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I need to finish a teak cockpit table and an integrated glass/bottle binocular holder. I have had good results with both the original Cetol and the newer Cetol Natural Teak finish. Our cockpit has built in teak lazzeretts that have been Cetoled and have held up well to being walked on any time the boat is used. However I was wondering that for a table I might be better off going with a one or two part varnish. My thinking is that the table will get more abuse from knives, forks, bottles, pots, etc. than the soft soles that the lazzeretts are exposed to. The table will be stored when not in use so UV protection is not a big issue. I already have enough Cetol on hand to do the job. A two part or one part varnish will probably show the grain of the table better. Does anyone think durability will be an issue? I'm sort of assuming that a two part varnish will be more durable than a one part or Cetol much like a two part topside paint such as Awlgrip but that is just an assumption on my part.
 

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For tables and other high 'scuff' vulnerable items, most 'modern' varnishes are too soft. "Modern" varnishes are typically spar varnishes which are soft and flexible, designed to adhere to 'bendy things' without cracking, etc.
If you really want varnish, Id suggest either an epoxy-varnish used principally for bar-tops / table tops; OR, old fashioned BAR-TOP (hard) varnish.

For HARD (bar top) varnish you'll have to find an artisan (usually an octogenarian - or older) who will make up the hard varnish for you. Some musical instrument craftsmen and museum grade restoration artisans still make up their own hard varnish. Just like epoxide coatings, hard varnish can be a long difficult process to apply and has a high learning curve: Many many coats, flat sanded in-between the coats, final coat is sprayed on ... then flat sanded (w/ 800 -->1500+ grit) then 'hand rubbed' with rotten stone (a talc), then power-buffed to a dazzling BRILLIANT gloss and flatness .... will look like plate glass when done correctly. The final 'hand rubbing' generates heat which develops the dazzling/glowing 'iridescence' of the surface wood cells.
A more modern alternative that can better withstand 'exterior' conditions would be a 2-part/2-part acrylic-urethane catalyzed coating such as Honey Teak™ (Signature Finish and Honey Teak Products - Home) similar to the coatings applied to hand-built and hand-painted and 'hand rubbed', mega $$$$ concours quality automobiles, .... needs flat sanding, and hand polishing, etc., and with a quite high learning curve.

What Im inferring here is that to 'really look good' most all such finished coatings simply cannot be slopped on; they must be 'built-up', continually flat-sanded between coats to reduce/remove flaws, then POLISHED TO A HIGH LUSTER (by hand or 'machine'). Such is called FINISHING.

;-)
 

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The next step in 'FINISHING' is accepting the inevitable knife cuts and dents from dropped stuff and marks from the doxy's diamond ring .Cetol was my choice for many years If dazzle is needed try wit and charm.
 

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The previous owner used traditional Cetol on the teak in the cockpit. It did an excellent job protecting the wood, but started to look kind of orangy after too many coats. I sanded it down and started using Cetol Natural Teak. Looks fine , but still requires an annual maintenance coat. Eventually, I may switch to Rich's Honey Teak.

More recently I started using SEMCO on the toe rails, which the previous owner had allowed to weather. It goes on very easily and seems to protect the wood quite well for about a season or so. If you like the look of freshly sanded teak, then maybe that's something to try out. After sanding and masking, it probably wouldn't take you more than a half hour to do a cockpit table.
 

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SEMCO (all color versions) is simply a wonderful way to quickly and easily protect bare teak.

Prior to the application of SEMCO, I usually soak with TrisodiumPhosphate to remove the 'grey - UV destroyed surface wood cells', rinse, then bleach with oxalic acid; no sanding needed if you don't object to 'proud' teak grain.
SEMCO is 'wonderful' in sealing and protecting bare teak decks, etc. .... but 'can' begin to transfer and build up on the soles of deck shoes and make them a bit more 'slippery when wet'.

The downside of SEMCO is: if you do a lot of 'ocean sailing' the constant 'green water' on the deck can begin to erode the SEMCO; thus, it requires a smaller time interval for a re-coat. Im contemplating mixing SEMCO with Thompson's WaterSeal as a trial in an attempt to extend the service life of the SEMCO.
 

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When I redid all my exterior teak I used Cetol Natural Teak. Three years and it's holding up well. However I do use varnish on the cockpit table and cupholder that attach to the Edson wheel. Nothing special and usually sand and add a coat every other year.
 

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If you want to protect a Cetol finish, try the Cetol gloss finish. It goes over the regular cetol finish. I've just finished my second year with the stuff on my teak hand rails, and it still looks great.
 

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The modern two-part coatings, such as Perfection Plus, are much more durable. However, they are unbelievably hard to remove, if you find you must. BTDT. 40 grit on a random orbital would chew through pads within inches. Hard stuff. It's also unbelievably toxic, when curing and outgassing. A serious organic filter mask is an absolute must.

I ultimately went with Epiphanes spar varnish on my cockpit table. 10 coats. Made a winter project of it. Top coat every two years now. It stays covered when off the boat and we use place mats to avoid scuffing. Wife actually sewed a custom table cloth too.

487.JPG
 

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Hey, you want to cheat a little? I used cetol natural teak ( 3 coats ) on our table to get the color and then I followed with 2 coats of west systems 105/207 and then 2 coats of Captains. Ended up with a finish that looked like 12 coats of varnish.

The only downside is, the wife loved it and now I have to do the same on our latest project and it's a 51' woody
 

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I am a fan of Honey Teak. We use the Honey (tinted) and then a couple of coats of clear coat. Then we give it a very gentle sand with 1000 and then 2000 paper before using rubbing compound and glaze (latter products from an auto body supplier). Sounds like a lot of work but isn't since you only spend a few seconds with the sandpaper and finishing products.

You buy the stuff directly from the company and deal with Tom who seems to be the company founder, president, chief chemist, customer service rep, and mailroom guy. He is available seven days a week to offer advice and answer questions.
 
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