We are lucky to have solid teak staving inside our Passport 37… but it’s approaching 30 years old and all we’ve done is Murphy Oil clean and lemon oil twice a year. Don’t get me wrong, overall, it still looks great, but normal wear and tear is starting to show a bit of age. Here’s a good example, my top drawer in the head. This is where everything that I use everyday lives – my toothpaste, hairbrush, lip gloss, chapstick, etc. This drawer is usually opened several times a day. As a result, you can see that the satin interior rubbed varnish is starting to wear away.
My experience with the exterior teak and varnish has been that once it starts to break down, you have to do something immediately or it will deteriorate into a mess. I don’t want to lose the homey warm feeling in the salon.
Luckily for me, the wear and tear falls into two categories — first is just the wearing off of the varnish as shown in the drawer above. No dark spots, no water damage, nothing other than bare teak caused by wear and tear. That’s the category I decided to attack first. The second category includes dark spots, mostly around the teak trim on the refrigerator, the galley area and the companionway — places where moisture is more prevalent.
As when I decided to attempt exterior teak myself, I wanted to try a small test to see what damage I would do .. or if there was actually an improvement. So the top drawer became my test project. First I removed it from the inside of the boat — why get more dust below than absolutely necessary. Then I started sanding. Because it’s a relatively small area, I started with 220 grit sandpaper – hand sanding. Then I progressed to 600 grit wet sanding and finally I used a Magic Eraser to do the last bit of “microscopic” sanding. After each round of sanding, I cleaned up the drawer front.
A trusted friend that knows a lot about varnish told me to try interior Minwax Clear Satin and see how it looked. We had no idea what was originally used on the boat in the yard in Taiwan in 1985, so… trial and error was the best we could do. I got the smallest can available and used a cheapo 1″ foam brush.
Before doing the actual varnish, I used tackcloth on the drawer front to remove any residual dust. Then, stirred the Minwax and VERY thinly brushed on a first coat. I must confess to being nervous about this step — I’d be able to tell with the first swipe if there was any chance this would be a bandaid that would help the interior or if it would just look patched and tacky. Luckily, the first swipe resulted in something similar to the rest of the drawer front. So I finished the front and let it dry for the recommended 4 hours.
After 4 hours, I lightly sanded it again and added a 2nd coat. Here’s the result. I must confess to being pleasantly surprised. Now if the dark spots could be as easily resolved. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of drawers and other spots that need this type of attention first. Unfortunately not all of them are removable, so I’ll try keeping my vacuum handy to suck up the dust as I sand.
Anyone else been through this? Is there something I could do easier or better? Please leave a comment and let me know! Cheers! Jan