Refinishing a Teak Cabin Sole with Onne van der Wal – TotalBoat

Refinishing a Teak Cabin Sole with Onne van der Wal

Onne van der Wal in the cabin of Snow Goose

TotalBoat Lust Varnish – A Good Way to Restore Your Sole

When you’re a world-renowned sailing photographer, world-class sailor, and self-proclaimed “lover of the sea” whose professional life has been a series of exhilarating adventures sailing and capturing sailing action all over the world, what do you do next?

If you’re Onne van der Wal, you buy a sailboat. Then you gut it completely and fix it from scratch, doing all the work yourself, including plumbing, electrical, woodworking, painting, deck hardware, rigging — everything. Onne named his 1972 Pearson 36 Snoek (pronounced ‘snook’), and sailed it around New England with his wife, Tenley.

Late last year, he decided it was time for a new boat that could better accommodate his photography and film work, so he sold Snoek and bought Snow Goose, a 1986 Grand Banks 32 long-range cruiser/trawler. On Snow Goose, he’d be able to shoot in shallower water, and from various vantage points high and low on the decks. From a practical standpoint, it’d be easier and more stable to shoot from a trawler than a sailboat.

Also, the trawler would enable him to hark back to his teenage years spent on old wooden fishing boats in South Africa, working with and learning from the local fishermen, and “being in the wheelhouse, steaming along at 8, 8-1/2 knots going to the fishing grounds – going over these big South Atlantic swells.”

Refinishing a Teak Wood Cabin Sole

Onne’s not only an award-winning nautical photographer and professional sailor, he’s a trained machinist, and loves every aspect of fixing up a boat. And since this isn’t his first resto rodeo, he did all the renovation work on Snow Goose.

One of his many projects was refinishing the Burmese teak parquet floor in the salon. He used a few TotalBoat products to strip, seal, and varnish the teak to restore it to its original glory, as you can see below in these before and after images.

Onne van der Wal teak cabin sole before and after using TotalBoat products

In this blog post, we’ll show you Onne’s simple process for refinishing teak, so you can get the same great results!

Preparing the Surface of the Cabin Sole

To prep the teak surface, Onne removed all the old layers of varnish with TotalBoat TotalStrip fast-acting finish remover, applying one thick coat (about 1/8″).

Onne van der Wal applying TotalBoat TotalStrip to remove old layers of varnish
After 24 hours, he used a scraper to remove it easily.

Onne van der Wal scraping and removing old layers of varnish on Snow Goose cabin sole
Onne mentions that the TotalStrip removed about 98% of the old varnish.

Pile of dried varnish removed with TotalBoat TotalStrip and a scraper
Next, he sanded gently with 80-grit down to 120-grit to remove residual patches of the old varnish and smooth out the surface.

Sanding to remove stubborn patches of old varnish
Before sealing, he wiped the surface down with TotalBoat Dewaxer & Surface Prep solvent wash to remove any sanding dust, grease, oil and contaminants.

Removing contaminants on the cabin sole with TotalBoat Dewaxer & Surface Prep

Sealing the Teak Cabin Sole

To make varnishing easier, Onne applied two coats of TotalBoat Wood Sealer varnish primer to seal the wood fibers and fill the grain. TotalBoat clear Wood Sealer is used instead of thinned varnish and has the additional advantage that it doesn’t require sanding between coats.
Applying TotalBoat Wood Sealer Varnish Primer to teak wood before varnishing
After the second coat of varnish primer dried, he sanded on a slow setting with 180-220 grit, using a very light touch, until the surface was smooth, then removed sanding residue.

Sanding cured TotalBoat Wood Sealer before applying TotalBoat Lust varnish

Varnishing the Teak Cabin Sole with TotalBoat Lust Marine Varnish

What’s the best way to get a beautiful low-sheen varnish finish on teak wood? The simple answer is to use gloss varnish for the build coats and finish with satin or matte varnish, because if you only use satin/matte for ALL coats, the finish will be muddy and won’t show the beauty of the wood grain. With Lust marine varnish, you can also combine the gloss and matte varnishes to create a stunning custom finish.

To get a gorgeous satin finish on his cabin sole, Onne started by applying two build coats of TotalBoat Lust gloss varnish, then let the varnish dry for 24 hours.
Applying TotalBoat Lust Gloss Varnish over cured TotalBoat Wood Sealer on a teak cabin sole
Next, he did a light sanding, removed the sanding residue, and applied a finish coat of Lust matte varnish.

Onne van der Wal applies the finish coat of TotalBoat Lust Matte Varnish to the cabin sole
In total, he applied 5 coats: 2 coats of TotalBoat Wood Sealer varnish primer, 2 coats of TotalBoat Lust Gloss varnish and 1 coat of Lust Matte varnish, with beautiful results, as you see here.
Restored teak cabin sole done with TotalBoat varnish remover, wood sealer varnish primer and Lust marine varnish

Onne worked on the boat all winter, with help from his wife sanding and refinishing the decks, and after six months, the major renovations were completed. In early June, they launched Snow Goose from Clark Boatyard in Jamestown, RI.

Onne van der Wal quote: At the end of the day, a boat is a little house on the water that you can take from A to B.

After logging thousands of miles at sea, and hundreds of hours restoring boats, Onne’s got a floating home on Snow Goose that will give him the chance to combine his passions for fishing and photography, and start the next chapter in his boating life.

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4 responses to “Refinishing a Teak Cabin Sole with Onne van der Wal

  1. Looks great.
    I wonder if that would be too slippery on a boat if the floor got wet. Maybe the parquet is irregular enough in elevation but what to do for a more typical cabin sole? Don’t sand smooth?

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