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Thread: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

  1. #1
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    Default 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    Hi Folks, new here, but not new to wood boats. I have a wood cruiser (31ft) that has a transom which has been previously epoxied over (with embedded fiberglass mat) and then painted. I would like to 'woodify' the transom by applying thin veneer that I have on hand. This is a paperbacked veneer and I am thinking of slicing it into strips to look a bit like planking once applied. My question to this excellent board is how to apply this veneer to the existing surface.

    I had originally intended to use contact cement, then considered one of the several alternative adhesives that have been employed for various thin/paper veneers. In the final analysis I turn all of them down, because they tend to 'release' when heated, and the transom surely gets hot baking in the summer sun. So, I suspect the only real alternative is to use epoxy for this application.

    While I have used epoxy much, I have never applied this type of thin veneer using epoxy and am looking for opinions, thoughts and 'instructions' or even workable alternatives. Any and all comments/suggestions are appreciated. The work on the boat is not a restoration, but more like a renovation and 'save' effort. Thanks again.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    Interesting problem, not sure it's a great idea, but if you can pull it off it could be alright.

    I used to make a lot of furniture with the veneer you're talking about and we used a PVA glue that you could let set, and then re-activate with a heat gun and roller. Obviously not an option for a transom.

    Maybe you could apply epoxy to both surfaces and let it get to it's 'green' stage and then stick the veneer down?

    Remember that epoxy doesn't like heat, if your transom gets hot one layer of veneer is not going to stop that heat getting to the epoxy underneath.

    My 2 cents,

    Jonny.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    Thanks for your consideration sandingblock. PVA and other single or dual component pressure or heat activated adhesives are a great way to go IF I did not have the sun generated heat problem. I was thinking that epoxy would be the least sensitive (glue) to the high temperatures generated on a wood transom in the Summer sun... maybe I am wrong in this?

    I was indeed going to coat (slightly thinned) both surfaces, let them dry, then recoat (with a slightly thickened mix) and set the veneer rolled with gentle pressure and hope it sticks lol ...Tx.
    Last edited by woodboat; 03-17-2008 at 07:06 AM.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    Never heard of using a paper backed product with the paper on the inside but I doubt if anything will hold it better than epoxy. Twer it me, and assuming you have faith in the papered product, I would strip the paint off the transom, epoxy the veneer strips on, and varnish. Or else buy a new sheet of 1088 plywood and do the same with it instead of the paper backed board.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    Yeah - I've seen paper-backed veneer in a wet environment. I saw a veneered coffin come out of the ground for an exhumation once. It'd been "down" about a week. Yep - I'd say it'd last about 2 hours - the paper-based veneer, that is.
    Carpe the living sh!t out of the Diem

    I'd rather look back at my life and say "I can't believe I did that" instead of being there saying "I wish I'd done that"

  6. #6
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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    I wouldn't do it.
    Even if you could do it with a vacume bag method of application the weak link is going to be the paper.
    If this is an offshore paperback veneer you will not be able to sand it.
    Find some thick 1/8" veneer and do a cold mold application.

    Good luck

  7. #7
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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    There are also two ply veneers available in exotic species, with occume backers run cross grain to the face. Also, most veneer houses carry "thick" veneers like the 1/8" mentioned, but 1/16" is more common. I can't imagine doing this without a vacuum bag though.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    WOODBOAT- I have done this several times and I can tell you what I learned. First, use a paper back veneer- it will be stiffer, easier to work with. Use epoxy- it will penetrate into the paper and make a good bond. Make certain that the transom is properly prepared- you will only get one chance. Also, its almost impossible to do this WITHOUT vacuum bagging and get it right. Finally, have lots of bubbas there- you will need all the hands. Be sure vacuum will sustain itself all night- even with fast epoxy you will want to hold it 8 hrs or so. Finally, treat the finished veneer with stain, then finish with several coats epoxy, then with varnish with UV protection. You will have to reapply varnish (UV protection every year). Forget the "plank" idea. Too complicated.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    Lots of wonderful responses and comments. Thank You All.
    Couple of things here... I do not have access to vacuum tech. Also, I do not have xtra hands available. But I will go ahead anyway, using epoxy.

    Ok, I am a stubborn son ofa and it is still way too cold (Northern Ontario) to do this work outside so I have some time to assimilate the best 'technique'. Dale, I agree that there is only one chance to lay this up, so was thinking I might (temporarily) staple the veneer to hold it in place while epoxy sets. The thought of applying veneer in strips was to simplify the installation since my sheets are 2'x8' and rather unwieldy for one person to tangle with, especially when coated with epoxy lol.

