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  #1  
Old 03-15-2013
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Finish for new mahogany

Hello all. I've been refitting an older Rhodes 19, and am ready for the finishing touches. The boat has new mahogany throughout and I'd like to ask for recommendations on finishing the new wood. It is my first boat, so not sure on what is best. I'm a woodworker, and like a nice finish, so I don't want to just throw anything on her.

I see that Cetol is popular and looks like it would do well. I would like to have something as clear as practical and not glossy. The boat will be covered most of the time, and garaged a good bit, so it will not be exposed to the elements so much. I'm not adverse to maintaining the finish, but would rather spend time on the water of course.

The varnished look is not that appealing to me, but perhaps I've just seen worse than average work.

Other ideas on what to use?
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Old 03-15-2013
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Re: Finish for new mahogany

In or out? Cetol makes a clear, but varnish does really really well on mahogany. True varnish will go very dark with age, so you may want to go with spar urethane "varnish"
Photos please!
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Old 03-15-2013
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Re: Finish for new mahogany

Out. Yeah, I really do not like the darker look, so the clear would work better.
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Old 03-15-2013
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Re: Finish for new mahogany

If you would rather spend time on the water than refinishing, forget Cetol and simply varnish it RIGHT the first time.
Or paint it.
I have a buttload of wood on my boat, all of it finished bright, none of it finished with Cetol.
(Can you tell I am not a fan of Cetol, the naugahyde of brightwork finishes?)
if you do a full varnish schedule the first time, you don't have to revarnish every season, or even every two seasons.
or even every 3 seasons.
I am the laziest slackest SOB you ever met, so anything that cuts down on my maintenance workload makes me happy- investing the effort into doing the brightwork right once beats having to do it again annually or semi-annually.
First off, pick up "The brightwork companion" by rebecca wittman. It's a great guide to doing brightwork, and the photography will make a varnish convert out of anybody.

wipe down bare wood with thinner. Lay on 2 coats of varnish thinned 50%. sand the surface to get rid of imperfections and cut the gloss. lay on two more coats thinned 25%. sand. lay on two coats thinned 10%. Sand. lay on a coat thinned 5%. sand. lay on a thin full strength coat.
Nod and accept the compliments which will come your way.
You can usually "hot coat" the thinned coats if you use a quality varnish.
My favourite varnish isn't available in the US, a lot of wooden boat guys swear by, of all things, Behr Spar Varnish from home depot, but i have't tried it so i can't recommend it or swear you off of it. Epifanes is always a good choice. Find one you like and have fun!
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Old 03-15-2013
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Re: Finish for new mahogany

Many of the Wooden Boat forumites swear by le tonkinois varnish. I haven't used it but apparently it is an "old school" varnish with not so many high tech additives.
Harder to find than the mass market brand stuff.
Use an additive for matte or satin finish.

Le Tonkinois Classic varnish and Vernis No1
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I have replaced and finished all the mohogany (honduran) on my boat with cetol. I did so because I was advised to by a guy with the same boat and it looked good to me.
While most of it is covered by canvas, I can see how the parts that are exposed have lost luster and thickness in the year since. The covered parts are holding up nicely, but to me that defeats the purpose. If I had it to do over , I would varnish the way described above. I was planning on selling the boat before the cetol would fade, but plans change....
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Old 03-16-2013
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Re: Finish for new mahogany

I've used just about everything there is. Ironically, after two winter brightwork failures on my cockpit table, I've gone back to the original. Epifanes clear spar varnish. Its been around for 100 years, despite all the new fangled coatings, for a reason.

I'd forgotten how much nicer it is to work with real varnish. Its a bit time consuming, as you must wait at least 24 hrs between coats and 6 to 10 are necessary, depending on exposure. You must also sand between coats, but that also allows for a smoother finish and its easier to thoroughly recoat, when not applying over another shiny surface.

They make a variety of matte, satin, gloss etc.

I know you aren't a fan of gloss, but here is my work in progress. 6 coats, I may get 10 on before I'm done. Its a leaf from our cockpit table. The reflection is the pic hanging on the wall behind it.

Finish for new mahogany-photo-2-.jpg
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Old 03-16-2013
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Re: Finish for new mahogany

So you all have just about convinced me. Varnish is the way to go.

That is beautiful Minnewaska, might make me rethink the gloss finish!

The time is not really an issue, and the sanding I can tolerate, so I think I'll give the varnish a chance.

I appreciate all of the input, I should have some finished photos in a couple of weeks I'll post. So far I'm pretty pleased about the results, even if there has been a lot of trial and error involved to get there.
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Old 03-16-2013
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Re: Finish for new mahogany

hand rubbed oil, no stain. mahogany is a pretty wood. doesnt need stains or colorings, which are found inmost finishes on the market.
btw--cetol looks crappy on mahogany. just saying from experience with many woods.
good luck and enjoy whatever you choose.
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Re: Finish for new mahogany

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
I know you aren't a fan of gloss, but here is my work in progress. 6 coats, I may get 10 on before I'm done. Its a leaf from our cockpit table. The reflection is the pic hanging on the wall behind it.

Attachment 13641
Foam brush?
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