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When to stain wood?

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I am about to embark on a new build. My last boat - which was the first time the entire boat was stained with wood - did not turn out so well. It was clinker built, and I had difficulty getting all the glue marks off so it would not stain evenly. 


My new boat is the MS Bounty launch. Like the Amati Viking, she was supplied in wood which needs to be stained to look good. 


I plan to leave part of the exterior unfinished and treenailed. Following my experience with my previous build, I am also planning to stain the planks before I mount it on the frame. I am using a water soluble stain. 


Here are my questions: 


- how well would the stain hold up to soaking, steaming, and plank bending? 

- once the hull is treenailed, how well would it hold up to sanding to get the treenails flush?


I am starting to think that it would be close to impossible to achieve the finish that I want. Help me, MSW!!

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I always stain the wood parts before using glue, this helps eliminate the glue spots. Also after they dry you are fine to bend them. However sanding will bring out the stain and lighten it closer to the original wood. Hope this helps, these are things I learned by trial and error after 4 builds.

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I don't see any problem re-staining after you sand. It certainly is better than gluing first and then stain.

Also it works better if you use water based stain, as you indicated. PVA bonded to an oil-based stain is not as strong as when you use water based stain.

But be sure to try it first on a piece of scrap.

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Voila, all I had to do was search this website further to have my question regarding gluing and staining answered. This is an amazing site. Nothing goes unanswered. So here was my question. I have started the Bounty by Art. Latina and their instructions were to stain certain parts that would be hard to get to once installed in place. So I then took it upon myself to stain a lot more....particularly the ribbing because with an open hull some of them would be visible. Well I stained both the inside and outside of four frames (ribs) before I said to myself, "Is the stain going to seal the pores and create a problem when it comes to gluing on the planks?" I stopped until I found the answer. Seems from what I've read here there will be no problem. But I am going to test some scrap before continuing to stain any gluing surfaces. And, one might ask, why am I bothering to stain the surfaces of the ribs that will be planked over anyway? Only answer I have is that right now I can't be sure which will end up on the starboard side (unplanked) and which on the closed/planked port side. So its easier to do all of it. Now that I think about it, its not easier, certainly takes more time, than just remembering to glue in the frames oriented properly.

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  • 4 months later...

Bart 430,

The finish on my builds are 99% stain and oil ( reference my build log rattlesnake by MOG)  water based or regular oil  does not really matter to as long as I get the effect I want. I use allot of  sanding seal and varnish, as with most builds you finish and seal the hull before attaching items to it. Plus I don’t know a builder who has not broken something that required gluing back on at some point. I have never had a problem gluing over any of it. The only thing is if you use seal or varnish  always get a good  coat  stain down first , like it says seal is a seal and the stain will not penetrate fully.


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Hi Keith

Personally I would apply some stain prior to assembly.When you do rub the hull and treenails down,removing areas of stained wood,you will have no problem restaining as the sanding will have removed any potential glue marks in those areas.The problem is areas that you can't get to to remove glue,but you won't be able to sand these areas either,if you catch my drift.


Kind Regards



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Guest EricD

A lot of good ideas here! 


You mentioned the problem of glue stains.  If you are using regular wood glue, its a good idea to wipe down the surface with a wet cloth before you stain or varnish because that will take off any glue residue.  The sooner you do that after gluing the more easy and effective it is.  I keep a pot of water and paint brush and wipe off any visible glue spots as I'm working.

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