Remaking the Companionway Boards

(pictures with borders can be clicked)

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Out with the Old and In with the New!

The old boards are ugly, the varnish is coming off and taking the veneer with it. What to do?

Iíd purchased about $300 worth of raw teak, with the idea of making doors. But after spending a while with Visio making the design, and thinking about it for a year, I realized Iíd be doing a lot of work with little benefit. After all, Iíd take the doors off when sailing, and the only time Iíd really use them was at anchor or hanging in the slip. The reason Iíd want doors rather than boards is to keep the warm inÖtaking boards in and out just to enter and exit the cabin gets tiresome after the 20th time in an evening.

Instead, I made a Sunbrella cover that serves the dual purpose of covering the companionway teak when Iím not at the boat, and can be used to hold in Ďmostí of the warmth when hanging on the boat while still providing ventilation! It works great, and getting in and out of the cabin is a simple matter of unclipping the cover at the bottom, where the bungee cord thatís attached to the boom will pull the whole thing up and relatively out of the way! It doesnít cover it ďperfectlyĒ, so maybe Iíll sew some extra fabric around the edges. Or maybe not.

But the boards are still ugly, so I went out and bought a half-sheet of marine grade 3/4inch teak veneer plywood. A router is essential to make the joints between the boards. This worked out pretty well.

Notice how thin the actual veneer is. You canít sand this stuff down, so a scratch in the veneer is something youíll just have to live with.

The router table is really important for one feature that I really like: VENTS! I decided to top the companionway boards with a 3Ē wide piece of real Teak. After routing out a joint that will be really strong once itís epoxied together, I made two 6 inch slots inside the actual joint. The slot on the plywood side is curved so water will drain out, and stained a dark mahogany color.

The wood was then epoxied and clamped into place. Note the cans that I used to apply a little weight on the center of the glue joint. Thatís penetrating epoxy, which Iíll use for a sealer coat. With veneer, youíll never be able to strip thevarnish off and renew the finish from scratch, so the base coat needs to be attached for the life of the boards. Penetrating epoxy is nasty, stinky stuff that needs to be applied with good ventilation, a serious respirator, and gloves. The solvents will kill your liver and central nervous system, which just isnít worth the buzz. (My liver probably canít take much more abuse.) However, those same solvents work their way deep into the wood, emulsifying the natural oils and making them part of the glue. If the first coat of varnish is applied when the epoxy is about 75 per cent cured, the epoxy will also bond to the varnish, and you end up with a finish thatís about as secure as it gets.

The great thing about having a guest bathroom is that you can turn it into a varnishing room!