, showing the aftermarket fly-bridge installed many years earlier by a previous owner. That bimini top, by the way, was one cheap crappy installation, and it's the one that Janet literally blew totally off the boat one day heading down a long stretch of river under full power into the wind, ha ha. It landed out behind the boat in the water. Since then we had some really nice stainless steel work and a "proper" bimini installed.


The following article was written several years ago when this work was done. Its been shared with several boating clubs, and Im posting it here in its entirety because there are still some good tips that have (now) proven themselves over a period of years.

Chris Craft Commander Teak Toe Rail Restoration
By Pau1 P1etcher


A
few years ago Janet and I found our 1966 38 Chris Craft Commander on the Ohio River a few miles upstream of Cincinnati. One of the design features of the large Commander is a beautiful toe rail of genuine teak. This is not just cosmetic, it is a deeply imbedded onto another layer of structural wood and through-bolted into the heavy fiberglass substrate. It serves as a good basis for hardware and railings, and it can be very attractive if finished bright. The boat was in serviceable condition, but it needed a lot of attention. Because I had been involved with numerous wood boat restorations over the years I was willing to acquire this boat below market value and then do a lot of the work myself. The teak looked generally sound, but it looked cosmetically poor. After some of the more serious electrical and engine work was done, I focused on a variety of cosmetic issues such as new headliner and refinishing of the helm and interior. I knew Id have to do a LOT of work just to get the teak in shape. Some of it was split, some was missing, and some was rotted. I didnt think Id like an oil finish after doing all of that work, and decided to finish it bright with varnish. Working on weekends, this took me a couple of months to complete. Just getting the wood in shape was a major chore. If you have good wood, the work will be limited to refinishing and the job will be much easier. Some weekends Id just apply one build coat of varnish on Saturday and another on Sunday afternoon after sanding what had gone on the previous day.

The project started in February with a heavy jacket, and finished with a T-shirt
9-weeks later after 12 coats of gleaming varnish had been applied. In order to not upset my nice neighbors at the marina, I pulled the boat over to the gas dock many weekends, weather permitting, for much of the sanding and stripping work. Most of the old varnish removal was done in cold weather when most boaters were at home. People visiting the marina saw the work in progress. One guy thought I was taking the wood down too far with the sander, because when teak is sanded it expands into mounds of sawdust. However, I was very careful only to sand where sanding was in order. At locations where new wood was spliced in, I used sanding to carefully level the two pieces.

The previous owner(s) had applied topcoats of varnish and epoxy over the years, and the wood had a dark walnut appearance. I removed all hardware and used electric sanders to remove the coatings. It would have been impossible to get the finish off with hand sanding, or with stripper alone. Once through the coatings I was very careful with electric sanders, because as all wood boaters know, electric sanders can erode wood very quickly and create dimples that are not noticed until the final high gloss coat of varnish is applied. Some of the hardware did not want to come off, and some of the fasteners twisted off or lost grip at the heads. Much of it was bolted on, rather than screwed. Some of the fasteners had to be drilled out and they were bunged with teak plugs. All bungs were dipped in waterproof glue prior to placement, and all were properly aligned with the grain. All new fasteners were stainless steel, and they were all put into oversize pilot holes through the teak to avoid splitting. Most screw fasteners were screwed through the teak and into the fiberglass substrate, and the holding power was enormous. Where necessary, I would step up to a larger size of screw in order to assure a proper grip. Where natural splits occurred in the teak, I used a hack saw blade to clean them out. I also worked it with a sharp blade and folded sandpaper to be sure everything was clean enough to accept epoxy.

I put a piece of wax paper under the split to serve as a bond breaker, and filled the split with epoxy. Clamps were used to squeeze everything tight and hold everything in place until epoxy cured. If I had not used a bond breaker between the wood and the fiberglass substrate, I would have glued the point of repair to the substrate, and this would have put stress at the glue point. I mixed wood flour with the epoxy to give it some body and to approximate the color of teak. I did not use teak flour due to its oil content. In some cases I used a special mix of teak colored transparent paint mixed with varnish, to mask the repair work. This coloration was carefully placed between coats of varnish.

In some cases the teak was rotted and needed to be replaced. Specially matched pieces were cut to size and epoxied into place on top of bond breakers. Much of this work was fastened prior to epoxy, in order to avoid stressing the glue joint. Fasteners at these locations were put into oversize holes in the teak, to allow for some degree of movement.

This system proved to be durable. After three years of use, I can see a few some small cracks in the varnish surface where the wood has moved a bit. These are touched with a mix of varnish and thinner for good penetration. Light sanding with a 220 grit, and a topcoat will get me through the season. I suspect that in a few years, Ill have to remove the railing and hardware again, but this time it will be quite easy. All Ill have to do then is to lightly sand the entire toe rail, and put on a couple good finish coats, and the teak will once again have the appearance of pure gold. No need to take a well-maintained varnish coat back down to bare wood. Its an investment in time and effort, its a lot of work, but the results are spectacular.

Teak is oily by nature, and it gets a lot more oily with age due to the fact that people insist on dumping oil on it. Teak oil does work, and it works quite well. I am a former wood boat owner, and am one of those people who think nothing looks quite as nice as brightly finished teak. After stripping off the topcoats of old varnish, epoxy, etc., I paid special attention to preparing the teak to accept varnish. One of the problems with varnished teak is peeling, and this is primarily because the oily wood was not properly prepared for varnish. The teak was washed down with a teak cleaner after most of the sanding was done. It was then washed down again with acetone. Acetone evaporates quickly. Shortly after the acetone evaporated, I applied a 50/50% first coat of varnish/thinner in order to get good penetration into the wood fiber. The acetone forced the oils deep into the wood, and allowed the thinned varnish penetrated into the wood, making a good foundation for more varnish topcoats. The second varnish coat was almost as thin, and the teak drank it up. After the initial penetration coats, I began laying on un-thinned varnish to build up the film thickness. Teak has a fairly open grain, and it takes a lot of varnish build up to fill all the little indentations in the surface. Sanding in between coats will eventually allow the finish coat to level out and look smooth. A grain filler might have helped in this regard, but I was not aware of any that would give a natural coloration, so all of my filling was done with varnish. Several coats of varnish were applied by brush for maximum "build", however, the last 6 or 8 coats were applied with a marine foam roller in order to get that glass smooth finish we antique and classic boaters love to see.

I can not stress the importance of sanding with a wood block, between coats. This MUST be done by hand. An electric sander has absolutely NO PURPOSE between coats of varnish. Careful hand-sanding is necessary to give a tooth to the substrate so each subsequent coat will bond properly. I like using the wet 150 and 220 grit sandpaper. It forms a lather of spent varnish when used, and the water quickly clears the paper for more action. The work needs to be wiped down immediately after sanding, which I did in steps. First wipe down was with a wet rag to get most of the varnish specks off. Prior to applying another coat of varnish, I would also wipe the work down with a rag lightly wetted with varnish solvent. This was done to get any additional dust off the work. Although I have 12 coats of varnish, the actual finished thickness is probably more like 6 coats due to the obligatory sanding that is required to fill all the small voids in the grain and get that glass-smooth finish. Since the finishing was done outdoors, sometimes in less than ideal conditions, I have more build coats than Id probably have applied if the boat was finished indoors. Thinner tends to dull the finish of varnish, so it is best to use it right out of the can. This works great on flat work. I used Pettit High Build for build coats, and finished the work with a couple coats of Captains Varnish, and Schooner 96, with a final two or three coats of Epifanes. Multiple coats of marine spar varnish with UV filters provides a golden glow that is unmatched on teak.

I recommend buying 4 one-quart cans of varnish rather than a one-gallon container. This keeps your varnish fresh. Always pour varnish to be used into a smaller container and dip the brush straight down into the liquid. Never strike a brush back into a can of varnish because it contaminates it with bubbles and bits of dust picked up off the surface. I always use a second can to strike the brush, and this is wasted because contaminated varnish serves no purpose in achieving a top quality finish. With a foam roller you must select a varnish that works with the temperature and humidity conditions to flash out over the small bubbles inherent with a roller. The roller can put down a very uniform finish in a quick amount of time. Thin and uniform coats of varnish will not run, but they also dont build up very quickly, and this is why the build coats were placed with a brush. You never really know when the last coat of varnish has been applied, until you see the final results after it dries. Once viewed, the decision can be made. Its been said that you always discover a new species of insect every time a can of varnish is cracked. This is true.

The finish still looks new after three years of operation. It is washed once a week with an automotive wash/wax, and water drops are always wiped off. In any kind of light, it has a golden glow that is the crowning touch for this fine boat. In sunlight is it spectacular. On the water it looks iridescent. As the boat rocks on the water it flashes bright golden color to other boaters, and it is a constant source of comments. I recommend this approach for anyone who will take the time to do it right. If youre going to do it yourself, then you can assure taking the proper measures and proper amount of time. If you are going to have the work done for you at a marina, shortcuts will most likely be taken unless you are on site to supervise the work. Teak oil can bring out the color, but it will not reflect light nearly as well, and the freshly oiled surface attracts dirt and quickly starts looking a bit dull. Because teak oil will not provide a gloss finish, it will mask flaws and look good on a piece of wood that might otherwise look poor with a highly reflective finish.

