Classic Boat Finish On Mahogany

Here we take a look at the stains and finishing process used to get the same outstanding appearance that is typically associated with traditional mahogany runabouts! Deep uniform stains and a varnished surface so perfect it can double as a mirror πŸ™‚

All of the materials used were manufactured by Pettit Paint (which is also the same stuff that builders such as Hackercraft use!) The stain itself is thinned down roughly 25% with Pettit’s general 120 thinner and can be applied a number of different ways.

Here’s a run-down of the stains and other materials used:

1081 Red Mahogany
1082 Brown Mahogany
1095 Standard Mahogany
7665 Dark Mahogany
120/T10 Standard Thinner
2018 Clear Sealer

For small areas such as what was shown in the video I like to use burlap cloth (I typically re-cycle the bags that our Basmati rice comes in), but the stain can also be applied by brush or even roller if you’re working large areas. When working larger areas it really helps to have a second person with this process. Since there is a “time window” that is ideal between when the material is applied and when it should start to be rubbed / worked into the grain (10-15 minutes generally speaking) having another set of hands can make this step go much smoother.

If the stain is accidentally left too long and is difficult to work, you can go back over the applied stain with a coarse cloth and the same 120 thinner to soften it for working.

The different stain colors can be mixed together to achieve the desired tone. Oil based paint can also be added (up to a 1:1 ratio) to the stain base to give even more color options. Thinning for this would also be roughly 25% of the total mix using Pettit’s 120 thinner.

Once applied and rubbed into the wood grain, allow the stain to dry for 24 hours before top coating with your preferred varnish. My personal recommendation is Pettit’s 2015 Captains varnish, 4-5 coats with a light sanding in between between. The build coats can be sanded using 320 grit paper and the final coat or two can be prepped with 400 grit (but no finer!)

Lastly, take care to dispose of the used rags and material properly to avoid possible fire! This is a precautionary step when working with any oil based products πŸ™‚

Please post any further questions or comments below!!

Thanks for watching πŸ™‚

~Andy

Comments
14 Responses to “Classic Boat Finish On Mahogany”
  1. Thanks for your videos, i’ve watched all of them and take something with me everytime I see one.

  2. Dave says:

    Hey, enjoy your video’s and knowledge you have with regards to boats. Have a quick question.
    I am interested in learning haow to sail, and will be leaning towards purchasing a used sailboat, most likely a 23-25 foot C&C, Sonic 23, Hughes 26 E or an Tanzer. All of the sailboats mentioned are selliing around the 6800.00 mark, made in the mid 80’s and look in great condition.
    What should I be looking for when buying a used boat, especially with regards to the hull, etc.. I am fairly handy and meticulous with tools as I own a renovation/finish carpentry business.

    Tks.
    Dave

    • ~Andy ~Andy says:

      Hi Dave,

      Whenever you’re looking at an older boat the big thing to look for is signs of leaking / rot. A visual inspection can tell you a lot on the care that was taken with the boat.

      Walk around the outside of the boat and look at the condition of the gelcoat. Is it dull & faded with a lot of chips / scratches or in good shape. This isn’t a critical thing as it’s something that you could manage yourself down the road but it does reflect on the kind of pride the previous owners had.

      Look at the bottom (the part that’s underwater). Look for signs of blisters, cracks around the rudder, rudder post and keel.

      Topside is where you really need to look closely. Test each of the stanchions to see how solid they are. If the deck flexes with light to moderate pressure there is either rot along the side decks or the mounting hardware is loose (more than likely it’s not loose πŸ™‚

      Look at every piece of hardware that is mounted on the deck to see if you can see bedding compound around the screw heads as well as the perimeter of the hardware.

      If there are handrails mounted on the cabin top, see how solid they are (light to moderate pressure side to side). There shouldn’t be ANY movement. If there is, there’s probably rot.

      Look at the number of cracks on deck. Cracks can be caused by a number of things but one possibility is that there is moisture in the core (particularly noticeable if you live in an area where it freezes in the Winter).

      Check the condition of the sails! This can turn out to be a big unexpected cost. Is the stitching frayed, does the material seem worn and thin?

      Check the condition of the halyards. Will they need replacement?

      Interior:

      Look at how clean the wiring appears. Is it a rats nest of modifications or is everything tidy and secured?

      Is there any funky smells / odors?

      Look along the sides of the cabin (portlights, headliner, etc) are there any water stains?

      Lastly the engine.

      Cosmetics are things that you can easily take care of yourself, but it is very important that you have a solid foundation. Appearance is inexpensive to repair, structure is very expensive to replace!!

      Hope this helps!

