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Project Log:  Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I had an hour or so available at the end of the work day, so I thought I'd see if I could successfully separate the glued-up and broken (or nearly so) sections of the teak external bulwark cover boards. 

As you may recall, during the removal of these pieces from the port side of the boat, I discovered that the forward sections had been secured with an overabundant application of nasty adhesive sealant, which complicated the removal and unfortunately caused damage to the boards right at their after ends where they met the next section with half-lap joints.

In one case, the board broke completely just forward of the half-lap, as seen below; in the two other cases, I managed to get the boards--still glued together at the joints--off the boat intact, but with cracks already forming from the stress, so all three sets of boards would require repair (at best) or replacement (hopefully not).

Since the insides of these half-laps were heavily slathered in the black sealant, I worried about how to separate the pieces.  I needed to separate the joints to make the board sections more manageable and avoid further damage now and in the future, during the repair process (hopefully), the sanding and refinishing process (assuming the repairs could be effected successfully), and reinstallation.

To separate the joints, I used a thin cutting blade in my oscillating multi-tool, a special-purpose tool that had been slowly starting to prove its occasional worth in the shop, to my grudging surprise.  Starting with the boards that had already broken  (as seen in the photo above), I used a slim pull saw to cut through the exposed vertical glue line on the face of the board, demarking the end of the half-lap, then used the multi-tool to carefully cut through the sealant (aka black gunk) that was holding the pieces of wood together within.  This worked quite well.


Despite the ragged appearance of the break, it was actually a surprisingly clean break in that the two pieces slotted together neatly with barely any sign of the damage.  While in an ideal world I'd just throw out this wood and start over with new, I really, really did not want to do so:  these boards looked like an annoying and time-consuming job to replace, never mind the cost of the new teak. 

Structurally, the broken areas of these boards were insignificant; these are just trim pieces for the most part, and the broken areas were located well away from the open freeing ports that the board span. So given the cleanness of the break, I thought I'd have nothing to lose by attempting a repair.

Pleased so far with the joint separation process, I moved on to the other two long sections and managed to separate the joints in the same way.  Both of these sections were also already damaged from the removal from the boat, and another one of the boards broke just past the joint as I worked to separate the glue.  Again, however, I felt that the break--ragged as it appeared--slotted together neatly with its counterpart, and I decided to glue it up and see what happened.


Several of the other boards had small cracks here and there, most of which had been there for some.  To preserve the boards and prevent further damage, I planned also to glue these cracks to the extent possible.  While these cracks might never be truly invisible, they were insignificant and I wasn't about to trash the boards because of these minor areas.  Of course, if later in the process I were to discover that these teak board didn't clean up as I hoped, then all bets would be off.


After inspecting all 18 boards that came off the boat, I had a small pile of about six that required repair in some form or another.  I cleaned the mating surfaces (where possible) with acetone, and glued everything together with a slightly thickened epoxy resin mixture, using tape and clamps as needed to hold the glued-up joints together. and set the pieces aside to cure.

Everything looked like a royal mess, but I'd confidence that once the boards were sanded and cleaned up, the glue joints would be barely noticeable and structurally sound enough for the boards' intended position.


Total Time Today:  1 hours

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