Thursday, May 14, 2009


Remember last August? Boy, I sure do. I spent weeks refinishing the teak toe rails on Isabella. I attempted to follow all the rules, every damn one of them.

A quick eight months later, here I was:

After procrastinating like it was a college paper, I finally got myself out there last Sunday and started sanding -- again. Turns out I made pretty short work of it. After some help from Chip taping and wiping them down, I've slapped on two coats of varnish. See photo below.

What went wrong? Boy, have I put a lot of thought into that one. Here's my take:

1. I was too obsessed with brushstrokes. I put the varnish on too thinly and then made it worse by tipping it too much. The tipping took off the most varnish on the curves where the wood is most vulnerable (see above photo).
2. I oversanded between coats, again, especially on those same curves. I LOVE it when I get a smooth surface that doesn't show any brushstrokes or any grain. I obsessed.
3. I didn't put on enough coats. This was exhaustion rather than perfectionism, but user error nonetheless.

Because of all of the above, the curves probably had at most two coats of thin varnish on them.

So, on this round, I'm breaking some rules, taking no prisoners. I sanded, but not completely. Some of the healthier patches of varnish were left to be recoated. I didn't obsess over getting even color by sanding through all the spots. There will be much more "character" this time.

I coated more thickly and am letting the varnish flatten on its own. I ScotchBrite-ed instead of sanding between coats to minimize lifting off too much varnish. I plan to put on 236,042 coats.

Lesson learned. Save my perfectionism for the interior. My toe rails may be less perfect but their better protected.

--Chip did an experimental run on patching a soft spot on the deck. More on that later.....
--Showing the house today AND tomorrow.

No comments: