Future CK17 - How difficult is brightwork?

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TedS
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Future CK17 - How difficult is brightwork?

Post by TedS » Wed Aug 09, 2017 11:29 am

First time poster trying to educate myself before I jump in. My wife and I (both architects each with a fair amount of construction knowledge) have committed to both building a boat and learning to sail over the next couple of years. We purchased CK17 plans and have been pouring over them and reading as much information as we can find on the various steps involved in construction. We will begin sailing lessons in a few weeks and will start our build in JAN. Our ultimate goal is to have a boat we can both day sail and camp aboard (we're also backpackers) to use primarily around the Door Peninsula in Lake Michigan in the summers.

Our first question is this - how difficult is it to create and maintain brightwork? We are complete suckers for the look of natural wood but don't want to get into overly fussy work on this build. The goal of this build is to get us on the water with a dependable boat. If we enjoy the process as much as we think we will, we will build our "show boat" sometime in the future and lavish attention on it. That being said, how much more difficult is it to varnish rather than paint? Aren't you putting layers of epoxy under the final coating either way? If we are willing to live with imperfections that disappear when one stands back from the boat, could we get that overall warmth of brightwork inside of the cockpit without significant additional effort?

Thanks for any advice. Sure we will have more questions as we go.



terrulian
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Re: Future CK17 - How difficult is brightwork?

Post by terrulian » Wed Aug 09, 2017 12:17 pm

Welcome to the forum. You'll find a lot of help and encouragement here.

Most boaters these days have moved towards less brightwork because of the maintenance. Like you, I'm a sucker for it. On my boat I made a compromise, leaving enough clear highlights to show that it's a wooden boat. The problem with varnish, no matter how good the varnish is and your skill level in applying it, is that if kept unprotected it will need to be re-done every year if you want it nice. "Re-done" is no joke, and to do it right everything must be sanded back to bare wood. If you cover the boat when not in use, however, even without glassing, the clear areas will stay quite nice for a long time. Years.

In addition, there is a problem with discoloration. If you get a ding in paint, a touch-up will fix it. But often a ding in varnish, if not corrected very quickly, will result in an area of wood that cannot be made consistent in tone with the surrounding finish without, again, stripping the whole thing back to bare wood. Even if you have a few coats of epoxy over the wood under the varnish, hard contact or a sharp rock, say, will go through to the wood.

What I did was to cover all of the clear areas in light fiberglass. This will protect the wood from any dings and discoloration as water cannot get through to the wood. The slight downside is that when you fair and fill the glass weave with clear epoxy, the result has a very smooth, slightly plastic texture that to the hand does not feel like wood. This is a very small price to pay as far as I'm concerned.
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In terms of difficulty of application, varnishing is a fine art. But really, so is painting. However, if you are patient, you can achieve a very nice result as an amateur. I say patient because I have found that while videos about varnishing online may be useful, you probably will have to find a technique that suits you personally. Some very nice varnishing jobs have been done with cheap foam brushes, while a lot of folks will recommend very expensive brushes. It boils down to your personal technique. But watch those videos anyway; you'll often learn something even if it's a minor detail.

Good luck and whatever you decide, post lots of photos. We're nuts for that stuff!
Last edited by terrulian on Wed Aug 09, 2017 12:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Future CK17 - How difficult is brightwork?

Post by Jeff » Wed Aug 09, 2017 12:28 pm

TedS, Welcome to our Builder's Forum!! As you can already see from comments & guidance from terrulian, you will receive good guidance and support!!
Good luck and we look forward to your future build!! Jeff

TedS
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Re: Future CK17 - How difficult is brightwork?

Post by TedS » Wed Aug 09, 2017 9:08 pm

Thanks terrulian for the quick, clear, and insightful response. It will certainly help us make our decisions. Don't worry, we will be posting plenty of photos once we get building. Yes, Jeff, I can already tell that the forum is an invaluable resource.

Now to read building blogs and ponder the plans until time to turn the light out.

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