Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Jacksonville, Fl
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I assume it's a teak table. Having played the teak game a few times, here's what I do to things that live outside a lot.
Sand the original finish off, whatever it is. If you water sand, and I usually do, let it dry for a day. Liberally rise the table (or whatever) with denatured alcohol. This will evaporate out the last of the water.
Now clean the teak again using acetone. This will pull some of the natural oil out, which is what you're trying to do, since most finishes don't stick worth a d*** to anything oily. This may bring up a bit of wood 'fur'. Sand it very lightly with 220 or 320 paper, then use a tack rag to get the last of the dust off.
Get some very, very thin epoxy. Git Rot or WM's penetrating epoxy, mix up a batch of it and put on a coat with a throw-away foam brush. Give it 24 hours to cure completely. Wash with soap and water. I use DAWN because it cuts grease like nothing else I've ever seen, and you're trying to remove a by-product of the epoxy curing process, which is like a wax. Anyway, scrub the thing down good using a scotch-gard pad (a fine one like you'd use in the kitchen). Rinse with fresh water. Then rinse it again. Soak a nice clean rag with denatured alcohol and wipe the whole thing down. I mean soak it. If the alcohol is running around on the table, so much the better.
Repeat that process three times so you have three nice coats of epoxy on the wood. Scrub it down good with soap and water, rinse with more fresh water and do the alcohol thing again.
Now you start putting on varnish that will protect the epoxy (which is NOT UV resistant), and the wood underneath. Put on at least three coats of varnish. I routinely use Penetrol to make the varnish flow, but that's optional.
After you have your three + coats of varnish on, get some 320 grit wet-or-dry sandpaper. Mix up a bucket of water with a shot of Dawn or whatever. About the same as you'd use to wash dishes. Dip your sandpaper in the soapy water and sand the surface. You said it was a table, so I assume a good part of this is flat. Use a sanding block. Get a good one, because the cheap ones will drive you nuts. Sand the surface, rinse it, then take a dry towel and wipe the water off. Wait for it to dry. (If you're impatient, like me, use the good-natured alcohol. It evaporates quicker than water.)
Now take the table where you've got good light. Eyeball the surface. What you are looking for is a uniformly dull surface. If you can see tiny little shiny spots, sand it some more. Those shiny spots are 'dimples' and will show up in your finished work.
If you skimped and used only three thin coats of varnish, be careful how deep you sand. You do not want to sand the epoxy, only the varnish.
Anyway, sand, wash, rinse and dry and keep looking for shiny spots. These might be little dots on the flat spots, or little gullies on a curved surface. They all have to go away. You might have to add more 'load coats' of varnish to accomplish this. On really porous teak (Like the crap you see now), I routinely put at least 5 'load coats' down before I sand the first time.
When you finally get it so there are no little shiny spots, mix up a batch of varnish with the maximum amount of thinner that particular varnish recommends. I routinely use Admiral's Spar Varnish with UV inhibitors in it, and thin it 40%.
Put on a very thin final coat of thinned varnish, preferably somewhere cool and in the shade so the thinner doesn't just 'flash' off.
With a little patience and practice you can have teak or mahogany that looks like it has an inch of glass over it.
To keep it looking like that, about every two or three months, sand very lightly with 320 or 400 grit wet-or-dry paper (wet, of course) and put another finish coat on.
Hope this has helped, and good luck. Remember Patience!
S/V Island Breeze