View Full Version : Speaking of Stain . . .

Richard Smith
08-26-2005, 09:23 AM
In the "Oil Base Stain for Finish" thread Bob Cleek wrote:
"Generally speaking, there is no reason to stain exterior wood on a boat. If the wood doesn't look good enough to finish bright without stain, it probably should be painted."

This boat was displayed at the "Concours D'Elegance" show in Lake Tahoe. Suppose I'm thinking I want to do something like the two-tone thing using the cherry color. (I'm assuming it must be stained?) Is such practical? And, what are the logistics/details?

BTW: I think the blonde on the forward deck is the camera (or sun). The actual color must be more like the mid-deck. Take a look at the far left corner of the mid-deck, where a shaft of sun crosses it.

Bob Smalser
08-26-2005, 09:35 AM
From the color and clarity, it looks like an aniline dye job, to me....in red.

I'd use Jay Greer's products and sequence from the other thread, and I'd keep the boat covered as much as possible.

It's not difficult....most of these dyes are a powder mixed with painter's denatured alcohol....often easier to use than oil stains if you seal the raw wood with a wash coat of shellac, first.

Why I prefer to fill the pores with a sparkling, linseed-Daly's mix rather than stain/filler, is when and if your stain coat does fade, it can fade to a goshawful color that is only fixed by removing 100% of the varnish (no small task in itself) so the wood will take new stain.

[ 08-26-2005, 10:37 AM: Message edited by: Bob Smalser ]

08-26-2005, 09:36 AM
I would stain it, fiberglass it with light weight cloth to protect it, and finish with several layers of 2 part lpu. You might also talk to a number of clear coat salesmen to see who makes the most boastful claims of uv protection.

Bob Cleek
08-26-2005, 10:49 AM
Well, I stand corrected! Yep, if you want a red boat, with the grain showing, it will have to be dyed or stained. However, that is not a common practice. The boat shown is proper for its period, which was when turquois blue formica countertops were also all the rage. Ordinarily, however, woods on traditional boats should not need staining. Staining is a remedy for damaged wood (which doesn't work all the time) or for the purpose of making a cheap wood look like an expensive one. Better to use the good wood in the first instance.

08-26-2005, 11:26 AM
There are many ways to make a boat ugly. Dying them red, yellow, or tuquoise are but three. But you're still going to need good uv protection. Faded turquoise looks sooo last year.

08-26-2005, 12:45 PM
Mr. Smith,

I've done runabout restoration for some time and I may be able to answer your question. It appears to me that the boat has three stains. The covering board is generally dark. There are dark pigmented wiping stains; these tend to be quite opaque in my humble opinion. Sometimes it looks like it was painted with a black paint. I prefer to put down a black water based dye and then follow with a mahogany filler stain. The foredeck is blonde. This is sometimes achieved by using lighter colored wood, such as Century's practice. Chris-Craft used the same color wood but removed all color with two part bleach. Some restorers varnish over that, but I feel that it is better to put a fruitwood color stain there. This accentuates the grain of the wood; by the way, this is the most common reason for staining. The stain between the first and second cockpit is a reddish mahogany stain. Not sure what brand. It's probably impossible to tell because the colors on the web are so inexact. It might be worth mentioning that the name on a can of stain is just that: a name given by the manufacturer. It has nothing necessarily to do with the wood it is trying to mimic or to another manufacturer’s version of, say, red mahogany. By the way, as far as I know, dyes are not UV resistant, but I’ve never seen any fading. By the way, dyes can be used to even the color of the individual planks in a large panel of wood, say, the side of a varnished boat. I’ll add that I prefer the water based dyes. You do have to sand very lightly afterward with them.

Since there is so much difference in stains it's a good idea to make up a stain board with examples of different stains on wood similar to that on the boat. Don't forget to put a couple coats of varnish over the stain as the varnish will have a hand in the final appearance of the color.

Stain should set about three over more days before it is varnished. Otherwise, the mechanical process of dragging a brush across the surface may melt the stain. I like to get several spray cans of Man O War varnish and spray over the stain. This acts as a fixer so the stain does not melt. I suppose you could blow this fixer coat on with a gun as well.

Now, I just have to reply to the latest Cleek outrage. He said that there is no reason to stain wood unless you are covering up inferior wood.

I swear, this guy opens his mouth and misinformation spews out like pea soup from Linda Blair’s spinning head in The Exorcist.

Let’s review some recent Cleekster statements:

1. “No reason to stain.” Newbys often say that they don’t want to stain. I guess stain has a negative connotation, like something you get on your tie at an Italian restaurant. Anyway, novices say that they want the wood “natural.” Well, the only place the wood is in a “natural” state is in the forest. Cleek evidently does not understand that the reason one stains is to accentuate the grain of the wood. Mahogany, for example, looks flat without staining.
2. Oh, that brings me to #2. “Mahogany is not a good wood for clear finishing.” Never mind that it has been used for this for, what, a hundred years. A clear finish stays on mahogany as well as any wood.
3. “Chris-Crafts are poorly made.” Now, I’ve replaced every piece of wood on Chris runabouts over the years. I can think of no (repeat, no) instance of inspecting an area and thinking that it was sloppy or built without care for the “next guy.” To the contrary, Chris-Crafts are well designed, even brilliantly designed. They are light boats, built in a factory. However, if you presented me ten boats of similar type that were custom built and ten Chris Crafts, it would be the Chris-Crafts that I would bet would be better built and easier to work on.

