My First Wooden Boat Project

by Jeff
(St Cloud, MN, USA)

I have recently taken on the task of restoring a small sailboat from the early 60's.

Right now I've stripped all the paint off of the boat and have been sanding the whole boat so that it is down to just the original wood.

I don't have any experience in this sort of thing, and would very much appreciate any information that you could throw at me!

Here are just a couple of my questions...

What type of stain, sealer, and varnish?

Does the top of the boat require a different finish than the bottom?

What keeps it waterproof?

What is the right sandpaper grit?

How would you recommend filling any cracks, nail holes, and flaws in the wood?

I do have some pictures of my progress and what the boat looks like if that would help.

Thank you for taking the time to read my email and hopefully you can help answer some or all of these questions!

Jeff Halbakken

Comments for My First Wooden Boat Project

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Dec 17, 2014
by: Kortn

I must say that for a first timer you just nailed it to the best way possible.

It does looks amazing and can also be useful to a lot of people in learning a lot from it and also find new designs from what you have created by improvising.

Dec 13, 2012
Looking good
by: Star Sailor

That is an old Star Class sailboat!

I'm in the middle of one myself - hull 4738.

I am working with a gentleman who has restored four of these.

I would be happy to put you in contact with him as he can answer all you question about these boats!!

May 18, 2012
You wood boat and Mine
by: Russell baxter

After owning several fiberglass boats I am moving to s small wood boat that looks allot like yours.

Mine is a Johnson -X a 16 ft racing sailbaot.

I would like to know where you are at in you project.

Please reply to me at Thanks

Apr 17, 2012
Hull Construction?
by: Mike

How is the hull built?

Is it planked or plywood?

Any stain will have to go on to the bare wood before any sealer or varnish.

Apr 16, 2012
by: Jeff

Thanks guys for all your comments, I will keep working on the boat and consider all of your helpful hints when working on my boat.

I have decided to stain the boat and I would like to use a marine grade varnish to finish it off.

Do any of you have any experience with epoxy?

Is it necessary to epoxy the bottom for waterproofing and if so is that something I can do after the stain?

This is how I planed on finishing my boat as of right now!

1st. A mixture of the sawdust and a new wood glue I found that says its waterproof and stainable to use as a putty for the nail holes and small cracks.

2nd. Finish off the sanding with 120 grit and stain the whole boat with Interlux Red Mahogany Filler Stain (I think they recommend 80grit, but that seemed kinda coarse.

3rd. Follow it up with 2 coats of Pettit Clear Sealer

4th. After lightly sanding the sealer, finish it off with several (6) coats of Epifanes Gloss Clear Varnish!

Does anyone have anything else to add?

Apr 16, 2012
Use the page Luke
by: Chipper1

Awesome job so appear to have some pretty good skills already.

The restoration section of this page has load of proved invaluable information in it and a must read if you have not done so yet. and both have good information too.

Good luck and have fun...Russ

Apr 16, 2012
First Wooden Boat
by: Mike

Jeff, you certainly appear to have made a superb job of cleaning the decks.

How did you get it so clean?

Do you know what design she is?

What is the hull material, is it plywood or planked?

If you intend keeping her out of the water, on a trailer, then there is no real need to use anything other than good quality paint and/or varnish.

As with any wooden article finish off with a fine grit (150 or so).

Fine cracks and nail holes can be filled with an epoxy filler or thickened epoxy.

If you want to add more photos you can just email them to me as attachments to and I’ll do any resizing etc and add them for you.

Apr 16, 2012
One Way or Aother
by: bill hall

There are some good books, that will steer you in the right direction.

Experiment in areas that are the least seen.

By the picture I saw looks like your doing a good job.

From doing my own work I've found that going at it slow pays off.

Good luck

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