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Author Topic:   refinishing mahogany
Garyelrod posted 04-10-2001 01:50 PM ET (US)   Profile for Garyelrod   Send Email to Garyelrod  
Any advice on how to refinish the mahogany on a classic 16'7" whaler? What type of finish to use and how best to strip old finish.Thanks for any information!
jameso posted 04-10-2001 03:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for jameso  Send Email to jameso     
You will get a lot of responses on this one. And you need to look at prior posts. Now for my experience, everyone says West system, everyone except those that seem to specialize in wood instead of boats. My own experience, went to several people and sites then went to Home Depot and bought Minwax Spar Urethane. I scraped and sanded all old finish off then applied a mahogany stain, stained two or three times until I got the color that I remembered the original Whalers from years ago to be. Then started applying the Urethane, first several coats were thinned to about 1/4 ratio with mineral spirits, this is to allow a good penetration of the urethane. Last three coats were full strength with light sanding (320 grit) between coats. I think it looks good and if the little whalers scratch it just go to Home Depot.
Zack posted 04-10-2001 04:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for Zack  Send Email to Zack     
Just being in the finale stage of refinishing my wood, I will give you my procedure.

Removal of old varnish- Use a stripper, Savogran semi paste (it is pink and says it is the original). It may take several applications to get it all off. Use good gloves, dull scraper and use it outside if possible. After all the varnish that can be scraped is off, sand with 80-120 paper, use a good orbital sander for this everywhere you can. Then sand with 220 by hand to remove any and all marks left by the orbital. Be careful on the veneer as you can sand through.

Repair and fill any bad spots in the wood with good wood filler. If you don't fill the now, it will take more coats of varnish.

Stain with any good quality product until you like the color (I used MinWax Red Mahogany). At this point you will be able to see any sanding marks that you didn't get hand sanding. Sand them out now and then re-stain.

Apply several coats of sanding sealer (Pettit, I think). Be sure to use one that is ok for varnish. (Nothing at Home Depot or Lowe's is). I got mine at West Marine. The more sanding sealer you use to fill the old wood the easier the varnishing is.

Get ready to varnish. You need to have a place that is as dust free as possible. I used a 1/8 inch foam roller that I got at West Marine (comes in 9" length, cut into three 3" pieces to use with 3" roller). I also used a foam brush from Lowe's("Foam Mark" brand) not the cheap ones but the dense ones, cost about $1.75 each.) I used a 3 in and 2 in. I used each roller twice and each foam brush twice then threw them away. You can clean them with Mineral Sprits. I put on 4 coats of varnish before sanding. I sanded with my orbital sander using 500 grit dry and 800 grit wet and hand sanded where the orbital would not get. Then I put on 4 more coats and repeated the sanding, then 2 more coats and repeated the sanding. Once there were no more shiny spots left, I put on one more coat of stain. You just have to be careful and wipe the excess stain off rather quickly. It dries rather quickly on varnish. Let this coat of stain dry at least 24 hours before applying more varnish. Then apply 2 more coat of varnish. This should give you a mirror finish. Sanding is the most time consuming part. If you have any dust particles on you can sand with 2000 grit then buff with 3M Finesse It II

I used Epifanes Woodfinsh gloss for mine and added 30% Penetrol to each mix. Penetrol will help it flow. I did not thin with any other product. If you feel any drag in your brush, then add another 10% Penetrol.

My orbital sanders are a DeWalt finishing orbital 5 inch and a Hutchins 3500 6 inch.

Scraping was another method I used. Here you take a single sided razor blade perpendicular to the wood and scrape the varnish off. Use a back and forth motion to take off about 1-2 mils. Each blade does not last very long, so using a new blade speeds the process. I used this method after the fourth and eight coat of varnish.

Also, you will consume a lot of sandpaper, so find a source for buying large quantity. Sander paper should be discarded as soon as you see any build up on it. I bought rolls of the 500 and a box of 800 grit from an automotive paint store. Each 500 grit roll contained approx. 175 sheets. I went through 2 rolls.

I am now putting the console back together, this refinishing project has taken about 2 months.

If I think on anything else, I will post it. Hope this makes the job easier.


PS I only put four coats on varnish on the inside of the console and I did not sand them. The only inside part of the console I continued to varnish was the top of the shelf(over the gas tanks).

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