Monday, August 23, 2010


"Brightwork" refers to the varnishing of wood.  Varnish is what makes wood beautiful, shiny and - well - bright.  Any sailor who has done this even once will tell you it is a major pain in the "A".  As someone who just did this I have to agree.  However, if you have any teak on your boat - you will be doing it a disservice not to treat it.  Varnished wood turns heads.  And we all know looking good is worth something...right?

I have done a lot of research on the subject, because varnish - while beautiful - doesn't last long in the hot, tropical sun (where we will be).  It breaks down under the strong UV rays - peeling and bubbling - meaning it needs to be done and re-done several times a year if you want to keep it looking bristol.  We don't want to deal with that - so I hit the world wide web and found the product "Honey Teak".  Long story short - this stuff looks like varnish, but lasts MUCH longer.  In fact, Tom Fabula (the owner of the company) swears to me that I won't even need to touch it for 2 years or more.   One reformed varnish-aholic I talked to hasn't done a thing for ten years since switching to Honey Teak.  I like the sound of that.

With no further ado - here is what we did, in photos:

First, you have to strip the original varnish.  This is easiest done with a heat gun and a scraper.  Don't let the word "easiest" fool you - this is still a painfully laborious job.
Now scrape the wood.  This is when you go "Oh crap.  We really opened a can of worms here."
I read these instructions over and over and over again.  I also called the owner, Tom, about 15 times.  He is lovely, by the way.  A huge help.  Held my hand the entire way.
After you strip, then you SAND.  This is our new friend, Jim, who just decided to help us out of the goodness of his heart.  He put in about 24 man hours with us this weekend.  Thank you Jim!!
After you sand - then you CLEAN the teak with a two-part teak cleaner that is sure to cause cancer in laboratory rats.  Here is my awesome brother, Kevin, hosing it down.
After you clean, then you TAPE.  The amount of time you spend bent over doing this project really reeks havoc on your back.  Kevin looks cool with his bandanna.
Now, you are ready for application!
Here is what it looks like, before....and after!
Brush on Honey Teak.  3 coats.  By the third you are pretty much over it.
Mmmmmmhhhhhhhmmmm. Shiny.
Finished!  Beautiful.

Apparently geese like it too.  Ten of these guys came 'round and floated ever so peacefully at the bow, looking up at us longingly.  Considering we NEVER have geese around our boat, this was weird (and actually sort of creepy) and we chalked it up to the honey teak.
So we did it!  It took us about 5 solid days of work.  Big thanks to my brother Kevin and our new friend Jim.  Their man hours and input were invaluable and we cannot thank them enough.

Some lessons we learned:
  1. What you think will take 'x' amount of time, will most likely take 'x times 2 (or 3 or 4....)' at the very least.
  2. Stripping varnish with a heat gun, while very effective, can be dangerous.  Scott and I have the 2nd degree burns to prove it.
  3. Geese are mysteriously drawn to Honey Teak in the "if you build it they will come" variety.
  4. Honey Teak is awesome, and to deal with a company where you can call the owner on his cell phone and talk to him from 8am to 10pm every single day is invaluable.  They just don't make 'em like that anymore.
  5. My dad was REALLY smart to build his boat out of aluminum.

EDITORS NOTE 1/21/13:  Rasmus' teak looked good as new when we sold her in the Fall of 2012.  There were a few dings and worn spots where we nicked it, but overall, the toerails and woodwork looked exactly as they did two years prior - no peeling, no cracking, no dullness.  We swear by Honey Teak.  It is amazing to us that no one knows anything about this product.  Everywhere we went people would comment on our woodwork and ask us what we used.  We cannot recommend this product enough.


Philippe said...

Very nice shine! Let us know ina year how it holded up to the sun.

Junaid said...

I am dreading varnishing my teak toe rail and cockpit coamings. I did make a half-hearted start with a heat gun and a "red devil" scraper , but gave up once the enormity of the task became clear. The picture indicates you used just a putty knife for scraping ?

What grit sandpaper did you use ? Did you fine tune it with 220 grit before applying the honey teak ? How about between coats ?


Windtraveler said...

Hi Junaid! It wasn't the best of jobs - but wasn't the worst either.

Yes, we scraped just with a putty knife and it came up great. The scraping took almost all of the varnish off...we then sanded with 180 grit paper with a hand sander (and some parts by hand) and then fine sanded some areas with 220.

Then we cleaned the teak with the Semco 2 part teak cleaner, wiped down with denatured alcohol, tack ragged - and laid on the Honey Teak.

You can lay on Honey Teak wet on wet and apply the "clear coat" in the same manner, and the only time you need to do anything in between coats is if it dries overnight - in which case you simply scuff with a 3M scuffing pad and go at it again. We did 4 coats of honey and 3 coats of clear. Hopefully this saves us lots of headaches down the line...

I am a huge fan of honey teak. It is awesome stuff (so far), very easy and forgiving to use, and we have had PLENTY of compliments these past couple of days!! Good luck!

Mid-Life Cruising! said...

We'll be tackling this project soon, when it gets a little cooler. Thanks for the info, and sounds like a great product. Where can we find a new friend like Jim? Heck, we can't get our "old" friends to do what Jim did. The brightwork really does look beautiful.

Magda said...


Would you be able to post an update on this? How did the Honey Teak hold up? How do/did you feel about it a year, two years down the line?


Peter Floyd said...

In the event that you are a yachting traditionalist like me, a yacht isn't a genuine watercraft unless there is some outside brilliant work (varnished teak) on the vessel. So how would you legitimately tend to and look after it? I find a very good website for the Best palm sander 2018, If you want you can visit this site

Mando said...

Hi there,I enjoy reading through your article post, I wanted to write a little comment to support you and wish you a good continuationAll the best for all your blogging efforts.

rak tv jati

Kevin Horgan said...

Join us on a recreational and educational kayak trip on the fjord in Balestrand with an experienced guide. best inflatable kayak for ocean

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...