Playing Hooky
Return to Salmon Beach


Varnish_2Most of the interior components of my Joel White Pooduck Skiff are complete and in the process of getting their six coats of varnish in my storage tent.  I'm also varnishing the gunwales, breast hook and quarterknees and 'midship frame. The centerboard is getting three coats of primer before paint. 

Isn't it wonderful how the varnish brings out the contrasting colors of the mahogany, oak and yellow cedar?  I'm using Epifanes Clear High Gloss Marine Varnish which I dilute 10% with thinner.  I sand with 220 grit and wipe down with a rag moistened with mineral spirits between coats.  As you can imagine, the whole process is a real pain in the ass!  Plus taking into account all the varnish, sandpaper, gloves, rags and paint thinner for cleaning the brushes, it ain't cheap either!   If I had the chance to do it over again I would probably rub on an oil finish instead.  At the Northwest School for Wooden Boatbuilding they use "Boat Sauce".  Warren passed on a couple different recipies to me:

Ray Speck’s Boat Sauce

1 Gallon Sea Fin Teak Oil
1 pint varnish
1 pint pine tar

Sunshine to kick off the pine tar (polymerize)

Boat Sauce

1 gallon Sea-Fin Teak Oil.
1-quart spar varnish.
1-quart pure gum turpentine.
1 cup to 1 quart Stockholm Pine Tar
(More for a darker finish less for a lighter finish.)
Add Japan Drier according to instructions on can for a quicker setting finish.

Brush on a consistent coat of boat sauce and let it set for ten to fifteen minutes depending on the speed of drying. Do not let it get tacky. Wipe it down with a white tack free cloth, being careful to avoid any pooling. The interior of the boat can get a thin coat of finish with out sanding. The exterior of the hull and the thwarts, knees and rails should be lightly sanded with 220-grit sandpaper between coats and wiped down with a tack rag between applications. Thwarts, knees and rails may be wet sanded for a finer finish. Often second third and following coats require exposure to sunlight to dry. Reapply bi-annually or as needed.

Spotted in this month's issue of Wooden Boat: an article written by Christopher Cunningham demonstrating the proper execution of The Dory Stroke in his 18 ft double-ender.



Coming along nicely! I was just wondering how your Pooduck (I love that name) was going, having gotten some sailing in over Labor Day Weekend. The sailing co-chairs Holly & Jim were in their sweet new boat Cricket. Jim's a cabinetmaker. If I ever need my kitchen redone I want to hire him just from looking at this boat.

Of course just from looking at this boat, I also suspect that I can't afford him.

Ah well.

Anyways, I took a lot of pictures & plan to be doing a let-us-now-admire-this-lovely-handmade-craft post before too long.

Can't wait to see yours all finished.

Unfortunately pipe dream of coming out to Seattle to observe Shawna & Leon stayed pipe dream. Not enough vacation time. I really should get myself out there someday though, got some college friends in the Northwest who I'd love to visit.

Andrew Elizaga

Oh yes... wasn't that a couple pics of that little sailboat on your post? Very nice paint job, I was thinking. It's a relief to know that Jim is a cabinetmaker -- I won't feel like I am expected to meet those high construction standards!

Well, Bonnie, if you ever make it to the Pacific Northwest and happen to be in the neighborhood, look me up. If the Pooduck is done, maybe we can take her out and you can teach me a thing or two!

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