Wooden Boat Repair, Restoration & refinishing for the rest of us. NEW YORK


Lots of wooden boat owners can not afford the major refit option here in New York. Many of us realize that plugging away in Martha Stewart style is the way to go. Some of us keep lists with structure being the priority. Not to many, plunk money in the cushions and varnish while ignoring bleeding fasteners, broken ribs and cheesy looking planks. Every wooden boat owner has a plan and we often stick to it.

Urbanboatworks ( thats us Julien & dana) is honored and pleased to keep these New York Wooden boats alive & sailing. Check us out at www.urbanboatworks.com if your in need of help and live in New York or CT.


Spring Varnish


Brightwork is finiky work.   As an offshore sailor who is pretty rough and tumble, I consider my varnish protection first, perfection second. As a wooden boat owner I am aware not only of the movement of the wood on the boat but also the area’s that take the abuse. Therefor I do things like coat all rounds and surfaces that lay flat to the sun several times. A typical cabinside will get two or three coats on the waterways and eyebrows- to one coat on the horizontal grained cabin wood. Some places will get three cost while others will get one.

Here are a few tricks I have learned over the years that make it a but easier.

  • Clean your surface ( after Sanding ) 3 times. Once with a vacuum, then with a rag with spirits on it and lastly with a fresh tack rag.

I use to tell the people that worked with me doing brightwork in the tropics ” it is all about cleaning” and i would tell my clients “your paying for more then a seasonal coat. Your also getting a complete wash down to your openings including screens, tiles and walls. ”

  • Wait until the pollen has passed and there is no wind

Everyone is in a rush to get evrything knocked off there list for boat season. It pays to do your brightwork on the perfect day with no wind, early in the morning but not so early that dew is around.

  • Always buy and use a new brush.

I now charge one new brush to each job for the last coat. After someone has spent good money on sanding and cleaning they should not have a problem paying 12-18 bucks extra for a new brush, with no dust.


brightwork on an S- Class Boat


varnish hatch

varnish on an alden hatch

Varnishing Wooden Boats in New York


varnish, brightwork

at urbanboatworks we restore and refinish all matters of wood. On land or sea.

As  owner’s of a wooden boat, Julien & I understand varnish and the stable surface that needs to exist below the varnish. We address the under lying cause of varnish failure. ( caulk seam gone bad, bad bung, leaking port lights, not enough build up) When perfection is not required, we know how to lay on for protection. Prepping and painting wooden hulls – cold molded, plank on frame or strip construction is our pleasure. We work with Awlgrip, Kirby Paints and Fine Paints of Europe. Varnish is always Epifanes.


varnishing Allegro an s class boat


brightwork on an S- Class Boat

varnish on an alden hatch

varnish on an alden hatch

door varnish

epifanes matte varnish to a west village New York Door


Paint on Hope a q class wooden boat

Late fall is always a time for me to work on my own boat. The build up on TIGER MARU was thick. It had been 8 years since the last strip. I use an  inferred heater to strip large surfaces. The build up was thick but it only took a half hour to strip the cabin sides. Next I cabinet scraper the wood back to a uniform red color. If not done properly yellow oxidized wood will remain. The scraper ( when sharp) levels the wood out to an even plane. When the sun hits the varnish the rays will bounce off. If the surface is not fair then the rays will absorb into the wood. After the scraping I check to make sure everything is fair. You can run your hand over the surface with your eyes closed. I promise you will feel divits, high and low spots. Scrape away until it feels even. Then I sand with 150-180 to make sure all marks are out. Next comes the varnish which is played on across the grain and thinned for the first 3 coats. This ensures all the pores are filled. Full strength varnish is played on and sanded back with 320 sand paper until the build up looks right. Round eyebrows and the top of coamings gets more coats and is sanded back with a 400 grit sponge.

