Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dutching in

On a boat of any age, there will be places where the woodwork has been damaged.  In Eolian's cockpit, the coaming cover had holes drilled to accommodate pegs in the cushioned seat backs (to keep the seat backs in place).  Because of the design, it was easy to apply substantial leverage on the pegs and holes when lifting up the seat backs.  Not surprisingly then, there were places where the pegs broke out the edge of the teak cover board.

What to do?  We'll pick just one of the breaks in Eolian's coaming cap to follow - one in which the Previous Owner had sanded and finished the split-out surface in an attempt to disguise the damage:

Piece broken out, and then refinished!

We will be gluing in a new piece of wood, in a process called "dutching in".  Sorry, I don't know where this name came from.  In order to do this and have a thin glue seam, the contour of the area to be repaired must match the contour of the piece which will be ductched in.  This is easiest by far if we are matching two flat surfaces.  So, using whatever tools are appropriate for your repair (I used a hammer and a chisel here), clean up the surface of the area to be repaired, creating a place for the filler piece to nestle into.  Choose your filler piece carefully - it should have grain and color that are a good match for the area being repaired.

Next, using epoxy (I used 30-minute stuff here), and whatever clamps are required to hold things together until the epoxy goes off, glue in the filler piece:

Repair piece is epoxied into place

Once the epoxy has hardened, use whatever tools are required to trim away the extra wood.  In this example case, I again used a chisel, but a small saw could have worked too, or perhaps a Dremel tool.  Then sand the repair area.  You'll see that in the example, I did not pay too much attention to the actual peg hole because I was going to re-drill it anyway to take a bronze bushing:

Trimmed and sanded

Finished; bushing installed

It's really not hard to do. Just don't be in too big a hurry... spend the time to make the patch as invisible as possible.

Look closely at any classic wooden boat - you will undoubtedly find dutched in areas...  now that you know what you are looking for.

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