Stripping is hard work! For those of you who know what I’m talking about, you know that stripping is hard and not all fun and games. NOW I know why people pay a great stripper, cause it’s long hours in the heat and I would pay a professional if I could afford it. Come read my post to learn all about how to strip the right way!

The best wood care is often done by hand and requires the right tools and some serious sweat equity.  Here’s my formula for taking care of my wood:

My wood has stood the test of time, but it’s time again for some serious stripping and wood care….a lá my own formula.  Stripping and wood care is HARD work and must be done right, so read on, as I’m gonna drop some knowledge about the best stripping methods and wood care.

The last time I took serious care of my wood was summer of 2018/19, before more serious projects came along right before we left for Mexico.  I completely stripped and re-varnished the toerails and window frames on Tulum, a monumental project because we have so much wood around Tulum.  She’s a Taiwan beauty after all, born and built in the late 70’s like they DON’T make sailboats anymore.  So her care and upkeep must be done to keep all that teak in prime condition and it’s time again to do all the work.  Except the last time I did all this work was in sunny summer in San Diego; rainy season in Panama is a completely different story in which I have to try to do work in between rain squalls, often getting no work done after 2pm because of afternoon rains.

The last time I stripped and re-varnished the toerails and window frames on Tulum, I only put down 8 coats of varnish and probably one full coat of clear coat over that varnish, it lasted three years but it’s now seriously peeling and ready for TLC.  So I’ve started this work project while we’re hauled out and here in a marina for a bit.

My recipe for great wood: 1. Strip it down, 2. Prep the wood with a first coat of varnish primer, 3. (12) coats of vanish (light sand after coat # 8), 4. (2) full coats of 3-part semi-epoxy clear coat over all those varnish layers.

Actual stripping of the varnish layers from the wood is relatively simple but labor intensive.  The heat gun is applied to the vanish you want to strip till there’s tiny visible bubbles.  Then you “strip” the varnish from the wood with a light scrape across it, trying not to take off any wood layers.  Repeat, repeat repeat till all the varnish has disappeared. 

Where I’m at now:  Stripping- it’s hard work.  Yep, I’ve gotten to the first step and,,,,it’s hard work.

Stripping Tools of the trade: Hat (Tilley Endurables Hat,,,cause it’s hot when there’s sun, kneepads, scraper, heat gun, extension cord….go to work!
Tulum has a lot of brightwork, that needs stripping and vanishing if we want to keep it in good condition. I have no intention of just letting my wood get old, soft and letting it go to hell.
It’s much easier to do the stripping in the boat yard where we are now, as there’s no one who cares to watch or comment on my stripping. The end will justify the work once my wood gets vanished and takes on a clearcoat polish.
Here’s how it really looks. Over 15 feet in the air in the boatyard with numerous rain showers and squalls a day. Since one of the tools I use is a heat gun, I stop work once it starts raining and go back to work once it stops. This happens several times per day at least, sometimes I lose entire afternoons to rain squalls.

Once all the stripping is done and all the old vanish is off the toenails, I have to prep for vanish.  This will involve another light sand over all the toerails, a coat of primer (1/2 varnish and 1/2 paint thinner) and then 12 coats of varnish followed by two coats of clear coat.  I’ll keep you guys posted as I go along, but for now, I’ll keep stripping till my wood is clean (old varnish- free).

Here’s a story I wrote about this same subject in 2019:

Strippin Isn’t all Fun and Games

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