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Thread: staining a mahogany runabout

  1. #1
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    Default staining a mahogany runabout

    I am in the process of refinishing a 30' mahogany runabout and would like to know if anyone has experience with CPES and stain under varnish. The boat is down to bare wood now and I am trying to decide on a stain and coating system. any input would be apreciated.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: staining a mahogany runabout

    Kel,

    Do you have Don Danenberg's book?
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    https://www.facebook.com/HarborWoodworks/

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  3. #3
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    Default Re: staining a mahogany runabout

    Quote Originally Posted by Kel View Post
    I am in the process of refinishing a 30' mahogany runabout and would like to know if anyone has experience with CPES and stain under varnish. The boat is down to bare wood now and I am trying to decide on a stain and coating system. any input would be apreciated.
    "CPES" is not needed. Just proceed with staining. Then varnish. Epifanes is the preferred product.

    what's the boat?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: staining a mahogany runabout

    A more specific question: I would think that CPES and stain create a situation that would be quite difficult to make spot repairs in the future--the CPES would be difficult to color-match when sanded. I'm posing this more as a question, if anyone has experience. The CPES is favored by many as a sealer, but I would think this would be a problem with stain.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: staining a mahogany runabout

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan McCosh View Post
    A more specific question: I would think that CPES and stain create a situation that would be quite difficult to make spot repairs in the future--the CPES would be difficult to color-match when sanded. I'm posing this more as a question, if anyone has experience. The CPES is favored by many as a sealer, but I would think this would be a problem with stain.
    Just so.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    https://www.facebook.com/HarborWoodworks/

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  6. #6
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    Default Re: staining a mahogany runabout

    I tend to think that the cpes will def conflict with a stained bright finish. A "mahogany runabout" may be the most scrutinized varnish on the planet!
    one or the other, not together.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: staining a mahogany runabout

    What do you need the stain for......isnt the natrual colour and patina of the timber good enough?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: staining a mahogany runabout

    I will have to look for Don's book. The need for stain is due to the dramatic contrast in plank colors. I am trying to achieve a little more of a uniform color. The boat was stained originaly. I have used CPES in the past on many brightwork projects as a sealer adhesion promoting primer with very good results.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: staining a mahogany runabout

    A mix of old and new mahogany will have a wide variation in tone and color. That's what the stain is for. Even new mahogany will vary and the look will be improved with stain.

    If you're committed to the application of CPES you should use a water based stain. Epoxies do not do well applied over oil-based stains.

    Some fine furniture makers will seal the wood before staining. It has to be a very thin seal coat but if done right will prove more forgiving of the stain you apply over it. It will give better control.

    Another consideration would be Nelsonite Wood Stabilizer, then stain. It is not a sealer but, in addition to stabilizing the wood dimensionally it evens out any stain applied over it. I would not use it on a boat, however, without clearing it with the manufacturer.
    Goat Island Skiff and Simmons Sea Skiff construction photos here:

    http://s176.photobucket.com/albums/w...esMan/?start=0

    and here:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/37973275@N03/

    "All kings are not the same."

  10. #10
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    Default Re: staining a mahogany runabout

    Quote Originally Posted by skaraborgcraft View Post
    What do you need the stain for......isnt the natrual colour and patina of the timber good enough?

    The only "natural" mahogany is standing in a forest. It is necessary to stain some woods to bring out the beauty...it's not simply to change the color.

  11. #11

    Default Re: staining a mahogany runabout

    There are a couple of online tutorial/photo examples... one is here, and it is quite excellent. Bill Johns does fine work out of his shop.

    http://www.vintageraceboatshop.com/Stain-Varnish.htm


    As Pat Ford said, most people don't use CPES with stain. The problem is that the CPES moves the stain around quite violently, something Petitt sealer does not. There are people who vehemently argue in favour of CPES, but I think about 65% are still in favour of the traditional method. Some of the restorers I know put on as many as 14 coats of varnish. Epifanes is the most widely used varnish.

    There is a lot of discussion about this topic on the Chris Craft boat club site.

    You never have to worry about patching an all varnish runabout. If you have got to the point where the stain has been compromised, you're in for a lot of work anyway.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: staining a mahogany runabout

    Quote Originally Posted by Kel View Post
    I will have to look for Don's book. The need for stain is due to the dramatic contrast in plank colors. I am trying to achieve a little more of a uniform color. The boat was stained originaly. I have used CPES in the past on many brightwork projects as a sealer adhesion promoting primer with very good results.
    Again: What's the boat?