Polyurethane can also be used but Ive always been a traditionalist and prefer varnish. Polyurethane offers higher abrasion resistance, but the teak strip really doesnt get much direct wear. I know how easily varnish can be repaired, and polyurethane is tough to work with by comparison. I am also comfortable with the way thinned varnish will penetrate and grip the wood. After three years the wood still looks new, although close inspection shows a few spots here and there where water has penetrated at joints in the wood. This is to be expected, and it must be dealt with each season to avoid discoloration and eventual peeling. After three years there were no signs of peeling. For those looking for the bright finishing touch on a classic cruiser, theres nothing quite so fine as high gloss marine varnish on teak.

Edit comment: Photo added, April 2006. The photo below was taken April 1, 2006, and the teak still presents itself well SEVERAL years after it's application as described above. It is showing wear, and will soon be top coated. The process takes time, but the rewards are big. This boat is kept under cover and does not receive full sun exposure, but it does get a lot of UV exposure on the bow.





Relevant thread, are you sitting down? (Brace yourself ! Turn up your speakers, wait for the sound to kick in! Enjoy !)
http://www.network54.com/Forum/424840/m ... 1157664700











edit: Photo below added


The photo below is the exact same helm station as shown in upper photos, except it has a low afternoon sun angle blasting in some golden color to enhance the image. Amazing! It really shows off the quality of the varnish work, even many years after it was done.


Last edited by FEfinaticP on September 5th, 2009, 7:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Quote
Like
Share

Mark Wheeler
Mark Wheeler

September 18th, 2005, 12:36 am #2

I'm going to copy it and give it to my crew.

MW
Quote
Share

EH
EH

September 18th, 2005, 2:04 pm #3

Here are some old photos I thought would be of interest and of use to people, so I'm reposting them here.

regards, Paul






Heres what I bought with my Commander, some rotted teak, patched with bondo. After considering a total replacement, I decided to keep the old beat up teak and try to salvage a few more seasons out of it.


Heres the patched teak I put it in, it was fastened and epoxied after a wash-down with acetone to get the natural oil off the wood, and I put a piece of wax paper under the epoxy line to avoid setting up a stress-line. Several years later this patch still looks as good as new.


Heres what it looked like after a few coats of varnish.


Heres a sanding job for you. It seemed like it would never end. Lots of small nicks and fills to hide. The step pads were horribly eroded and simply could not be fixed. On the port side, however, I had a big split to contend with. I had to squeeze it together, put a slip sheet under it and glue, and then fix down without splitting the work. So far its held nicely, which surprises me a lot.


Heres the other side, similar conditions.


Heres a solution for the eroded step pad wood substrate, and it ended up being an improvement over the original design. Note how all water that falls on this step pad will drain out naturally. The grooves in the wood grab a deck shoe very nicely and so far these have provided great service and they look so much better than that metal strip.


Here is a shot of the aft deck area. Again, nothing like good ole work on your knees, sheesh.


Heres the result of careful finish sanding and a washdown with acetone prior to that first coat of varnish thinned fifty percent for a good soaking grab onto that oily wood. Using this technique keeps the varnish from peeling. Subsequent coats are not thinned so heavily. Final build coats arent thinned at all. Between every coat of varnish you must sand with a wood block with sandpaper wrapped around it. The object is to fill the valleys and sand off the peaks. Twelve coats were eventually applied, but with so much sanding there is only about 5 coats of true film.


The old boat is starting to get some attention now, even from the wood boat guys. This teak shines like gold in the sunlight.


During this same time I finished the helm and added new wood on each side of the helm. The existing wood panels were painted white. I found some good looking marine Philippine ribbon stripe in New England and it matched up nicely to the original mahogany.


Heres another look at the helm station under restoration.


Heres a look at the wood work, being enjoyed by a happy guest from Dallas Texas.

During the stripping and varnish work, I pulled the boat out of the slip and moved it over to our gas dock. During the cool season there werent too many people there and I could work away without interruption. Here are some shots of the boat with all the hardware off during this work. Now, several years later, Im getting ready to do this all over again, but this time it will be a light sanding and retopping. I do not intend to go down to bare wood unless there are some damaged areas that need that kind of attention.


Were located on a quiet little creek off the Cumberland, just outside West Meade, in Nashville. I can be on my boat in 15 minutes from the office or from home.


Starboard side getting the Full Monte.


Heres a general view of the boat, showing the aftermarket fly-bridge installed many years earlier by a previous owner. That bimini top, by the way, was one cheap crappy installation, and it's the one that Janet literally blew totally off the boat one day heading down a long stretch of river under full power into the wind, ha ha. It landed out behind the boat in the water. Since then we had some really nice stainless steel work and a "proper" bimini installed.


The following article was written several years ago when this work was done. Its been shared with several boating clubs, and Im posting it here in its entirety because there are still some good tips that have (now) proven themselves over a period of years.

Chris Craft Commander Teak Toe Rail Restoration
By Pau1 P1etcher


A
few years ago Janet and I found our 1966 38 Chris Craft Commander on the Ohio River a few miles upstream of Cincinnati. One of the design features of the large Commander is a beautiful toe rail of genuine teak. This is not just cosmetic, it is a deeply imbedded onto another layer of structural wood and through-bolted into the heavy fiberglass substrate. It serves as a good basis for hardware and railings, and it can be very attractive if finished bright. The boat was in serviceable condition, but it needed a lot of attention. Because I had been involved with numerous wood boat restorations over the years I was willing to acquire this boat below market value and then do a lot of the work myself. The teak looked generally sound, but it looked cosmetically poor. After some of the more serious electrical and engine work was done, I focused on a variety of cosmetic issues such as new headliner and refinishing of the helm and interior. I knew Id have to do a LOT of work just to get the teak in shape. Some of it was split, some was missing, and some was rotted. I didnt think Id like an oil finish after doing all of that work, and decided to finish it bright with varnish. Working on weekends, this took me a couple of months to complete. Just getting the wood in shape was a major chore. If you have good wood, the work will be limited to refinishing and the job will be much easier. Some weekends Id just apply one build coat of varnish on Saturday and another on Sunday afternoon after sanding what had gone on the previous day.

The project started in February with a heavy jacket, and finished with a T-shirt
9-weeks later after 12 coats of gleaming varnish had been applied. In order to not upset my nice neighbors at the marina, I pulled the boat over to the gas dock many weekends, weather permitting, for much of the sanding and stripping work. Most of the old varnish removal was done in cold weather when most boaters were at home. People visiting the marina saw the work in progress. One guy thought I was taking the wood down too far with the sander, because when teak is sanded it expands into mounds of sawdust. However, I was very careful only to sand where sanding was in order. At locations where new wood was spliced in, I used sanding to carefully level the two pieces.

The previous owner(s) had applied topcoats of varnish and epoxy over the years, and the wood had a dark walnut appearance. I removed all hardware and used electric sanders to remove the coatings. It would have been impossible to get the finish off with hand sanding, or with stripper alone. Once through the coatings I was very careful with electric sanders, because as all wood boaters know, electric sanders can erode wood very quickly and create dimples that are not noticed until the final high gloss coat of varnish is applied. Some of the hardware did not want to come off, and some of the fasteners twisted off or lost grip at the heads. Much of it was bolted on, rather than screwed. Some of the fasteners had to be drilled out and they were bunged with teak plugs. All bungs were dipped in waterproof glue prior to placement, and all were properly aligned with the grain. All new fasteners were stainless steel, and they were all put into oversize pilot holes through the teak to avoid splitting. Most screw fasteners were screwed through the teak and into the fiberglass substrate, and the holding power was enormous. Where necessary, I would step up to a larger size of screw in order to assure a proper grip. Where natural splits occurred in the teak, I used a hack saw blade to clean them out. I also worked it with a sharp blade and folded sandpaper to be sure everything was clean enough to accept epoxy.

I put a piece of wax paper under the split to serve as a bond breaker, and filled the split with epoxy. Clamps were used to squeeze everything tight and hold everything in place until epoxy cured. If I had not used a bond breaker between the wood and the fiberglass substrate, I would have glued the point of repair to the substrate, and this would have put stress at the glue point. I mixed wood flour with the epoxy to give it some body and to approximate the color of teak. I did not use teak flour due to its oil content. In some cases I used a special mix of teak colored transparent paint mixed with varnish, to mask the repair work. This coloration was carefully placed between coats of varnish.

In some cases the teak was rotted and needed to be replaced. Specially matched pieces were cut to size and epoxied into place on top of bond breakers. Much of this work was fastened prior to epoxy, in order to avoid stressing the glue joint. Fasteners at these locations were put into oversize holes in the teak, to allow for some degree of movement.

