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post #1 of 4 Old 03-21-2012 Thread Starter
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wood finish novice

Hi again,

I'm an average carpenter, and generally pretty handy but pretty much a total novice when it comes to wood varnishing/finishing. But I'm adventurous and have three of four wood projects on the 'new' boat (30' 1969 Dufour Arpege) that I'd like to do before the sailing season starts so I'm hoping I can get some advice here, especially about what techniques and products to use for each case. Here is what I am doing:

1-Replacing dingy cabin sole with some Teak and Holly Veneer ply. I assume the veneer side of the plywood is ready to go as is, right? but what should I use to finish the bottom and cut edges of the ply to keep the moisture from the bilge out?

2-Replacing a crumbling plywood mount for the instruments in the cockpit. I was going to get a sheet of Okoume marine ply for this and the companionway hatch drop in boards. Any suggestions about how best to finish that?

3-The thin plywood (?) boards under the cushions in the berths down below also need to be refinished. I plan to sand them and refinish them with something...any ideas for what to use? These are never seen so aesthetics is not important, just for some durability/moisture tolerance.

4-Finally, the boat doesn't have much would on the top side, but she does have a teak toe rail, cockpit rail and couple of grab rails on the cabin roof which I am told by the original owner were always 'natural' and never varnished or anything. I'm inclined to keep it that way as varnish is intimating to me, but I still want to brighten it up just a bit so I was thinking about just lightly sanding and oiling all of those. Does that make any sense? any suggestions for products to use there? linseed oil? teak oil? There seems to be a lot of choices.

Anyway, I appreciate any and all advice both about what to use and what NOT to use or do.


1969 Dufour Arpege
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post #2 of 4 Old 03-21-2012
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Re: wood finish novice

IMO varnish over epoxy is the answer to the first two questions and possibly the third, although bilge paint over epoxy will work just fine under the cushions as well.

WEST SYSTEM | Application Techniques - Varnish over epoxy

Varnish doesn't need to be intimidatiing, but it does require time to do well, AND it requires the first application over barewood to follow a heavy schedule of at least 8 coats if you want the finish to last. Oil will work fine, but it won't gloss like varnish and will need to be recoated periodically.

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post #3 of 4 Old 03-21-2012
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Re: wood finish novice

This is not hard, especially with modern finishes. Assuming that you are not going for a Hinckley-museum-piece-of-art, I propose a middle of the road approach. Some people swear by traditional finishes but in my opinion, modern urethanes are virtually indestructible and it is very difficult to mess up the application. It takes at least 3 coats for a finish to start to look good. Inside applications should have about 5 coats for good coverage. Outside, I use 3 coats Cetol Natural finish. I have a lot of experience with interior and exterior finishing, so I'm somewhat biased (http://mysite.verizon.net/resocsxq/m...king/Home.html). Specifics:

1-Replacing dingy cabin sole
Sand the ply with 220 grit and finish with Minwax Gloss Spar Urethane. Seal edges/bottom with epoxy. My table and cabin sole: VICTORIA (and her mistress)

2-Replacing a crumbling plywood mount
I would not use ply in this application. I would use Marine plastic lumber or solid teak wood finished in Cetol Natural. If you do use teak, do not buy retail from WM, it costs a bundle. Go to eBay or an online lumber supplier (M.L. Condon, etc) and mill it yourself.

3-The thin plywood
Sand with 100, 150, 220 grit and finish with non-gloss Spar Urethane.

4-Teak toe rail, cockpit rail and couple of grab rails
Scrape, sand with 100, 150, 220 grit, then 3 coats Cetol Natural
Some of our exterior teak:
VICTORIA (and her mistress)

Sabre 38 "Victoria"

Last edited by Sabreman; 03-21-2012 at 09:42 PM.
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post #4 of 4 Old 03-21-2012
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Re: wood finish novice

We've tried and used everything for the exterior wood (varnish, cetol, marine teak oil, etc), the best and easiest stuff is tung oil based teak oil...from cabot. It's called Cabot Australian Timber Oil and can be found at Lowe's. We tested it on some of our teak over an 6 month period and then did the rest of the wood....sanded it down, wiped it down with Acetone, and then applied the cabot oil with a brush. It lasts long and the wood doesn't turn black.
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