    Further questions remain as to precoating (and letting dry) with slightly thinned epoxy, then coating with slightly thicker epoxy to actually install the veneer. I wonder if I am on the right track (tack?) ... and thinking of allowing the epoxy to dry a bit (to tacky stage) before pressing on the veneer. I know this all sounds a little ummm crazy, but this is what I have to work with, and am trying to optimize my potential for acceptable results. I am Not building fine furniture or redoing a Riva here ;-)... just git 'er done and float.
    Appreciate all the help here. Thanks.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    since you have time why not do a test run with your epoxy and veneer?

    prepare a nice board with a coat of epoxy on the surface, sand, repeat if needed.

    then apply a layer of veneer by whatever method you think best.

    take the result and throw it in your bathtub, with water, for a while. shower with it, soap it down, etc. You really want to see how the paper layer holds up and this should tell you.

    my best guess would be to use a relativly thin epoxy that will hopefully soak the paper completely and then lay up. you can vacuum bag without anything fancy, a shop vac and some plastic sheeting and duct tape will do. you should experiment a bit, the goal of vacuum bagging is not so much high pressure but evenly applied pressure to all parts of the surface.

    cheers
    jerry

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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    how big is the transom and what is it made of?..... would be possible to grind all the exhisting epoxy/cloth off, bond the veneer to the raw transom and re-epoxy it with a 4oz. cloth? or get into the old epoxy with a 60 grit wheel and re-epoxy the veneer to it cold mold style and then re-epoxy the transom with a light cloth?

  12. #12
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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    It seems to me that there is going to be at least one problem with trying to apply the veneer "plank by plank," at least if you let the epoxy cure between planks. The problem is going to be how to get the epoxy right out to the edge of the plank without it getting in the way of the next plank.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    Yes, Bruce, that is a concern with the 'planking' idea. I had been thinking of scraping away the excess before it sets, however near impossible to not have some sort of ridge or difference in height...

    ronm, the transom is roughly 2.5 x 10ft, apparently with FGcloth epoxied over whatever was there (old wood or plywood). Then painted with what appears to be house paint. I do not wish to remove the existing... way too much work/mess and there is way too much other work to be done on this 'boat' to take the time to do it 'right'. I am simply looking to 'hide' the existing and for visual purpose, since I have this paper veneer, am looking to apply the veneer to the existing and get (most?) of it to stick. Once stuck in place, I would coat with epoxy, then Cetol (3+1 coats) for UV.

    Trick remains to be able to do this with only two hands. Jerry, I could do a 'test' run, however it would not replicate the transom's current state. I will belt sand the transom (and maybe remove the old vinyl name lol) and was thinking of the second layer of epoxy having a bit of thickener to help fill any voids that might be left... ...?

    Y'all have some great feedback. ... btw, this is a job 'on the cheap'. Thanks.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    I've had some experience with paper-backed veneers.

    Without vacuum bagging your problem will be getting the veneer flat enough. Even hand rolling spray-applied contact cement doesn't get veneer flat enough on a simple cabinet door. It might feel smooth, but a gloss finish shows unevenness.

    The actual veneer is so thin that there is almost no sanding possible, save the smoothing for the finish with very fine paper.

    My advice, make a test panel before you commit.
    Last edited by Jim Ledger; 03-17-2008 at 01:12 PM.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    Been there. Done that. We knew we were going to replace the transom any way so we tried a veneer job just to hold it till we could do the job right. It lasted two seasons and self destructed. Not a permanent solution! Find yourself a faux finish painter and false grain it. That will be less hassle and will work.
    Jay

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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    How about showing us some photos? The options might expand, or it might be very clear. Nothing wrong with a painted transom, either.

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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    Jim's right- you will never get the veneer flat without vacuum. Also- no matter what you do- YOU WILL NEED LOTS OF EXTRA HANDS!!!

    Dont precote veneer with thinned epoxy- it will soak through and your stain wont take. Use epoxy thickened so it won't run.

    You have lots of time to practice vacuum baging. Get yourself one of the many books- then rent a vacuum pump and fabricate a bag to wrap the transom. Not rocket science. Once this is epoxy coated it will be a permanent as anything.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    All very interesting... was Not going to stain it because I figured it would be impossible to keep epoxy off the edges anyway, so just clear coat with epoxy and then Cetol. The idea with the thinned epoxy would be to get it to soak in/through for better adhesion and/or waterproofness. ... just an idea tho.
    Yes, getting this to lay flat is the issue... I rather thought that there would be some uneveness and wavyness, and could live with that, really... A friend a few years ago epoxied a sheet of mahogany underlay (3x8ft) to his transom ('68 33ft Chris) and even this ended up a little wavy and/or released for some reason.

