I would recommend coating it with several layers of clear epoxy then several
coats of a good varnish with UV filters.
This will seal it for sure and give it longevity and prevent delaminating.
You should remember to do the bolt holes as well. Often what is done is to
epoxy in a brass tube sized to the bolt.
This is also how most tillers (i.e. rudder handles) are done these days.
The varnish is added to provide UV filters. Any epoxy additives that give
UV filters make it opaque.
Let me offer a counter view. I can't remember ever seeing a sailboat with
epoxied/urethaned teak deck fittings. They always use oil. Oil finishes
aren't as slippery when wet as coatings like epoxy or urethane.
An oil finish isn't going to be a "one-time and forget" proposition - you're
going to have to refinish it a couple of times per season. Go to a marine
shop and see what kinds of oil finishes they have - you'll find lots.
I've used tung oil for paddles and haven't had any problems. In fact, the older
the paddle (and more times it's been oiled) the better it looks. Varnished/
epoxied/urethaned paddles almost always look worse with age.
Traditionally you are quite correct, but with the newer materials and
coatings, it is possible to minimize and in some cases eliminate
The reason a lot of marine woood is coated with epoxy these days is to
minimize the maintenance, and functionally stop it from being wood - by
totally sealing it. When the item is outside, exposed to the sun, it has to
be UV protected otherwise the epoxy will break down, and thus several coats
of a poly varnish, which does have to be maintained.
For marine application of wod and epoxy is West System -
I thought the reason that people got into sailing was because their lives
were so empty and pointless that they wanted to spend the rest of their
lives (and money) cleaning and maintaining a boat?
Six of one, half dozen of the other IMHO. How do you get a epoxy/varnish
surface to not be slippery and still be nice and clear?
I use West Systems almost exclusively. I made an on-deck widget out of
epoxy covered MDF and it's held up fine over the years. No UV protection,
but lots of black colourant (which may help).
Still like oil. Tradition has its place on the water.
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