This system proved to be durable. After three years of use, I can see a few some small cracks in the varnish surface where the wood has moved a bit. These are touched with a mix of varnish and thinner for good penetration. Light sanding with a 220 grit, and a topcoat will get me through the season. I suspect that in a few years, Ill have to remove the railing and hardware again, but this time it will be quite easy. All Ill have to do then is to lightly sand the entire toe rail, and put on a couple good finish coats, and the teak will once again have the appearance of pure gold. No need to take a well-maintained varnish coat back down to bare wood. Its an investment in time and effort, its a lot of work, but the results are spectacular.

Teak is oily by nature, and it gets a lot more oily with age due to the fact that people insist on dumping oil on it. Teak oil does work, and it works quite well. I am a former wood boat owner, and am one of those people who think nothing looks quite as nice as brightly finished teak. After stripping off the topcoats of old varnish, epoxy, etc., I paid special attention to preparing the teak to accept varnish. One of the problems with varnished teak is peeling, and this is primarily because the oily wood was not properly prepared for varnish. The teak was washed down with a teak cleaner after most of the sanding was done. It was then washed down again with acetone. Acetone evaporates quickly. Shortly after the acetone evaporated, I applied a 50/50% first coat of varnish/thinner in order to get good penetration into the wood fiber. The acetone forced the oils deep into the wood, and allowed the thinned varnish penetrated into the wood, making a good foundation for more varnish topcoats. The second varnish coat was almost as thin, and the teak drank it up. After the initial penetration coats, I began laying on un-thinned varnish to build up the film thickness. Teak has a fairly open grain, and it takes a lot of varnish build up to fill all the little indentations in the surface. Sanding in between coats will eventually allow the finish coat to level out and look smooth. A grain filler might have helped in this regard, but I was not aware of any that would give a natural coloration, so all of my filling was done with varnish. Several coats of varnish were applied by brush for maximum "build", however, the last 6 or 8 coats were applied with a marine foam roller in order to get that glass smooth finish we antique and classic boaters love to see.

I can not stress the importance of sanding with a wood block, between coats. This MUST be done by hand. An electric sander has absolutely NO PURPOSE between coats of varnish. Careful hand-sanding is necessary to give a tooth to the substrate so each subsequent coat will bond properly. I like using the wet 150 and 220 grit sandpaper. It forms a lather of spent varnish when used, and the water quickly clears the paper for more action. The work needs to be wiped down immediately after sanding, which I did in steps. First wipe down was with a wet rag to get most of the varnish specks off. Prior to applying another coat of varnish, I would also wipe the work down with a rag lightly wetted with varnish solvent. This was done to get any additional dust off the work. Although I have 12 coats of varnish, the actual finished thickness is probably more like 6 coats due to the obligatory sanding that is required to fill all the small voids in the grain and get that glass-smooth finish. Since the finishing was done outdoors, sometimes in less than ideal conditions, I have more build coats than Id probably have applied if the boat was finished indoors. Thinner tends to dull the finish of varnish, so it is best to use it right out of the can. This works great on flat work. I used Pettit High Build for build coats, and finished the work with a couple coats of Captains Varnish, and Schooner 96, with a final two or three coats of Epifanes. Multiple coats of marine spar varnish with UV filters provides a golden glow that is unmatched on teak.

I recommend buying 4 one-quart cans of varnish rather than a one-gallon container. This keeps your varnish fresh. Always pour varnish to be used into a smaller container and dip the brush straight down into the liquid. Never strike a brush back into a can of varnish because it contaminates it with bubbles and bits of dust picked up off the surface. I always use a second can to strike the brush, and this is wasted because contaminated varnish serves no purpose in achieving a top quality finish. With a foam roller you must select a varnish that works with the temperature and humidity conditions to flash out over the small bubbles inherent with a roller. The roller can put down a very uniform finish in a quick amount of time. Thin and uniform coats of varnish will not run, but they also dont build up very quickly, and this is why the build coats were placed with a brush. You never really know when the last coat of varnish has been applied, until you see the final results after it dries. Once viewed, the decision can be made. Its been said that you always discover a new species of insect every time a can of varnish is cracked. This is true.

The finish still looks new after three years of operation. It is washed once a week with an automotive wash/wax, and water drops are always wiped off. In any kind of light, it has a golden glow that is the crowning touch for this fine boat. In sunlight is it spectacular. On the water it looks iridescent. As the boat rocks on the water it flashes bright golden color to other boaters, and it is a constant source of comments. I recommend this approach for anyone who will take the time to do it right. If youre going to do it yourself, then you can assure taking the proper measures and proper amount of time. If you are going to have the work done for you at a marina, shortcuts will most likely be taken unless you are on site to supervise the work. Teak oil can bring out the color, but it will not reflect light nearly as well, and the freshly oiled surface attracts dirt and quickly starts looking a bit dull. Because teak oil will not provide a gloss finish, it will mask flaws and look good on a piece of wood that might otherwise look poor with a highly reflective finish.

Polyurethane can also be used but Ive always been a traditionalist and prefer varnish. Polyurethane offers higher abrasion resistance, but the teak strip really doesnt get much direct wear. I know how easily varnish can be repaired, and polyurethane is tough to work with by comparison. I am also comfortable with the way thinned varnish will penetrate and grip the wood. After three years the wood still looks new, although close inspection shows a few spots here and there where water has penetrated at joints in the wood. This is to be expected, and it must be dealt with each season to avoid discoloration and eventual peeling. After three years there were no signs of peeling. For those looking for the bright finishing touch on a classic cruiser, theres nothing quite so fine as high gloss marine varnish on teak.

Edit comment: Photo added, April 2006. The photo below was taken April 1, 2006, and the teak still presents itself well SEVERAL years after it's application as described above. It is showing wear, and will soon be top coated. The process takes time, but the rewards are big. This boat is kept under cover and does not receive full sun exposure, but it does get a lot of UV exposure on the bow.





Relevant thread, are you sitting down? (Brace yourself ! Turn up your speakers, wait for the sound to kick in! Enjoy !)
http://www.network54.com/Forum/424840/m ... 1157664700











edit: Photo below added


The photo below is the exact same helm station as shown in upper photos, except it has a low afternoon sun angle blasting in some golden color to enhance the image. Amazing! It really shows off the quality of the varnish work, even many years after it was done.

Thinner seems to be easier to handle than acetone. Acetone is very hot and it cuts through gloves unless you buy a special kind. Thinner gives longer life on the rag too, it wont evaporate as fast. I use a 50percent mix of varnish and tinner for that first coating, very much the same as you do.

EH
Quote
Share

Commander35
Commander35

September 18th, 2005, 4:33 pm #4

Here are some old photos I thought would be of interest and of use to people, so I'm reposting them here.

regards, Paul






Heres what I bought with my Commander, some rotted teak, patched with bondo. After considering a total replacement, I decided to keep the old beat up teak and try to salvage a few more seasons out of it.


Heres the patched teak I put it in, it was fastened and epoxied after a wash-down with acetone to get the natural oil off the wood, and I put a piece of wax paper under the epoxy line to avoid setting up a stress-line. Several years later this patch still looks as good as new.


Heres what it looked like after a few coats of varnish.


Heres a sanding job for you. It seemed like it would never end. Lots of small nicks and fills to hide. The step pads were horribly eroded and simply could not be fixed. On the port side, however, I had a big split to contend with. I had to squeeze it together, put a slip sheet under it and glue, and then fix down without splitting the work. So far its held nicely, which surprises me a lot.


Heres the other side, similar conditions.


Heres a solution for the eroded step pad wood substrate, and it ended up being an improvement over the original design. Note how all water that falls on this step pad will drain out naturally. The grooves in the wood grab a deck shoe very nicely and so far these have provided great service and they look so much better than that metal strip.


Here is a shot of the aft deck area. Again, nothing like good ole work on your knees, sheesh.


Heres the result of careful finish sanding and a washdown with acetone prior to that first coat of varnish thinned fifty percent for a good soaking grab onto that oily wood. Using this technique keeps the varnish from peeling. Subsequent coats are not thinned so heavily. Final build coats arent thinned at all. Between every coat of varnish you must sand with a wood block with sandpaper wrapped around it. The object is to fill the valleys and sand off the peaks. Twelve coats were eventually applied, but with so much sanding there is only about 5 coats of true film.


The old boat is starting to get some attention now, even from the wood boat guys. This teak shines like gold in the sunlight.


During this same time I finished the helm and added new wood on each side of the helm. The existing wood panels were painted white. I found some good looking marine Philippine ribbon stripe in New England and it matched up nicely to the original mahogany.


Heres another look at the helm station under restoration.


Heres a look at the wood work, being enjoyed by a happy guest from Dallas Texas.

During the stripping and varnish work, I pulled the boat out of the slip and moved it over to our gas dock. During the cool season there werent too many people there and I could work away without interruption. Here are some shots of the boat with all the hardware off during this work. Now, several years later, Im getting ready to do this all over again, but this time it will be a light sanding and retopping. I do not intend to go down to bare wood unless there are some damaged areas that need that kind of attention.


Were located on a quiet little creek off the Cumberland, just outside West Meade, in Nashville. I can be on my boat in 15 minutes from the office or from home.