    I will look into vacuum bagging and see if this is workable in my situation - will also see about getting a pic here. The faux finish is an idea, but am not a fan of painted transoms - however that is just a personal hang-up ;-)

    hmmm... cannot seem to find instructions for pics ... would someone be so kind and point me? tx

  19. #19
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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    This is from the "Norwegian Rascal" thread:
    This is how the vacume bag would work; it's not realy a "bag"


    But, you realy need to work with thicker material; how about just buying some 1/8 or 3/16 BS1088 marine ply; this stuff can be very atractive, especialy if you find some ribbon sapele or such.

    Any "little" wave or bumps are going to become huge under a gloss finish

  20. #20
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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    Having veneered, stained, coated and then varnished a whole boat, I'd ditch the questionable paper-backed stuff and use real, all-wood veneer ( I used 3/32" sliced mahogany - thick enough to staple and also having the proper grain orientation so that it resisted curling like peeled stuff). Waiting for epoxy to get to just the right tackiness and quickly trying to slap the stuff on is a formula for adhesion problems, if not disaster. By the time you get to the far end, it's cure status will likely have changed.

    "Thinned" epoxy does not make a better water barrier - in fact, it makes a much worse one. With the proper type and thickness of veneer, regular, slightly thickened epoxy, a roller and a staple gun (no vacuum-bagging) this is quite do-able onto a surface that is fair and has been sanded to about 80 grit as long as your staple gun will penetrate the glass. After the bonding epoxy cures, you can then sand the outer surface fair, stain it if desired using alcohol or water-based stain, epoxy coat it, sand it a final time until it's perfectly smooth and varnish. No additional hands are needed. I did this one all by myself with no help.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    Glassing a wood boat is sacrilegious to begin with, now you want to put paper backed veneer over it? If you posed this question 10 years ago around here you would have been burned at the stake along with your glass covered wood boat...

    Anyway, why not use some nice clear thin planking stock in liew of veneer? sorta like Grand Banks does on their fiberglass trawlers. Would be a simple matter of bedding the planks in thickened epoxy, fasten with screws, then bung the screw holes.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    If the boat needs lots of other work you would really be better of sanding and painting the transom and focusing your energies elsewhere. A thin layer of veneer on the transom is purely cosmetic and should take a back seat to doing any needed structural work and doing it right.

    If you stay with wooden boat ownership for long, one of the things you are likely to learn is that doing stuff the quick and dirty way quite often means re-doing the work in a few years and in possibly doing more at that point because of the problems the initial repairs caused.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    I did the transom on Sea Lark by cutting and gluing slightly oversize veneer to the plywood of the transom after it was sanded back to bare timber. The transom was in good condition.

    Here how -

    The transom and veneer were coated with un-thickened epoxy, left to soak in for a little while. While still wet, I applied a slightly thicken epoxy to the transom, fitted the veneer and held it in place with staples. The peelply and wadding were held in place with packing tape. I then sealed the sheet of plastic over the transom and sealed it around the sides of the hull. I applied about 5 psi of vacuum until the epoxy set.

    I had to seal all the holes in the transom (outboard mounting, rudder fittings etc.) with packing tape on the inside of the transom.

    I built the vacuum bagging equipment out of two fridge compressors and a 1 metre length of pvc pipe. Either or both pumps can be running if needed. One way air valves from gold fish tanks isolate each pump from the tanks and each other.

    I used 1/4" brass fittings to connect the pumps and tanks and a 1/2" through the hull fitting to connect to the vacuum bag.



    I have the exhaust pipes (original pressure outlets) running vertical and have fitted petrol (gas) filters to trap any oil or oil vapour. Any oil collected in the base of the filter runs back into the pump when switched off.

    In the image below, the boat is resting on the starboard side as I was painting the port side hull. Hence the blue masking tape.




    I did a lot of thinking before I committed to trying this, but I am pleased with the result.



    Here are some threads on vacuum bagging
    http://www.woodenboat.com/forum/sear...earchid=969626


    JimJ

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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    You have all been very generous with your time and thoughts. I do appreciate this. I will say again that I was planning to use the paperback veneer because it is what I have on hand. Realistically all your suggestions about thicker veneer (or even painting the transom) make more sense, however I am very shy of $ on this project and am bent on woodifying.

    I have 'saved' four wood boats in previous lives, this one was in by far the worst shape. What I am trying to accomplish is visual attractivness and functionality of use on a minimal budget. Most of my $ have gone to epoxy, the balance will need to go to batteries, wiring, electrical panel, plumbing and minimal electronics such as depthsounder, radio, antena, sniffer etc...

