1953 Shepherd 110S: How to Clean Filler Out of Deck Seams – the Easy Way

Removing Sikaflex and caulk of all sorts from a wood deck seam is tedious process replete with downsides. We have used fences held down by two crew and a Dremel mini router, which is fine, unless and until it walks. Everything else we have tried is makes cleaning seams the task that all three of us happily hand off to the next guy.

I discovered Teak Decking Systems while searching online for some other solution. TDS distributes its products through value added resellers, Jamestown Distributors in our case. The copy on its Web site, http://www.teakdecking.com/index.php?…, made it seem way too easy, as you can read below, but I ordered both the TDS Reefing Hook sand the TDS Seam Sander.

They arrived and stayed on a shelf until yesterday. TDS calls for using a razor to free the caulk from the sides of the seams. That seemed way too much like the misery we have already “enjoyed” for way too long.

Using a waste piece of seamed decking as our lab rat, I first experimented with using a heat gun set at 1,000 F to soften the caulking, thereby rendering its removal easier. The results were excellent, but the process remained very slow, as I found myself heating and removing a layer, heating again and removing more, and on and on.

Then RJ, who was stripping the ’53 Shepherd’s decks using Circa 1850 Heavy Bodied remover, suggested laying a thick coat of stripper onto each seam and waiting half an hour. As the Millennials among us are given to exclaim, “OMG!”

RJ inserted the reefing hook and pulled. Out came a complete length of caulk. One pass cleaned 95 percent and more caulk out of the seam.

And there was a bonus. The edges of the seams were/are razor sharp. We will use the TDS Seam Sander for final clean-up, and the jury will be out until we have applied this process to many additional boats, but for now we have a new problem, “How about letting me have a turn at cleaning the seams?”

Please weigh in with your thoughts, reactions, ideas, and even your secret sauce method for getting past this nasty milestone, one that plagues every wood boat preservation project!

Teak Decking Systems Information:

Available from Jamestown Distributors

Used before re-caulking, this tool is for removing caulk or other sealants from a seam. A razor knife should be used to free the caulk from the sides of the seam. Our Reefing Hook is specially designed and constructed for long service life, and ease and speed of operation. You can remove most of the caulking, leaving minimal material for final hand sanding – using the TDS Seam Sander. TDS Reefing Hook is made to be a fine quality tool with hand comfort in mind. Different sizes can be made to order.

Available from Jamestown Distributors: http://www.jamestowndistributors.com/…

Designed for vertical sanding of the sides of a seam, to remove old material before re-caulking, the TDS Seam Sander ensures the best possible preparation for new caulk to bond to the teak. Our Seam Sander is specially designed and constructed for long service life, and ease and speed of operation. Use it to remove final residue of caulking, leaving a totally clean surface for the new caulk to bond to.

Made of the finest quality steel and hardwood, TDS Seam Sander is manufactured with a comfortable smooth grip and has an adjustable depth sanding surface – from 5mm to 22mm (1/5″ – 7/8″). Other special sanding surfaces can be made to order.