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Thread: Oil finish for spars

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
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    Blacksburg, VA
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    Default Oil finish for spars

    I'm planning on an oil finish for the spars on my new sailing dinghy. Spars will be glued up clear douglas fir. The spars will mainly be stored under cover, but may be out in the weather for a couple of weeks each summer if I vacation where I can keep the boat on the beach.

    I want to go with oil rather than varnish because the maintenance is, to my mind, easier. (That is, a less demanding activity even though it must be done more frequently.)

    As I understand it, oil finishes are some combination of oils, solvents, and resins. The resins increase the life of the finish and protect the wood, but I'm concerned that they will build up after multiple maintenance applications. The pure oils are more short-lived and don't protect the wood from UV. Solvents are there to help penetration and (maybe) to cut costs.

    Some finishes I'm considering are:
    Deks Olje #1
    Daly's SeaFin Ship'n Shore Sealer
    Daly's SeaFin Teak Oil
    Semco Teak Sealer
    Kirby's Salty Dog Deck Oil
    Tung Oil
    Penofin Marine Oil

    I'm looking to get maximum protection without buildup over time. Which of these - or of the many other available products - would you recommend?
    Last edited by alkorn; 09-20-2021 at 03:51 PM.
    I will beg you for advice, your reply will be concise, and I will listen very nicely and then go out and do exactly what I want! (Apologies to Lerner and Lowe.)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
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    Default Re: Oil finish for spars

    I can't say how it'll last but I've just finished my (small boat) dinghy Sitka Spruce spars as follows:-



    1. 2 coats of Cuprinol clear, left to dry 7 days.

    This is to kill any fungal spores that have landed on them whilst being made and hanging around and so that any patches of unvarnished wood won't black stain and rot as quickly saturated with rainwater from time to time if I or a future owner gets lax with maintenance. Easy to apply.


    2. 2-3 coats of Pure Tung Oil.

    This saturates in (first one slightly diluted in white spirit). Left to dry for 7 days. The idea is it's a very good base of the oil based tung oil (international Schooner) spar varnish to stick to! It's also anti fungal and natural water barrier. Gives a darker stain to the Sitka Spruce. I was a bit shocked at first - people will think I just bought Douglas Fir!


    3. Three coats of International Schooner tung oil spar varnish. 240 light sand in between. Reapplied over 3 days. They might get more but I'm trying to get stuff done before the weather changes.

    4. Mast ends (previously taped off) get two coats of epoxy (to prevent chafe in the mast step and rain water penetrating) then also yard and boom ends painted two coats International undercoat then two coats of International Toplac cream enamel as it's traditional (from back when just the end grain was protected with expensive paint). My boat signage is in cream over varnished sapeli so should provide some visual continuity.

    5. Leather for expected chafe points (lug rig). Tapered above my mast band collar to avoid a horizontal surface for water to settle on.


    I have to say applying the pure Tung Oil was lovely. No sweat finishing. Just brush it on, leave for 20 minutes then come back and wipe off excess with some tissue. Just need to be left to dry for a week as it oxides slow. I liked it but can't say how it would last on it's own, but certainly easy to (re) do. I'd consider doing a boat with it if I thought it refinished looking good/ didn't stain etc. I'd like to try it on something and see. I went for shiny finish though with the varnish to match the rest of my boat. I don't mind varnishing. The Schooner is a tung oil spar varnish and is complimentary to the tung oil 'base' coat. Its supposed to hold the varnish well so that bits don't flake off etc when the spars get knocked. Will have to see.

    I can take a few pictures tomorrow if you want to see the oil only and varnished difference as my yard and boom are done but my mast is awaiting the top epoxy then varnishing as I was waiting for a Tuffnol sheeve to come and wanted the mortised hole just the right width with a teflon washer either side.

    There is no such thing as teak oil for example. Like you say it's just combinations of oil, resins and penetrant or things that make it go off quicker depending on what you want. And do it all on trestles on the lawn as slapping Cuprinol and oil on the drive the drips/ splashes stain yer tarmac black!

    I went the extra mile perhaps but I wanted the old growth Sitka Spruce I used to last me. We get 'damp' here in winters and alot of condensation which means boats get wet even if they're covered. Hopefully in 50 years time long afer I'm gone the Cuprinol etc will all help her.
    Last edited by Edward Pearson; 09-20-2021 at 05:05 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
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    dfw
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    Default Re: Oil finish for spars

    whatever you do make sure to use a product w/ a UV inhibitor as the top most coats

    sw
    "we are the people, our parents warned us about" (jb)

    steve

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Oil finish for spars

    And oiled rags/ tissue go into a tub half full of water.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Cushing, Maine
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    4,190

    Default Re: Oil finish for spars

    I've just KISS'd my ducker and faering spars with "boat soup" which is pretty close to Kirby's. Basically an oil/turp/ pine tar mix. Spars will turn dark. Not useful if you want the spars to be bright and shiny. But seems to have been fine, the spars are 30-40 years old or so.
    Ben Fuller
    Ran Tan, Liten Kuhling, Tipsy, Tippy, Josef W., Merry Mouth, Imp, Macavity, Look Far, Flash and a quiver of other 'yaks.
    "Bound fast is boatless man."

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Seattle, WA
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    Default Re: Oil finish for spars

    Cut the bs and put on several coats of Epifanes.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Oil finish for spars

    Tried it. Too thick. I think International Schooner has better (lower) viscosity out the tin. Went back to that, rather than have to adjust the Epiphanes. The Epiphanes felt half way to a low coats/ high build 'amateur' varnish to me but it's all what you're used to and get good at applying. There both the same stuff. As is Ben's "boat soup" - an oil, a pine resin (this is was originally called Rosin which we now say as Resin) and a penetrant. It's all question of proportions and the base oil. Less resin - softer sheen.
    Last edited by Edward Pearson; 09-20-2021 at 06:19 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Mukilteo, WA
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    3,494

    Default Re: Oil finish for spars

    The deks d1 and seafin teak oil would both work. I use both pretty much interchangeably, including on my dinghy spars. Big boat spars get varnish. When they start looking dry add another coat. Its very easy to apply.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Seattle, WA
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    Default Re: Oil finish for spars

    Quote Originally Posted by Edward Pearson View Post
    Tried it. Too thick. I think International Schooner has better (lower) viscosity out the tin. Went back to that, rather than have to adjust the Epiphanes. The Epiphanes felt half way to a low coats/ high build 'amateur' varnish to me but it's all what you're used to and get good at applying. There both the same stuff. As is Ben's "boat soup" - an oil, a pine resin (this is was originally called Rosin which we now say as Resin) and a penetrant. It's all question of proportions and the base oil. Less resin - softer sheen.
    It is "thicker" than other varnishes. It does take some practice to get used to it. Follow the instructions on the can.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    810

    Default Re: Oil finish for spars

    Have been using Deks Olje #1 but it needs frequent re-coating which I haven't gotten to very well. Am considering base coating with the stuff then cutting it with Tung oil for a couple of coats. Years ago I built some replacement wheelbarrow handles in Black Locust, coated them with commercial unpigmented patio deck oil which I laced heavily with Tung Oil. They were outdoors in Chicago 24/7 for about two years before they started to go from honey color to grey.

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