A cheap skates guide for extracting a 50 foot wooden mast


removing a wooden mast DSCF1843 DSCF1844 DSCF1846 DSCF1848 DSCF1854DSCF1857

although our 5o foot wooden mast is springy and 500 pounds, that doesn’t stop my dear darling from pulling it from a floating dock in the wake infested Hudson River with a 30 foot derrick made of repurposed 2 by 8’s.

here are the steps:
spend 5 hours making a wooden frame derrick from 2 by 8’s. cross bracing made from 2 by 6’s.

next bring to the site and bolt together the two half’s.

Then stand it up with the halyards of the mast. guy lines going back- tied and fastened to the dock. we borrowed a power winch for the lifting operation. We mounted the winch on the bottom cross brace and used a lift line for the mast which the winch cable was tied to. The cable was not long enough to go thru the block and back down. When we were ready with the set up we then unpinned all the rigging. Jay worked the winch while we guided the mast.

It was nerve wracking to say the least- as our wooden mast is very slinky. Motor boat wakes didn’t not help.

at one point when the mast was nearly out of the deck we had some troubles. The dock was under water and the derrick was lifting off the dock. Julien and I were so hyper focused that we did not notice the halyard was still attacked to the pulpit. Thank god Etna was around and saw the trouble.

Out and down the mast came.
It was a really good experience but i begged julien to find a crane to put the newly varnish mast back. And that he did. Steve with a crane on a barge came to the rescue. It was slick as snot and I did not have to worry about people knocking there teeth out or losing a months pay due to injury. After all Julien is batting about a 600 as he has dropped it twice and broken it once under sail.


Hardware on New boom Boom Staves Assembled Wooden Spar Construction Wooden Boom Building

New Wooden Boat Cockpit made by urbanboatworks.com


It’s not every day that some one comes along and wants a new cockpit. The owner of this almost 100 year old S Boat ALLEGRO did.

Julien loves to builds cockpits. He says ” i have always enjoyed rebuilding cockpits. Normally I am trying to keep boats afloat. Cockpits are the fluff. You have to get it right. It needs to fit. Basically that’s were you spend all your time.”

If you are in the New York area and have a wooden boat contact us thru our website at www.urbanboatworks.com

new cockpit for s boat ALLEGRO made by www.urbanboatworks.com

new cockpit for s boat ALLEGRO made by http://www.urbanboatworks.com

Herreshoff S Boat Repairs and Restoration- also known as Spring Commisioning

 Herreshoff S Class RepairsA bunch of 90 year old S Boats sail out of western long island sound. They are in various states of condition. Wooden boats always need something. We started out building a new cockpit for Allegro. She also needed 8 broken frames repaired.

New cockpit soul on s boat

replacing a plank on a s boatplank repair

wooden boat restoration new yorkNext we worked on Danai which is also kept in the Brewers yard. Julien removed stem to keel fairing because it was badly chafed and found iron drifts cracking the keel into the rabbet. We replaced six floor timbers and the mast step. The highlight of the job was steam bending 5 ribs into the bow. We replaced these ribs as they flattened on either side of the brake spoiling the shape of the boat.

wooden boat repair- new york

new mast step

floor timber replacement

Refastening wooden boat

Phillip came in with a new s boat now named   Ingwe  . We call it the Rhode island rat and wonder if he bought it from our friend Thorp. She is a bit out of shape and has been abused. A  deck was put on a crooked boat which has to come off in a few years. This year Phillip is trying to get her sound and is doing a wonderful job. Julien and Phillip steam bent 8 frames. Julien will replace one plank and has removed three that will be added to. Splining loose seams will take up much of the week. Splining seams is a fairly straight forward procedure of evening up the wide seems and inserting a v shaped spline- glued on one side and caulked on the other.

wooden boat repair new york

rib repair

Ingwe s boat repairs

ingwe s boat

We applaud the S Boat Owners at the Brewers Yard in Mamaroneck. They are all doing hands on maintenance and only require Urbanboatworks for extra ordinary projects.

