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Author Topic:   Finishing wood in classic 13 footer
walth posted 06-04-2002 06:02 PM ET (US)   Profile for walth   Send Email to walth  
I just made over a 1968 13 ft. Sport. The mahogany was in nice shape except for some deep stains. I stripped all finish off, sanded, stained. I then used Helmsman marine urethane varnish. Most exposed surfaces got 4, 5, or 6 coats, steel wooled to a dull finish between each coat. I waited 24 hours between coats in a garage heated to about 60 degrees or somewhat more. The end result was beautifel. A week after the last coat I bumped a seat board against fiberglas, not too hard, and a chip of finish came off - pencil lead sized. Later a metal part on the boat cover hit a seat and made a 1 inch scratch that looks like it went into layers of varnish - it is white looking. Did I do something wrong or was I expecting too much durability from the varnish.
whalernut posted 06-04-2002 08:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for whalernut  Send Email to whalernut     
Walth, I think Varnish is beutiful, but I wonder if it is more prone to scratches and the like than Polyurithane?? Jack.
Highwater posted 06-04-2002 08:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for Highwater    
It should not have scratched that easily. Did you thin the varnish at all? I like to thin the first coast 50% and subsequent coats 10%. If it goes on too thick, or if you don't sand (or use steel wool) between coats, durability can be compromised. Was the stain completely dry when you applied the first coat?
walth posted 06-04-2002 09:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for walth  Send Email to walth     
Thanks for the comments. Walt The stain was very dry. The varnish was not thinned! It is polyurethane. It seems brittle. It claims to be a bit flexible. What is the best, toughest finish out there?
Highwater posted 06-05-2002 08:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for Highwater    
I recommend Interlux Clipper 95 polyurethane varnish. Thin it with Interlux Special Thinner #216.
OutrageMan posted 06-05-2002 08:59 AM ET (US)     Profile for OutrageMan  Send Email to OutrageMan     
You mention that the scratched area was white. That makes me think that it was not cured properly before the next coat, or you had some moisture contamination during the dying process.

Also, polyurethane is a bit different from varnish in the area of sanding between coats. If not enough "rough up" was accomplished, the ploy can actually float on the surface of the previous coat and never really adhere properly. You sometimes see this with wood floors that were sanded with 400 between coats.

I would use 220 grit between coats if using poly and then if you want a high gloss and a level surface, use rottenstone, pumice or polishing compound on the final coat.


JimU posted 06-05-2002 04:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for JimU  Send Email to JimU     
I have had very good luck with Sikkens (SP?) Synthetic available from west marine. It comes in a gloss and a satin finish.The instructions recommend three coats and a yearly maintenance coat. I've used the satin finish on both the teak wood work in my 13 and the mahogony wood work I built for my 16-7. It has held up extremely well. It's about time for my first maintenance yerly manitenance coat. Follow the instructions on the can. It's foolproof. JIM
trainer posted 06-05-2002 07:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for trainer  Send Email to trainer     
I used sparr captians varnish. I did 10 plus coats. Have been using the boat since march and it has stood up great. I thinned the first two coats 50% and waited till dry for next coat. look in past forums for wood care.
Flipper posted 06-05-2002 09:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for Flipper  Send Email to Flipper     
I just took someone fishing last weekend, and the newly varnished (ten coats) front hatch of my 15 held up to a shoed caster- with no major scratches.I used Behr spar varnish thinned 20% per coat.In between coats, I wet sanded with 320 grit. Before the last coat, I used 150 grit to get rid of any low spots (using a drywall sanding block), then used 320 to smooth out any scratches.I haven't had to strip any of my wood since I put it in (some of it 15 years ago).In the past,the first few attempts at varnishing were not too durable but I eventually took the block with the 150 to it (flattening the "gloopy look" in the process)and built it up again with thinner coats. Good luck!
walth posted 06-05-2002 10:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for walth  Send Email to walth     
Thanks to all for advice. Summing it up, I should have thinned the urethane, even though the manufacturer said to not stir or thin, and do three coats. I did all my between-coat work with 0000 steel wool and learned here to use wet sanding and a more aggressive grit level. We'll give it a season and see what we have to do over. Walt
Highwater posted 06-05-2002 10:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for Highwater    
You have to be careful when thinning the varnish. For example, ordinary mineral spirits will not have any effect on Clipper 95--you have to use the Special Thinner #216 that is recommended on the back of the can. If you decide to stay with your brand, and if the manufacturer says that you should not thin it, then I would not recommend thinning it, especially not with ordinary mineral spirits. The caution against stirring it is to avoid creating bubbles.

