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Author Topic:   teak gunnels
cinco de whaler posted 09-24-2001 09:19 PM ET (US)   Profile for cinco de whaler   Send Email to cinco de whaler  
I am in the process of re-finishing the teak gunnels on my 22'Outrage and am wondering the best way to fill some cracks caused from screw holes? Also, do I need to put a sealant on the teak before the varnish?
Thanks for any advise.
LarrySherman posted 09-24-2001 09:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for LarrySherman  Send Email to LarrySherman     
I would cut plugs, drill the holes out, and glue in the plugs. Then sand flush and finish. Only you will know ;)
lhg posted 09-24-2001 10:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
I recently varnished the gunwales on mine, and first filled these linear cracks (which I assume is what you are referring to) with a wood filler/stain mix. But I evidently didn't remove the source of the checking/stress, and now the cracks are opening up again and cracking through the 7 coat varnish surface. Haven't yet figured out to correct it, and obviously, my original solution was not correct. Any ideas from you woodworking experts out there? I was wondering if I should have filled the cracks with liquid epoxy first, but figured it would be hard to sand down and show through the varnish. Thanks for any ideas to either of these questions from us.
Tom W Clark posted 09-24-2001 11:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Wood moves. The cracks in the Teak gunwale boards are almost inevitable. I had cracks in the gunwale boards on my own 18 OR and they slowly grew.

I can think of four ways of dealing with this:

1) Oil the teak and leave it be. This is what I did.

2) try to stabilize the crack by drilling a hole in the end of it. This is an old trick that theoretically will "dead end" the stress crack. Kind of like a fire line used to fight a forest fire. A 1/4" hole will suffice but it is difficult to do in wood because the crack is following the grain of the wood which exists in three dimensions, not just the two dimensional surface of the gunwale board. You need to know which way the grain is running through the thickness of the board in order to drill the hole such that it "catches all the crack". A larger hole will help but not look as good.

For a filler you should use a polyurethane or polysulfide caulk that will both adhere and flex. You would want to use a color that matches the teak and you will not find that kind of caulk at the retail level, at least not at West Marine. Open the Yellow Pages and find a wholesale distributor...

3) stabilize or arrest the crack by mechanical means, screw or "butterfly". It would be possible to drill and drive a screw through the width on the gunwale board by removing the vertical 1x that is screwed to the horizontal board. This involves digging out a whole lot of screws and plugging them afterwards or you could simply drill and screw through the vertical 1x and plug the hole(s) you've made.

Alternatively, you could remove the rubrail (the insert as well as the receiver) and drive a screw from the outside and at a slightly upward angle so the screw stays in the board and does not skip out below, or worse yet, surface on top. This is probably not for the faint of heart.

I have never tried this but a butterfly or bow tie shaped piece of teak let in with its grain running perpendicular to the grain of the board and with the crack intersecting it at its thinnest part might stop the crack from growing. Sharpen those chisels...

4) remove the gunwale board altogether and run a saw down the crack and then glue in a slice of teak that closely matches the color and grain of the repair area. I have repaired splits in the blades of a couple sets of spruce rowing sweeps I own. Alternatively you could just make new gunwale boards.

As to varnishing, everyone here has their own ideas but here are mine:
Seal the teak with teak oil, specifically: Daly's SeaFin Teak Oil (available at West Marine)

Apply the oil to the teak and wet sand with something like 320 or 400 grit sandpaper. This will help level the grain and make a paste out of the oil and sanding dust which you wipe into the pores of the wood to act as a filler and sealer. Let dry. Varnish directly over this.

For years or decades, heck centuries, the conventional theory was that teak is too oily to allow varnish to adhere and thus one needed to wipe the teak down with a solvent like acetone just before the first coat of varnish was applied in order to remove this adhesion inhibiting oil film. I'm here to tell you this is hog wash. The SeaFin self sealing, filling trick works great! Try it, you'll like it.

tbirdsey posted 09-25-2001 01:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for tbirdsey  Send Email to tbirdsey     
Larry: Varnish on teak -- what got into you?? ;-) BTW, just completed the raising of my console with laminated teak blocks -- why did I wait so long???
JFM posted 09-25-2001 02:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for JFM  Send Email to JFM     
My wife and I own a teak furniture business. We sell the top of the line garden furniture "Rockwood", "Barlow Tyre", both companies have lifetime warranties and we have never had a claim. For years they have only recomended teak oil for outdoor applications or let the wood go natural. Just last year for the first time at the Chicago Casual Furniture Show did they recomend a sealer. The manufacturer is SEMCO. They sent us samples but we haven't tried them yet. On my boats that have had teak we have always just oiled and it's a pain. On all the benches that we have and have sold teak does check but usually stabilizes. The only teak I have seen that is perfect is on the inside. Regards, Jay
hauptjm posted 09-25-2001 02:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for hauptjm    
I'd have to recommend Tom's first solution. Only to be sure to "catch" all directive stressing, use a larger 3/8ths hole and fill with a teak plug making sure the grain of the plug matches the gunnel grain. Use Gorilla glue to bond and sand down flush and it will virtually disappear. Of course, you'll know exactly where it is, but casual looks probably won't detect it. I've used this method on my own 18 OR gunnels and it works like a charm. BTW, since I've stripped the horrible old varnish that the previous owner sold me, and gone to a pure oil finish, I've not had a single crack. And that's been almost 3 years.
LarrySherman posted 09-25-2001 02:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for LarrySherman  Send Email to LarrySherman     
I would not try Tom's option 3b, edge drilling through the rubrail side of the gunnel. This edge is moulded and you would surely fail.

If you are commited to saving the origional gunnels, go with option 3, the butterfly. It will work, and look cool to boot.

My personal choice? oil it, and when you really get sick of it, build new ones. I made a set this winter, came out great. I'll be glad to desribe the process if anyone is interested in doing the same.

hauptjm posted 09-25-2001 02:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for hauptjm    
Larry, Interesting you say that regarding a rebuild. In the rehab project on mine, I took off quite a few mils on the gunnels. In fact, I truly think if I had to go much more they would be thinner than I'd like. At some point in the future, I might be in a position to recreate. If you could go through the exercise you went through, maybe jimh could use this in the reference section. Just a thought.
JFM posted 09-25-2001 03:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for JFM  Send Email to JFM     
As a side note, when assembling teak we used glue on the dowels to hold the mortise and tennon joints . They now recomend no glue because of the natural movement of the teakwood. Regards, Jay
LarrySherman posted 09-25-2001 04:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for LarrySherman  Send Email to LarrySherman     
I've used both varnish and glue. I like gorrila glue now, but it is really messy stuff. No visible glue line.

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