The boating community seems to have a language all its own sometimes. Ropes are never ropes, they are lines. Left is port and right is starboard. So why should the actual finish and upkeep of a boat be any different?
In boating parlance, brightwork is the exposed metal hardware and varnished woodworking. In the yachting set, it tends to be wood specific. Specifically varnished teak and other high grade woods sanded and varnished to a high gloss which makes it both beautiful and protects the wood from the corrosive elements of the sea.
Properly preparing the wood prior to applying any varnish is essential to the outcome of the project. Brightwork that is beautiful to the eye and long-lasting is never accomplished if proper attention is not paid to the preparation of the surface before the application.
As with most art forms, if you ask ten brightwork professionals the proper technique, you will likely receive ten different answers. If you choose to do the work yourself, be prepared to hear a multitude of differing opinions. If you choose a professional like Custom Marine Pain & Varnish, be sure to go with someone that is experienced or comes highly recommended.