I would not advise using 150 grit sandpaper after applying the first coat. I would use 220 instead, and 400 before the last coat.

I am still suspicious about the stain. Was it a water-based stain? If it was not completely dry down deep in the grain when you applied the first coat, then there might have been some moisture trapped under the varnish that did not allow the first layer to fully dry (although it may have felt dry to the touch). In my experience, the effect of this mistake can be exacerbated if the first coat of varnish is not thinned with appropriate thinner. Subsequent coats can never fully dry although they may feel dry to the touch after six or eight hours.

I like to wait a day between staining and applying the first coat of varnish, just as you waited a day between coats. And, even though I run the risk of getting dust in the tacky varnish, I like to apply the varnish outside on a sunny day, preferably before noon. Hope that helps :)

myotherboatisawhaler posted 06-07-2002 07:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for myotherboatisawhaler  Send Email to myotherboatisawhaler     
try epoxy with the special coating hardner followed by 2 part polyurethane with a u.v. inhibitor. it is head and sholders above all other fishes. contact west system or interlux for spefic products. follow all manufactuers recomendations and you will end up with unbelivably long lasting finsh. whale on!
Bigshot posted 06-07-2002 12:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
This last boat I used the West Marine varnish that someone recommended here(slight stain to it, very nice). i did not thin(never do) and I did about 8-10 coats with a quick 100-150grit sanding every 2 coats. The reason it is every 2 coats is I do a coat when I get home from work, then another before I go to bed while it is still a bit tacky. The next day I put it outside in the sun to dry and when I come home, I sand and do it again. I have never had any problems with this method. I try and do a light sanding and another 1 or 2 coats about every 3 months or when it looks way better wet than dry.
Gep posted 06-07-2002 03:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for Gep  Send Email to Gep     
When I refinished the wood on my '59 last year I used a spar varnish and only put (I can see the horrified looks on your faces)three coats on. I sanded with 220 grit in between. I thought for sure I'd be redoing it this year after the kids were playing in the boat all last summer. It actually held up pretty good.
Bigshot posted 06-07-2002 03:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
Gep....3 coats is ok if wood is preped really well. My wood was a tad "crude" so it needed more attention. If I was using new wood it would have been less coats for sure. On a 13' I used over a 1/2 gallon of varnish, crazy considering I can paint the entire hull with that amount of paint.
Bigshot posted 06-07-2002 03:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
PS still have those "Whaler Trailer" decals for sale?
Gep posted 06-07-2002 03:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for Gep  Send Email to Gep     
I'll have to check on those whaler trailer graphics. I have some at home, just don't know if I have those left. I'll let you know this weekend.
Also that thread was a year old, after a while thet get kinda hard to get off the premask. I can always have more cut.
Ed Z posted 06-07-2002 10:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for Ed Z  Send Email to Ed Z     
I tried the Helmsman ploy last year on my console... I must admit that I did not get all the old vanish off (most of it though)... This year I have less than satifactory finish to deal with... I too followed the manufactures direction (no thinning and 3 coats)... I found that it took about 2 week for the stuff to get to a very hard state... It doesn't seem to hold up to ultra violet to well either... This year I completly stripped and sanded (a whole lot) and am using SPar (Flagship) varnish (6 coats)... Then I may give it a coat or two of this 2 part poly stuff over that... I have now bought a console cover (Overtons has em) to help with the UV issue...
lae posted 06-08-2002 12:47 AM ET (US)     Profile for lae  Send Email to lae     
Epiphanes regular, eight coats minimum (fairly aggressive sanding on '65 Chris transom) Started to go away after the third year in direct sun, five years to surface breakthrough. Works for me I am doing wood on Autumn the same, will see and report.
skred posted 06-12-2002 10:18 AM ET (US)     Profile for skred  Send Email to skred     
Just joined the forum. Removed and copied all the console mahogany on my '76 Sport 13.
Sanded remaining seats and side pieces.
I used Helmsman after water-based staining and waiting 2 days to be sure it was dry. I didn't thin any of my coats and used 220 between the first 3 and 400 before the 4th and last coat. Came out glorious, and 3 years later, the new owner says it still looks like new.

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