  13. #13
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    Default Re: staining a mahogany runabout

    Mr. CPES Steve Smith sugests coating with cpes, sanding,staining,cpes and varnish. Has anyone used this method??

  14. #14

    Default Re: staining a mahogany runabout

    I have used this method on a bright transom of some size, and would not repeat it.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: staining a mahogany runabout

    What problems did you experience??

  16. #16

    Default Re: staining a mahogany runabout

    Stain color shifting, as well as a 'muddying' of the grain when applying stain over the CPES. Some have claimed that spraying the CPES helps solve that problem, but I think the issue is CPES is heavily solvented. The solvent loosens and reliquifies the stain, particularly since CPES sinks in deeply. After it cures, it forms a barrier that prevents stain from absorbing into the wood, so it sits on top, and looks more translucent than transparent when varnished. I use CPES for a lot of small pieces because it waterproofs small pieces and prevents finishes from flaking due to water absorption. I also use ALL the time for painting over... It is excellent as a primer for paint.

    Some Vintage runabout guys use CPES in the way you describe, but not the majority.

  17. #17

    Default Re: staining a mahogany runabout

    What is the boat?

  18. #18
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    Default Re: staining a mahogany runabout

    All this talk of a varnished mahogany runabout and we don't even have a picture of her? Tisk tisk!
    If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
    -Henry David Thoreau-

  19. #19
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    Default Re: staining a mahogany runabout

    Thanks for your input, the boat is a cold molded Hodgdon

  20. #20
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    Default Re: staining a mahogany runabout

    Pics man, we need pics!
    If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
    -Henry David Thoreau-

  21. #21
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    Default Re: staining a mahogany runabout

    After specializing in varnished speedboats for 35 years, I suggest you:

    sand; stain; varnish.

    Forget further elaboration...much of which may be counterproductive.
    The only thing I would suggest out of the above sequence is if there are very light colored wood...you can dye that light wood. I can elaborate if necessary.

    People always freak out over staining...it is not that hard. Dannenberg's book, though I would not agree with everything, is a useful guide. Good luck.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: staining a mahogany runabout

    Having just finished "wooding" and refinishing a good-sized mahogany vessel, I have a strong opinion about CPES - Don't do it!

    A prior owner used epoxy as a primer on this vessel and it was extremely hard to remove. Here's what it required: stripping varnish with a heat gun and scraper, using 80 grit with a rotex sander and some significant muscle to grind off the epoxy, resanding with 80 grit with a random orbital to try to remove swirls, resanding again with a hard block and 80 grit to flatten and remove more swirls, resanding again with 120 or 150 grit to prep for stain. Bottom line - it took an extreme amount of labor to get the stuff off the wood. In areas where I was unable to remove all the epoxy, my stain came out uneven and ugly. Any residual epoxy will prevent stain from penetrating wood.

    On the other hand, a section with no epoxy was in better condition and took far less effort to strip. It was far easier to sand to pink mahogany and to stain and refinish. It is now the best looking section of the refinish job.

    However, if you want to mess with the next person who refinishes the boat, go ahead and use CPES.
    Last edited by John P Lebens; 06-01-2012 at 10:30 AM.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: staining a mahogany runabout

    Quote Originally Posted by John P Lebens View Post
    Having just finished "wooding" and refinishing a good-sized mahogany vessel, I have a strong opinion about CPES - Don't do it!

    A prior owner used epoxy as a primer on this vessel and it was extremely hard to remove. Here's what it required: stripping varnish with a heat gun and scraper, using 80 grit with a rotex sander and some significant muscle to grind off the epoxy, resanding with 80 grit with a random orbital to try to remove swirls, resending again with a hard block and 80 grit to flatten and remove more swirls, resending again with 120 or 150 grit to prep for stain. Bottom line - it took an extreme amount of labor to get the stuff off the wood. In areas where I was unable to remove all the epoxy, my stain came out uneven and ugly. Any residual epoxy will prevent stain from penetrating wood.

    On the other hand, a section with no epoxy was in better condition and took far less effort to strip. It was far easier to sand to pink mahogany and to stain and refinish. It is now the best looking section of the refinish job.