And there are the paint discussions…the continuous thumping of the drum for CPES ….and I could go on and on.

So what, you say? Well, Cleek obviously has some accurate knowledge gained in whatever manner. The problem is that he believes that gives him carte blanche to make wild, misleading and downright ignorant statements.

Well, ok, so what you say? I despair of ever convincing Cleek to offer his advice from within the realm of his knowledge. One can’t convince a bull**** artiste to mend his ways.

Here is the important part…and I believe this is a very valuable lesson.

Back when I was just getting started in what is laughingly referred to as the “marine industry” I commonly ran into the same problem. I would be working on a boat and someone would stride down the dock and loudly tell the owner a product, a method, a technique that must be used on the boat. Even then, I could tell that the guy, (I call these guys dock captains) did not know what he was talking about. But in those days, I did not have the history, knowledge to dissuade the owner and I would end up doing something that I knew was wrong.

It happens all the time. Unfortunately, these boatbuilding online forums contain only a few real professionals. The rest are amateurs. And not that there is anything wrong with that. We all had to start somewhere. (And let me say that I’ve seen brilliantly executed amateur jobs.) The problem is that there are those, for whatever psychic need, feel the necessity to loudly proclaim as God’s own truth that which is rather far from it, indeed. They do it with assurance and volume. But that does not carry the day, any more than an attorney speaking loudly in court deserves to win the case.

Finally, and here is what I have been struggling to say:

If you are a beginner, do not, repeat take the opinion of just one guy! And that includes me!!!…except for this bit of advice. What I did when I was learning, and still do when I run into a problem, is to ask several people. Out of the let’s say, eight people you will discern a pattern for most of the replies. There will be a couple that are just obviously from outer space and you can discount them immediately. Take the range of the others and match a path up with your personal opinion and your ways of doing things. I’ve never managed to do something stupid following this method. Take a little caution and don’t be naïve.

I’m starting another project and most likely will not be posting as often. Good luck with your projects.

And let’s be careful out there.

Bob Cleek
08-26-2005, 09:57 PM

Richard Smith
08-27-2005, 10:40 AM
Rhetorically and provocatively: I propose the scenario of my inheriting the boat shown and desire to correct the outrageous coloring of the deck! Since the wood is obviously fine and I don’t want to paint it, how should I go about getting the blond to look more like the strip near the center?

But, since this forum is sponsored by Wooden Boat . . . not Ivory Soap . . .

*? To clarify my original post: The actual scenario and question is that most of my deck is naturally the color of the brownish strip near the center (see photo below). It will remain such. I would like to stain (or dye) some trim pieces to be more like the reddish wood shown in the photo. How can I do such without changing to a different type of wood? Is such practical? UV issues? And, what are the logistics/details? Can someone with experience with such tell me how to do it?

Here is another photo of the boat.


Commentary from a newcomer: This forum contains so much good information. It really is a shame, and is very non-productive, that so much grandstanding, smoke blowing, wise-*ss*ng, foot stomping, chest beating, and territory marking occurs. A newcomer feels like Jane Goodall (http://www.janegoodall.org/). It takes one with a good amount of self-confidence to join the fry. And, I can image that the professionals and experienced folks just get plain old disgusted with it and don’t bother posting.

It also takes good amount of sifting to find nuggets of accurate, non-personal biased information. I would encourage all to think of their posts as taken for gospel by newbies – or at least qualify what you are trying to say as a personal preference/experience, guesstimate, non-traditional practice, long-shot, whatever. Avoid generalities and the obscure! ! ! Make this a nice place to be, one where knowledge can be comfortably sought and ACCURATELY shared without intimidation. If you have an issue with someone, take it “outside” – email ‘em.

Todd Bradshaw
08-27-2005, 04:56 PM
Richard, when I did the mahogany veneer job my Star's topsides it was a pretty similar color. I used alcohol stain (analine dye powder mixed into alcohol). I didn't know much about the stuff, but wanted to epoxy coat the veneer, so I needed something that wouldn't have the potential for repelling the resin. I got a bag or "Red Mahogany" powder and a bag of "Brown Mahogany" and a gallon of alcohol at an old paint store and started mixing small test batches until I got a blended color that I liked (the red by itself was a bit too red for my taste).

I epoxied the veneer over the cedar topsides, sanded it smooth with the big disk and applied two coats of the stain with a brush. It dries really fast and you don't have much more than a few seconds to monkey with it, blending, rubbing, etc. The second coat enriched the color, but did tend to re-liquify the first one, so neat brushing, with the grain, was important. No grain filler or other stuff was used. The next day, I rubbed the surface down a bit with a dry cloth to knock off any excess stain sitting right on the surface. Since I was epoxy-coating, I then applied six coats of West 105/207 rolled and tipped with a chunk of cut-up roller cover. This was sanded smooth with a feathering disk on the big grinder and Captain's varnish applied, also rolled and tipped.

