Q & A

Welcome to the Question & Answer section of JO Woodworks. This is a forum by boaters, for boaters. Although most of my work is for sailboats, I also have experience with power boats, so I encourage questions about either subject.

If you have a question, please submit it via the Contact Page. Feel free to leave any comments or suggestions below.

The opinions expressed in the comments below are those of the commenting authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of J.O. Woodworks.

If they’re going to be in the sun full time I would put at least 6.  The more the better.  If you have no other use for the varnish it will probably go bad before you need it again anyway.  Be sure and let it cure good before you stick it in the water.  A couple of days anyway.  More would be better.  Put some wax paper around it with a rubber band or tape for an hour or so and it tries to stick it’s not cured.  Use the wax paper because it will come loose.  Paper might stick for good.

Thanks for getting back to me John…My boat sits in the water all summer but I do pull up the dagger board and raise the rudder.

Should I put at least 6 coats on….is more better?

Hi Chester,
First off, I’m assuming the board has no significant damage other than the normal bumps and bruises that can be sanded out.
The first thing you need to do, again I assuming the finish is pretty much gone, is sand the whole dagger down to or close to raw wood.  At least get it where it is nice a slick.  Any varnish that is there and still tight is fine to leave behind. 
Now for the finish.  I have used Cabot in the past.  It is more readily available for everyone and not as costly as Interlux and other true marine products.  You do get what you pay for here but on a dagger that won’t live in the water and shouldn’t really have that much uv exposure the Cabot should work fine. 
If you are down to or close to raw wood then your first coat should be a well thinned coat of varnish.  I would thin it close to 45%.  What you are trying to do is really penetrate and seal up the wood.  You may even want to put a second coat like this after you sand the first coat.  I would especially consider this if the first one raised a lot of grain and you had to do much sanding.  On the remaining coats I would thin the minimum you can to be able to put the varnish on without it pulling.  You may be able to go with it full strength but you probably should consider thinning it 5% of 10% with thinner.  If you are careful to always keep a wet tip on your brush you will get better full coverage with thicker varnish.  I think your best bet is to put 5 or 6 good coats on the board.  Cabot does have less solids than the higher priced varnishes.  I know on my site you see that I only put 3 coats on.  I do this because of the various ways people use the products.  Some are kept in the garage and rarely used while others are kept outside in the sun and used all the time so I let customers decide if they want more.
I hope this helps you Chester.  Let me know if you need more info.

John, can you instruct me on how to refinish  my daggerboard and rudder, on my
holder 14 sailboat?
I would like to use Cabot spar varnish, because I can  get my hands on it very
easily….You mentioned that it was something you used.
thank you for any help you can offer, this old man of 69.

March 18th, 2010


Hi Travis,
The typical glue  I use on most of my stuff is Titebond III.  Be sure to get the III as it is completely waterproof unlike I & II.  What I typically do on the Potter15 kick up is a little different.  I like to put epoxy on the inside of the portion of the 2 outside pieces where it will be exposed to the kick up part.  Then you can use either more epoxy or the titebond to hold the three parts together.  Don’t try to do both steps at once as the epoxy it heavy enough to sag from whichever piece you have laying on top and then the opening will no longer be wide enough for the kick up blade.  Not really as difficult as it sounds.  Just mark the outside boards where they will go against the inner board, lay them down, coat them in epoxy ( I use West Systems but any epoxy resin will work.  Don’t use polyester resin typically found at places like Lowe’s and Home Depot. It’s not for this purpose.) then after this sets, glue the three pieces together.You need to be careful when you glue the 3 pieces together as the wet glue works as a lubricant and the boards will want to slide around when you put them together.  If you have your holes already drilled for the kick up and the tiller you can put bolts through these to help keep things aligned.  You will still need a lot of clamps to hold it all uniformly together tightly.
Hope this long oration helps you.  It’s not hard but if you’re not careful and take your time with the steps you’ll have some good kindlin for your fire but nothing else.  Trust me.  Been there done that!
If you decide you want me to do it just let me know.  I am currently 3 to 4 weeks out on production maybe a little less but that typically gets worse in about another month or two.  People are just now waking up to the fact that it’s almost sailing season in the colder climates.
Just one more piece of advice.  Don’t predrill both the cheeks and the rudder before you put it together.  It doesn’t take much for it to not fit. I hope you have a drill press as that will make drilling a hole perpendicular to the assembly much easier.
Let me know if I can help any further.

John Owens
J O Woodworks

March 18th, 2010


I am making my first kick up rudder replacement for a ww potter 15 from 1980. I
have 3 pieces of  marine plywood to sandwich together for the top half.

My question is what glue bonding agent /technique is going to hold them
together best?


March 9th, 2010


I have been asked a lot about the finishing of my products.  For rudders and tillers I usually use 3 or 4 coats of spar varnish.  Depending on your use of the piece and amount of time it will be either submerged in the water or exposed to the sun, you may want to put additional coats prior to using it.  Although I have used just about every brand of spar varnish in the book I am starting now to use Interlux Schooner Gold.  I met with their technical rep a few weeks ago and I think this will be a great product to use.  I haven’t actually used this one yet but there is some on the way to me right now that I am looking forward to trying.

For hatches I have been using one of the Cetol products for the past few years.  They have a new product call Cetol Teak that I think is going to be great.  It creates an appearance similar to an oiled finish but holds up much longer.  4 coats are about right for a good starting finish on this.