Repairing Lagoon or Beneteau Wood Veneer

Maintenance Mania: Fixing Lagoon/Beneteau wood veneer
by Matt, Chief Wood Carver and Toothpick Designer
New cabinets and shelves under a little used desk.

Love it or hate it, production boats (especially catamarans!) nearly all use veneered plywood these days. I did quite a lot of research into how this wood is produced so that I could try to replicate it for several projects around the boat. To date I’ve added a cabinet enclosed area under what was once an open desk, built wooden speaker boxes, made some spice shelves, some trim pieces and replaced some edge banding. I’ve gotten some things right but made a few mistakes too. 

If you aren’t familiar with veneer, it is a paper thin layer of nice decorative wood that is glued on top of ugly wood…making you think your boat is made of exotic, beautiful, expensive looking wood when in fact it’s mostly plywood. And I say that with love because I really like the wood in our boat. Trim pieces are made from solid wood, and the total effect is very pretty, lightweight and easy (inexpensive) for the builder to make. It doesn’t look like a classic monohull, but then I’m not a classic monohuller. 

First off, here’s a list of what I’ve learned for sure about the Lagoon veneer:

  • The veneer itself is some sort of African hardwood closely related to mahogany. Many Beneteaus use Dooka, but I think this is darker than what my Lagoons has
  • The wood isn’t really stained or colored, it is spray lacquer finished in their shop and the lacquer adds a warm, yellow color to the wood
  • You can buy half sheets or whole sheets of the veneered plywood from Beneteau for something like $600 per sheet (ha! yeah, not me!)
  • Beneteau's recommended method for repairing wood generally revolves around Mohawk paint products. I purchased their pre-catalyzed lacquer, blush reducer, cherry toner, and a few other odds and ends. It’s good stuff but I’m not sure it was worth it—you can match the color closer with Minwax stains and you can get Minwax spray on lacquer in satin all from your local hardware store.
New spice shelves in a funky sized cabinet.
From my own experimentation, I found that using Minwax stains in the colors of Gunstock and Colonial Maple in a 50/50 mix was a perfect match. 

While spray on lacquer is available, I found it somewhat tricky to get good results over large areas. The spray cans are perfect for touching up items around the boat, but for my cabinet project I found that I got better results using a Minwax brush on polyurethane coating. As long as it is satin finish, I will look fine.

Now, for something I didn’t do quite right but I’ve learned my lesson. When I built my cabinets, I decided to forgo the veneer and try to get the wood to match. Lowes had a choice of birch or oak plywood. It was a 50/50 shot…and I got it wrong! I took the oak home, and once I started staining I realized my mistake. The oak has far too much grain. The birch would’ve been the way to go! Ops!

Beyond this small error, I think it came out pretty good. My basic procedure was as follows:
  • cut panels to shape
  • sand until as smooth as possible, down to 300 grit
  • if an exposed edge is involved, cover with edge banding veneer (available almost anywhere, irons on and trims with a razor blade)
  • treat wood with Minwax prestain conditioner (helps wood absorb the stain evenly)
  • stain with the Minwax color mixture. Keep it light and wipe it off fairly quickly (experiment to see what works)
  • once dry, spray a few coats of lacquer on
  • once dry, sand down with 300 grit and even out the finish
  • repeat lacquer coats and sanding until desired finish is achieved

I’ve got a few more wood projects coming up (including adding a new galley drawer under the oven!), so more practice is in my future. I will share any new tips here.  

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  1. I thought this was a really interesting post, Matt, and am impressed by your work. It was only missing one thing -- photos of Hastings!

  2. There was a wifi meltdown while posting this last night! He'll be featured soon, we promise!!

  3. Nice job! And I'm with Stephanie - where's Hastings?

    1. He's so exhausted by boat work he doesn't even bother to supervise anymore!


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