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From a Bare Hull:  The Deck

Final Pre-Sheathing Punch List:  Deck Beam Finishing
With all the deck beams and other deck framing installed and complete, only a few smaller details remained before it was time to install the plywood deck sheathing.

First on the list was a final sanding of most of the beams and carlins.  I had sanded all the beams prior to installation, but there was some epoxy residue here and there that I wanted to remove in order to make the beams as nice as they could be.  Even though most of the beams would never be seen in the final product, I felt that it was important to ensure that they looked almost good enough for full exposure.   The devil is in the details.

varnishedbeamsaft.jpg (49985 bytes)The full-width beams forward of the cabin trunk area had already been sanded and coated with some preliminary varnish (since these beams alone would be fully exposed in the final construction), so I took a few moments to lightly sand the varnish in preparation for an additional coat later.  I wanted to complete the base varnish buildup, at a minimum, before the deck sheathing was installed.

bungs.jpg (45177 bytes)I sanded the remainder of the beams--all the short beams from the aft side of the chainplate bulkhead to the transom--with 120 grit paper to remove any roughness and excess epoxy.  I didn't worry about perfection, since these beams would all be painted, but I was striving to achieve a smooth, clean surface.    I also sanded the carlins to the same finish.  The curved carlin at the forward end of the eventual cabin trunk opening would be at least partially exposed in the final interior--and would also be varnished--so I re-sanded that piece with 220 grit.  I realized I didn't have a plug cutter large enough to cut plugs to fill the boltholes securing this carlin to the deck beam ahead, and made a mental note to obtain some properly-sized plugs or dowels somewhere.  I eventually just purchased some from a supplier, after discovering that I needed two different sizes, since the counterbores on the forward side of the beam were larger than those on the aft side.  

paintedbeamsfwd.jpg (55839 bytes)The curved carlin also required a bit of sanding on the top surface to bring it more closely into alignment with the deck camber determined by the surrounding beams.  I used a belt sander to easily sand the top to an appropriate shape--it needed little fairing.  Judging by eye, the remaining deck beams--nearly all of them short to begin with--looked to be more or less fair, so I saw no need to perform any final fairing.

With all the beams sanded to my satisfaction, I vacuumed off the dust and cleaned the beams with thinner.  Then, I applied more varnish to the forward beams.  The ultimate goal was to apply enough of the gloss varnish to smooth out the texture of the wood (without hiding the character and grain the way paste fillers would--yuck!), after which I applied several coats of interior rubbed-effect varnish for a smooth, satin, hand-rubbed appearance.

paintedbeamsaft1.jpg (40328 bytes)Next, working from my staging, I painted all the areas that would be difficult or impossible to reach easily once the deck sheathing was applied:  notably, at the top of the hull, top edge of the sheer clamps, and insides of the deck beams and carlins.  Later, I planned to paint the undersides of the beams and other areas inside the hull, but for now I was only concerned with the areas that would be tough to do once the decks were installed.  I used gray Interlux Bilgekote to coat all the surfaces in question.  Later, I applied a second coat for good measure.  I didn't paint or varnish the tops of the beams, since I wanted raw wood there for good bonding with the deck sheathing adhesive later.

paintedbeamsaft2.jpg (41499 bytes)As with  some previous paint application in the bilge, I found this job immensely satisfying.  Later throughout the project, I planned to coat all "unfinished" surfaces--that is, raw fiberglass sections of the interior, bilges, and lockers--with the same paint.  Any normally visible areas in the cabin, of course, will eventually receive finer finishes...but that's getting ahead of things.


Over the next couple weeks, I continued with intermittent varnishing of the forward deck beams, sanding between each coat.  After I had built up a sufficient number of base coats of the gloss varnish to fill the natural wood grain, I switched to interior rubbed-effect varnish for the final coats.  The rubbed-effect varnish provides a satin, rich, hand-rubbed look to the wood.  I applied several coats of the satin varnish, stopping when I was pleased with the overall look of the beams.



All photos and text on this site 2002-2009 by Timothy C. Lackey and Lackey Sailing, LLC
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