Seeking advice on taking care of some exterior wood. - SailNet Community

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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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Old 05-15-2007
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Seeking advice on taking care of some exterior wood.

I have removed and sanded the two rails that are mounted on top of the cabin that suspend the sliding hatch above the fiberglass on my early 70ís Cal T/4 (24í). But, I donít know what my next step should be and I am looking for suggestions. I want to keep the wood and I am willing to do the work involved. However, I donít know what kind of wood it is, or if it makes much of a difference. I have a product called spar varnish, I have teak oil, and I can pretty much buy any finishing product out there. There are some holes in the rails from previously mounted hardware, should I fill them with wood filler or buy some sort of small dowel and cut to fit? How do I tell what kind of wood I have, and do I need to match the dowel with the same kind of wood? Advice will be appreciated.
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If it is orginal, it is most likely teak. Teak wood is used widely because it contains alot of oil. Personally I find teak oil the best to make it look good a perserve it. I think that being oily, varnish doesn't stick well and when it starts comming off, it's a pain to restore. With the oil, all you need to do once a year is clean it with a teak cleaner and re-oil it. The holes are cosmetic, but if you want to plug them, it's probably best to use a wood plug. You can get teak and mahogany plugs from West Marine - Make Boating Better with New Boating Gear from West Marine.
Old weathered teak is gray in color. It will have grainy grooves where the softer wood has oxidized. It dries up, but I don'y think it ever rots. When you sand it, it will form a dark red/brownish dust. The West Marine site will have lots of pics of teak. Make sure your teak is good and dry before you oil it.
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Old 05-15-2007
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suggestions

It's probably teak, as that seems to be the most common wood used in marine applications. You can check with a couple of your neighbors to be sure. I would fill the holes with dowel and yes, I'd make it the same wood, as different woods have different expansion properties. It may not make a difference if you are going to varnish it, as it will not be exposed to water. On that note, I would varnish the rails. That's a personal preference and some might prefer oil; very different look. More maintenance involved with oil. Unless you're covering your rails after boat use, you should use a varnish that has high UV protection. 1015 Captain's and 2015 Flagship by Z-spar both have excellent UV protection. They are both costly, so if you're not leaving the rails exposed to the sun all the time, then you can go with Man 'o war varnish. If the stuff you already have is open and old, consider getting new stuff, as I've read elsewhere that there is a definite shelf life to varnish.?.

Reading about good techniques for applying varnish can be found elsewhere and should most definitely be consulted before you get started.

Good luck with your work.

Alan
Sun and Moon
SF, CA
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Old 05-15-2007
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In my experience, oiled teak will not stay light - will darken considerably when exposed to weather and dirt. Oil also will not last more than a couple weeks in salt air and repeated coats will only blacken the wood even more - unless it's chemically cleaned prior to each application. Of course this becomes counterproductive.

Unless you accept the look of greying teak, apply a more durable coating to the wood - expect periodic maintenance if choosing this option. With my present boat, I cleaned all the freshly stripped and sanded teak with acetone - after using rags dipped in mineral spirits to remove sanding dust. When dry, I applied three coats of Cetol Light, followed by two coats of Cetol Clear Gloss.

The only maintenance required is once a season, scuff the surface with a ScotchBright pad and apply a maintenance coat of Cetol Clear Gloss. After three seasons - it just keeps getting better looking.

I am very satisfied with this choice - especially considering the 10 coats minimum required for varnish plus two annual coats each year . . . with SANDING necessary between each and every coat. No sanding is ever required with Cetol.
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Last edited by TrueBlue; 05-15-2007 at 04:04 PM.
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Old 05-15-2007
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Thank you for the feedback!

Based on your descriptions I have teak. I will plug the holes with teak purchased from one of the stores that were mentioned. As usual I am indebted. I am out of town for a few days so I will disappear again.

Thank you again!
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Old 05-16-2007
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Oil or varnish? Looks like preference among sailors is one of those ying-yang things. I'm lazy, and think the oil is easier. (Note my reply didn't mention any "sanding"...yuk :-(
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Could be Iroko, not teak.

A LOT of boatbuilders in the early 70s used Iroko instead of teak. Iroko in comparison to teak is lighter weight and erodes much easier if left bare to 'go grey'. If the wood is bare and deeply erroded in the soft grain ... or the soft grain section is easily 'dimpled' by pressing a thumbnail into it, I'd suspect Iroko instead of Teak.

Varnish and oil based finishes seem to work best on Iroko as the new 'modern' finishing systems (Cetol, Bristol, Honey Teak, etc.) dont adhere too well to Iroko.
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