    However, if you want to mess with the next person who refinishes the boat, go ahead and use CPES.
    Yep. Crazy to use "CPES" as part of a varnish job on a speedboat. (actually name is Restore-It originally formulated for restoring architectural details)

    The boat WILL need replacing of planks someday...application of epoxy or CPES will make the project harder by ten times.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: staining a mahogany runabout

    I took all of the brightwork down to bare wood in 1997. After filler stain I put 2 or 3 coats of Pettit Old Salem 2018 Clear Sealer on the stain, followed by spar varnish. I didn't sand the first thin coat at all.

    Did it work? Well, it's been what...15 years? I still have that same varnish job on the boat. Sure, I quit counting varnish recoats somewhere after 14 and the red pigment in the Interlux 573 Chris-Craft Mahogany filler stain has faded very slightly but that varnish still looks great and I wouldn't even consider taking it down to bare wood again.

    Last edited by yzer; 06-02-2012 at 01:01 PM.
    "Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting over." -Samuel Clemens

  25. #25
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    Default Re: staining a mahogany runabout

    The plans for the Rascal runabout called for:

    1. stain (I used a gel stain)
    2. 2 coats of Interlux wood sealer (goes on like water)
    3. Varnish and more varnish
    4. Keep varnishing.......


    Worked well for me.

    Dave

  26. #26
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    Default Re: staining a mahogany runabout

    True mahogany posseses a special quality known as "Chatoyancy" which, is the ability of the wood to refract light in such a way as to give it irridesent quality. All too often a well meaning but unseasoned worker will stain the wood in order to give it a more unifrorm color and in doing so muddy the grain and kill the Chatoyancy of a piece that could be spectacular, if it had been finished correctly. While several varietys of mahogony will darken with UV exposure, neither Honduras or African mahogony fall into that catagory and if left unstained will eventually bleach out to a nondescript pale blond color, losing all characterr of grain pattern in the process. There are several ways to avoid this when finishing mahogany. One way is to use the process that was originated by early furniature makers who used a warm solution of potassium dichromate on the wood. This is the secret that early craftsmen such as Thomas Chippendale and George Hepplewhite used to produce spectacular grain enhancement in their pieces. When treated in this manner the grain actually takes on a three dimentional look that is breathtaking in its beauty.
    Unfortunatly, potassioum dicromate, although UV resistant, is also a very toxic material to use! The chemical is poisonous and sanding wood treated with it must be done outside and with a very good chemical filtration mask. Fortunatly there is another way to go. If the EPA in your state has not banned Interlux filer stain that is oil based, mixing red and brown stain in equal parts will produce the same color that was used for the original color of the Bright Work on Chris Craft motor boats.
    The secrect to avoiding muddying of the grain is to apply two thin coats, water thin, of clear nitro cellulos lacquer to the wood prior to staining. Once the lacquer is dry, the filler stain is then thinned to the consistancy of heavy cream and brushed on to the wood. The stain is allowed to dry just long enough to turn to a dull haze and is then wiped off using burlap as a wiper. The stain is then allowed to dry overnight. Next morning the surface is wiped off with a tac rag and the first coat of varnish is applied. This should be thinned out one third using turpentine as a thinner if you are using a natural oil varnish. Once the first coat as dried to a light tac it can then be coated, without sanding, with a full strength coat of varnish. Most of us who have been in the business a while recommend a total of eight coats of varnish when working from bare wood sanding with 220 grit paper between coats.

    The last method, which can produce a vast variety of colors, is to make your own filler stain using French Chalk as the color bodying agent. French Chalk is available from art supply houses and finishing suppliers such as Mohawk. One can mix various colors until an exact desired color is obtained. The powder is then mixed with varnish with a bit of thinner or turpentine and turned into a slury that is applied in the same manner as are the commercial filler stains. I prefer turpentine as a thinner as it will not flash as quickly thereby allowing enough time to complete the full coverage of the piece being worked on. In my own work, I am often called upon to match color when doing finish restoration or damage repair work. These methods work very well for me whether it is on a boat or a piece of antique furniature.
    Jay

  27. #27
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    Default Re: staining a mahogany runabout

