Brightwork: The Art of Finishing Wood

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McGraw Hill Professional, 1990 - Crafts & Hobbies - 192 pages
Few things transform a boat into a yacht quite as gracefully as the incomparable look and texture of oiled, varnished, and bare wood surfaces. Whether the spars and cabin trunk of a wooden Alden schooner, the mirror-smooth foredeck of a Huckins motoryacht, the thwarts and oars of a Whitehall dinghy, or the teak decks and trim of a production fiberglass boat, brightwork is the crowning touch that elevates one boat in an anchorage above the rest. But it is also its owner's care and responsibility. There's no mystery to brightwork, but it's a finicky and time-consuming process, one that rewards orderliness and forethought and is unforgiving of missteps. Drawing on more than 10 years' experience as a brightwork specialist, Rebecca Wittman provides in this book all the information you need to avoid frustrations and costly mistakes and derive the greatest possible satisfaction from a process that can be its own reward. She answers such questions as: What are the symptoms of a deteriorating finish, and what clues does each provide to its source and cure? When can chipped, flaking, cracked, or blackened varnish be patched, and when must it be removed to bare wood for an entirely new finish? Which woods can be left bare? In preparing wood for a finish it is really necessary to sand through all the grits from coarse to fine? (It isn't.) When, if ever, is it advisable to use an oil finish on exterior surfaces? Ms. Wittman has strong opinions. She favors foam brushes over expensive, badger-hair brushes, which achieve no better results and must be cleaned after each use with toxic solvents. She uses chemical strippers only on detailed or convoluted surfaces that a heat gun can't master. And she has clear preferences for certain varnishes and oils over others. Her writing is meticulously thorough, yet graceful and entertaining. Brightwork is both a reference guide and a celebration of the art. The techniques she describes will produce the highest-quality finishes on furniture in the home, as well. "A first class and highly readable text that should be mandatory reading for anyone who owns or is contemplating owning a wooden vessel."--Sailing "It's elegant--elegant as the work it describes so successfully, elegant in its writing, elegant in its photography, and elegant physically as a volume."--SAIL A Cruising World "Editor's Choice": "Brightwork provides all the information you need to avoid frustrations and costly mistakes and derive the greatest satisfaction from a process that can be its own reward."

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About the author (1990)

Rebecca Wittman was born and raised on a cattle ranch near Lewiston, Idaho, one of eight children. After studying opera as a music performance major at the University of Idaho, she moved to Seattle, where she began three careers. A series of positions at Britannia Sportswear led to her promotion to assistant director of a new women's apparel line, with extensive work in the Orient. Her singing career has included nightclub engagements, studio work in Seattle and Los Angeles, and national anthem performances for the Seattle sports organizations, including a CBS appearance for a 1979 NBA championship game.

Ms. Wittman undertook her first brightwork job in company with her sister in exchange for sailing lessons. In 1978 she cofounded a custom yacht refinishing company, The Teak Twins, and within five years completed full or partial brightwork restoration projects on more than 100 yachts in the Seattle area. In 1983 she founded a yacht management and refinishing business in Marina del Rey, California. In 1986 she returned to Seattle, resuming her refinishing work there.

Ms. Wittman has taught brightwork classes and conducts an annual spring seminar on the subject at the Center for Wooden Boats. Her 13-part series on refinishing, which ran in Waterlines magazine in 1986 - 87, drew an overwhelming reader response, as did her three-part series (taken from this book) in WoodenBoat magazine in 1988. Brightwork is her first book.

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