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  #1  
Old 10-20-2011
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Toe Rail Replacement: Teak or Mahogany

I'm replacing the toerail on a 1963 Columbia 29 MkI. I'm trying to decide which wood to go with teak, mahogany or a false mahogany like Shorea spp.. I'm also on a budget so I'm wondering if teak or true mahogany are truly worth the cost.

Before you answer, consider my hull deck joint.


deck joint

I'm thinking I can through bolt two strips across the fiberglass "toe-rail" where the deck and hull make a joint and then cap this with a third strip of wood. Or, I can build one piece of wood that looks like below


rail by

I like this design, but I'm afraid it will be too difficult to bend into shape.

Any thoughts will be greatly appreciated.
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Old 10-20-2011
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My toe rails were rebuilt with solid glass. You can get as smooth a finish as needed, just needs painting and doesnt look like wood, but it can not rot!

You look like you are after a rubbing strip as well. If so I would look at the first one as it is easier to built and repair as need be.
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Bedding the inside edge of your one piece concept against a deck that seems like it will hold water against the seam, or underneath it, looks like a potential problem to me. Particularly, if you intend to varnish.
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I agree with the glass suggestion...true teak or true mahogany , if you can get them, are out of this world in price...while fake teak may look nice, it isn't as tight grained and does not have the natural oils to preserve itself...faux mahog is the same, looser grain and very prone to holding moisture...if you are insistent on the wood toe rail, you might want to laminate the pieces so they have a rabbit that will fit over the top and laminate them at the top glue joint. To handle the curve, you can't go more than about a half an inch thickness or you will spend your fortune on clamps to hold the darned things together while they dry. (speaking from experience here) If you want another idea, look at clear cedar...it has a nice patina when finished with several coats of poly, won't rot easily, and, though softer, holds up well if you don't beat it too much. You can also screw a piece of matching cedar to the outside and create a rub rail to protect the toe rail when docking or in a slip.
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Out of interest, can you see how Columbia did it originally? Probably the on-piece approach.

I'd argue for replacing like with like, if not teak then at least a similar-looking hardwood. But that's easy for me to say given that I'm not paying the bill

Concerning longevity, my point would be that the OP is probably replacing a 48-year-old original toerail. So it lasted pretty well even with all the worries about rot, decay etc. Are you really worried about having to replace it again in 40 years time?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simpsoned View Post
I agree with the glass suggestion...true teak or true mahogany , if you can get them, are out of this world in price...while fake teak may look nice, it isn't as tight grained and does not have the natural oils to preserve itself...faux mahog is the same, looser grain and very prone to holding moisture...if you are insistent on the wood toe rail, you might want to laminate the pieces so they have a rabbit that will fit over the top and laminate them at the top glue joint. To handle the curve, you can't go more than about a half an inch thickness or you will spend your fortune on clamps to hold the darned things together while they dry. (speaking from experience here) If you want another idea, look at clear cedar...it has a nice patina when finished with several coats of poly, won't rot easily, and, though softer, holds up well if you don't beat it too much. You can also screw a piece of matching cedar to the outside and create a rub rail to protect the toe rail when docking or in a slip.
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Spar varnish, methinks, not polyurethane.
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I have a Tartan 27 from 1967 that also has a teak toe (and rub) rail (different hull/deck joint though). While it looks nice once finished I believe that using wood, especially expensive wood like teak for your rub rail is a poor choice and use of materials. It cracks easily enough if/when it hits a solid object. Ask me how I know this; which is the reason I've had to replace several sections.
For the rub rail portion (outboard) I'd recommend anything but expensive wood like teak or mahogany. In fact some kind of rubberized rub rail would be a more practical solution, IMHO.
For the cap rail portion (top side and inboard) you could use a nice wood as this is more visible. It is also not as functional as some of the perforated aluminum cap rails that I have seen on other boats that require little or no maintenance.
If you are going to go with wood (of some kind) your idea of fabricating a 1 piece molding in the shape to accommodate the hull deck joint is a non-starter (again my humble opinion). As the wood needs to be bent along the shape of the boat your molding will distort and deform. You would be better off going with 2 or even 3 rectangular shaped pieces to make up your desired shape. That is still going to require a lot of screws, bungs and delicate bending to get it to conform to the shape you want. As mentioned: wood stock of < 1/2" is much easier to bend then thicker stuff unless you want to use a steam box and jig to pre-shape your pieces.
I have kept the teak toe/cap rail on our boat as it was originally and it is pretty once attached and finished but you would be surprised at how easily teak can split along the grain. Teak weathers the elements quite well but it is not really suited for this application.
Not as good looking but waaay more practical for this application is stuff like this: Crest Aluminum Marine Toerail
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white oak, pretty common, not expensive will turn silver like teak or mahogany, bends well, and can be obtained at sawmills in long lengths. Heavy, but then teak is to.
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There are many woods called mahogany but what is "fake teak"?

I wouldn't use cedar as it is really too soft. Iroko would be a good choice if it is available in your area.

I would not want wood in that location though as it is hard to keep up and a source of leaks. Fiberglassing it over would eliminate future leaks and require no maintenance.
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Caleb

The aluminum toerail you linked to is a good idea but I don't know if one is available that would work with that kind of hull/deck join. I have one but the deck sits on an inward flange of the hull, as all I have seen are designed for. Maybe there is an extrusion available that will work. It would be expensive but a wood toerail will be expensive as well as the labor involved.

Denise - white oak only has one problem - if it gets wet it turns black.
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