      Good luck πŸ™‚

      ~Andy

  3. John says:

    Hello Andy,
    Thank you for taking the time to demonstrate staining mahogany. I was particularly interested in the high/low grit preparatory sanding – this has cleared up a lot of my doubts. So, as I understand it, if you’re staining a single piece such as a table top, and want to see the character of the wood you’d go to a higher grit, and probably not raise the grain, whereas if you need to match several pieces you’d use a lower grit, raise the grain, and so apply more stain, thus reducing the grain mismatches.

    As to the varnish application for a mirror finish, you say no higher than 400 grit for the last coat. I’ve experimented rubbing out (not on a boat though) using 1000 grit followed by four ought steel wool and baby lotion as a lubricant – came out very smooth indeed. But was this overkill?

    TIA

    John

    • ~Andy ~Andy says:

      Hi John,

      if you’re staining a single piece . . . and want to see the character of the wood you’d go to a higher grit, and probably not raise the grain, whereas if you need to match several pieces you’d use a lower grit, raise the grain, and so apply more stain, thus reducing the grain mismatches.

      Exactly!!

      In the video I used a very fine grit prior to staining that one piece to help show the contrast between a fine and coarse prep. In reality I probably wouldn’t go that fine (you certainly could) but I typically stop at 220 or 320 depending on the type of wood and appearance I’m going for.

      As far as the varnish, the best level of protection will be had if you don’t “rub out the finish”. When you do this, yes you do remove any little dust specs and imperfections giving you a very smooth appearance, but you also break the surface somewhat reducing the level of UV protection and gloss.

      Do people do this? Absolutely! A lot of people will wetsand the surface with 2000 grit paper and buff it out with a polishing compound to remove any sanding marks πŸ™‚ One side note, in order to do this the varnish needs to be fully cured prior to taking a buffer to it (roughly 2 weeks or so). BUT, it’s best if you don’t have to do this at all (easier said than done :-))

      The reason I mention no finer than 400 grit as the prep for the next / last coat of varnish is strictly for adhesion. Any finer than this you risk not getting a good bond and having it peel.

      Hope this helps!

      ~Andy

      • John says:

        So, do we get a video on how you get a glassy mirror finish with varnish without rubbing out? πŸ˜‰ All I get is a dust nib ‘murphy’ field on the surface capable of attracting dust from miles away!

        Thanks – it did help!

        John

        • ~Andy ~Andy says:

          A lot of times the dust that you’re getting in a finish usually comes from the brush :-O Use a good quality brush and REALLY clean it! I’ll usually dip mine in the thinner and flick the bristles with my hands 15-20 times. Just keep repeating the process until you can flick the brush and not see anything flying off (this is at least a 20-30 minute process; sometimes more).

          Brand new brushes are the worst.

          Lastly, make sure to store the brush submerged in solvent up to the top of the ferrule when not in use. I like to store them in kerosene or diesel fuel. Epifanes has a really good guide on brush care on their site.

          http://www.epifanes.com/qanda.htm

          Another tip is to wet the floor (if you’re doing this indoors) to minimize dust getting kicked up when walking around. Also, Spring and Fall are the best times to varnish as bugs are not flying around yet (at least not around here :-))

  4. Lee says:

    Wow!
    I am working my way through your videos and they are superb.
    For someone to take time out to share their hard earned knowledge is truly inspirational. Many many thanks and all the best to you from over here in the UK.
    πŸ™‚
    Lee

  5. Steve says:

    Hey Andy,

    Thanks for this great informative video, exactly what I was looking for! Thanks again also for the informative email exchange we had, I appreciate it very much. Great website you have going here, keep up the good work!

    Best,
    Steve

    • ~Andy ~Andy says:

      Thanks Steve!

      Glad things seem to be working out on your end πŸ™‚ FWIW, I have also added some of the thin stain mix to the initial coats of varnish to help tint the color. I’d keep the ratio low but it is something that’s done quite a bit for fine tuning..

      Looking forward to the pics!

      Good luck πŸ™‚

      ~Andy

  6. Gregg Mingle says:

    Andy,
    Am purchasing a 1965 48′ Chris Craft to rebuild. Love your vids but wondering if you have any info as to where to go for tips on steel hull restoration,etc.

    • ~Andy ~Andy says:

      As of right now I don’t. But there is a slight possibility that I’ll be bringing a project boat like that into the shop this Winter. Waiting to hear back from the owners πŸ™‚

Leave A Comment

Copyright 2017 Boatworks Today · RSS Feed · Log in

The Verbage Theme v2 by Organic Themes · WordPress Hosting

Organic Themes