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Old 12-28-2009, 07:10 AM   #1
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Varnish Brightwork Like a Pro - Part 1

Some time back, we reviewed the current marine varnishes that are available.* Let's now talk about applying that varnish on your new trawler.

If you are a trawler traditionalist like me, a trawler is not a true boat unless there is some exterior bright work (varnished teak) on the boat. But the trend of today's builders is NO teak if at all possible. The contemporary consumer does not want to be troubled with such mundane chores.*

That's too bad as I often hear buyers tells me "if there is any teak to maintain forget it".. But I understand why, they just don't want to invest the time into it to keep it looking beautiful.* To me, the high gloss brightwork give a trawler character.

The key to maintaining bright work is to reapply the finish before it needs it, yes, before. Don't wait until it begins to crack or peel, you have waited too long. But for discussion sake, lets take for granted you are looking at an older trawler you are thinking of buying from me. The owner has let his bright work go and it needs revitalizing. Would it just be best to avoid that boat? No, not at all. Let me show you how to get it looking great.

The first matter we need to consider is whether we need to simply sand it down smooth or completely remove the old finish.

If we need to get the old varnish completely off we need to go to our preferred hardware store and get a heat gun and a 2-3 inch metal putty knife; look in the paint department. This method is far better and quicker than chemicals. Don't even consider of using a vibrating sander! Turn on your heat gun on full power and hold it about 4-5 inches from the surface; with some help from your putty knife the varnish will come off in sheets. Be cautious not to get too close or you will scorch the teak itself. When you have removed the varnish, sand with 120 and 220 sandpaper to get a smooth surface.

Ok, so what do we do if we do not need to take off all of the varnish?I did my yearly maintenance last weekend and here is the rundown. Just so you know, my trawler has 94 feet of teak handrail.

My choice of finish is Sikkens Cetol. It's a product made for teak by the manufactures of Awlgrip . You can look into it out at www.yachtpaint.com.

Shopping List

·Heat gun (if you are removing the old varnish)
·Sandpaper 120/220 grit
·7-day blue painters tape
·Mineral spirits
·Tack rags
·Soap

Step 1 - Clean the Teak

For starters, mix up some soapy water and wash the teak really good. Get the dirt and crud off. Wipe it down and let it dry. Next, very important here, moisten a cloth with mineral spirits and wipe the teak down again. The solvent will remove any silicon or wax that might lift your varnish later on If you sand with these on the wood, you will actually drive the products into the wood

Prep Time - 30 minutes

Step 2

OK, the teak is clean and we need to rough up the surface to assure we get good adhesion.
Next, tape up any adjacent metal to keep varnish away from those areas you do not need varnished. Use blue 7-day painter's tape; it will save you lots of cleaning time later on.

Prep Time - 2 hours

In our next article, well begin the application process.
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Old 12-28-2009, 10:15 AM   #2
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RE: Varnish Brightwork Like a Pro - Part 1

Don't forget to plug and redrill any loose screw holes, steam any dents, R&R damaged fittings as needed. Also remove those items that you can't varnish around, rebed any item that might be allowing water underneath, remove items such as canvas snaps or other holdowns that are on the varnished surfaces.

If you only have 96 feet of handrail you may be able to meet the above times. My 40' boat has varnished handrail, caprail, every window trimmed in teak, caprail on the flybridge, flybridge seat trim, 2 varnished rubrails with varnish above and below the bronze strip, decorative strips on the fore and aft cabins, name boards and a varnished transom. It takes considerably more time to varnish a fully dressed boat. That being said, I wouldn't take any of my teak off. It is a joy to sit at the dock and watch people walk by bigger, newer, fancier cookie cutter boats, then stop at mine and look at the woodwork.