Starboard side getting the Full Monte.


Heres a general view of the boat, showing the aftermarket fly-bridge installed many years earlier by a previous owner. That bimini top, by the way, was one cheap crappy installation, and it's the one that Janet literally blew totally off the boat one day heading down a long stretch of river under full power into the wind, ha ha. It landed out behind the boat in the water. Since then we had some really nice stainless steel work and a "proper" bimini installed.


The following article was written several years ago when this work was done. Its been shared with several boating clubs, and Im posting it here in its entirety because there are still some good tips that have (now) proven themselves over a period of years.

Chris Craft Commander Teak Toe Rail Restoration
By Pau1 P1etcher


A
few years ago Janet and I found our 1966 38 Chris Craft Commander on the Ohio River a few miles upstream of Cincinnati. One of the design features of the large Commander is a beautiful toe rail of genuine teak. This is not just cosmetic, it is a deeply imbedded onto another layer of structural wood and through-bolted into the heavy fiberglass substrate. It serves as a good basis for hardware and railings, and it can be very attractive if finished bright. The boat was in serviceable condition, but it needed a lot of attention. Because I had been involved with numerous wood boat restorations over the years I was willing to acquire this boat below market value and then do a lot of the work myself. The teak looked generally sound, but it looked cosmetically poor. After some of the more serious electrical and engine work was done, I focused on a variety of cosmetic issues such as new headliner and refinishing of the helm and interior. I knew Id have to do a LOT of work just to get the teak in shape. Some of it was split, some was missing, and some was rotted. I didnt think Id like an oil finish after doing all of that work, and decided to finish it bright with varnish. Working on weekends, this took me a couple of months to complete. Just getting the wood in shape was a major chore. If you have good wood, the work will be limited to refinishing and the job will be much easier. Some weekends Id just apply one build coat of varnish on Saturday and another on Sunday afternoon after sanding what had gone on the previous day.

The project started in February with a heavy jacket, and finished with a T-shirt
9-weeks later after 12 coats of gleaming varnish had been applied. In order to not upset my nice neighbors at the marina, I pulled the boat over to the gas dock many weekends, weather permitting, for much of the sanding and stripping work. Most of the old varnish removal was done in cold weather when most boaters were at home. People visiting the marina saw the work in progress. One guy thought I was taking the wood down too far with the sander, because when teak is sanded it expands into mounds of sawdust. However, I was very careful only to sand where sanding was in order. At locations where new wood was spliced in, I used sanding to carefully level the two pieces.

The previous owner(s) had applied topcoats of varnish and epoxy over the years, and the wood had a dark walnut appearance. I removed all hardware and used electric sanders to remove the coatings. It would have been impossible to get the finish off with hand sanding, or with stripper alone. Once through the coatings I was very careful with electric sanders, because as all wood boaters know, electric sanders can erode wood very quickly and create dimples that are not noticed until the final high gloss coat of varnish is applied. Some of the hardware did not want to come off, and some of the fasteners twisted off or lost grip at the heads. Much of it was bolted on, rather than screwed. Some of the fasteners had to be drilled out and they were bunged with teak plugs. All bungs were dipped in waterproof glue prior to placement, and all were properly aligned with the grain. All new fasteners were stainless steel, and they were all put into oversize pilot holes through the teak to avoid splitting. Most screw fasteners were screwed through the teak and into the fiberglass substrate, and the holding power was enormous. Where necessary, I would step up to a larger size of screw in order to assure a proper grip. Where natural splits occurred in the teak, I used a hack saw blade to clean them out. I also worked it with a sharp blade and folded sandpaper to be sure everything was clean enough to accept epoxy.

I put a piece of wax paper under the split to serve as a bond breaker, and filled the split with epoxy. Clamps were used to squeeze everything tight and hold everything in place until epoxy cured. If I had not used a bond breaker between the wood and the fiberglass substrate, I would have glued the point of repair to the substrate, and this would have put stress at the glue point. I mixed wood flour with the epoxy to give it some body and to approximate the color of teak. I did not use teak flour due to its oil content. In some cases I used a special mix of teak colored transparent paint mixed with varnish, to mask the repair work. This coloration was carefully placed between coats of varnish.

In some cases the teak was rotted and needed to be replaced. Specially matched pieces were cut to size and epoxied into place on top of bond breakers. Much of this work was fastened prior to epoxy, in order to avoid stressing the glue joint. Fasteners at these locations were put into oversize holes in the teak, to allow for some degree of movement.

This system proved to be durable. After three years of use, I can see a few some small cracks in the varnish surface where the wood has moved a bit. These are touched with a mix of varnish and thinner for good penetration. Light sanding with a 220 grit, and a topcoat will get me through the season. I suspect that in a few years, Ill have to remove the railing and hardware again, but this time it will be quite easy. All Ill have to do then is to lightly sand the entire toe rail, and put on a couple good finish coats, and the teak will once again have the appearance of pure gold. No need to take a well-maintained varnish coat back down to bare wood. Its an investment in time and effort, its a lot of work, but the results are spectacular.

Teak is oily by nature, and it gets a lot more oily with age due to the fact that people insist on dumping oil on it. Teak oil does work, and it works quite well. I am a former wood boat owner, and am one of those people who think nothing looks quite as nice as brightly finished teak. After stripping off the topcoats of old varnish, epoxy, etc., I paid special attention to preparing the teak to accept varnish. One of the problems with varnished teak is peeling, and this is primarily because the oily wood was not properly prepared for varnish. The teak was washed down with a teak cleaner after most of the sanding was done. It was then washed down again with acetone. Acetone evaporates quickly. Shortly after the acetone evaporated, I applied a 50/50% first coat of varnish/thinner in order to get good penetration into the wood fiber. The acetone forced the oils deep into the wood, and allowed the thinned varnish penetrated into the wood, making a good foundation for more varnish topcoats. The second varnish coat was almost as thin, and the teak drank it up. After the initial penetration coats, I began laying on un-thinned varnish to build up the film thickness. Teak has a fairly open grain, and it takes a lot of varnish build up to fill all the little indentations in the surface. Sanding in between coats will eventually allow the finish coat to level out and look smooth. A grain filler might have helped in this regard, but I was not aware of any that would give a natural coloration, so all of my filling was done with varnish. Several coats of varnish were applied by brush for maximum "build", however, the last 6 or 8 coats were applied with a marine foam roller in order to get that glass smooth finish we antique and classic boaters love to see.

I can not stress the importance of sanding with a wood block, between coats. This MUST be done by hand. An electric sander has absolutely NO PURPOSE between coats of varnish. Careful hand-sanding is necessary to give a tooth to the substrate so each subsequent coat will bond properly. I like using the wet 150 and 220 grit sandpaper. It forms a lather of spent varnish when used, and the water quickly clears the paper for more action. The work needs to be wiped down immediately after sanding, which I did in steps. First wipe down was with a wet rag to get most of the varnish specks off. Prior to applying another coat of varnish, I would also wipe the work down with a rag lightly wetted with varnish solvent. This was done to get any additional dust off the work. Although I have 12 coats of varnish, the actual finished thickness is probably more like 6 coats due to the obligatory sanding that is required to fill all the small voids in the grain and get that glass-smooth finish. Since the finishing was done outdoors, sometimes in less than ideal conditions, I have more build coats than Id probably have applied if the boat was finished indoors. Thinner tends to dull the finish of varnish, so it is best to use it right out of the can. This works great on flat work. I used Pettit High Build for build coats, and finished the work with a couple coats of Captains Varnish, and Schooner 96, with a final two or three coats of Epifanes. Multiple coats of marine spar varnish with UV filters provides a golden glow that is unmatched on teak.

I recommend buying 4 one-quart cans of varnish rather than a one-gallon container. This keeps your varnish fresh. Always pour varnish to be used into a smaller container and dip the brush straight down into the liquid. Never strike a brush back into a can of varnish because it contaminates it with bubbles and bits of dust picked up off the surface. I always use a second can to strike the brush, and this is wasted because contaminated varnish serves no purpose in achieving a top quality finish. With a foam roller you must select a varnish that works with the temperature and humidity conditions to flash out over the small bubbles inherent with a roller. The roller can put down a very uniform finish in a quick amount of time. Thin and uniform coats of varnish will not run, but they also dont build up very quickly, and this is why the build coats were placed with a brush. You never really know when the last coat of varnish has been applied, until you see the final results after it dries. Once viewed, the decision can be made. Its been said that you always discover a new species of insect every time a can of varnish is cracked. This is true.

The finish still looks new after three years of operation. It is washed once a week with an automotive wash/wax, and water drops are always wiped off. In any kind of light, it has a golden glow that is the crowning touch for this fine boat. In sunlight is it spectacular. On the water it looks iridescent. As the boat rocks on the water it flashes bright golden color to other boaters, and it is a constant source of comments. I recommend this approach for anyone who will take the time to do it right. If youre going to do it yourself, then you can assure taking the proper measures and proper amount of time. If you are going to have the work done for you at a marina, shortcuts will most likely be taken unless you are on site to supervise the work. Teak oil can bring out the color, but it will not reflect light nearly as well, and the freshly oiled surface attracts dirt and quickly starts looking a bit dull. Because teak oil will not provide a gloss finish, it will mask flaws and look good on a piece of wood that might otherwise look poor with a highly reflective finish.

