Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Teak Project

Scraping, Shaping and Sanding

Our move into the shed marked the beginning of the BIG boat project, refinishing the ten-inch wide teak caprail. This feature is a beautiful accent to the classic lines of the boat and her sweeping bow… but only when the finish looks new. Right now, after five years, it needs help.

Railings and fittings were removed. Fiberglas surfaces, ladders, fill pipes, etc. were protected by tape and rolls of corrugated cardboard.


Dave and Ian, a  team of father and son woodworkers extraordinaire, spent ten days removing the old finish and caulking. They were aided by a heat gun, some specialized tools, years of experience and tons of patient perserverence. 

They sanded, fine-tuned the edge shaping and sanded some more. Ribbons of old finish littered the decks and the shed floor and a fine powder of sawdust drifted all over the place. 

The Capt’s contact allergy to teak sawdust is a constant challenge, so he worked on a number of inside projects this week. 

Removing the old finish didn’t end the preliminary work. Oh no, we had to wait for the wood to dry to a moisture content of 12% or lower. Most of the caprail dried readily to 8% or below, except for a few spots under some deck-railing fittings. These few areas stubbornly hovered around 18% for days. 

The moisture meter has two electrodes that press into the wood and measure the electrical resistance (or is it current?) passing between them, then report out a moisture percentage.

So a blower keeps the air moving over these spots, and we wait, and wait... and I'll keep working on my patience.

The next step, any day now, will be to wipe on a 50/50 solution of finish and thinner and sand it to fill in the grain. Using sample color chips to preselect the best choice for the grain filler calls for considerable color matching skills, and will ultimately depend on Dave’s eye and artistry, along with input from the Capt. 



  1. O.K. We've seen some of the outside of the boat--how about some shots inside???

  2. You've been living with an engineer too long when you start caring about electrodes and currents and stuff like that. Hope your wood is dry. You are a great blogger!

  3. It sure is looking pretty!!! Don't worry, you'll be swimming before long!

  4. Watching wood dry, now there's a fun day! You are papering over your boat in $20.00 bills

  5. The 4 comment above arrived via e-mail, so I reposted them here as Anonymous - but everyone is invited to post their comments directly. It may take a while to see them if we are traveling and between internet connections, but eventually I catch up.

    Re: inside photos of the boat - right now it's a disaster inside as we are projecting all over the place. You can check out the galley though, in a recent May post at


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