Tag Archives: teak plugs

Finally finished up this little project. Always a challenge when I have to dodge rain drops. I installed the trim back into a fresh application of Boatlife teak-colored bedding compound, then installed the plugs with varnish as glue. Some folks use shellac, but varnish seems to work just as well. Gluing them in with anything stronger makes them difficult to remove next time.

Plugs set, waiting for the varnish to cure so I can trim and sand flush.

To trim, set a sharp (very sharp) chisel 1/8″ proud of the surface being finished, and gently tap. The top of the plug splits away. You can do this several more times for a curved profile to pare away excess material at the edges before you begin to sand. Just don’t set the chisel too closely to the base material, or the plug may split away below the surface. I set the beveled edge of the chisel towards the eyebrow so that plug tends to split up and away from the base. After trimming with a chisel, use a small block with 150 grit sandpaper wrapped around, and sand only the proud part of the plug, as much as possible. You will certainly sand a little bit of the base material as well, but careful attention to the level of the plug will keep it to a minimum. After all is smooth and flush, coat with your finish of choice. I use Cetol on these.

Done. Trimmed, sanded, and coated with Cetol.


No, I’m not plucking. . .

I applied the second coat of Cetol to both sections of eye brow trim today. Before all the rain and wind last week, I scraped and sanded smooth the trim pieces, and applied the first coat of Cetol. I also deepened the plug holes with my drill press for closing up the screw holes with bungs. However, I had to buy a new plug cutter, because I have mislaid the one I already own. Oddly, this didn’t work well at all. The hardware store sold me a 3/8″plug cutter, and I duly deepened the 3/8″ holes to accommodate a longer plug. However, the diameter of the plugs cut by the new cutter turned out to be slightly small, and didn’t bind into the holes at all. I rechecked my drill bit, rechecked the plug cutter. . . all the sizes matched, but the plugs didn’t fit the holes. I wound up buying some 3/8″ teak plugs at West Marine, and they fit fine.

Today I also cleaned up the coach roof edge where they will be reinstalled. I’ve found that a product called “Goof Off” works really well for this, but as I was in the hardware store today buying a new bottle of it, it occurred to me that lighter fluid might be a similar product. I know several craftsmen who use it for cleaning purposes. Regardless, I came home with Goof Off.

Materials and tools for this task.

Once back on the boat, I used a rag saturated with Goof Off and wiped in on a 12-14 inch section, then took a putty knife and scraped the loosened bedding compound. This took off about 75 percent. I re-applied Goof Off, and scrubbed it with a 3-M pad, which almost always removed the rest of the material. This entire process took about a half hour to do the port side (rehabbed the starboard side last year). So it’s clean now, and ready for re-installation of the trim.

Close-up of the cleaned vs uncleaned area.

Just a longer view of the project area.

Finally, I began the spring Cetol re-coat of the other teak trim still installed in place. I actually got smart this time, and didn’t try to do all of it at once, there by avoiding bumping into sticky Cetol as I work my way around the deck.


Finally. But. . .  I’ve been out-of-town. The weather’s been uncooperative. I ran out of gas. The dog ate it. Well. . .  chose the excuse you like best. Regardless, I got it almost complete today, and managed to clean the gutters and rake a lot of leaves too.

Truthfully, my initiative has sagged when all other factors were right. When I got going, it was a relatively easy task, except for cleaning up the caulk: I made my usual incredible mess with it.

I cleaned up the old caulk from the mounting area with a rag, Goof Off solvent (which smells suspiciously like toluene), and a putty knife. The Goof Off softened the old caulk, which allowed me to scrape it off. Then I wiped the residue with a solvent soaked rag, which finished the cleaning job.

I taped off the area to be caulked, then applied Boat Life polysulfide (mahogany/teak colored) caulk to the area. I set the screws into the trim before spreading the caulk so as to minimized time and opportunity for making an even bigger mess.


Tools and materials. Trash can is essential to capture all the caulk-smeared paper towels.


Taped off and ready for caulk.


First piece mounted, plugs set in varnish.

I ran into an unexpected issue. I had measured the fastener holes as 5/16, and deepened them slightly. I ordered a 5/16 plug cutter, but when I tried that sized plug in a fastener hole, it was too small. And 3/8 was too big. I re-milled all the holes to 3/8, and that worked out well, for the most part. These are old trim pieces that have been through 34 years of who-knows-what. So two of the holes were too big to really hold a plug. I’ll have to do something special with those, I guess. Regardless, I installed all the trim on the starboard side, and all but two plugs.  I’ll leave them a couple of days to give the varnish/glue ample time to cure – we’re into the 30s and 40s overnight, and 50s during the day, so it may take a few days for the plugs to stick well. Then I’ll trim them and spot-Cetol the plugs.