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greer View Post
    True mahogany posseses a special quality known as "Chatoyancy" which, is the ability of the wood to refract light in such a way as to give it irridesent quality. All too often a well meaning but unseasoned worker will stain the wood in order to give it a more unifrorm color and in doing so muddy the grain and kill the Chatoyancy of a piece that could be spectacular, if it had been finished correctly. While several varietys of mahogony will darken with UV exposure, neither Honduras or African mahogony fall into that catagory and if left unstained will eventually bleach out to a nondescript pale blond color, losing all characterr of grain pattern in the process. There are several ways to avoid this when finishing mahogany. One way is to use the process that was originated by early furniature makers who used a warm solution of potassium dichromate on the wood. This is the secret that early craftsmen such as Thomas Chippendale and George Hepplewhite used to produce spectacular grain enhancement in their pieces. When treated in this manner the grain actually takes on a three dimentional look that is breathtaking in its beauty.
    Unfortunatly, potassioum dicromate, although UV resistant, is also a very toxic material to use! The chemical is poisonous and sanding wood treated with it must be done outside and with a very good chemical filtration mask. Fortunatly there is another way to go. If the EPA in your state has not banned Interlux filer stain that is oil based, mixing red and brown stain in equal parts will produce the same color that was used for the original color of the Bright Work on Chris Craft motor boats.
    The secrect to avoiding muddying of the grain is to apply two thin coats, water thin, of clear nitro cellulos lacquer to the wood prior to staining. Once the lacquer is dry, the filler stain is then thinned to the consistancy of heavy cream and brushed on to the wood. The stain is allowed to dry just long enough to turn to a dull haze and is then wiped off using burlap as a wiper. The stain is then allowed to dry overnight. Next morning the surface is wiped off with a tac rag and the first coat of varnish is applied. This should be thinned out one third using turpentine as a thinner if you are using a natural oil varnish. Once the first coat as dried to a light tac it can then be coated, without sanding, with a full strength coat of varnish. Most of us who have been in the business a while recommend a total of eight coats of varnish when working from bare wood sanding with 220 grit paper between coats.

    The last method, which can produce a vast variety of colors, is to make your own filler stain using French Chalk as the color bodying agent. French Chalk is available from art supply houses and finishing suppliers such as Mohawk. One can mix various colors until an exact desired color is obtained. The powder is then mixed with varnish with a bit of thinner or turpentine and turned into a slury that is applied in the same manner as are the commercial filler stains. I prefer turpentine as a thinner as it will not flash as quickly thereby allowing enough time to complete the full coverage of the piece being worked on. In my own work, I am often called upon to match color when doing finish restoration or damage repair work. These methods work very well for me whether it is on a boat or a piece of antique furniature.
    Jay
    With due respect and I mean that sincerely, Jay, your advice is just going to freak people out.

    Most of the people here would do just fine following the straightforward advice given by #24 above...
    pcf...35 years of speedboat varnishing.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: staining a mahogany runabout

    Well, it may make it sound complicated from the amount of retoric and information in the post. But, in truth the work is quite simple. While the results may differ a bit, they speak for the different techniques used. I have been in the business for well over fifty years now.
    Jay

  29. #29
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    Default Re: staining a mahogany runabout

    Jay is right about stain having a high potential to muddy up a beautiful mahogany.

    On areas of our boat that were not sealed with epoxy, I could use a Daly's Dark Mahogany stain (a Seattle company) that would soak into the wood beautifully. It would color the wood but leave the wood grain looking good - IF it was wiped off thoroughly before it dried. Daly's suggests using their Benite product as an undercoat for stain. It is a 25% oil, 75% solvent blend that penetrates the wood to make the substrate more consistent. I started using the Daly's because it's an exact match of the original boat color from the late 1940's.

    Later I tried some gel stain because it can cover where lingering epoxy prevented the Daley's from penetrating evenly. The gel is really tricky because it can act like paint and muddy up the wood. It can work well for problem surfaces but needs an aggressive rub to reveal the woodgrain. Color matching was also a challenge.

    Our boat was left unstained for decades and the sun bleached most of the mahogany into something that looks like alaska yellow cedar.

    I'm finding that some of the common amber colored varnishes (Pettit Flagship and Captains) do their own muddying after a few coats.
    Last edited by John P Lebens; 06-05-2012 at 10:02 PM.

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