As mentioned, the analine stain had that same clarity and "fire" on the wood grain that you see in your photo. I owned the boat for about six more years. It sat outside under a Sunbrella cover and when I peeled off the registration numbers before it left for Minnesota there was no sign of a ghost image left behind where the hull had faded around them. Unfortunately, I have no clue what brand the powder was. With a little testing on scrap wood to get used to handling the stain, it really wasn't a very difficult staining job.

Richard Smith
08-27-2005, 07:06 PM
Thanks, Todd.

I have seen your photo before and never looked close enough to see the wood grain in the top sides. A beautiful job! I really like the "red effect" without it actually being "red." That is exactly what I am looking for. And, it is good to hear it is reasonably fade resistant, given cover care.

I think I'll try the products from Moffitt-Smith, Inc. (http://www.moffitt-smith.com/showproduct.aspx?productid=74&categoryid=21) with Jay Greer's advise and sequence.

Bob Cleek
08-27-2005, 07:35 PM
In the picture above, it appears that the wood is a decent quality mahogany. The "red" is probably dyed, as said. The lighter wood appears to be mahogany which has bleached out in the sun. Mahogany will bleach like that. The dark plank next to the king plank is what mahogany will look like when newly varnished and not sun bleached. It probably was a replacement. You can sand mahognany back to bare wood and reach virgin wood again. On the other hand, I don't know of any successful way to bleach mahogany and achieve the sun bleached look. The standard wood bleach is oxalic acid, sold as "wood bleach" at paint stores. It works fantastically on teak, but less so on other woods with varying degrees of effectiveness. I have never had much luck bleaching mahogany at all. It seems somewhat impervious to oxalic acid. You might try oxalic acid highly concentrated and see what happens. (On a test piece.) Be sure to wear rubber gloves when using the stuff. It seems innocous enough, but if it gets under your nails, in a few hours you will be in agony!

08-28-2005, 11:23 AM
This, btw, is what you get when you start with meranti plywood, stain it with miniwax water based redwood, fiberglass it, apply several layers of Sikkens Cetol, and over a couple years do nothing in the way of maintenance aside from wiping the mud off with a damp cloth. The light coloured wood is shorea.


09-17-2005, 03:07 AM
Hi y'all,

maybe this is an older thread, but i could not hold myself back. The things Bob Cleek is saying just make me go nuts. Where does he come from, planet Zarcon ?

Have you got any idea what violin builders do with their wood. They stain it. And they for sure don't use inferior quality wood, in fact, in all the woodworking trades i've done, this is probably the one where only the best wood is chosen. Have you seen the quality of a finely finished violin, get a good look at it and i'll bet you a 1000 you won't get that kind of depth in wood without using stains. And for a matter of fact, most of them use more than one colour, actually sometimes up to 3. This has nothing to do with boatbuilding, but when i hear such bollock, excuse me for my choice of words, i just have to give my opinion. But ofcourse, staining is not that easy either. Not rocket-science, but you have to pay attention to what your doing, and maybe some people just don't get good results, but that's no reason to slag off that piece of the woodworking craft.

Sorry Bob, don't feel offended, but as there are quite a few first timers that use this forum, i think it's wise to pay a little bit more attention to what you write.

But this is just my humble opinion, nothing more, nothing less.

And i've just recently finished a kayak, and guess what, i stained it, and it looks damn fine, as do most of the people who see it.

my sweet little kayak (http://images.kodakgallery.com/photos1306/3/30/49/45/83/0/83454930309_0_ALB.jpg)
sweetie 2 (http://images.kodakgallery.com/photos1306/3/30/49/95/47/0/47954930309_0_ALB.jpg)


[ 09-17-2005, 04:20 AM: Message edited by: jorgoz ]

Joe (SoCal)
09-17-2005, 04:17 AM
My theory regarding forum boat building advice is similar to the principal behind Google. A long time ago it was believed that if you got a group of smart people in a room they would know more than a group of regular people. Not true, it was found out that consistently more times the group of regular people would be smarter than the group of smart people especially if the group was large. It seems that the great mass as a whole collectively acts as a super brain. Google the ubiquitous search engine works on that basic principal. It just analysis data on how many regular people go to a specific site and then it compiles that mass choice as the SMART choice. Kinda simple and cool eh? So I do the same here. I read as much as I can from all sorts and distill the mass down to the smart choice and never just listen to one blow hard ;)

In restoring Dove, I have come to find out that in 1945 good wooden boat builders were using stains in interesting and smart ways. The coaming around Dove was I always thought mahogany because of its wonderful reddish brown grain. In refinishing and removing the coming we have found out it was just stained oak. But it was smart to stain it, since oak is much easier to steam bend into shape than mahogany. But the darker stain made a beautiful contrast on the light deck and looked sweet and just right. We are going to stain the coaming mahogany again ;)

[ 09-17-2005, 05:23 AM: Message edited by: Joe ( Cold Spring on Hudson ) ]