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  Filling teak cracks and holes

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Author Topic:   Filling teak cracks and holes
Murphys Law posted 07-13-2002 01:33 PM ET (US)   Profile for Murphys Law   Send Email to Murphys Law  
I am repairing the teak on my 18' outrage. I have one big crack from the old Loran antenna mount getting wrenched, and about a dozen holes from antenna mounting brackets on both sides (stb and port). Anyone have a favorite filler that looks good for the crack? How about filling the holes, teak plugs or filler? I have never used the teak plugs. Just pound them in or use an adhesive with them.

Tom W Clark any suggestions?
Sorry if this topic has been discussed before.

SeaHag posted 07-15-2002 10:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for SeaHag  Send Email to SeaHag     
It has been discussed in length, but here goes anyway.

Forget filling. I followed the suggestions here in the archives and within 2 weeks, due to the flexing of the gunwhales, the cracks reappeared. May as well not even filled them. I just squeeze the teak oil in the cracks to make sure they are fresh.

As far as the plugs go, they work great. Just drill the holes out to fit the diameter of the teak plugs. Before you insert the plugs in the holes, shoot some epoxy into the holes so the plugs will be held in place. Then insert the plugs making sure the grain of the plug is parallel to the wood's grain then sand them flush with the surrounding surface.

Finish appropriately

grandmufti posted 07-15-2002 10:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for grandmufti  Send Email to grandmufti     
Try Gorilla glue in the crack.It expands to fill the crack,sands like wood and takes a stain.I use it when piecing blocks for woodcarving and it has no equal.
Tom W Clark posted 07-16-2002 10:55 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Murphys Law,

Easy things first: When you install a wood plug or bung you glue it in.

I use five minute epoxy because it is easy, waterproof (for all intents and purposes) and fast. It allows me to chisel off and scrape/sand the bung flush in less than twenty minutes usually.

You may also use just about any waterproof glue you like, resorcinol, plastic resin, even Tite-Bond II (a waterproof yellow glue). Polyurethane glues like Gorilla glue would work also as well as any other type of epoxy you might have on hand.

Different glues leave different color glue lines and make different kinds of messes. The cost of the glues is various as well. If you are just doing a few holes then use what you have. Don't get hung up on trying to find the perfect glue. But DO use glue. The bung will fall out otherwise.

Cracks are more difficult to deal with. I do not like the idea of applying some kind of filler. Fillers will fail and not look good. The best thing to do with cracks is to either glue them shut or install more wood to fill the gap.

Often when a crack appears it is because the wood has moved. It is reacting to stresses imposed on it by environmental factors like sunlight, heat, humidity, ect. There are internal forces at work in the trees the wood is milled from as well. It is often the case that even after a piece of lumber is milled and dried it will will still be stressed internally such that a small amount of force may "push it over the top" and the wood structure will let loose and break apart.

I say all this mostly because I suspect that once a piece of teak has opened a crack it is very difficult to get it closed again and thus you will most likely have better success by filling the crack with a another piece of teak and just let the original piece lay as it is now.

The challenge with this approach is always to fit the patch piece of wood to the area you are trying to repair.

To cut to the chase with your situation, I would try to cut a saw kerf that will consume the crack in question. Can you run a small circular saw down the length of the crack and leave an even 1/16” to 1/8” wide saw kerf or is the crack too crooked?

If you can get a kerf to cover the crack then you are home free. Rip a thin piece of teak to the width of the crack and glue it in place. Grind it flush, refinish and you’re done.

If the crack is rather crooked, then you may have to be more radical in your approach. You could use a router to route out an area that covers the cracked wood and then glue in a patch or “Dutchman” in the area. You probably don;’t want to go all the way through the depth of the gunwale board but you don’t want to glue in a thin patch either. It will re-crack if you do.

I would think 1/2” to 3/4” of depth would be fine. The shape of the patch is up to you but rectilinear shapes are the easiest but often a diamond shape will blend with the flow of the grain better and be less visible.

This is not the easiest repair to do especially if the crack extends to the end of the gunwale board where it meets the fiberglass of the hull which may interfere with any tool you may use to cut out the crack.

Generally speaking, the less wood you remove the better. Cut out only what you need to to remove the crack unless you can eliminate some other blemishes as well.

I have repaired cracks in the end of oar and paddle blades by cutting a wedge shape out that consumes the crack and then gluing in a pie slice shaped piece. If the LORAN antenna had been mounted near the end of the gunwale board this technique might work for you too.

As always, if you do use a piece of teak to patch the crack, pay attention to color and grain when selecting the wood you use. You want it to approximate the look of the original so it doesn't stand out.

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