The finishes on the wood gunwales and thwarts of my canoe and on the steam-bent coaming of my skin-on-frame kayak have become scuffed and dry looking. Now that I have a nice shop to work in I would like to do a full maintenance on the boats. Looking for recommendations on what would be the best re-coating choices. (I don’t like shiny, BTW.)
Spar Varnish. Semi gloss. Or Spar Urethane. If you have the time, use Tung oil. It takes several coats but does a good job and won’t flake off as it ages. I use it on the GP I’ve made.
Cool, I already have a can of that I bought to dip the tips of my cedar GP.
Watco Danish oil would be a good choice, It comes in many flavors.
I refinished the gunwales on an ancient 1977 MR Explorer and a Bell Magic with Watco Danish oil. The finish wore through almost immediately during transport. I have Yakima Loadstops on my roof racks and indoor/outdoor carpet on my trailer. The carpet is worse but both rub through in one trip. I started using small sections of vinyl tubing that help but sometimes fall out. Any suggestions on finishes or transport would be appreciated. I’ve always been concerned that moisture would get under varnish. The boats are garage stored.
I’ll use spar varnish on thwarts and SOF coamings. Currently I have a can of Helmsman around that I also use on the S&g & strip kayaks. I’ll use Watco (the Teak is easiest to find around here) on my GP and the gunwales of the MR Independence. The GP took 4 - 5 coats initially to get it happy. Now one coat a year is all it needs. The rails on the Indy were oil finished when we bought it and it sleeps indoors so it usually only needs a single recoat every year of so.
I’ve been coating my GP with spar varnish then doing a final sanding to reduce the slipperiness. The stuff is durable but not enough for a paddle in my hands.
Had I the choice over again I’d choose one of the drying oils, like Tung oil.
Since about 2000 I’ve mostly been using tung oil, and like it. If for some reason I need to sand a gunwale or thwart down past the finish - a deep scratch, for example - I’ll use a coat of Watco Teak to come close or match the factory color and thereafter use tung. I use spar varnish on paddle blades and shaft but zip strip the grip of a new paddle and use tung oil thereafter. I get fewer blisters that way.
It depends on what I want The finish to do. on my Sailboats and wood kayak I have used top end UV protection and gloss I use Interlux Schooner Varnish. Epifanes is another high end varnish. Both are pricey. I have recently used TotalBoat Halcyon Rugged Marine Varnish (Jamestown Distributors) way easier than regular varnish as you can recoat after an hour without sanding as long as the next coat goes on within 24 hours, Soap and water cleanup. and comes in a plastic bladder that keeps all the air out. I really like the ease of using this product. I have a gallon of Tung oil that I use on paddles and my canoe gunnel. Easy to reapply as often as needed. Easier than varnishing. I use it on the flutes I make too.
Cool, lots of good options. I’ve also been using hemp oil more often since it’s non-toxic. I think Watco is more durable but it’s super easy to apply any oil when wood starts looking dry and thirsty.