Refinishing Teak (speargun)

About: Just a normal guy who enjoys the water and outdoors. Grew up on the water in the Panhandle of Florida fishing and boating, still live on the gulf today just a little further Southwest.

So anybody who does boating knows teak and has seen it turn silver in the sun.  It takes a little effort to refinish teak but if you maintain it before it completely washes out future maintenance will be minimal.  I am doing a speargun as an example for this instructable but the same steps apply to any teak that will be out in the weather.  There are varnishes you can use that might need less regular maintenance than oil but when the varnish starts flaking you will have to strip all of it off to apply it again, with an oil finish you can just wipe a fresh coat on and watch the wood shine like new again.  I tend to really keep up with my teak maintenance so what you see in the pictures is really more a touch up than a refinish but the same rules apply you just have to sand more when the wood is really weathered.

By now some of you might be thinking, why even use teak, just use fiberglass or starboard and run maintenance free.  Well that is a good point but fiberglass lacks character and properly maintained teak is simply beautiful.

Step 1: Materials Needed

At a minimum you will need the following

1.  Something made of teak
2.  Teak Oil (I am using Tung Oil which is very similar so if you have some tung oil around just use it)
3.  Sandpaper (A few grits here, start at 100 for weathered wood and work through 200 or 300)
4.  Rag for applying the oil, nothing special as you will end up throwing it away.
5.  Time

Since I am always working in a small area I just apply the oil with a rag and rub it with the same rag, for larger areas you can brush the oil on and the wipe down with a rag. 

Step 2: Washing and Sanding the Wood

Step one is to give the wood a good scrubbing with a stiff brush to remove any dirt.  Let the wood dry after the washing so you can see the scratches and gouges you need to sand out.

So I am sanding this by hand due to the small irregular size of the piece, if you have large flat areas pull out the power sander.  Always start with the finest grit you can get away with, you want to remove the least amount of wood as possible so it lasts a long time.  I would never use a belt sander with a 60 grit belt, it will just eat your teak up.

If the wood is weathered bad I will start with 100 grit paper to smooth the surface and work out scratches.  Keep working up through grits, how high you go is just a matter of preference and the application.  A step might need a rougher surface than a tabletop.  I sand through 320 on my gun because it looks really good. Deep gouges can be left, we call this character and outdoor teak is not expected to look like a fine dining table.

Step 3: Applying the Oil

I usually just apply the oil directly to the wood with a rag, rub it in real good so the wood soaks up as much as it can.  You do not want a we surface so wipe off any excess oil.  You can sand with very fine sandpaper between coats if needed.  For my speargun I use two or three coats cause it is not stored in the sun like something attached to the boat.  I would use more coats on an outdoor piece like three or four coats. Let dry to tack free between coats and re-apply.  Each coat will make the surface look deeper and deeper, this is not a high gloss treatment, it is a deep hand rubbed finish that really makes the grain pop and looks beautiful.

Between coats I wrap my rag with saran wrap and put it in an open concrete area.  The plastic wrap keeps the oil from drying between coats.  Be careful though, oil soaked rags have been known to start fires when kept in an oxygen free environment.  When you are done lay the rag out on concrete, let is dry out, and dispose of it.

Step 4: Put It All Back Together

Once the last coat of oil is dry put everything back together and you are ready to go.  For pieces in the sun you may have to re-apply every month or two, for my speargun which is stored indoors I do this once or twice a year.

Now that you are done sit back, crack open a cold beverage and enjoy your handiwork. 



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    5 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    glad to see you were able to ensure many more years of service from your speargun. It looks great.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Yes the speargun will live on. I purchased this gun in 1994 and at one point I used to keep it in the boat tied up to the dock out back and it was pure silver. A little sanding and teak oil can do wonders and I don't leave it outside anymore considering the cost of new ones these days.