If you don't enjoy working with varnish, I would advise not to buy a boat with all the brightwork. Or, as Marinetrader says above, buy one with minimal woodwork like he has. It truly is a labor of love. I love to sit out in a quiet anchorage and lay on coats of nice shiny new varnish, then sit back and drink a beer and watch it dry.
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Old 12-28-2009, 10:54 AM   #3
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RE: Varnish Brightwork Like a Pro - Part 1

A heat gun and paint scraper are valuable tools, especially for large flat surfaces like a transom, but for my money, I wouldn't start a varnish removal project without my trusty 1" Red Devil scraper and a hand file.

http://www.reddevil.com/products.cfm?c=wp&cat=11

When I stripped the varnish from my '69 GB32's handrails, toerails, and transom a couple of years ago, I started with a heat gun and scraper.* Cym Hughes, a veteran wooden boat guy who runs our boat yard, stopped by and showed me the value of the mighty Red Devil.* By keeping the blade sharp with the file, and with a little practice, it's quite easy to "shave" the varnish off with no damage to the wood.* It's a lot faster than heating/scraping, and you don't run the risk of scorching the wood.* The older and nastier the varnish, the better the Red Devil works.

Part one of the secret is keeping the Red Devil's handle nearly parallel to the wood surface while drawing the scraper toward you. ** Part two of the secret is to keep the blade ultra sharp, giving it two or three strokes against the file as soon as you think it's dulling. I think I went through two or three blades during that project.

Ted Hugger
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Old 12-28-2009, 11:27 AM   #4
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RE: Varnish Brightwork Like a Pro - Part 1

you are right thugger, a good sharp scraper ,at the right angle, do a real good job.I did all the cap rail on my eagle and it was fast.


CJ
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Old 12-28-2009, 11:51 AM   #5
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RE: Varnish Brightwork Like a Pro - Part 1

Quote:
2bucks wrote:

Don't forget to plug and redrill any loose screw holes, steam any dents, R&R damaged fittings as needed.

*

Do tell, how do you steam dents?.....................Arctic Traveller

*

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Old 12-28-2009, 11:59 AM   #6
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RE: Varnish Brightwork Like a Pro - Part 1

Minor dents can be removed by placing a wet cloth over the dent and ironing it with a steam iron. Gun smiths have been refinishing gun stocks for years using this method. I refinished all the stocks of my old shotguns and rifles, scraping the old varnish off with the straight edge* (sharp) of a piece of glass, steaming the dents and sanding in preparation for stain and oil or varnish.
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Old 12-28-2009, 01:35 PM   #7
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RE: Varnish Brightwork Like a Pro - Part 1

MT,
Please remove your commercial advertising from this non commercial site and if you present other peoples stuff here you need to list credits.

Eric Henning
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Old 12-28-2009, 03:31 PM   #8
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RE: Varnish Brightwork Like a Pro - Part 1

Sounds like way too much work to me.* Maybe after I retire and need to find stuff to occupy my time.

For now, I'm going to let the current varnish/stain/whatever flake and peel off and the teak can just age gracefully into that nice neutral gray color.* Sort of like me.

My leaky decks are already there!
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Old 12-28-2009, 03:53 PM   #9
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RE: Varnish Brightwork Like a Pro - Part 1

I let mine flake off too.* I*wipe it down with boiled linseed oil. I don't know if it is good or bad.*I like the look. and it's fast and easy. the way I look at it is oil and water don't mix put enough oil on it it should stick around for a long time.* Longer than I will own the boat. *So that's what*I do. Wood is wood. *Outdoors *it's not furniture. I would rather worry about the systems that float my boat and keeps me safe and on the water

SD
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Old 12-28-2009, 09:26 PM   #10
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RE: Varnish Brightwork Like a Pro - Part 1

Quote:
skipperdude wrote:

I let mine flake off too.* I*wipe it down with boiled linseed oil.
Interesting idea on removing small dents in wood, I'll give a try some day.* As for Linseed oil, I tried that once and found it turned black pretty quickly due to mold or something.* Hopefully, I did something wrong, as it would sure be nice to simply wipe on some oil once in a while.* Does your wood turn black after while?...Arctic Traveller
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Old 12-29-2009, 04:56 AM   #11
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RE: Varnish Brightwork Like a Pro - Part 1

And remember if you go south , the rule is

" Da Coat De Month ,,MON"

for the yachtie look.
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Old 12-29-2009, 10:25 AM   #12
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RE: Varnish Brightwork Like a Pro - Part 1

Oh yea, *but I don't care.* As long as it doesn't crack chip and fall off.
So far so good. If the teak gets really bad I will take it off and replace it with UHMW

I started using*th linseed oil*on garden tool handles. keeps them from splitting.

