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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 07-04-2008
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Finishing a Cockpit Table

I purchased an Edson cockpit table last year and have been enjoying it throughout the season. Unfortunately with use and sun exposure the teak is beginning to deteriorate, so I'm thinking about applying some sort of finish to it.
Does anyone have advice on what's best to use or can share their experiences? Should I be concerned about the toxicity of the finish?
Thanks,

Amir
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Teak or plastic?

I'll assume teak as I wouldn't expect the plastic to deteriorate. if teak, I'd strip, clean and finish with the Cetol marine teak. Givens a varnish like finish but is easy to remove when the time comes, as it will, to start from scratch again.
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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!

Cap'n Gary
S/V Island Breeze
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Refinishing

What about using a tung oil finish, either gloss or matte, for exterior wood that is constantly exposed to the weather? The benefit would be that all you need to do is scrub it down with steel wool and apply new coats as needed. Also, is it advisable to use western red cedar for such things as hatch boards and the battens that hold them in place. I know it is not as strong as teak, but how strong does it need to be for hatch boards?
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Old 07-05-2008
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No one has addressed part of the original question, which was whether he should be worried about the toxicity of the finish. I've wondered about this as well, since Cetol and other marine wood finish products (and he DID say it was teak!) carry what appear to be rather severe warnings about toxicity, and this is, after all, an eating surface. Any advice out there?

TIA
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Table Finish

I was a "captain" of a 49' boat with miles of teak in Florida where U.V. is particualraly bad. Varnish and polys, don't last and teak oil first gets mildew and then bleaches white. Discovered a product called Semco and went from every other month to once a year. Great looking, repels stains, and water, will not blacken, or bleach out. The following is from manufacturers web site. It comes with tints and I used Goldtone and it looks great.
"[I][I]To preserve the teak in its natural color for an extended period of time SEMCO , is proud to offer our SEMCO Teak Sealer. SEMCO Teak sealer is a solvent based teak finish with water-like viscosity containing pigments, mildewcide, UV inhibitors and moisture protection. SEMCO does not contain silicone, varnish, polymers or exotic oils.

When SEMCO Teak Sealer is properly applied to teak, the wood will look as if it has nothing on it, yet it will not turn gray or support the growth of mildew. Surface soil can be washed away with mild detergent, and with seasonal recoating the teak will be preserved in its natural state for many years.

There are a variety of "teak oils" on the market for the protection of teak, these usually consist of linseed or tung oil mixed with mineral spirits. When first applied to the wood these oils impart a nice finish to the wood, but left outdoors teak oils wear away in weeks and require re-coating. With each re-coat the oiled finish becomes darker and the surface becomes sticky and collects dirt. The organic waste from these oils provides a wonderful garden patch for the growth of mold and mildew. In a very short period of time the wood requires a complete re-cleaning.

Varnish, polyurethane and polymer finishes apply a coating to the wood that will eventually be pushed off by the natural oils in the teak."

Last edited by wdtracey; 07-05-2008 at 10:46 AM.
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finish toxicity

The regulation is that all finishes sold today be non-toxic when CURED. There are lots of toxic warnings about wet finishes but none (that I am aware of) about toxicity when cured and in good condition. Epoxy for example is quite toxic when wet and the dust is harmful when sanded but left on a table top will be fine for eating. If you have any questions on finishes their MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) is available on the web from the manufacturer's site
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary1 View Post
....
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!

Cap'n Gary
S/V Island Breeze
Cap'n
This seems an excellent process to get on a rock solid, long-lasting marine varnish finish. The concern I have with this finish, even when done top-notch as you recommend, is that if the table's finish is subject to any chipping or rubbing, say it is struck by a winch handle...once any of the underlying teak is exposed and turns grey...isn't the whole finish shot, and destined for a comlete redo, unless you are willing to live with the wear-n-tear?
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The finish is shot only if you let water penetrate the chip and get under the finish. Then, yes, you are right it all needs to be done again. The Pardey's mention in their writings that they carry a fingernail polish bottle (the kind with a built in brush) of varnish to fix any chips as they happen to prevent the total ruination of the finish.
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Old 07-06-2008
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SF,

That's the reason I use Penetrol. It helps make the finish a little flexible, since I think the main constituent is fish oil. I'm not sure about that part.

I learned the process from an old-timer about 20 years ago, and used it with good success on a 53 Hatteras FBMY with miles of teak, including hand rails. The hand rails, which got a beating, got scratched occasionally, but I never saw a chip out of them. Anything that was enough to cause a chip either dented the teak or took a little chunk out.

It's about as durable as anything can be on a boat, I think. As for touch ups, I'm not sure I'd use fingernail polish. A little bottle of varnish and thinner would probably be better.

I guess the bottom line comes down to being careful with the finished product. I snivel and snarl at the boss and his guests when they scratch, ding and dent things on the big boat. Keeping a boat perfect, I guess, would mean putting it inside a bottle and never using it.

Good luck, and I hope I've helped a bit.

Cap'n Gary
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