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Old 24-07-2017, 09:09   #1
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Refinish Cabin Sole and Table

I am looking to re-finish or at least re-coat my cabin sole and salon table on my 1997 Hunter 42 Passage. While neither are in real bad shape, they would benefit from some cosmetic refreshing. I am no expert on woodwork finishing, so I am looking for some advice on technique and materials/products.

Cabin Sole
This looks to be a veneer on ply. Its not in bad shape except for a couple of dark parches that appear to be water penetration over a bulkhead. However, I can live with this discoloration as it has not affected the finish. I think I can remove the sole in panels as I have had several of them out individually for various projects. My thought is a light sanding, then several coats of a good quality varnish. Does this sound right? Any advice on the varnish?

Salon Table
This is an interesting one. Again, not in too bad shape, just looks like it would benefit from refreshing. It seems to be solid wood, but has a strange finish on it. Condensation or water from a cold glass produces an instant white ring on the finish, but this disappears when it dries out. This leads me to think it was finished with something other than regular varnish. Any clues? Any way I can determine what finish it currently is and what is compatible with it? Could this be Shellac or something exotic? If so, how do I proceed?

Thanks for any advice and insight.

S/V Midnight Sun III
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Old 24-07-2017, 12:40   #2
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Re: Refinish Cabin Sole and Table

The veneer on the sole it thin. Use stripper. I prefer CitriStrip. Use wood bleach (Oxalic acid) to remove dark spots. Then refinish with whatever you like.
Condensation rings are common. Go sailing. They willeveporate.

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Old 24-07-2017, 14:20   #3
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Re: Refinish Cabin Sole and Table

Neil, first make sure the leak is no longer leaking. If it was wet for a long time, there may be damage there that you haven't seen yet.

Once you know there's no leak, it's sand and varnish time. Do make the assumption that it is veneer, and very thin, so if you go through it, you'll really have a mess on your hands. You can use stripper, but there will still be some spots that will need a light sanding, all over. Then, you build up coats. We prefer matte finish on cabin soles, but the high gloss is somewhat harder, more resistant to wear. Some people sprinkle the last coat with fine glass beads, so it won't be slippery when wet.

The table, well, we've always sanded and varnished ours, and with high gloss.

We never have bought the most expensive, either, just what the local chandlery has.

Even for below decks, it does not hurt to get varnish with UV inhibitors.

Good on ya for getting to it before it gets horrible.

Incidentally, I have no idea what's currently on your table, but good varnish doesn't leave condensation rings in my experience, it just beads up, like rain drops on fresh car wax. To me, rings would indicate porosity in the present coating, whatever it may be.

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Old 24-07-2017, 15:03   #4
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Re: Refinish Cabin Sole and Table

I used Polyurethane on my floor. Holds up much better than varnish. VERY attractive.
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Old 24-07-2017, 15:50   #5
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Re: Refinish Cabin Sole and Table

Last fall I lightly sanded my cabin sole and applied two coats of gloss varnish. Why gloss varnish you ask? Because that's what I had on hand. It has proven very durable and is not slippery when wet. This fall I will apply a top coat of satin varnish. I friend who knows such things has said he always builds up coats of gloss varnish and top coats with satin as the gloss gives the satin some depth which you do not get from successive coats of satin varnish alone.
I'm happy with my choice and that's really all that matters. My sole was in dire need of some attention and the gloss varnish made a vast improvement to its appearance.
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Old 25-07-2017, 08:34   #6
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Re: Refinish Cabin Sole and Table

FYI your table is likely veneer too. I thought my table was solid wood when I started sanding it to refinish it. Ask me how I know it's not...
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Old 25-07-2017, 08:49   #7
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Re: Refinish Cabin Sole and Table

Light spots can be stained. Dark spots beached with oxalic acid then high %
Wipe with water to check the colour. Clean with acetone then roll and tip
using poly.

Bowling alley polyurethane on floor, varnish on table.
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Old 25-07-2017, 09:23   #8
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Re: Refinish Cabin Sole and Table

For the table, I would use a polyurethane. It does not need to be a marine one as the normal DIY stores carry the likes of Minwax polyurethane which has UV inhibitors. Applying layers and layers in order to get the perfect finish is always a balance of doing it perfectly and doing it knowing that the 'to do' list is lengthy. Here is the balance that I have found to work well. Using a decent brush, give the table a coat of polyurethane. Put the brush in water. Don't be tempted to put it on too thick. Leave it to dry for several hours and do it again, no need to sand between coats. Do at least four or five coats, thick enough that when you sand the final coat you don't go through to the table. When the final coat has dried for at least 24hrs, sand it smooth with 220grit and then 400 grit paper. Sand it just enough to make it flat, removing the bush strokes and dust marks. Once you have cleaned it off, use a spray can of the same poly. Give it one light coat just to bring back the smooth finish. If you're not happy with the finish you can always lightly sand it and do it again. Using spray cans is an art form but not hard to master. Polyurethane, once done, is rock hard and it will last a very long time.
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Old 25-07-2017, 10:44   #9
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Re: Refinish Cabin Sole and Table

Sounds like the table is finished with sikens or similar. Good luck
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Old 25-07-2017, 11:00   #10
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Re: Refinish Cabin Sole and Table

Just did both. Used a heat gun to take off old varnish. Then light sanding with 400 grit paper. First coat was 75% mineral spirits and 25% varnish. next coat was 50/50 and so on until you get to 100% varnish. I then ended up with a total of 10 coats. lightly sand with 400 grit between coats and wipe clean with mineral spirit soaked clean cloth. If you don't like the shiny look use matt finish varnish for the last coat.

Outcome was perfect. This was a winter project. Good luck.
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Old 26-07-2017, 07:03   #11
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Re: Refinish Cabin Sole and Table

Thanks to everyone that posted replies - some really good input here! Even though its summer, I may give this a shot sometime in the next couple of weeks as I can get the pieces out and work in my garage. It would be a perfect winter project, but we are headed for the "Thorny Path" in November - so the boat has to be ready by then, and of course - there are a few other mission-critical things to do before we leave.

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Old 26-07-2017, 07:26   #12
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Re: Refinish Cabin Sole and Table

After busting my butt on gloss cabin soles, I refinished my with Epifanes Rubbed Effect Varnish which gives a warm, hand rubbed look. It's a one-part urethane alkyd interior varnish. It provides a much better surface for walking on when wet and on your ear. Because it's interior varnish, start recoating with a gloss spar varnish, that builds faster, has a slight amber color and UV protection. Do the two final coats with the Rubbed Effect. It's a very hard finish, easy to apply, looks great, hides the imperfections and is holding up very well. Most interior wood on boats don't have gloss finish, why make the sole a skating rink.

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