Home Made Teak Rub Rail

by Ed Klein
(Long Island, NY)

I have an Alerion Express 20, a 20 ft sloop with lines similar to a J22.

I want to fabricate a rubrail preferably out of teak to compliment the teak accents on the boat.

The plastic/vinyl kits look pretty cheesy.

I have access to the upper part of the topsides from inside the boat just below the side and fore decks so I can drill and work from inside as well.

She has a gentle curve with little sheer.

I thought of a 1"X 1"-1 1/2" piece of teak with a strip of aluminum or brass cap; Mounting either bolted through the hull (heads countersunk into cap outside) or machine/wood screwed from inside into rail, outside cap screwed into teak.

1) Is teak a good choice?

2) Can I anticipate the need for either steaming or notching inner surface of one long piece to make the curve; or scarfing 3 or so sections?

3) Comments on securing the work: bolts vs screws (stainless assumed)?

4) Metal cap aluminum, which will scratch and deform easily or brass?

Thanks a lot.

Skipper of 'Nena'

Comments for Home Made Teak Rub Rail

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Oct 30, 2011
Teak rubrail
by: Ed K

Thanks again Mike.

Your last comments were my thoughts on the through bolting both pieces and on the 5200.

I'll let you know in the Spring when I actually do the job!

Oct 29, 2011
Brass Rub Rail
by: Mike

Sorry for assuming that it was just for decoration.

The ides of the metal ‘cap’ now makes sense.

It which case, if you are using a brass strip, why not use brass machine screws, countersunk into the brass strip and through bolted to hold the whole rail in place?

Yea, it’s a good idea to bed it on with a sealant, 3M’s 5200 is an excellent sealant but it’s also an adhesive, which could be a bugger to get off if you ever need to replace any or all of the strip.

Don’t worry about the stainless above the waterline, it’s only where it is used below the water (permanently immersed) on a wooden boat where it can cause problems.

Oct 27, 2011
Teak Rubrail
by: Ed K

Thanks for the reply Mike.

My purpose in making a rub rail is to avoid damage to the topsides at mooring.

The boat is between 2 pilings near the stern and she rubs against the leeward one, especially at low tide when she is in the mud and leans over...

So I do want some chafe protection, hence the idea of a metal cap.

I have to think this over and may use brass.

Likely I will use 3 lengths of 6 foot and make small scarf joints.

Your suggestion of bungs is smart and I did not think of this.

About hardware, you mentioned SS is OK since it is above the waterline, suggesting SS would be inappropriate if below the waterline or, by extension, if exposed to salt water, which it will be.

I am assuming you would advise waterproof sealing the hardware if continually wet, yes?

Finally, would you suggest using a bedding compound or 5200 product to set the rail against the hull?

I have seen this advised on a video instruction for installing a vinyl and aluminum rubrail kit.

My inclination is to do so for a clean "joint".

Sorry for "motor mouth", but I like to thoroughly research my projects beforehand and obtain advice from those with experience.


Oct 27, 2011
Teak Rubbing Strake
by: Mike

Yea, teak is an excellent choice as I assume that the strip is decorative rather than as a ‘rubbing’ strake.

Teak has good rot resistance and is moderately easy to bend.

If you use long lengths they should bend around that gentle curve without steaming or notching.

Personally I wouldn’t bother with a metal capping strip, I would just countersink the wood to take the heads of machine screws and then plug the holes with teak plugs.

Yea, machine screws through bolted with the nut on the inside and stainless will be fine as it is above the waterline.

If you do want to put a metal strip on remember that it will oxidise unless it is coated with something.

Aluminum looks really horrible when it oxidises whereas brass just looks dull and can be polished up again.

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