Polyurethane can also be used but Ive always been a traditionalist and prefer varnish. Polyurethane offers higher abrasion resistance, but the teak strip really doesnt get much direct wear. I know how easily varnish can be repaired, and polyurethane is tough to work with by comparison. I am also comfortable with the way thinned varnish will penetrate and grip the wood. After three years the wood still looks new, although close inspection shows a few spots here and there where water has penetrated at joints in the wood. This is to be expected, and it must be dealt with each season to avoid discoloration and eventual peeling. After three years there were no signs of peeling. For those looking for the bright finishing touch on a classic cruiser, theres nothing quite so fine as high gloss marine varnish on teak.

Edit comment: Photo added, April 2006. The photo below was taken April 1, 2006, and the teak still presents itself well SEVERAL years after it's application as described above. It is showing wear, and will soon be top coated. The process takes time, but the rewards are big. This boat is kept under cover and does not receive full sun exposure, but it does get a lot of UV exposure on the bow.





Relevant thread, are you sitting down? (Brace yourself ! Turn up your speakers, wait for the sound to kick in! Enjoy !)
http://www.network54.com/Forum/424840/m ... 1157664700











edit: Photo below added


The photo below is the exact same helm station as shown in upper photos, except it has a low afternoon sun angle blasting in some golden color to enhance the image. Amazing! It really shows off the quality of the varnish work, even many years after it was done.

Over the years, on various projects, Schooner 96 has given me good wear, bright finish, and very easy application. I recommend it. It goes on fairly thin, which is good for drying time but not real good for build up. I've found many thinner coats will work better than a few thick coats.

Commander35
Quote
Share

Rob Williams
Rob Williams

September 19th, 2005, 2:49 pm #5

Here are some old photos I thought would be of interest and of use to people, so I'm reposting them here.

regards, Paul






Heres what I bought with my Commander, some rotted teak, patched with bondo. After considering a total replacement, I decided to keep the old beat up teak and try to salvage a few more seasons out of it.


Heres the patched teak I put it in, it was fastened and epoxied after a wash-down with acetone to get the natural oil off the wood, and I put a piece of wax paper under the epoxy line to avoid setting up a stress-line. Several years later this patch still looks as good as new.


Heres what it looked like after a few coats of varnish.


Heres a sanding job for you. It seemed like it would never end. Lots of small nicks and fills to hide. The step pads were horribly eroded and simply could not be fixed. On the port side, however, I had a big split to contend with. I had to squeeze it together, put a slip sheet under it and glue, and then fix down without splitting the work. So far its held nicely, which surprises me a lot.


Heres the other side, similar conditions.


Heres a solution for the eroded step pad wood substrate, and it ended up being an improvement over the original design. Note how all water that falls on this step pad will drain out naturally. The grooves in the wood grab a deck shoe very nicely and so far these have provided great service and they look so much better than that metal strip.


Here is a shot of the aft deck area. Again, nothing like good ole work on your knees, sheesh.


Heres the result of careful finish sanding and a washdown with acetone prior to that first coat of varnish thinned fifty percent for a good soaking grab onto that oily wood. Using this technique keeps the varnish from peeling. Subsequent coats are not thinned so heavily. Final build coats arent thinned at all. Between every coat of varnish you must sand with a wood block with sandpaper wrapped around it. The object is to fill the valleys and sand off the peaks. Twelve coats were eventually applied, but with so much sanding there is only about 5 coats of true film.


The old boat is starting to get some attention now, even from the wood boat guys. This teak shines like gold in the sunlight.


During this same time I finished the helm and added new wood on each side of the helm. The existing wood panels were painted white. I found some good looking marine Philippine ribbon stripe in New England and it matched up nicely to the original mahogany.


Heres another look at the helm station under restoration.


Heres a look at the wood work, being enjoyed by a happy guest from Dallas Texas.

During the stripping and varnish work, I pulled the boat out of the slip and moved it over to our gas dock. During the cool season there werent too many people there and I could work away without interruption. Here are some shots of the boat with all the hardware off during this work. Now, several years later, Im getting ready to do this all over again, but this time it will be a light sanding and retopping. I do not intend to go down to bare wood unless there are some damaged areas that need that kind of attention.


Were located on a quiet little creek off the Cumberland, just outside West Meade, in Nashville. I can be on my boat in 15 minutes from the office or from home.


Starboard side getting the Full Monte.


Heres a general view of the boat, showing the aftermarket fly-bridge installed many years earlier by a previous owner. That bimini top, by the way, was one cheap crappy installation, and it's the one that Janet literally blew totally off the boat one day heading down a long stretch of river under full power into the wind, ha ha. It landed out behind the boat in the water. Since then we had some really nice stainless steel work and a "proper" bimini installed.


The following article was written several years ago when this work was done. Its been shared with several boating clubs, and Im posting it here in its entirety because there are still some good tips that have (now) proven themselves over a period of years.

Chris Craft Commander Teak Toe Rail Restoration
By Pau1 P1etcher


A
few years ago Janet and I found our 1966 38 Chris Craft Commander on the Ohio River a few miles upstream of Cincinnati. One of the design features of the large Commander is a beautiful toe rail of genuine teak. This is not just cosmetic, it is a deeply imbedded onto another layer of structural wood and through-bolted into the heavy fiberglass substrate. It serves as a good basis for hardware and railings, and it can be very attractive if finished bright. The boat was in serviceable condition, but it needed a lot of attention. Because I had been involved with numerous wood boat restorations over the years I was willing to acquire this boat below market value and then do a lot of the work myself. The teak looked generally sound, but it looked cosmetically poor. After some of the more serious electrical and engine work was done, I focused on a variety of cosmetic issues such as new headliner and refinishing of the helm and interior. I knew Id have to do a LOT of work just to get the teak in shape. Some of it was split, some was missing, and some was rotted. I didnt think Id like an oil finish after doing all of that work, and decided to finish it bright with varnish. Working on weekends, this took me a couple of months to complete. Just getting the wood in shape was a major chore. If you have good wood, the work will be limited to refinishing and the job will be much easier. Some weekends Id just apply one build coat of varnish on Saturday and another on Sunday afternoon after sanding what had gone on the previous day.

The project started in February with a heavy jacket, and finished with a T-shirt
9-weeks later after 12 coats of gleaming varnish had been applied. In order to not upset my nice neighbors at the marina, I pulled the boat over to the gas dock many weekends, weather permitting, for much of the sanding and stripping work. Most of the old varnish removal was done in cold weather when most boaters were at home. People visiting the marina saw the work in progress. One guy thought I was taking the wood down too far with the sander, because when teak is sanded it expands into mounds of sawdust. However, I was very careful only to sand where sanding was in order. At locations where new wood was spliced in, I used sanding to carefully level the two pieces.

The previous owner(s) had applied topcoats of varnish and epoxy over the years, and the wood had a dark walnut appearance. I removed all hardware and used electric sanders to remove the coatings. It would have been impossible to get the finish off with hand sanding, or with stripper alone. Once through the coatings I was very careful with electric sanders, because as all wood boaters know, electric sanders can erode wood very quickly and create dimples that are not noticed until the final high gloss coat of varnish is applied. Some of the hardware did not want to come off, and some of the fasteners twisted off or lost grip at the heads. Much of it was bolted on, rather than screwed. Some of the fasteners had to be drilled out and they were bunged with teak plugs. All bungs were dipped in waterproof glue prior to placement, and all were properly aligned with the grain. All new fasteners were stainless steel, and they were all put into oversize pilot holes through the teak to avoid splitting. Most screw fasteners were screwed through the teak and into the fiberglass substrate, and the holding power was enormous. Where necessary, I would step up to a larger size of screw in order to assure a proper grip. Where natural splits occurred in the teak, I used a hack saw blade to clean them out. I also worked it with a sharp blade and folded sandpaper to be sure everything was clean enough to accept epoxy.

I put a piece of wax paper under the split to serve as a bond breaker, and filled the split with epoxy. Clamps were used to squeeze everything tight and hold everything in place until epoxy cured. If I had not used a bond breaker between the wood and the fiberglass substrate, I would have glued the point of repair to the substrate, and this would have put stress at the glue point. I mixed wood flour with the epoxy to give it some body and to approximate the color of teak. I did not use teak flour due to its oil content. In some cases I used a special mix of teak colored transparent paint mixed with varnish, to mask the repair work. This coloration was carefully placed between coats of varnish.

In some cases the teak was rotted and needed to be replaced. Specially matched pieces were cut to size and epoxied into place on top of bond breakers. Much of this work was fastened prior to epoxy, in order to avoid stressing the glue joint. Fasteners at these locations were put into oversize holes in the teak, to allow for some degree of movement.