    Certainly I am aware that this is a bit ridiculous, and I never would have posted here if I had thought my 'process' might offend some. There are purists everywhere, and I much admire their talent and tenacity. I do feel that most of you have been through enough activity with wooden boats to provide some input to technique for my 'on the cheap' project, and you have done just that, for which I am very grateful.
    My intent is not to offend of course, but barging into this forum like I have with a non-traditional approach to getting the job done - well, that is all that this boat is worth - in fact, it should have been scrapped, but I like to 'save' and in this case, - give this boat a last lease on life and so am committed to finishing it, already having hundreds of hours into it (maybe 400) with most of the structual stuff done, but still have a bit more even in that respect before continuing on the inside. I mostly gutted the inside to get at the hull and have been re-building the galley and changing the inside layout substantially. Also will be rebuilding the flybridge and am in the process of adding a 'solid' aft enclosure.

    I will use the boat for a few years, then likely give it away and try to save another one. I hate seeing them hit the burnpile. The boat is plywood lapstrake (with the 'planks' bolted together), engines (twin) aft with V-drives (one of which I am also working on lol). I have this gal in a 'tent', however it is still too cold out there to work so am doing a bit of stuff in a small workshop I have. Because these boats are not worth much (anything?) I save them not so much by doing it 'right' but rather as cheaply as possible (but surely you can appreciate t hat this is not an easy task).

    The picture here shows none of the extensive rot in the hull, under windows and in many other areas. Ridding the boat of the rot was the biggest challenge. All the windows had to be 'redone' and of course many ribs, plywood sections and parts of the keel... and such was only the beginning lol... then again, there is nothing, absolutely nothing so worthwhile doing as ... ;-)


  25. #25
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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    I don't think any one here is offended or thinks what you are trying to do is ridiculous. We are all on tight budgets and get to be pretty good cat skinners because of it; we are just trying to "help" you get the best results with what you have and not waste your time. You are set on using the paperback, then the best chance you have is the vacume bag and epoxy.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    I cannot see the difference between applying a veneer to a plain plywood transom and using plywood in which the outer ply is in fact a "veneer" of the timber you want.

    JimJ

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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    My number one concern would be dinging or scratching thru the thin veneer, atleast a plank will forgive a little when you accidently bash into a dock.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    Quote Originally Posted by JimJ View Post
    I cannot see the difference between applying a veneer to a plain plywood transom and using plywood in which the outer ply is in fact a "veneer" of the timber you want.

    JimJ
    A good marine plywood is likely to have thicker veneer that was "applied" in a factory under very controlled conditions, void free, and using tested and reliable adhesives glued under great pressure.

    In fact, just at a guess, and given that Woodboat is bound and determined to do this, another option would be to apply a 1/4" marine ply as the "veneer" and trim it out to match, maybe making some clever trim pieces to enhance the look of the transom and mating surfaces. All things considered, this might be an easier and more satisfying solution. Personally, I find nothing wrong with a well painted transom on the style of boat pictured. Put the name on nicely in gold leaf and enjoy the boat as she is.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    Thank You All for your help and contributions here. I think we should let this thread sleep now, and I will revive it with a post in July just to inform on the results of whatever method I employ. I say July, because it will likely be June before I get to this part of my project.

    I do also intend to 'do' a wood deck on the boat (catwalks and bow deck) using strips cut from common cedar 'decking' (and 'halved'), epoxied to the existing fibreglass covered plywood... more unorthodox methodology here too, lol, but I will ask your feedback on this in a few weeks in a new thread.
    Many thanks again. ~ Steve

  30. #30
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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Vogdes View Post
    Glassing a wood boat is sacrilegious to begin with, now you want to put paper backed veneer over it? If you posed this question 10 years ago around here you would have been burned at the stake along with your glass covered wood boat...

    Anyway, why not use some nice clear thin planking stock in liew of veneer? sorta like Grand Banks does on their fiberglass trawlers. Would be a simple matter of bedding the planks in thickened epoxy, fasten with screws, then bung the screw holes.
    How does Grand Banks plank the transoms of their fiberglass hulls??
    Im really interested.
    Thanks

  31. #31
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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    I'm not a GB expert, but from my observations, GB's get solid teak planks overlaid across the transom.

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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    Screwed and epoxyed to a fiberglass transom I presume?

  33. #33
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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    They show bungs, that's all I know.

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    Default Re: 'woodifying' a transom with veneer

    Roger that..

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