Preparing green wood for steam bending

Preparing Green Wood For Steam Bending

processing white oak for steam bending DSCF0330

When a few S Class Boats needed new ribs, URBANBOATWORKS stayed local to find its green Oak wood. We headed across the road to haul out a 120 year old white oak that came down in Storm Sandy. After setting up block and tackle we hoisted the heavy log out of the woods using our pick up truck. Processing was done the old fashion way with wedges and sledge. This insured good grain orientation wood that is essential for steam bending. 


Preparing Green White Oak for Steam bending Ribs from dana carini on Vimeo.

Urbanboatworks Marine Projects Resume


Q Class Wooden Boat

Work On Wooden Boats

  • S/V Extra Dry floor timbers- ribs- butt blocks- planking
  • 1924 23 foot knock about Timberpoint Steam bent ribs, floor timbers, center board trunk, deck, shear stake, garboard, spars,
  • built 5 clam boat garveys from scratch
  •  K and T Products – machine shop apprentice
  • Built H-28 Ketch S/V Ishtar from line drawings
  • Worked for Babylon Marine doing various repair projects on wooden production motor boats-
  • 41 foot Gardner Ketch S/V Malabar – new transom, cockpit, side decks
  • On going saga of derelict cold molded wooden sloop “ Tiger Maru” – made sea worthy by 1986-sailing from West Indies to New York half a dozen times -Most recent refit 2009- replace cockpit with new single Molded fiberglass and bridge deck, new mid ship floor Timbers, reconfigured galley to new bridge deck, Mast step, replaced lower stem, replaced 30 sq feet of Cold molded planking,
  • Replication of 1951 30 ft Egg Harbor in the Virgin Islands Saved keel and stem,
  • 1935 35 foot Rhodes sloop “Winddrift” replace 4 ribs, re place mast step and floors replaced shear strake, replaced covering board, repaired deck beam ends, replaced 7 ribs in main salon up to the sisters at turn, replaced floor timbers, new garboard and three strakes above
  • 1930ʼs Alden Yawl- S/V Gratia Virgin Islands Rebuild broken mast
  • Dock Building project – Reicon NYC Replaced wooden whalers, bumpers, sheathing and deck on the under side of the marine transfer station in Collage Pt Queens NY
  • 40 ft Passenger Perdohm Catamaran water taxi Replaced port wave piercing bow to coast guard specs
  • 70 foot Ketch S/V No Nonsense Replaced teak taft rail and cap rail , rebuild combing, repaired rot in lazarette boxes
  • 1937 Rhodes 41 foot yawl S/V Golden Eye Scarfed mizzen mast together and fixed broken cap rail
  • 1946 Alden Yawl S/V Aegir Rebuilt main boom,  various Dutchmen’s to bright surfaces, Yearly brightwork & Hull painting 1946 Wintrop Warner Sloop S/V Mary Loring, Replaced 7 set of frames and floor timbers in bow Replace section of stem in bow, Scarfed in three new plank ends, splined 30 ft seams, Replaced 3 frames aft, replaced planking, caulk
  • 1929 John Alden Q Boat S/V Hope New York Repaired forward broken bulwarks and caprail, Set new bow chocks, spring maintenance repair Rot in bulwark, covering board and shear strake, replace 2 sections of cockpit combing, various dutchmens, Haul out- scarfed in new bottom of rudder, replaced Worm shoe, fabricated new bottom gudgeon, painted hull
  • Rhodes 41 Ft S/V Golden Eye Built bowsprit, repair to main mast broken at upper Spreaders.
  • 1950 Huckins Motor Boat S/V Dolphin Replaced cabin trunk corner post, replaced cabin side, Fabricated and installed new eyebrow


