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Old 30-11-2009, 20:21   #1
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Bright WorK: Paint Remover or Heat Gun?

I am stripping all of the bright work on the deck of our boat this winter in anticipation of a big old re-varnishing this spring. I am wondering which way I should go about taking the varnish off. I have fears about both methods. A heat gun can burn the wood but paint remover can get on the deck and topsides and take off the paint that I want to keep. Some if the bright work bits are very small and in close proximity to the deck. What is the best way to go here?

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Old 30-11-2009, 20:31   #2
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My Brightwork Bible is Rebbeca J. Whitman "Brightwork" and her companion handbook. She gives great guidance on heat gun use and also is a proponent of CitraStrip- a very user friendly stripper. You'll find she suggests always using a heat gun and scaper as your first and least damaging choice. Maybe practice on some household items first?

Good luck-

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Old 30-11-2009, 20:44   #3
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I did it with Jasco paint stripper. The environmentally friendly paint remover was almost worthless. It really is a contradiction to be able to be safe for the environment and be able to melt varnish. Its much like calling Plutonium 239 safe.

I was too nervous to use a heat gun next to Awlgrip. I did not want to see a spray job that cost thousands come bubbling up like lava.

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Old 30-11-2009, 20:57   #4
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I recently stripped many layers of old varnish from teak brightwork with a heatgun, it was much more easy than I through it would be. I kept the gun moving and had no problems buring the wood or gelcoat there was no paint nearby. A lot of sanding is required, I did not try chemical removers.
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Old 30-11-2009, 22:04   #5
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I like the heat gun and in combination with a triangle scraper for rounded edges and a flat scraper for broad areas. Strippers work ok but it seems hard to get all of the residue out and varnish seems to wear faster after using them. Be careful around paint with the gun as it will bubble in a hurry. But if you leave it it usually goes back with out affect. But it can't be good for it. Still a big job though so give yourself lots of time and take it easy.
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Old 01-12-2009, 00:59   #6
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Get some advice from Ocean Girl. If I recall correctly, she has done a LOT of brightwork.
"Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors - and miss."
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Old 01-12-2009, 03:53   #7
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I've had very good results with a heat gun and Sandvic/Bahco scrapers (carbide blades). Once you get the rhythm right, the varnish peels off like butter.
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Old 01-12-2009, 04:36   #8
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Well!!--you guys have convinced me as to which method I should use on Bluestocking's 1/2 acre of teak.
Now--how do I build up the depressed, soft grain areas without sanding all the high areas down to the low?
so many projects--so little time !!
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Old 01-12-2009, 07:17   #9
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I've got a ton of teak on my Cabo Rico and I'll second the use of a heat gun. The best scrapers I've found are by ProPrep, link below. As to the depressed areas, are you talking small dents such as where something banged into the teak or outright gouges? For a small dent, after the wood has been stripped, you might try placing a wet washcloth over the dent and apply high heat with a clothes iron. The idea is to get some steam expansion within the grain. I used to use it on rifle stocks. For deeper, more severe damage, you can save the saw dust from your copious sanding and mix with epoxy to make a putty or you scarf in a new piece of teak. Be careful to get a matching hue of teak. I'll be doing this on my bow sprit which received a pretty big gouge. The final solution, and most common, is leave it alone. With a nice shiny coat of varnish only you will probably notice the minor blemishes.


ProPrep Molding - Detail Kit

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