Well, refinishing the gunwale has been on the to-do list for a while. I never thought it would take the better part of a whole week to strip and scrape off the old lacquer, sand out the unavoidable scratches with successively finer sandpaper, fill the cracks and build up the new finish.
I don’t now how much longer we would have had to painstakingly wrestle the layers of old lacquer off the wood without Henry’s nifty assortment of home-made scrapers, which he sometimes re-sharpened over lunch so we could have a fresh go at it despite aching backs…
Timing was good. With the lacquer gone we could attack some jobs that needed to be done on the gunwale before we could even think about going sailing – like drilling holes for the belaying pins for the halyards and the attachment points for the sheet leads.
Having used AWLWood from Akzo Nobel on various spars before and after testing it on scrap wood pieces laid out on deck for two years we decided to use it on the gunwale which receives a lot of direct sun and is quite exposed to the elements.
The stuff is pretty tough and supple. The very liquid primer soaks deep into the wood and offers an excellent base for the top coats (a minimum of eight are recommended by the manufacturer).
There we go: one coat of yellow primer…
After about six coats people start to wonder whether the lacquer guy is suffering from some sort of obsession. It does look pretty good, even after three or four coats – except for the bubbles that emerge from the pores in the wood – which oak has plenty of. The wind and heat from the sun do their part of driving out the air from the pores.
The big effort lies in the preparation. Once the first layers are on the preparation for further layers is easy. A slight sanding between every second layer that’s all. Every layer more keeps those UV-rays away from the wood.