Rot Work

Rot Work

Tiger Maru a cold molded one ton- rebuilt

Tiger Maru a cold molded one ton- rebuilt


New Cockpit being installed in Wooden boat Tiger Maru

New Cockpit being installed in Wooden boat Tiger Maru


Rot Repair to Cold Molded Wooden Boat

Rot Repair to Cold Molded Wooden Boat

Replanking Cold Molded Wooden Boat

Replanking Cold Molded Wooden Boat


DSC_0042 DSC_0072 DSC_0095

DSCF2973 DSCF4796

wooden boat Hukins rot repair- new york

wooden boat Hukins rot repair- new york

Finishes- old and new finishes I adore


I really am obsessed with Finish’s. I love the glossy mirror look of High Gloss paint as well as the dry flat matte of chalk. lime and milk finishes.

milk paint wall finish


These walls are lime plastered. I painted them out with Black Milk Paint. I love the way you can layer milk paints to get different depth’s of color. I wash it on with a big lime wash brush. Some area’s get more then others. It drys quick so you must move fast. I go back over some area’s and leave some with just one coat. This wall I wanted flat and I wanted it to look old. Often I will apply wax over it to give it a darker color and to add more protection to the wall. This wall I wanted matte.

Falun Black Finish


This is an outside wall painted out in Falun Black. I love this stuff. It must be applied on raw new wood. Falun black is a pigment that comes from the Falun mine’s of the Baltic region. The paint comes dry. You mix it with linseed oil and water. People say it last s 20- 50 years. I love it for its flat matte quality and its easy application.

High Solid Water Stain


High solid water based stains are easy to apply and they wont peel off. When I see the grain or knots of the wood poking thru I lightly sand with 180 grit and then slap on another coat. This paint like stain lasts 5 years on my pine planks.

Marine Paints


High Gloss Marine paints are not so easy to apply but they sure look great. High Gloss finishes need to be sanded to perfection. Dust is another problem that needs to be avoided. Marine paints are my go to for kitchen’s, bathrooms and front doors. I love them for their durability and classic look.

Painted front door

rabbit skin glue and pigments

Rabbit skin glue mixed with hand ground pigments give a saturated natural  look. The skin is melted in a double boiler and to that i add ground pigments. It is then brushed on in layers. This table received 8 coats brushed on over one another. Its another finish that dry’s fast. As you add more coats some areas get darker while other may not. Brushing is fast and furious. I love the look because of the striations. Rabbit skin distemper needs to be coated with a clear coat other wise it will wash off.  Here I used a water based clear coat that seemed to work well.

Lime Paint

Lime Paint with Indigo Pigment. This finish is made with lime soaked in water and left for three months. Pigments are added the day of painting. Typically it is used on stone, brick and plaster walls. It allows water to escape walls. This finish has a matte look. It’s beauty is in the years of built up coats that create various shades of color. Corners become rounded with build up. This finish is applied yearly in many country’s. Lime paint can be painted on open grain woods and then rubbed back to create a natural washed look.

pigments suspended in lime

This wall from India shows the look of pigments mixed with lime putty.

nepal rustic kitchen

This wall (nepal) shows the look of lime wall paint. Do you see the various shades. I love the imperfect living wall look.

oil paint

Old fashion and hard to get oil paints. Woodwork almost always get oil paint for me. Classic hard-wearing finish.


Classic Varnish.


Marine Paint

Marine Paint at the Brooklin Boat Yard

We restore & refinish all matters of brightwork for yacht and home.

We restore & finish all matters of Bright Work for yacht and home.


Most of these paints can be created with common ingredients. There are many recipes on the web. You can start by looking at www.kremerpigments.com 

Steam bending Oak Veneer

An old oak table that has been kicked around & soaked by Hurricane Sandy found it’s way to our shop. Here Julien is steam bending a piece if 1/8 ” oak wood. He uses the Earlex steam machine ( $75 bucks) a plastic plumbing pipe, a clamp and some rags.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/112111235″>Steam Bending Oak Wood to a curve</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user7487212″>dana carini</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>