My canoe's rails are finished with polyurethane (Minwax Helmsman Polyurethane Spar Varnish). The finish has weathered enough that I should refinish them somehow. I have been putting it off because I thought that I needed to sand off all the old varnish and start with bare wood. But another member of my club, with lots of experience with wood finishing and canoes, tells me I can just sand the peeling areas, then add varnish to the bare parts.
Any opinions? I don't care if it looks a little funny, but I do want to protect the wood well.
I saw on another thread that two people prefer a Varathane polyurethane spar to the Minwax. Are the two finishes compatible in this partial-refinishing plan?
While I'm asking: do things get worse if I put an oil finish on the bare wood, rather than more polyurethane? I figure that's less likely to be compatible, but I prefer an oil finish, so maybe I can be lazy and slowly convert the varnish to oil. I suspect the oil will make the varnished areas sticky, but will otherwise be okay. The oil in question is my eight-year-old can of Watco, if that is still usable.
Oh, always another question: Should I remove the rails and varnish (or oil?) the screw holes and the insides of the rails? Both areas have blackened a little, presumably from lack of protection from water. I have never removed gunwales and have no idea how likely I am to mess it up. I have access to basic tools like drills, nothing fancy.
The boat is a Placid Boatworks RapidFire, by the way. I have had it six years and have done very little maintenance to the rails. It has been stored exclusively inside, but it is used in brackish water (rinsed off with freshwater after most trips), and it is exposed to New York City's temperature and humidity.
Full Size Sail Rig
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redoing bright finish|
Posted by: pblanc on Nov-08-12 9:45 PM (EST)
I generally use varnish instead of polyurethane but I think the same principles apply. I don't find it necessary to take the finish down to the bare wood unless it is really bad. Any areas in which the wood has greyed or otherwise discolored of course have to be taken down to clean wood, and any peeling or raised finish needs to go, but areas in which the finish is still intact I would just lightly sand with something like 120 grit paper to slightly rough the surface before reapplying polyurethane.
PU over PU should be fine.|
Posted by: tktoo on Nov-08-12 9:52 PM (EST)
Posted by: fourrunner on Nov-10-12 10:00 AM (EST)
any steelwool particales will rust when they come in contact with water in a marine enviorment, no matter how well you vaccuum.
Maybe true for bare open-grain wood|
Posted by: tktoo on Nov-10-12 10:46 AM (EST)
like oak or even ash, but for rubbing out varnish, there's really little risk of leaving broken-off fibers. Bronze wool is an alternative or a Scotchbrite pad, but the grit grades in nylon pads are uneven and I've found too agressive for rubbing out finish. Graded pumice or rottenstone works well, too, but they're cumbersome to use on small shapes like canoe trim.
If you use Varathane...|
Posted by: Canuka on Nov-09-12 9:44 AM (EST)
...make sure you DO NOT use their water-based outdoor varnish. It is pure, unadulterated junk. I had a very bad experience with it when I used it to refinish my wooden kayak paddle. After paddling for a few minutes it started turning white and peeling off! It looked just the way your skin looks when a popped blister starts to peel off. I could not believe my eyes.
If Urethane, Refinish with Urethane|
Posted by: clydehedlund on Nov-11-12 3:53 PM (EST)
If spar varnish, refinish with spar varnish. If different than original finish, take it down to bare wood before refinishing with something different.
I refinished my gunnels every year|
Posted by: string on Nov-11-12 11:33 PM (EST)
with Spar Urethane. Sanded them with fine sandpaper, cleaned them and reapplied. Never sanded to bare wood.
Posted by: clydehedlund on Nov-13-12 5:53 AM (EST)
Unless, the original finish was spar varnish and I'm re-doing with Spar Urethane.