I lightened these photos quite a bit, as it was drawing towards sunset when I finished. We had a real masterpiece this evening as the sun went down.

DSC_4935 (1)


Yesterday I addressed a problem with one of the teak pieces that hold the drop boards in place.  It serves double duty as a sliding hatch stop – a function in which it serves poorly.

Split from the top.  Also couldn't remove the piece intact and torn a section out of the back.

Split from the top (rounded area). Also couldn’t remove the piece intact and torn a section out of the back.

If the sliding motion to close the hatch isn’t gentle enough, the upright is in danger of trying to stop the momentum of this very heavy hatch.  It is liable to split or break if hit too hard.  I’ll have to think of a method for a hatch slider stop, probably mounted inside and forward at the edge of the opening.  Anyway, the occasion for removal of the old retainer is to replace due to damage.  The piece was susceptible to damage anyway, as there is a fairly pronounced knothole in the top of it.  The split starts at the top, and passes directly through the knot hole.  Upon removing the piece, I also found rot in the knot hole – I guess this is a good place to trap moisture.  The piece was held in place with eight screws and 3M5200.  Eight screws seems like over-kill to me, but add 5200 to the installation and it’s more like welding, then bolting two pieces of steel together.  Perhaps the construction crew was nervous about the hatch-stop function, and 5200ed it in place for good measure. . .  Nah – they just had a tube of 5200 on hand and stuck the piece on with it, then screwed it down.

I began by removing the bungs and unscrewing the fasteners.  Then the hard part: slowly leveraging the teak board away from the gelcoat surface it is bonded to.  I used DeBond solvent to release the 5200.  It is effective, but patience is required.  With a series of chisels, a screw driver and putty knife, I gradually lifted the edge and squirted DeBond in the opening, gradually achieving full release of the adhesive.  And although it wasn’t possible to reuse the old piece and glue it back together, I still preserved the shape of the piece to use as a pattern for the new.

I have some left-over 2″ x .5″ teak decking that is the perfect thickness.  I just needed to edge-glue two pieces together to get stock that was wide enough.  I wet out the edges with straight resin, then applied epoxy thickened with 407 bonding/fairing compound.  The thickened epoxy fills any gaps and makes a stronger bond.  Thickening it with fairing compound makes it easier to sand smooth.

I marked the new piece and cut to shape.  Then sanded smooth with two successively finer grades of paper, relieving the edges of sharp corners.  I finally hand-sanded the rounded over portions to remove unfair machine sanding marks.

Old and new

Old and new

I drilled the fastener holes, then drilled the 3/8s bung holes through roughly half the depth of the piece with my drill press.  Except for the first hole drilled. . .  I wasn’t paying attention to holding the work securely, and let it ride up the drill bit!  Sigh. . .  So I mounted the 1/2″ drill bit and drilled it out, then chucked the 1/2″ plug cutter and cut a couple of plugs from scrap teak, then patched the big stupid hole. I left the fastener out of that hole.  I think the plug is securely glued in place, but I don’t want to disturb it again, and the piece doesn’t really need 8 fasteners.  So firmly holding down the piece, I drilled the rest of the bung holes with no further drama.

I dry fit the piece to ensure screw hole alignment, then took it off to apply sealant (Boatlife polysulfied).  I had meant to tape the outline before I caulked. . . well, this is my life.  Curiously, I taped afterward, and it worked out okay.  It doesn’t seem to matter much, because I make a mess with this stuff regardless of tape or gloves (always a challenge to remember gloves).  Good thing there is mineral spirits.  I cleaned up the mess, and it looked like this before bungs:

Mounted with screws exposed

Mounted with screws exposed

I had cut some plugs.  After anointing them with varnish to glue them in the hole, I tapped them home. Hmm. . .  some of the holes seems too shallow.  I torqued down a few of the more shallow screws and tried again.  I may need to used honest-to-goodness glue with these, as they still seemed set in a bit shallow.  We’ll see if they trim out okay.  If not, I’ll use a waterproof wood glue.  You hate to use a permanent bond, because they may have to come out again some day.  Epoxy will tear out the sides of the bung hole upon removal of the bung.

Plugs cut from scrap.

Plugs cut from scrap.



Finally, I cleaned up and cast off the dock lines, motoring out into the creek and into the bay.  The weather was miserable and humid, damp, overcast and sub-60 degrees, but I had to use the boat for something besides projects, after sitting at the pier for a month.

Oh yeah - we can use it as a boat too!

Oh yeah – we can use it as a boat too!

I removed several plastic winch handle pockets because they were in the way, and I hate the way they look anyway.  Now I have screw holes to fill.  You can tell from my duck-tape-sealant on the depth panel, that I have to reseal that too.  These kind of things always keep boat owners busy.


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