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Old 01-21-2010, 01:54 AM   #1
Rear Admiral
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 437

I'm certainly no expert, but... I've just learned a new trick for refinishing teak.

First of all - NEVER use OxyClean to wash your cockpit table... unless you're intending to completely strip the finish! Trust me. OxyClean will ruin AND remove an oiled finish in the blink of an eye! It seems to take a little longer to remove varnish... but it somehow gets below the finish and lifts it at an alarming rate!

But the trick I've just learned is instead of sanding between coats of varnish - use a green Scotchbrite pad to smooth-out imperfect brush strokes and prep for the next coat. The Greenie Pad works beautifully, holds the dust and isn't as hard on the corners. Plus - it brings the surface to a uniform and mirror flat finish much more quickly than sanding away so much of the varnish between coats with ordinary sand paper.

There's an old pub in Nelson's Boat Yard in Antigua that has a bar counter that's been having drinks spilled on it for the past 250 years, or so, and the finish is extraordinary! I asked the old barman what he did to keep it looking so good... and he said that every year during the slow season, he'll just rub it down with a lot of elbow grease and a rag soaked in mineral spirits and then add a few more coats on top of the old varnish. The barman reckons the innitial finish was applied back when Lord Nelson still had both his arms and his two eyes to admire the work while leaning on that very bar, enjoying his daily dollop of grog. Admiral Nelson was a Leutenant at the mere age of 21 years when given command of that boat yard... and the place still glistens in his memory!

Now - if only He were still around and given an opportunity to go after todays' Somali Pirates!

To Life!


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Old 01-21-2010, 03:40 AM   #2
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Join Date: Jun 2007
Home Port: Washington DC
Vessel Name: SV Mahdee
Posts: 3,236

Hey Kirk,

Sorry to hear about the OxyClean. Suspect that was from personal experience.

We do not sand between coats but do the following:

When varnishing bare wood, we apply a coat of Smith's Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer (CPES) or Wolman's (waterbased) clear Woodlife. The purpose is to seal up the wood and help it stay more dimensionally stable so whatever finish we choose to put on top of it will actually stay as long as possible.

After sealing, we apply 4 coats of varnish without sanding between coats. We try to do two coats per day. Don't apply any in bright/hot sunlight or it will bubble, though. Sometimes we do end up having to do just one coat per day because of heat in the afternoon but prefer two per day if at all possible. We wait 24 hours to 48 hours after the 4th coat to sand. This sanding will smooth out any burbles, get rid of flies, bugs, and drips. Then, after cleaning up the dust and getting everything as clean as possible, we apply at least two but hopefully three more coats. Then, wait the 24 to 48 hours, sand with a scotchbright if there are no runs or drips otherwise sand with paper to get rid of runs, drips, or bugs. Clean and pray for perfect weather to put on the final coat. That should get us 8 coats. After that many coats of spar varnish, one can maintain it with 2 coats every 6 weeks in the bright sunny tropics or 2 to 3 coats every 4 to 6 months at higher latitudes. This method was taught to us by a boatwright who has lovely woodwork on his boat and who does lots of varnishwork for other boats. He states that if we follow this protocol with a decent quality varnish, we will be get the same 8 to 15 years between stripping to bare wood that he obtains for his boat exterior woodwork and his customers' boats exterior woodwork.

If we already have our 8 coats in place, and we're doing our maintenance coats, we sand before the 2 to 3 coats but don't sand between them unless we've manged to have it take more than 24 hours between two coats.

"Do or do not. There is no try." - Yoda

What we're doing - The sailing life aboard and the Schooner Chandlery.

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Old 01-22-2010, 08:19 PM   #3
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Home Port: Oxford, MD
Vessel Name: Boomerang!
Posts: 112

Originally Posted by redbopeep View Post
Hey Kirk,

Sorry to hear about the OxyClean. Suspect that was from personal experience.

We do not sand between coats but do the following: ......
Great tips guys...confirmed by a friend that works at the Chesapeake Maritime Museum here in St Michaels that does this for a living....along with some of the most incredible woodwork I have ever seen!

Thanks much,


S/V Boomerang!

1980 Cal 39 Mark II

St Michaels, MD
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