This system proved to be durable. After three years of use, I can see a few some small cracks in the varnish surface where the wood has moved a bit. These are touched with a mix of varnish and thinner for good penetration. Light sanding with a 220 grit, and a topcoat will get me through the season. I suspect that in a few years, Ill have to remove the railing and hardware again, but this time it will be quite easy. All Ill have to do then is to lightly sand the entire toe rail, and put on a couple good finish coats, and the teak will once again have the appearance of pure gold. No need to take a well-maintained varnish coat back down to bare wood. Its an investment in time and effort, its a lot of work, but the results are spectacular.

Teak is oily by nature, and it gets a lot more oily with age due to the fact that people insist on dumping oil on it. Teak oil does work, and it works quite well. I am a former wood boat owner, and am one of those people who think nothing looks quite as nice as brightly finished teak. After stripping off the topcoats of old varnish, epoxy, etc., I paid special attention to preparing the teak to accept varnish. One of the problems with varnished teak is peeling, and this is primarily because the oily wood was not properly prepared for varnish. The teak was washed down with a teak cleaner after most of the sanding was done. It was then washed down again with acetone. Acetone evaporates quickly. Shortly after the acetone evaporated, I applied a 50/50% first coat of varnish/thinner in order to get good penetration into the wood fiber. The acetone forced the oils deep into the wood, and allowed the thinned varnish penetrated into the wood, making a good foundation for more varnish topcoats. The second varnish coat was almost as thin, and the teak drank it up. After the initial penetration coats, I began laying on un-thinned varnish to build up the film thickness. Teak has a fairly open grain, and it takes a lot of varnish build up to fill all the little indentations in the surface. Sanding in between coats will eventually allow the finish coat to level out and look smooth. A grain filler might have helped in this regard, but I was not aware of any that would give a natural coloration, so all of my filling was done with varnish. Several coats of varnish were applied by brush for maximum "build", however, the last 6 or 8 coats were applied with a marine foam roller in order to get that glass smooth finish we antique and classic boaters love to see.

I can not stress the importance of sanding with a wood block, between coats. This MUST be done by hand. An electric sander has absolutely NO PURPOSE between coats of varnish. Careful hand-sanding is necessary to give a tooth to the substrate so each subsequent coat will bond properly. I like using the wet 150 and 220 grit sandpaper. It forms a lather of spent varnish when used, and the water quickly clears the paper for more action. The work needs to be wiped down immediately after sanding, which I did in steps. First wipe down was with a wet rag to get most of the varnish specks off. Prior to applying another coat of varnish, I would also wipe the work down with a rag lightly wetted with varnish solvent. This was done to get any additional dust off the work. Although I have 12 coats of varnish, the actual finished thickness is probably more like 6 coats due to the obligatory sanding that is required to fill all the small voids in the grain and get that glass-smooth finish. Since the finishing was done outdoors, sometimes in less than ideal conditions, I have more build coats than Id probably have applied if the boat was finished indoors. Thinner tends to dull the finish of varnish, so it is best to use it right out of the can. This works great on flat work. I used Pettit High Build for build coats, and finished the work with a couple coats of Captains Varnish, and Schooner 96, with a final two or three coats of Epifanes. Multiple coats of marine spar varnish with UV filters provides a golden glow that is unmatched on teak.

I recommend buying 4 one-quart cans of varnish rather than a one-gallon container. This keeps your varnish fresh. Always pour varnish to be used into a smaller container and dip the brush straight down into the liquid. Never strike a brush back into a can of varnish because it contaminates it with bubbles and bits of dust picked up off the surface. I always use a second can to strike the brush, and this is wasted because contaminated varnish serves no purpose in achieving a top quality finish. With a foam roller you must select a varnish that works with the temperature and humidity conditions to flash out over the small bubbles inherent with a roller. The roller can put down a very uniform finish in a quick amount of time. Thin and uniform coats of varnish will not run, but they also dont build up very quickly, and this is why the build coats were placed with a brush. You never really know when the last coat of varnish has been applied, until you see the final results after it dries. Once viewed, the decision can be made. Its been said that you always discover a new species of insect every time a can of varnish is cracked. This is true.

The finish still looks new after three years of operation. It is washed once a week with an automotive wash/wax, and water drops are always wiped off. In any kind of light, it has a golden glow that is the crowning touch for this fine boat. In sunlight is it spectacular. On the water it looks iridescent. As the boat rocks on the water it flashes bright golden color to other boaters, and it is a constant source of comments. I recommend this approach for anyone who will take the time to do it right. If youre going to do it yourself, then you can assure taking the proper measures and proper amount of time. If you are going to have the work done for you at a marina, shortcuts will most likely be taken unless you are on site to supervise the work. Teak oil can bring out the color, but it will not reflect light nearly as well, and the freshly oiled surface attracts dirt and quickly starts looking a bit dull. Because teak oil will not provide a gloss finish, it will mask flaws and look good on a piece of wood that might otherwise look poor with a highly reflective finish.

Polyurethane can also be used but Ive always been a traditionalist and prefer varnish. Polyurethane offers higher abrasion resistance, but the teak strip really doesnt get much direct wear. I know how easily varnish can be repaired, and polyurethane is tough to work with by comparison. I am also comfortable with the way thinned varnish will penetrate and grip the wood. After three years the wood still looks new, although close inspection shows a few spots here and there where water has penetrated at joints in the wood. This is to be expected, and it must be dealt with each season to avoid discoloration and eventual peeling. After three years there were no signs of peeling. For those looking for the bright finishing touch on a classic cruiser, theres nothing quite so fine as high gloss marine varnish on teak.

Edit comment: Photo added, April 2006. The photo below was taken April 1, 2006, and the teak still presents itself well SEVERAL years after it's application as described above. It is showing wear, and will soon be top coated. The process takes time, but the rewards are big. This boat is kept under cover and does not receive full sun exposure, but it does get a lot of UV exposure on the bow.





Relevant thread, are you sitting down? (Brace yourself ! Turn up your speakers, wait for the sound to kick in! Enjoy !)
http://www.network54.com/Forum/424840/m ... 1157664700











edit: Photo below added


The photo below is the exact same helm station as shown in upper photos, except it has a low afternoon sun angle blasting in some golden color to enhance the image. Amazing! It really shows off the quality of the varnish work, even many years after it was done.

I've used Schooner for many years, maybe not because it's good but maybe because I'm a man of habit? I guess it worked okay or I would ahve changed to something else?

Rob
Quote
Share

Paul
Paul

September 19th, 2005, 3:40 pm #6

Here are some old photos I thought would be of interest and of use to people, so I'm reposting them here.

regards, Paul






Heres what I bought with my Commander, some rotted teak, patched with bondo. After considering a total replacement, I decided to keep the old beat up teak and try to salvage a few more seasons out of it.


Heres the patched teak I put it in, it was fastened and epoxied after a wash-down with acetone to get the natural oil off the wood, and I put a piece of wax paper under the epoxy line to avoid setting up a stress-line. Several years later this patch still looks as good as new.


Heres what it looked like after a few coats of varnish.


Heres a sanding job for you. It seemed like it would never end. Lots of small nicks and fills to hide. The step pads were horribly eroded and simply could not be fixed. On the port side, however, I had a big split to contend with. I had to squeeze it together, put a slip sheet under it and glue, and then fix down without splitting the work. So far its held nicely, which surprises me a lot.


Heres the other side, similar conditions.


Heres a solution for the eroded step pad wood substrate, and it ended up being an improvement over the original design. Note how all water that falls on this step pad will drain out naturally. The grooves in the wood grab a deck shoe very nicely and so far these have provided great service and they look so much better than that metal strip.


Here is a shot of the aft deck area. Again, nothing like good ole work on your knees, sheesh.


Heres the result of careful finish sanding and a washdown with acetone prior to that first coat of varnish thinned fifty percent for a good soaking grab onto that oily wood. Using this technique keeps the varnish from peeling. Subsequent coats are not thinned so heavily. Final build coats arent thinned at all. Between every coat of varnish you must sand with a wood block with sandpaper wrapped around it. The object is to fill the valleys and sand off the peaks. Twelve coats were eventually applied, but with so much sanding there is only about 5 coats of true film.


The old boat is starting to get some attention now, even from the wood boat guys. This teak shines like gold in the sunlight.


During this same time I finished the helm and added new wood on each side of the helm. The existing wood panels were painted white. I found some good looking marine Philippine ribbon stripe in New England and it matched up nicely to the original mahogany.


Heres another look at the helm station under restoration.


Heres a look at the wood work, being enjoyed by a happy guest from Dallas Texas.

During the stripping and varnish work, I pulled the boat out of the slip and moved it over to our gas dock. During the cool season there werent too many people there and I could work away without interruption. Here are some shots of the boat with all the hardware off during this work. Now, several years later, Im getting ready to do this all over again, but this time it will be a light sanding and retopping. I do not intend to go down to bare wood unless there are some damaged areas that need that kind of attention.


Were located on a quiet little creek off the Cumberland, just outside West Meade, in Nashville. I can be on my boat in 15 minutes from the office or from home.


