Mahogany or teak?

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Mahogany or teak?

Postby michaelstalone » Thu Jun 10, 2021 10:06 am

I’ve tried finding an answer in past posts, but have failed. I have an ‘87 Precision Daysailer. Is the wood trim/ seats/ thwarts mahogany or teak? How do you figure it out? I’m asking because I want to clean/ treat it, and, from reading posts, it seems like the wood type matters in how it’s treated. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
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Re: Mahogany or teak?

Postby GreenLake » Thu Jun 10, 2021 3:52 pm

Michael, yes there are differences. Teak, for example, you could allow to weather. Many people who have teak decks on bigger boats write about how they just let it go gray. (You still need to clean it, so it doesn't go green). But if your boat does not live in the sun (that is, if it's covered when not in use), you can keep it treated.

On my '63 DS1, the coamings were definitely mahogany: when I sanded, the wood showed a bit pink, even though under varnish it looks more yellow-brown.

I'm thinking that your best bet might be to oil the wood. Oil or oil based treatments don't last very long, but they are easy to refresh: just wipe on some more. If you have a good space to work on your boat, and a regular pre-season ritual of oiling your wood fits your style, then that's something to consider. You can do that for both teak and mahogany.

If you do a varnish, you'll find that heat and moisture cycling will cause your wood to swell and shrink leading to cracks in the varnish. You'll need to periodically sand before adding / retouching. Also needs to be done very regularly. If it's a garage-kept boat, slightly less often, if you are lucky.

The problem with your boat is that you have a lot of little pieces as well as intricate ones (open seats/thwarts) that make sanding very difficult, but wouldn't be a problem if you choose to apply an non film-creating oil.

In my case, I have three simple pieces of coamings, two flat thwarts and a tiller. All of them could be dismounted with access to all 6 sides of each piece. That allowed me to epoxy seal them (even the holes) to interrupt the moisture cycling. However, they now need to be varnished for UV protecting the epoxy. The upside is that w/o the cycling, varnish is now multi-season.

When I got the boat, it had been varnished, so I wasn't thinking of oil, just thinking of how I could improve the maintenance cycle for varnish (as I watched my first attempt at re-varnishing fail after a season or two). A painter friend of mine uses Cetol to maintain the teak railings on one of his customers' deck. He gets hired every year to reapply, but other than that it seems to hold up well to the elements. Oil can be great in places where wood trim can get scratched easily: just reapply a bit of oil locally. Unlike varnish, there's nothing that gets scraped off, and nothing you need to sand.

For the trim pieces in the cuddy: if oiling works for you, that should be fine. Or you could dismount them, epoxy seal them, and varnish with a linear PU varnish. In that protected environment, that would last for a decade.
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Re: Mahogany or teak?

Postby prochase » Thu Jun 10, 2021 4:48 pm

The are teak. Oil them like I do on my 86 Precision.
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Re: Mahogany or teak?

Postby GreenLake » Thu Jun 10, 2021 8:23 pm

@prochase: Do you have a favorite oil / oil-based product that you use?
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Re: Mahogany or teak?

Postby michaelstalone » Fri Jun 11, 2021 12:28 am

So helpful, thank you so much! I’ll try the oil route. Yes, @prochase, what oil do you recommend?
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Re: Mahogany or teak?

Postby GreenLake » Fri Jun 11, 2021 3:51 pm

Just FYI, if you can find it in yourself to subscribe to "Practical Sailor" - that magazine is like a Consumer Reports for sailing-related products. No ads, lots of tests and subscribers get access to their online database. I bet they have a review of oil-based wood treatments there somewhere (often even with long-term data on how they hold up). Anyway, a valuable resource, even if it includes some stuff that's applicable more to big boats. I read every issue.
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Re: Mahogany or teak?

Postby michaelstalone » Fri Jun 11, 2021 4:55 pm

Good to know. I’ll look into it.
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