I have been working on restore my 16' Tatman this winter. I have put up some photos of how things are going so far. I guess restoring is not quite accurate, I am only refinishing the inside and adding a fresh copy of Spar varnish to the outside. Anyway, if any of you that have restored a boat before and any good tips, let me know.

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Looks like a lot of work Jesse, but the only way to get it done.

How old is the boat? Find any rot on the bottom or chine?


Looks like you have a lot of the hard work, stripping the old varnish, done. A good paint stripper helps to get most of it off but there will always be some sanding as well. We have had good luck with several water based strippers. They are easy to use and nontoxic. Sure eliminates a lot of dust. Now that it is stripped you can save yourself alot of work down the road by oiling the interior. It's not as shinny as varnish but you will never have to strip it again, just brush on some oil and wipe it down every year or when ever you want it to look new again. The nice thing about an oiled interior is that, unlike paint, it doesn't crack with age and then let water seep in. Four oz cloth and epoxy on the outside will give you a great base for varnish or paint. Those fir panels will continue to check if you don't put cloth and epoxy on them. Nothing wrong with a checked panel but since you've worked so hard to get the old stuff off you might as well spend a little more time and put a finish on that will most likely last the life of the boat. We've done that to several restorations and they are quite nice. Looks like a new boat but with the patina that only comes with age. We'll have our restorations at the McKenzie show and at our show on the Snake. If you are ever in Jackson give me a call and I'll show you what we have been doing.


Thanks for the comments.

Mike, Yes I have run into some rot. However, it seems to be mostly on the surface. Once I have made it all the way through the varnish, the natural wood coloring and grain come through. All the worst of it, the front, is still to come, we will have to see still.

Aj, I am not real familiar with the the oiling process. You mentioned cloth and epoxy on the outside. The outside has been stained and varnished. There is no checking that I have seen on the outside, only on the interior. I was planning on leaving that and adding a fresh new coat or two of varnish. My guess is that if you oil, you don't also glass correct? I was trying to decide between oiling the interior and varnishing it and am leaning towards oil. If that is the path I go with, do I just have to live with the checking? I am fine with that really, just wanting to know. Also, what are the names of those paint strippers? I would love to give one a shot but was am sure which product to use.

Thanks again,

Mike sorry I forgot to answer your question on the age of the boat. I am not sure exactly, but I think it is around 25 years old.
your photos are so painfully honest. I'll have another beer now and toast it to you!
Mitchell, I am choosing to take that as a complement. Thank you.
Jesse, yes it is. I've spent many a sunny day getting my boat in that shape only to bring it back to it's varnished self. I'm the second owner of my boat. It's always been a varnished only boat inside and out. No glass no oil. It is a project that I only have to do once every third year..so far. Long enough anyway that I seem to regroup enough between.

the only tip I can add is to consider using jen poly-foam brushes. Use once and toss. They come in several different sizes and cost very little. You can find them by the bulk pack on Amazon. For me, they help in several ways. No more breathing ( i use a mask now, always when sanding and varnishing) mineral spirits, no more having to store used mineral spirits until the disposal company holds a chemical recycling day, no more tossing a 20.00 brush after a few uses because I can't seem to ever get the sucker clean.

Oiling the interior seems like great option and something i may consider the next time I re-do. I just have it an it ain't broke, don't fix it mentality.

what ever you chose to do your 25 year old will be a happy camper
Oil over the bare wood on the interior is all you need. The more coats the better. After a few years of oiling the wood will take less. Apply liberally with a brush and use a rag to wipe off what the wood doesn't want. We use Seafin Teak wood oil. A home brew of 50/50 turpentine and boiled linseed oil is also good. A little pine tar mixed into this will give a rich, darker hue. I also add a little bit of Jap drier to this mix. I like to wipe down the outside of my boats, both painted and varnished ones, with that oily rag after wiping the interior. It really brings back the shine to paint or varnish. Buff with a dry clean cloth.
We have had good luck with Aqua Strip as a paint/varnish remover. Put it on thick and give 24 hours to work. A plastic scrapper will take off the bulk of the paint and follow up by scrubbing with a stainless steal sponge (pot scrubber). Use a bucket of water to keep your scrubber clean. You will still need to sand out the stubborn paint stains. Removing just varnish should be much easier.


Thanks for the photos. Looks like a product (the remover) I'll use next time I re-do. AJ that young fella needs a dust mask even if he says no.
Aj, One last question. Once you have applied the oil, it doesn't rub off on clothes, waders, kids dogs etc... right? Just making sure. Thanks again for all of your advice. I just live over the river and through the woods in Rigby ID and would love to come take a look at your boats and shop. I will drop you a line next time I am over for sure.

Thanks again,


You are right on with your observation about needing a dust mask. Let's call this a photo of how not to be safe in the shop. I have printed it and posted it in the shop on the" wall of shame". Sometimes that's the best way for these young guys to get the message. For the record we do encourage safe practices in the shop. My team of young guides are as enthusiastic about wooden boats as I am and they are learning as they go. As a long time guide I bristle up at every magazine photo of fishermen casting and not wearing sunglasses. Thanks for the comment.


As long as you wipe off any excess oil it will not be sticky.

What are your plans for the exterior of the boat? Wow, that's alot of work. It looks great though. Who is the maker and how old? Roger told me you had an old boat with a tore-off hip transom, perhaps a Keith Steele? It looks long and without a ton of rocker.



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