How to Pine Tar a Boat

Written by christopher f. lapinel Google
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Using pine tar, or Stockholm tar, as it's more commonly known, for caulking your boat can be tricky and time-consuming. What's more, not only is the process messy, so is the finished product--if you don't get it right. People sometimes wind up with a puddle of tar at the centre of the hull at the first hint of warm weather, which means you'll spring leaks. Still, the value of restoring your boat will probably outweigh any such considerations. And if you do get it right, you will be well-pleased with the results.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 1 pint Stockholm (Pine) Tar
  • 1/2 pint Japan drier
  • 1 quart boiled linseed oil
  • 1 quart gum turpentine
  • 1 quart greater turpentine
  • Sander
  • Caulking iron
  • Rubber mallet
  • Standard oakum
  • Paint brushes

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  1. 1

    Make two batches of Stockholm tar. Mix the first batch with greater turpentine; in the second batch, mix gum turpentine, boiled linseed oil, Japan drier and oakum.

  2. 2

    Sand the portions of the vessel that you wish to tar. Remove existing paint and caulking for a smooth, even finish.

  3. 3

    Use a putty knife to cut out any existing paint and caulking between the planks, particularly if they're badly deteriorated. Then brush away debris with a small paint brush.

  4. 4

    Wash down the vessel inside and out, using plain soap and water. This eliminates any bacteria or fungal growth.

  5. 5

    Insert the oakum strands firmly into the wedge-shaped gaps in the planking, using a caulking iron and mallet.

  6. 6

    Heat the first batch of "Stockholm" tar. With a clean paint brush, apply a light, even coat over the planking seams within the hull's interior. Allow it to soak into the wood and oakum. For best results, wait one day, or until the tar has solidified.

  7. 7

    When the tar has solidified, becoming brittle, scrape away any excess that has weeped through to the hull's exterior with the putty knife.

  8. 8

    Heat the second batch of Stockholm tar. Use it as a varnish, apply it evenly over the vessel, inside and out. Reapply it once a day, for one week, then once a week for a month.

  9. 9

    Take your vessel out on the water and test her out.

Tips and warnings

  • Stockholm tar is especially good for waterproofing unseen wood, particularly well-worn areas, like anchor lockers.
  • Start slow. Test the "Stockholm" tar on a small area to begin with and adjust the recipe as needed.
  • Don't brush Stockholm tar on straight, create a soup. This makes the caulking more resilient to heat and wear.
  • If done well, the tar will last for a year and if maintained well, becomes exponentially easier to keep up with.
  • The linseed oil will considerably darken the wood, eventually turning it almost black. One cause for this might be a chemical interaction between ultraviolet light and algae growth. To prevent undue darkening, wash the surface frequently with soap and water.

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