Moderated Discussion Areas
  ContinuousWave: Whaler Repairs/Mods
  Mahogany stains

Post New Topic  Post Reply
search | FAQ | profile | register | author help

Author Topic:   Mahogany stains
james cosby posted 07-01-2001 08:39 PM ET (US)   Profile for james cosby   Send Email to james cosby  
I've just finished stripping the mahogany on the gunnels on my 71' Outrage of what seemed like 1/2" of varnish. I noticed that in a couple of places there is some gray areas where the wood was exposed to weathering for some time. I'm afraid that it will show through when I refinish if I can't get rid of it. Does anyone know how to remove these bad places? I haven't sanded them yet to see it this will remove them. Also, I remember reading a topic on refinishing mahagony but I couldn't find it again. Any suggestions, tips or product info. appreciated. JC
OutrageMan posted 07-01-2001 11:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for OutrageMan  Send Email to OutrageMan     
What you are describing is a natural effect of the enviroment on your wood. Sand, sand, sand! It will come out. Start with 60 grit, then 120, then 240. It will be looking beautiful.

Then start varnishing. Start with a slightly diluted varnish for the first 2 coats (use a good thinner). This will allow better penetration in the wood (some argue about this but I believe in it). Then use it full strength. Between coats sand with 320. When you get to about coat 6 or 7 start using bronze wool instad of sand paper. When you get to coat #10, you should notice that the brush marks and grain ridging is diappearing. By coat #13 it will look like glass, and wear like nails.

A good tip that my father just passed down is to use foam brushes and throw them away after each coat. I used this recently, and I noticed that the grain fill was more even, and the gloss seemed to come in earlier coats. You also have the added benefit of not having to clean brushes.

Hope this helps...


james cosby posted 07-02-2001 01:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for james cosby  Send Email to james cosby     
Thanks for the info. Outrage Man. I used some brass wool on the area just to check it out, and I think a good sanding will do the trick. You did not mention using any stain in refinishing, and according to the original BW literature, it's varnished mahogany, but the original appears to be darker than only varnished. Will the mahogany darken when the varnish is applied? JC
OutrageMan posted 07-02-2001 06:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for OutrageMan  Send Email to OutrageMan     
Yes, it will. Do not use any stain. That is why the sanding is so important. When you apply your first coats of the varnish, it will darken the wood, and "highlight" the stains. So, even when you think you have sanded enough, keep going. However, some of it may never come out, and that is just the natural colors of the wood.

Samars posted 07-02-2001 07:04 AM ET (US)     Profile for Samars  Send Email to Samars     

I am also refinishing the mahogany on my 67 13 sport. I thought the wood was a total loss...almost all gray and weathered. bought a cheap palm sander and went to work...the more I sanded the better and smoother the wood came out....the others are correct, although I have found a box of rubber gloves and clean old rags work great...instead of brushing I rub the varnish into the wood. I am using an semi-gloss satin...the wood looks terrific...and light wool between coats helps .
OutrageMan posted 07-02-2001 11:03 AM ET (US)     Profile for OutrageMan  Send Email to OutrageMan     
I can not stress the importance of using bronze wool. Regular steel wool will leave bits of metal that will rust and really spoil great looking brightwork.
Samars posted 07-02-2001 11:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for Samars  Send Email to Samars     

very good point....unless you're positive that you're getting all the bits from the wood...use something in between coats to smooth out the imperfections. the brass wool is an excellent suggestion...
Bigshot posted 07-02-2001 11:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
Guys forgot one step, bleach. the grey is mildew just like in teak. You bleach the wood,wich also raises the grain, sand smooth and viola. If your wood is really spotted, a mahogany stain will darken it but it does not look bad. I like natural but have seen wood so bad, they should have stained. PS have you tried flipping the wood to get the virgin finish?
andygere posted 07-02-2001 11:59 AM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
Outrageman is right on with his varnish tips. Forget about natural bristle brushes and just use the foamies. There are two types, the cheap ones with large voids in the foam, and the better ones with a higher density foam. The cheapies tend to fall apart, and get really limp when they are saturated with varnish. The better ones hold up through the entire coat, and only cost a few cents more (the better ones are sold at paint stores, and tend to have plastic instead of wood handles). Also, when varnishing, work fast and always keep a wet edge. Use two foam brushes, one to apply, followed immediately by the other to "tip out" the bubbles. Finally, do anything possible to control the dust during your final coats. Wet the floor, make a plastic tent, etc. It doesn't take much dust to ruin an otherwise perfect varnish job. Also, try to work when the humidity is low, and there is no rain in the forcast. The dryer the air, the faster your varnish will dry. Here's a link to a good resource on the topic: and one to show the kind of results that can be achieved:
james cosby posted 07-02-2001 08:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for james cosby  Send Email to james cosby     
Thanks for all the great tips. I agree on only using the brass wool for boating projects. I also never thought about using the foam brushes, but I've had good luck using them to put on marine paints. I'll give them a try and let you know how it turns out. Thanks again, JC
lhg posted 07-02-2001 09:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
For those sanding between varnish coats, I have recently discovered that 3M's "Professional Choice" sandpaper is THE best.
Nothing compares to it, and it lasts and lasts. Doesn't load up like the others do.
Highly recommended.
Tom W Clark posted 07-03-2001 10:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
OutrageMan and andygere provide excellent advice. I would reiterate that sanding is the only way to get down to good wood; the weathered wood must be removed mechanically (sanding or scraping). The gray surface on the wood is caused by sunlight and exposure to air, not mildew. Mildew turns wood black in spots. It is often surprising how little material must actually be removed to get down to undisturbed wood but regardless, keep sanding until it is all uniform in color.

