Teak finishing problem

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Forum topic by ShopCat posted 09-11-2009 06:28 AM 2373 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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51 posts in 3577 days

09-11-2009 06:28 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question finishing sanding refurbishing teak

I am doing a repair job on some Danish style Teak chairs. One of chair legs was broken, and very poorly repaired. I managed to dissolve the Titebond III that was used to glue the break, and I have it reassembled and glued up, but I am having a problem with the finish.

I have never worked with Teak before, and I am finding it… different. I had to soak the break location in vinegar to dissolve the glue, so some of the honey color of the wood got washed out a bit. I also had to sand over the whole area of the repair job in order to clean up some rough points. In the process, the wood took on a grayish dirty look. I initially though it was just excess glue (I used Titebond Liquid Hide), but now I think it may actually be oil from the Teak itself.

Reading up on Teak finishing on the web has me a bit confused. I understand that Teak pretty much takes care of itself, but first I would like to clean off the glue or oil that is on the surface, next I would like to sand it without recreating the gray dirty look, finally, I would like to get it to buff up to the satin honey color of the rest of chair.

I get differing pictures of what to do off of the mass of websites. I know I don’t want to varnish, shellac, etc., but what will I be doing if I do a single coat of Teak Oil? Is Teak Oil what indoor Teak furniture is usually finished with? What is the best way to sand this stuff? What is a good solution (as in liquid) for cleaning Teak? I have to be careful around the glued area, since water and liquid hide glue don’t work together well.


-- ShopCat

2 replies so far

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1598 posts in 3556 days

#1 posted 09-11-2009 07:51 AM

Teak oil will keep any other clearcoat from adhering. Once you go oil the only thing you can do is let it dry out naturally and then sand it back. Teak oil dries out and then you’ve got yourself a habit of oiling ad infinitum. Oil also darkens the wood, so it probably won’t give you the color you’re looking for anyway.

Teak brightener is usually a diluted form of oxalic acid, which is basically a fancy version of hydrochloric acid (aka muriatic acid for pool owners). It’s all the same stuff. You can always run over to your local West Marine and buy a small piece of teak to experiment on. OxyClean is also a version of bleach/hydrochloric that you might try. I’ve always just sanded my teak boat parts down to fresh wood to apply a different/incompatible finish to the previous incarnation.

Cetol by Sikkens makes several flavors of microporous (meaning it allows the wood to breathe) teak finishes. One of their newest flavors is “teak”. Imagine that. It doesn’t give you the candy-coated look of classic boat finishes. I don’t know if this will help with Danish furniture, but it’s about all I know about teak. Good luck and keep us posted.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View ShopCat's profile


51 posts in 3577 days

#2 posted 12-10-2009 06:00 PM

Follow-up. I gave up on sanding, and honed up my old cabinet scraper, which I should have used to begin with. Scraping, I managed to reduce, but not eliminate some of the grey. Prevailing theory among other locals is I had some kind of chemical reaction between the acetic acid in the vinegar and the natural oil in the teak. A very light application of rubbed-on pure Woodcraft Tung oil restored some of the color, to the point where it was acceptable.

-- ShopCat

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