Re: [BCC Forum Post] Jonathan Fulford: Re: teak decks


You didn’t mention it, but do you have fiberglass on top of the deck core, core and glass under; seems odd to have glass under and bare plywood between the teak decking?

You did not mention the shape of the teak deck groove, is it V-grooved or rabbit cut, like a step? Planks seem rather narrow for rabbit cut. If V-cut grooves, the cotton is driven in to the bottom of the V-groove to add latteral tension to the planking to stiffen the deck, not seal it; if it has rabbit grooves the cotton was used as a “bond breaker” to inhibit the bottom of the caulking from sticking to the bottom the groove, caulking can only withstand two sided latteral tension and survive any length of time.

If using the laminate trimmer, we install a fin guide on the bottom inline with the cutting blade, aft of the blade. We cut out some of the caulding with a japanese chisel and scrape the side of the groove clean with a bent file chisel and or a box cutting knife to get started. Care is needed as any tool with a guide will not make sharp corners, wear goggles and a good quality dust mask.

Porter Cable makes a miniture skill saw with 4.5" blades, we double up the blades with a flat washer in between the blades and this gives a 1/4" rabbit cut clean on both sides, a good 1/4" chisel is run up the center of the groove bottom to clean up what the saw misses. Of course, pre-set the depth and check on a practice board before attempting your deck. We line up the saw with the guard pushed back and the saw turned off, tip the saw forward on the base plate and rock the rear back to plunge cut to start the cut. In skilled hands, we have cut almost the entire deck on a Force 50 in a single day 0800-1600 hours.

If replacing your bungs, counter sink and use larger screws, if #10 go to #12, if #12 take a larger bung get a larger bit of course. Clean out all newly drilled holes with acetone and let dry before installing new bung with epoxy, also rinse new plugs with acetone to remove oils. We use machine screws inplace of wood screws and make sure the drilled hole is on the small size to get a tight fit of the screw. If the teak is thick allowing 1/4" above the screw we try to counter bore and use a pan head screw as this prevents split out. If the deck is shallow we use a flat head screw with a bevel on the bottom and still insist on 1/4" above the screw head, any less thickness will allow the plug to work free in short order, even with epoxy.

We use a japanese cut off saw (teeth set on one side of the blade) or a fein Super Cut to flush cut the bungs with the plank surface, it’s fast and clean. If used properly the Japanese plug cut-off saw will make a clean cut and wont scratch the planks, the super cut will scratch the planks, but if your going to sand afterwards, if done with care it will lop the bungs of fast… Fein does make a caulking removal bit, we have never used it but some people say it works great.

It’s important to note, screws in the teak deck were only designed to hold the planks down while the planks, bedded in polysulfide, were held in place long enough for the bedding to cure, they serve no other function. If you have loose planks, the screws will not be sufficient to hold the planks securely, subsequent movement of the planks, if the caulking was properly applied, is the primary reason why caulking fails.

Good luck,

Marty Chin


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