I would suggest you start sanding with 100 grit or at least no corser than 80. 60 grit is really too aggressive and will make it hard to get all the sanding marks out. Among all the different brands and types of sand paper, the nominal grits and the the apparent abrasiveness will vary quite a bit. I use Mirka brand (from Finland) sand paper on my R.O. sanders and the 100 grit performs much like 80 grit made by others. You really need to do some testing and don't be afraid to change grits if you are not getting the results you want. And do not think you can get those last sanding marks with the next grit in the ascension to higher and higher grits.

For a superb primer on varnishing I recommend Rebecca Wittman's Brightwork: The Art of Finishing Wood

73Eastport16 posted 07-18-2001 02:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for 73Eastport16  Send Email to 73Eastport16     
I'm new to this forum and glad to be aboard. I'm in the process of re-doing the mahogany on my boat. I've sanded down to bare wood and am debating whether or not to stain before I varnish. I did a little test varnishing and felt it was too light in color. Any reccomendations on stain brands/colors and application hints are greatly appreciated.


Bigshot posted 07-18-2001 02:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
Personal choice but I like the natural and it seems to last longer. Do not stain the wood directly. Do a coat or 2 of varnish, then start staining. I did it on my whaler to accent the wood more than color it. if you do it on top of varnish it is only as permanant as the varnish. Stain the wood and your tatoo'd.
JFM posted 07-18-2001 03:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for JFM  Send Email to JFM     
I have done this project on 13 sports twice and have done countless mahogany clasics. There are differnt colors of mahogany stain, find the one you like best. After sanding to bare wood do a test on the underside of a seat until you get the color you like. Then stain the wood . After that use spar varnish applied with a varnish brush and never push the varnish to varnish always pull the varnish. Sand with 300 after varnish is dry do this three times and don't sand the last coat. You want to do this in a dust free area as possible. In the old days my boss had me put as much as 20 coats of varnish on the hulls and transoms of mahogany classics but you don't need to do that interior wood. Also, guys on the forum are using sponge sticks to do the varnihing,my old boss would flip in his grave.
73Eastport16 posted 07-18-2001 05:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for 73Eastport16  Send Email to 73Eastport16     
Thanks. I also scrolled through 2 years of posts and found this to be a popular topic. My Dad , who has since passed away, last refinished this about 10 years ago to "like new" and I wish I had paid more attention to how he did it...

With any luck, I'll be done by Colombus Day.

OutrageMan posted 07-18-2001 10:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for OutrageMan  Send Email to OutrageMan     
I disagree with the use of stain. Why stain what is already pretty wood? Just a person opinion.

Also, I have to disagree with JFM. 3 coats just aren't enough. The first two should be diluted with thinner for better absorbtion. Then full strength should be used to bring out the gloss, and add protective layers. A minimum of 10 coats are required just to get the brush marks and grain valleys out.


JFM posted 07-19-2001 09:07 AM ET (US)     Profile for JFM  Send Email to JFM     
I think the staining is a personal preference. I agree with outrage man that if the wood is beautiful why stain , however if you need to replace a peice of wood and would like it to match you may want to stain.
Also, if you can get the results you want with the amount varnishing you do it's up to you. The thickness of the varnish and the humidity are the key when varnishing. By the way, I varnished a white pine shelf for my wife last night and used a sponge stick for the first time in 31 years and it turned out better than a brush. I eat crow again,and learn more from this website every day. Jay
lhg posted 07-19-2001 02:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
I did the same thing. I've been varnishing for many years, having had a Nauset for a long time. Tried the sponge brush last night. These things lay on varnish like I've never seen. To whoever first mentioned the technique, (Kingfish?) thanks.

I oil stain before varnishing, also. My experience has been that the stain protects
the wood from ultra-violet yellowing and bleaching, yet still doesn't hide the grain. My Nauset would yellow out after 4 or 5 years. After trying the stain, this problem disappeared, and wood maintained a darker look, much longer. Initially, the varnish work is a little dark, but it lightens up over the years, but never shows any yellow.
I think varnished mahogany or teak on a Whaler needs all the UV protection it can get. I like Z-Spar's Flagship Varnish.

orion posted 06-04-2005 04:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for orion  Send Email to orion     
I just started refurbishing some varnished wood - some areas are down to the wood (but weathered) while other areas are in good shape and have a golden colored varnished look - it has been maintained with Schooner Varnish 96. I notice that when I sand the weathered areas, as well as the good varnish, and end up with two different surfaces (one sanded down to bare wood and the other with lots of older varnish on it) that when I apply my first coat of #96 the exposed wood turns a dark reddish color while the varnished areas return to their more golden color. Will this color difference persist through multilple sandings and varnishings or will it go away? I don't have to sand the entire thing down to bare wood do I? Any guidance would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
Binkie posted 06-05-2005 12:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for Binkie  Send Email to Binkie     
The best way to remove varnish from flat surfaces like seats, hatches, and seat clamps, is to run them through a planer. Depth can be set as to only remove the varnish, and you will be left with clean new wood almost instantly. Best $200 I ever spent. Of course you will have to machine sand the edges.

Post New Topic  Post Reply
Hop to:

Contact Us | RETURN to ContinuousWave Top Page

Powered by: Ultimate Bulletin Board, Freeware Version 2000
Purchase our Licensed Version- which adds many more features!
© Infopop Corporation (formerly Madrona Park, Inc.), 1998 - 2000.