Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Staining The Transom

It's been several weeks and I was hoping to be further along with the fiberglassing by now. But sometimes things don't quite work out as expected. I wanted to stain the transom before beginning the fiberglassing operation. I had been experimenting with various color stains, none which were what I was after.

Last weekend I went to Woodcraft to try and find a different color. The brown mahogany stain I had, was too dark and too brown. The American Oak stain was too yellow. I was looking for something in between them, but couldn't quite put it into words what I was looking for.The salesman suggested I mix the two together to get a blend. This seemed like the perfect solution and I rushed home without buying any new stains.

I experimented with adding the American Oak to the Brown Mahogany in a 1 to 1 mixture as well as 3/4 to 1 (3/4 being the American Oak). On my sample pieces this appeared to look pretty good. I took the two stains and mixed them together in a plastic paint bucket in the 3/4 to 1 ratio. Using a thin foam roller, I applied it to the transom and then wiped it off.

At that point, it was fairly late in the evening and the stained wood looked pretty good, especially compared to the bare wood that it had been. I took some pictures, closed up the garage, and figured on waiting a minimum of four days before fiberglassing. I didn't go in the garage during those four days except once on the third day. It was much earlier in the day (different lighting). The stain looked too dark!

Of course I went into denial mode, trying to tell myself that I could live with it and trying to convince myself to just let it go and move on. I was working on some new artwork for the blog during the wait and I tried using a darker color for the stained portion of the boat. This didn't look good at all and I knew that I was going to have to fix the problem.

I resolved to sand it all off and find the correct color stain. It took about 90 minutes of sanding using an orbital sander and then going back over it with a long board to remove the old stain.

I went back to Woodcraft yesterday. Of course, they still had the same color selection. But I was lucky enough to talk to a different salesman this time, someone who was more knowledgeable about mixing stains.

The first thing I found out was that I was going about it all wrong. I was trying to lighten the brown mahogany with the American Oak. What I should have been doing was darkening the American Oak with a different color in a much smaller ratio. The second thing I found out was that I needed to add some red to the mix. He suggested starting with 5% Georgian Cherry stain to the American Oak and adding a single drop of a red dye, adding more drops one at a time as needed.

I went home with the Georgian Cherry and red dye. I already had plenty of American Oak remaining. I tried several different ratios, finally settling on a 10% Georgian Cherry to 100% American Oak. This was done by weight using 500 grams of American Oak. To this I ended up adding 20 drops of the red dye. The test samples looked far better this time.

So here are the before and after shots as well as some additional shots of the new color.







And a few more of the newer color.

I am much happier with the redder stain. It looks far better to my eye.

Of course, now I will have to wait another 4 or 5 days before fiberglassing, but better to have done this than to have let it stay the way it was and not be happy with it.

And finally, about the artwork. The intent of this is twofold. I wanted a better image to show how I wanted the boat to look so that I could use it on this blog. You can see it has replaced the side view image I had before. I also wanted artwork that I can use for some custom tee shirts.

The artwork will need some tweaking for use as tee shirt art but here it is as it currently stands. The nice thing about seeing the boat in three dimensions is that I can verify that the design decisions I made are going to look okay.

So that's it for now. As I mentioned, I had hoped to be able to report on fiberglassing by now, but that will be a bit longer. Still, I am glad I took the time to correct the staining. So until next time, take care.

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  1. I commend you for your diligence with the stains, Carl! It certainly paid off. That's a great-looking color.

    1. Thanks Michael,

      One of the best things about this hobby is we have the freedom to take our boats to the point we want to. I keep thinking about the effort you put into getting yours ready for the Boatbuilder's gathering last month. There was no way you could have been ready with a finished product in time, but what you did manage was to have a functional and still attractive boat while at the same time, not limiting yourself as you continue to progress on the same boat.

      I was not happy with the original brown stain and almost talked myself into sticking with it. Fortunately, I was able to make the effort to change it and now I am far more satisfied.


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