SD*
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Old 12-29-2009, 10:28 AM   #13
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RE: Varnish Brightwork Like a Pro - Part 1

From what I've heard raw linseed oil is better because it dries slower and penetrates better. Yea , I hear about the black and see it on my cap rail. I'm thinking about going black w some pine tar and turpentine also.

Eric Henning
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Old 12-31-2009, 10:19 AM   #14
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RE: Varnish Brightwork Like a Pro - Part 1

MT likes Cetol.
Cetol is not varnish, it has pigment in it, like paint, and will never give the sparkle that characterizes varnish.
When I do my varnish, I start with an artist's brush, 1/4 to 3/8 inch wide and soft. I touch up holes in the varnish, which i clean out with a small scraper.
I do not remover the old varnish anywhere that remains properly adhered to the teak. That took years and years to build to the thickness that permits the easy maintenance of a recoat once or at most twice a year.
Once the holes are patched, with as many coats as you need to build the spot up to the level of the rest of the adjoining surface, I sand the whole of the rail or other piece of teak that I am redoing, with fine paper, the fineness depending on the quality of the surface I am working on.
Around my windows, for example, I haven't had to revarnish very often, less than once a year, so the finish isn't as thick as the rails, so on the windows I still need to use a 120 to 220 grit paper, whereas the rails get done at least every year, so have a perfectly smooth finish and get touched up with 440 grit paper.
Then two coats of Epifanes varnish. the second before the first is fully dried, so no sanding between. I do this every year, but sometimes it doesn't happen till I am away on annual vacation, as I wait for good weather, sun, warm, calm.
Without failure, my rails are the nicest around. Occasionally I see someone whose are as nice, but they usually have a story of a complete redo at great expense.
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Old 12-31-2009, 10:58 AM   #15
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RE: Varnish Brightwork Like a Pro - Part 1

Ditto to Keith's post.
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Old 01-01-2010, 04:46 AM   #16
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RE: Varnish Brightwork Like a Pro - Part 1

If you are not WOWED by shiney , deck stain is cheap and reallt fast to maintain.

Passes the 10ft test EZ.
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Old 01-01-2010, 07:31 AM   #17
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RE: Varnish Brightwork Like a Pro - Part 1

The solution!!
I was in Lafitte, Louisiana when I saw a cruiser with beautiful brightwork, when I complimented the guy he told me his wife loves doing varnish work and takes care of it all, even the prep work, a couple of times a year! Very nice but I guess she might have had some faults to make up for it.
Happy New Year!
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Old 01-01-2010, 08:27 AM   #18
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RE: Varnish Brightwork Like a Pro - Part 1

Yea, that does sound too good to be true. Then again, SHE would possibly have time to enjoy it - where HE is still having to fill water tanks, make repairs, service the generator and wash the boat.
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Old 01-02-2010, 05:19 AM   #19
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RE: Varnish Brightwork Like a Pro - Part 1

"and wash the boat"

Doesn't it rain where you are?
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Old 01-02-2010, 01:12 PM   #20
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RE: Varnish Brightwork Like a Pro - Part 1

If you want something that is low maintenance try Daleys teak see fin oil.* Its actual not an oil as it dries hard.* Many restaurants use it on their wood tables/doors/floors and I have been using it for 15+ years on our teak decks.* The rest of the bright work is high gloss Interlux Goldspare one part Polyurethane.*

I find varnishing relaxing as it is not hard and time consuming.** ****
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