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Old 20-04-2010, 13:57   #1
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In Over My Head with Teak

With great expectations and hope the Admiral and I started the incredible task of refinishing the exterior teak on our 1982 Lord Nelson 41. As our new chain plates were still 4-6 weeks out and some damage had occurred to the life line stanchions and bases (subject of another post) we were unexpectedly given the use of inside heated storage this spring for fitting out. So damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!
Till yesterday. The cap rails looked like they had a beautiful varnish finish many years ago. But they had been long neglected by the PO and left to weather on their own. Blotches of varnish remained in some areas, in the pores and crevasses. So being a reader of Whittman we applied a product she recommended, Citristrip, to remove the old finishes. Worked great, left it on for 16 hours (recommended no longer than 24) then rubbed off with a striping pad and wiped down with mineral spirits.
Now the teak is looking great, in all its naked beauty. Figure a few passes with 150 and were good to go for applying our finishes, 3 coats West epoxy followed by 3-4 coats of varnish. Not!
Now the surface of the teak has a very “soft” feel. After a couple of seconds of sanding the paper is completely clogged regardless of the grit.
Why is my beautiful teak so soft now? And what do I need to do to it to get a good sanding job done?

Mike
s/v Fair Wind
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Old 21-04-2010, 06:01   #2
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No one else butchers Teak?
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Old 21-04-2010, 06:07   #3
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I don't know what to tell you. Everything I ever tried to do to teak, other than pour a bucket of seawater over it from time to time, made a mess, and made it worse. So a bucket of seawater from time to time is all our teak decks, cap rail, grab rails, etc. get these days.
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Old 21-04-2010, 06:15   #4
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I had the same problem on my previous boat. It came down to moisture content in the teak due to the degredation of the finish and exposure to weather. It needed to dry out after being cleaned and before sanding. The difficulty is having the time and place to let it dry out. It's on it's own schedule. When it's dry it will firm up.
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Old 21-04-2010, 06:19   #5
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Do mean like this example? This is with 2 coats of 207 hardner, and 2 coats of epifane.........i2f
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Old 21-04-2010, 07:10   #6
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Mineral spirits are kind of oily - my guess is the dried-out teak soaked up the mineral spirits like a sponge, so your sawdust is binding together because of that oiliness. You might try using acetone instead, or if you prefer something less toxic TSP. Or before sanding, put on a coat of the epoxy. If you warm up the teak and the epoxy before you apply it, it will be runnier and will seep deeper into the pores of the wood. Let that harden before sanding out the imperfections.
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Old 21-04-2010, 09:51   #7
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As an alternative to Acetone, try 90% Alcohol available at most pharmacies, as a cleaner, drying agent. We found it to be very effective without the adverse effects of Acetone and some of the other similar solvent/cleaners.
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Old 21-04-2010, 10:26   #8
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We're doing a Valiant 40 and found that after the varnish was stripped, it was best to leave it a couple of days before sanding with 220 using a vacuum sander. This keeps the paper from clogging. I use a DeWalt orbital and a Shop Vac. This was the caprail after the first coat of varnish:



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Old 21-04-2010, 10:48   #9
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Teak is a very oily wood which is why it weathers so well with no finish on it. If you take a piece of teak that has never had a finish on it and sand it it will clogg the sandpaper because of the oil in the wood. My guess is that there is also some residue from the stripper left on the wood as well. You need to wipe it down with something that will reduce the residue and oils before applying anything. You could use acetone or methanol alcohol (not rubbing alcohol). Even though it is very nasty stuff, I would suggest wiping it down with laquer thinner which is a combination of acetone, methel ethel keytone and tolulene as it will be the most effective at removing all residues. Of course with any of the above you should wear good quality gloves and an organic vapor chemical respirator and try not to get it on anything but the wood. Even after you've wiped it down a couple of times, when you sand it will still clogg the sandpaper some as that just the way teak is but at least you will have removed anything that will affect the adhesion or the setting up of the epoxy or varnish.
Don't you just love working on boats?
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Old 21-04-2010, 12:15   #10
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The stripper was the mistake. Next time use a heat gun and a scraper. With correct technique this will only require minimal sanding before varnish. Thin the first coat with mineral spirits. Scuff between coats for adhesion and a smooth finish. do at least 6 coats of varnish.

Wear a respirator and gloves for every step, it will save your body from unnecessary exposure to toxins.
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Old 21-04-2010, 12:52   #11
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just wondering if the epoxy was hard when you finished that part? was it really hot when you applied the varnish? if it does not harden then you may need to remove the varnish and start over again.

the reason i say that is because i varnished a floor once in really hot weather .. put it on too thick and the varnish fired off too fast making it soft under the surface. remember to make the coats THIN .. just enough to cover.
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Old 21-04-2010, 12:58   #12
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And use Epifanes varnish, the best.
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Old 21-04-2010, 13:01   #13
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Definitely go for gloss varnish whatever you do. It is higher performance than satin or semi-gloss. If you want satin, just sand the finish coat with 1000 grit or something.
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Old 21-04-2010, 13:27   #14
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For all our teak (we have a Hans Christian; literally a floating pile of teak) I use a heat gun and scrapers and Flagship varnish. No chemicals other than the varnish and a sealent before that (on unfinished wood).

I don't want to pick a fight, but most of the folks I know who use chemicals don't have nearly the volume of teak that I do.

Am I the only one wondering why you put epoxy down on your teak? I just sand to 220, give it a couple weeks to breathe / dry out in the summer, hand sand again with 220, seal, varnish.
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Old 21-04-2010, 13:32   #15
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Hand sanding is superior to using a random orbit sander. You will find that most of the surfaces are curved and intricate anyway. Really all the 220 does is smooth out any scraper marks, which only appear due to bad technique, and provide a tooth for the initial coat.

Rebel heart, what sealant do you use?

I even wear a mask for the heat-gun and scraper part, and sanding part. Can't be too careful.
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