Starboard side getting the Full Monte.


Heres a general view of the boat, showing the aftermarket fly-bridge installed many years earlier by a previous owner. That bimini top, by the way, was one cheap crappy installation, and it's the one that Janet literally blew totally off the boat one day heading down a long stretch of river under full power into the wind, ha ha. It landed out behind the boat in the water. Since then we had some really nice stainless steel work and a "proper" bimini installed.


The following article was written several years ago when this work was done. Its been shared with several boating clubs, and Im posting it here in its entirety because there are still some good tips that have (now) proven themselves over a period of years.

Chris Craft Commander Teak Toe Rail Restoration
By Pau1 P1etcher


A
few years ago Janet and I found our 1966 38 Chris Craft Commander on the Ohio River a few miles upstream of Cincinnati. One of the design features of the large Commander is a beautiful toe rail of genuine teak. This is not just cosmetic, it is a deeply imbedded onto another layer of structural wood and through-bolted into the heavy fiberglass substrate. It serves as a good basis for hardware and railings, and it can be very attractive if finished bright. The boat was in serviceable condition, but it needed a lot of attention. Because I had been involved with numerous wood boat restorations over the years I was willing to acquire this boat below market value and then do a lot of the work myself. The teak looked generally sound, but it looked cosmetically poor. After some of the more serious electrical and engine work was done, I focused on a variety of cosmetic issues such as new headliner and refinishing of the helm and interior. I knew Id have to do a LOT of work just to get the teak in shape. Some of it was split, some was missing, and some was rotted. I didnt think Id like an oil finish after doing all of that work, and decided to finish it bright with varnish. Working on weekends, this took me a couple of months to complete. Just getting the wood in shape was a major chore. If you have good wood, the work will be limited to refinishing and the job will be much easier. Some weekends Id just apply one build coat of varnish on Saturday and another on Sunday afternoon after sanding what had gone on the previous day.

The project started in February with a heavy jacket, and finished with a T-shirt
9-weeks later after 12 coats of gleaming varnish had been applied. In order to not upset my nice neighbors at the marina, I pulled the boat over to the gas dock many weekends, weather permitting, for much of the sanding and stripping work. Most of the old varnish removal was done in cold weather when most boaters were at home. People visiting the marina saw the work in progress. One guy thought I was taking the wood down too far with the sander, because when teak is sanded it expands into mounds of sawdust. However, I was very careful only to sand where sanding was in order. At locations where new wood was spliced in, I used sanding to carefully level the two pieces.

The previous owner(s) had applied topcoats of varnish and epoxy over the years, and the wood had a dark walnut appearance. I removed all hardware and used electric sanders to remove the coatings. It would have been impossible to get the finish off with hand sanding, or with stripper alone. Once through the coatings I was very careful with electric sanders, because as all wood boaters know, electric sanders can erode wood very quickly and create dimples that are not noticed until the final high gloss coat of varnish is applied. Some of the hardware did not want to come off, and some of the fasteners twisted off or lost grip at the heads. Much of it was bolted on, rather than screwed. Some of the fasteners had to be drilled out and they were bunged with teak plugs. All bungs were dipped in waterproof glue prior to placement, and all were properly aligned with the grain. All new fasteners were stainless steel, and they were all put into oversize pilot holes through the teak to avoid splitting. Most screw fasteners were screwed through the teak and into the fiberglass substrate, and the holding power was enormous. Where necessary, I would step up to a larger size of screw in order to assure a proper grip. Where natural splits occurred in the teak, I used a hack saw blade to clean them out. I also worked it with a sharp blade and folded sandpaper to be sure everything was clean enough to accept epoxy.

I put a piece of wax paper under the split to serve as a bond breaker, and filled the split with epoxy. Clamps were used to squeeze everything tight and hold everything in place until epoxy cured. If I had not used a bond breaker between the wood and the fiberglass substrate, I would have glued the point of repair to the substrate, and this would have put stress at the glue point. I mixed wood flour with the epoxy to give it some body and to approximate the color of teak. I did not use teak flour due to its oil content. In some cases I used a special mix of teak colored transparent paint mixed with varnish, to mask the repair work. This coloration was carefully placed between coats of varnish.

In some cases the teak was rotted and needed to be replaced. Specially matched pieces were cut to size and epoxied into place on top of bond breakers. Much of this work was fastened prior to epoxy, in order to avoid stressing the glue joint. Fasteners at these locations were put into oversize holes in the teak, to allow for some degree of movement.

This system proved to be durable. After three years of use, I can see a few some small cracks in the varnish surface where the wood has moved a bit. These are touched with a mix of varnish and thinner for good penetration. Light sanding with a 220 grit, and a topcoat will get me through the season. I suspect that in a few years, Ill have to remove the railing and hardware again, but this time it will be quite easy. All Ill have to do then is to lightly sand the entire toe rail, and put on a couple good finish coats, and the teak will once again have the appearance of pure gold. No need to take a well-maintained varnish coat back down to bare wood. Its an investment in time and effort, its a lot of work, but the results are spectacular.

Teak is oily by nature, and it gets a lot more oily with age due to the fact that people insist on dumping oil on it. Teak oil does work, and it works quite well. I am a former wood boat owner, and am one of those people who think nothing looks quite as nice as brightly finished teak. After stripping off the topcoats of old varnish, epoxy, etc., I paid special attention to preparing the teak to accept varnish. One of the problems with varnished teak is peeling, and this is primarily because the oily wood was not properly prepared for varnish. The teak was washed down with a teak cleaner after most of the sanding was done. It was then washed down again with acetone. Acetone evaporates quickly. Shortly after the acetone evaporated, I applied a 50/50% first coat of varnish/thinner in order to get good penetration into the wood fiber. The acetone forced the oils deep into the wood, and allowed the thinned varnish penetrated into the wood, making a good foundation for more varnish topcoats. The second varnish coat was almost as thin, and the teak drank it up. After the initial penetration coats, I began laying on un-thinned varnish to build up the film thickness. Teak has a fairly open grain, and it takes a lot of varnish build up to fill all the little indentations in the surface. Sanding in between coats will eventually allow the finish coat to level out and look smooth. A grain filler might have helped in this regard, but I was not aware of any that would give a natural coloration, so all of my filling was done with varnish. Several coats of varnish were applied by brush for maximum "build", however, the last 6 or 8 coats were applied with a marine foam roller in order to get that glass smooth finish we antique and classic boaters love to see.

I can not stress the importance of sanding with a wood block, between coats. This MUST be done by hand. An electric sander has absolutely NO PURPOSE between coats of varnish. Careful hand-sanding is necessary to give a tooth to the substrate so each subsequent coat will bond properly. I like using the wet 150 and 220 grit sandpaper. It forms a lather of spent varnish when used, and the water quickly clears the paper for more action. The work needs to be wiped down immediately after sanding, which I did in steps. First wipe down was with a wet rag to get most of the varnish specks off. Prior to applying another coat of varnish, I would also wipe the work down with a rag lightly wetted with varnish solvent. This was done to get any additional dust off the work. Although I have 12 coats of varnish, the actual finished thickness is probably more like 6 coats due to the obligatory sanding that is required to fill all the small voids in the grain and get that glass-smooth finish. Since the finishing was done outdoors, sometimes in less than ideal conditions, I have more build coats than Id probably have applied if the boat was finished indoors. Thinner tends to dull the finish of varnish, so it is best to use it right out of the can. This works great on flat work. I used Pettit High Build for build coats, and finished the work with a couple coats of Captains Varnish, and Schooner 96, with a final two or three coats of Epifanes. Multiple coats of marine spar varnish with UV filters provides a golden glow that is unmatched on teak.

I recommend buying 4 one-quart cans of varnish rather than a one-gallon container. This keeps your varnish fresh. Always pour varnish to be used into a smaller container and dip the brush straight down into the liquid. Never strike a brush back into a can of varnish because it contaminates it with bubbles and bits of dust picked up off the surface. I always use a second can to strike the brush, and this is wasted because contaminated varnish serves no purpose in achieving a top quality finish. With a foam roller you must select a varnish that works with the temperature and humidity conditions to flash out over the small bubbles inherent with a roller. The roller can put down a very uniform finish in a quick amount of time. Thin and uniform coats of varnish will not run, but they also dont build up very quickly, and this is why the build coats were placed with a brush. You never really know when the last coat of varnish has been applied, until you see the final results after it dries. Once viewed, the decision can be made. Its been said that you always discover a new species of insect every time a can of varnish is cracked. This is true.

The finish still looks new after three years of operation. It is washed once a week with an automotive wash/wax, and water drops are always wiped off. In any kind of light, it has a golden glow that is the crowning touch for this fine boat. In sunlight is it spectacular. On the water it looks iridescent. As the boat rocks on the water it flashes bright golden color to other boaters, and it is a constant source of comments. I recommend this approach for anyone who will take the time to do it right. If youre going to do it yourself, then you can assure taking the proper measures and proper amount of time. If you are going to have the work done for you at a marina, shortcuts will most likely be taken unless you are on site to supervise the work. Teak oil can bring out the color, but it will not reflect light nearly as well, and the freshly oiled surface attracts dirt and quickly starts looking a bit dull. Because teak oil will not provide a gloss finish, it will mask flaws and look good on a piece of wood that might otherwise look poor with a highly reflective finish.

Polyurethane can also be used but Ive always been a traditionalist and prefer varnish. Polyurethane offers higher abrasion resistance, but the teak strip really doesnt get much direct wear. I know how easily varnish can be repaired, and polyurethane is tough to work with by comparison. I am also comfortable with the way thinned varnish will penetrate and grip the wood. After three years the wood still looks new, although close inspection shows a few spots here and there where water has penetrated at joints in the wood. This is to be expected, and it must be dealt with each season to avoid discoloration and eventual peeling. After three years there were no signs of peeling. For those looking for the bright finishing touch on a classic cruiser, theres nothing quite so fine as high gloss marine varnish on teak.

Edit comment: Photo added, April 2006. The photo below was taken April 1, 2006, and the teak still presents itself well SEVERAL years after it's application as described above. It is showing wear, and will soon be top coated. The process takes time, but the rewards are big. This boat is kept under cover and does not receive full sun exposure, but it does get a lot of UV exposure on the bow.





Relevant thread, are you sitting down? (Brace yourself ! Turn up your speakers, wait for the sound to kick in! Enjoy !)
http://www.network54.com/Forum/424840/m ... 1157664700











edit: Photo below added


The photo below is the exact same helm station as shown in upper photos, except it has a low afternoon sun angle blasting in some golden color to enhance the image. Amazing! It really shows off the quality of the varnish work, even many years after it was done.

I think I've tried them all. I do like Schooner 96 and Captains. Epifanes (pronounced "Eeep-a-fawn-us") is an unusual and thick product that really works great. I guess it's my favorite. In the past, mostly on wood runabouts, I've used Petit High Build. It's a heck of a product, and it does what it says, builds a lot of film on each coat. The only problems, however, those nice real thick coats tend to dry with wrinkles, so you still have to brush the stuff out fairly well. Also, if that last coat isn't really cured (as the case with some of the really high film layers) it will wrinkle if you put another coat on top before it's totally cured out. High Build wants to go down so thick, there is a tendency to lay it down thick, and that doesn't work so well on vertical surfaces. It sure makes one fabulous top coat for a wood speedboat though. Years ago I must have put down 12 coats of the stuff on a wood speedboat refinishing job, and it was quite remarkable how deep that finish looked.

I've had to sand many a finish out trying to cut corners, and the best mindset is to just take your time, do it right. Surprisingly, I've found a foam roller to be quite effective in laying down a reasonably think coat that will flash out and provide a nice finish. The problem with brushing, is the more you brush back and forth, the more you dry out the varnish and if it gets too cured it won't flash out and hide the brush strokes.

It's almost a magic art. I've heard you get the best finish under a full moon!


Let's not forget Lightning Spar either, (it dries like lightning!) and this can be beneficial to the week-end warrior who wants to put down two coats on a weekend.

Paul
Quote
Share

Joined: September 16th, 2005, 3:49 pm

September 23rd, 2005, 9:09 pm #7

This is a little off topic, but since we're talking varnish, I wanted to ask a few questions about the Epifanes. I've heard a lot about it, know it's expensive, and never knew how to pronounce it until today, hah hah. In any case, which product would be best for a wood boat refinish project. I have a Century Coronado that will be needing attention this winter, and I am considering using their UV Polyurethane finish. Anyone have any comments, good or bad??

thanks in advance,

Commander35
Cape Vincent, NY
Gateway to the Thousand Islands
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: July 15th, 2005, 8:09 pm

September 23rd, 2005, 10:09 pm #8

Don't use the polyurethane for that application


There’s a lot of controversy about using polyurethane on a wood boat topside and hull side. The stuff is very strong and it has a lot of abrasion resistance, but when it comes time to sand and strip it back, that’s when you wish you used a conventional varnish. It also does not have the resilience that a traditional varnish has, and it will sometimes crack at each plank when the wood goes through the wintertime dry humidity cycle an then swells a bit when it gets back on the water. I would be reluctant to use the polyurethane on a valuable woodie, because when it came time to refinish again, the poly is so much more difficult to sand and strip, I think the wood would suffer more. It’s also a lot more work too, and the premium traditional varnish does just fine most of the time.

The Epifanes two part polyurethane would be fantastic for any varnished walking surface, because it would stand up to the wear. I would use their “Clear Varnish” product for a wood boat, however.

This is the Epifanes product I’ve used on several applications and it’s a superb product. Only problem is the cost. I’ve used less expensive products for the build coats, and then used Epifanes for the last three top coats. No need to be filling grain and sanding off half of each coating with the good stuff. This is a traditional varnish with UV filters, it’s easy to work with, and it’s also easy to live with a few years later when more work is needed.

It’s pretty thick, and it’s kind of red in color, believe it or not. It goes down clear and it flashes out beautifully. Any dust in the air will ruin your beautiful finish. If you even think about using a varnish polish like “Finesse” forget it, you won’t come close to the original gloss you can get with the actual flashed out finish. Therefore I suggest you blow out your paint shop with a leaf blower and a fan, let the dust settle for days, and even consider wetting the floor down prior to varnishing. Don’t wear a long sleeve shirt because it will create it’s own particles. Use a badger hair varnish brush intended for this very purpose.

I’ve laid varnish down en masse with a foam roller, and then struck it smooth with a brush. It works for me, it may not work for you. The hullsides will take a lot of work, because any varnish will want to run on a vertical surface, so brush it out thin.

Good luck, send me a photo of the boat, by the way, I’m a fan of the Century and many of the Coronados had big Ford or Chrysler power.

Regards, Paul

1966 Commander Express
1957 Chris Craft 17’ Sportsman
1956 Chris Craft 17’ Sportsman Deluxe
½ 1939 Chris Craft 17’ Utility (full size half model)
Quote
Like
Share

Mark Wheeler
Mark Wheeler

September 24th, 2005, 6:57 pm #9

My captain has advised me of this in the past, and I have had to pay the bills for my mistakes too.

Mark
Quote
Share

Curt in PDX
Curt in PDX

September 28th, 2005, 2:54 am #10

I think I've tried them all. I do like Schooner 96 and Captains. Epifanes (pronounced "Eeep-a-fawn-us") is an unusual and thick product that really works great. I guess it's my favorite. In the past, mostly on wood runabouts, I've used Petit High Build. It's a heck of a product, and it does what it says, builds a lot of film on each coat. The only problems, however, those nice real thick coats tend to dry with wrinkles, so you still have to brush the stuff out fairly well. Also, if that last coat isn't really cured (as the case with some of the really high film layers) it will wrinkle if you put another coat on top before it's totally cured out. High Build wants to go down so thick, there is a tendency to lay it down thick, and that doesn't work so well on vertical surfaces. It sure makes one fabulous top coat for a wood speedboat though. Years ago I must have put down 12 coats of the stuff on a wood speedboat refinishing job, and it was quite remarkable how deep that finish looked.

I've had to sand many a finish out trying to cut corners, and the best mindset is to just take your time, do it right. Surprisingly, I've found a foam roller to be quite effective in laying down a reasonably think coat that will flash out and provide a nice finish. The problem with brushing, is the more you brush back and forth, the more you dry out the varnish and if it gets too cured it won't flash out and hide the brush strokes.

It's almost a magic art. I've heard you get the best finish under a full moon!


Let's not forget Lightning Spar either, (it dries like lightning!) and this can be beneficial to the week-end warrior who wants to put down two coats on a weekend.

Paul
I really appreciate this thread -- lots of great information.

Our teak toe-rail is reasonably sound, but has been unattended to for several years. It looks like the old boy that had the boat (although he never moved it since 1980) did putter around with varnish and other care of the teak, and he had covers/canvas made for the boat, so the condition of the exterior is not nearly as bad as one would expect for a boat that has been exposed to the elements and hasn't moved for 25 years.

But there is a lot of dryrot due to rotted hose on the deck drains, and clogged window lower-track scuppers. I think we have most of the leak-points corrected, but we will know for sure soon, as rain is coming later this week. Next spring and summer we need to fix the dryrotted portions of the decks -- I think we will be replacing the whole cockpit floor with framing, and some framing under the main cabin deck.

I wish I would have taken a picture of the hose for the deck drains -- it was obvious original (38 years old), and it looked like swiss cheese (you-all would have been amazed! When it rained, I know hundreds of gallons of water was running directly onto the under-deck wood framing for the last bunch of years.

On the toe-rail lots of teak screw-plugs are missing, and there are some cracks and other problems. But winter is upon us, and our boat is not in a covered moorage. So we soaked on a heavy coat of teak oil for the winter. Next summer we will figure out how much energy and effort we can afford to put into the teak. We also have teak strips on the floor of the fly-bridge (which is OK looking, and we will cover that for the winter.

Best wishes, Curt...
Quote
Share