View Full Version : epoxy and varnish on indoor furniture?

Charles Neuman
02-08-2004, 01:00 PM
My mother-in-law, in an effort to "help", scrubbed the wooden seats of our dining room chairs with one of those green scouring pads (used for cleaning metal pots). So now there are scratch lines everywhere.

Since I have some experience with bright finish, I was thinking about using fine sandpaper to remove the scratches, then use epoxy and varnish, or just varnish to finish them. Is there any problem or disadvantage using varnish on indoor furniture? I basically need it to be waterproof and look nice -- same requirements as a boat!

The epoxy isn't really necessary, I suppose, but it might help smooth things out a bit more.

[ 02-09-2004, 10:25 PM: Message edited by: Charles Neuman ]

Bob Smalser
02-08-2004, 01:09 PM
Epoxy and spar would be a waste of money, I believe. You need neither the weather sealing nor the UV inhibitors...plus spars are a little soft for your purpose.

Behlens makes a "Rockhard" interior varnish and a tougher "Bartop" varnish that would be a good choice if you want to avoid the cold, plastic look of poly....they rub out very nicely...much better than spar or poly....and have the warm tone of spar.

But what finish is already on the chairs? Better test it first with acetone to see if it's lacquer...because if it is, you will have to recoat with brushing lacquer instead...otherwise you'll have to remove the entire finish thoroughly before switching from lacquer to varnish.

And I'm bettin the scratches are mostly in the finish...not the wood. Before you sand, take the finish down in just the scratched areas with some Forby's Refinisher and some 0000 steel wool...let it dry....and see what you have before you sand. You'll probably need some oil stain in a matching shade on there before the finish, too.

[ 02-08-2004, 06:56 PM: Message edited by: Bob Smalser ]

paul oman
02-08-2004, 07:27 PM
Another option is 2 part linear urethane. Tougher than epoxy, will not yellow like epoxy, very clear.

Personally, I like varnish - warm color, easy to cheap to apply.

contact me directly for source of 2 part polys (about $70 per gallon).


www.epoxyproducts.com (http://www.epoxyproducts.com)

02-09-2004, 11:11 AM
You can rub out the stratches faster than recoating. Use a white automotive rubbing compound and a rag. Then rewax chairs.

Charles Neuman
02-09-2004, 10:25 PM
Thanks for the tips, folks. I think the scratches are just in the finish. It will probably work to just rub it some, but at some point I'll need to touch up the finish. If not now, then later. Do you think it's best to touch up BEFORE you get to the point where wood is exposed and you need to sand down to the wood? Or is it kind of all or nothing?

Buddy -- what kind of wax are you talking about?

Bob -- thanks for the tip on testing for laquer. I had heard of that a while ago but had forgotten it. I'll give it a try.

[ 02-09-2004, 10:30 PM: Message edited by: Charles Neuman ]

Bob Smalser
02-10-2004, 12:48 AM
If these are commercially-produced chairs of recent vintage, I'm not optimistic about rubbing out the scratches without also removing the stain, which is usually mixed in with the (typically) lacquer they were sprayed with at the factory...but it's good advice to give it a try, first.

But the bottom line is the scratches have to come out, first....or they will telegraph thru the new finish.

And although any good carnuba wax will work, I'm not a big fan of wax on furniture...I'm coming to believe that a periodic wipe with lemon or orange oil lengthens the life of the finish by not drying it out ala wax.

This unpampered kitchen table finish has 6 coats of traditional interior rubbing varnish similar to Behlen's and has survived nearly three decades and three babies in perfect condition with an occasional wipe of oil:


02-10-2004, 12:56 AM
Inquiring minds want to know, will "MOM" be invited to visit again? smile.gif

02-10-2004, 09:16 AM
Use a paste wax, like floor wax, even car wax, but without silicone if you even think you're going to refinish. Now 3M FinesseIt II, a glaze, not a wax, is what I use on boat paint, guitars and Bristol Finish "varnish" on my boats. It's about $17 a quart in auto paint departments or stores. What all of these do is fill the microscopic hhaze or swirl scratches left by the rubbing compound abrasive.

I'm not kidding, you can do a small area of this resurfacing with toothpaste as your rubbing compound, and paste floor wax as your fill in.

02-10-2004, 10:34 AM
I'd go with Bob's advise but I'm puzzled by the term scratches. The green abrasive pads are similiar to what I use for a rub down between coats. Perhaps your problem is not as bad as you say. Try buffing as per above.

Charles Neuman
02-10-2004, 11:08 AM
From a distance it looks like there is a dull haze on the affected area. Close up, I see fine scratches. I'm sure it's just surface scratches.

I am wondering, though: After several years of rubbing out little scratches, I would assume the finish needs replacing at some point. I'm itching to crack open my varnish, but I think I'll be a bit more cautious right now.

I like the direct advice from experienced people (i.e. you all). I'll also read up on my own. I realize there's a lot to learn about finishing.

And yes, mom-in-law can come back, but she will be better supervised. smile.gif

[ 02-10-2004, 11:11 AM: Message edited by: Charles Neuman ]

02-10-2004, 04:24 PM
In all likelihood, unless these chairs were custom built by a hobbyist or bought unfinished, they were made in a factory. Unless from the orient where they do often use urethane finishes, an American manufacturer used lacquer, either over a stain, or far more likely, with a colored lacquer. Reason why is ease of use, because a lacquer,BY DEFINITION, is a coating which readily dissolves with application of the solvent used in its preparation. Clear waterbased finishes do not, varnished do not, polyurethanes one or two part do not. Thats the beauty of it for manufacturers, because you can bulid up coats today or next year without sanding for purposes of ppromoting adhesion between the layers. The lacquer thinner solvent softens the old lacquer adequately to melt the two applications together. Spot test the proverbial inconspicuous area of a chair with lacquer thinner and see if it softens. I'll bet it does. If so, then canned spray lacquer will adhere. Most big box stores and automotive stores stock an acyrilic lacqueri. That's fine, but if you can find if in a wooden
furniture or guitar supply catalog, nitrate lacquer is better for getting less orange peel bumps in the finish. Working with lacquer the old way, all you were doing on a show car finish was building a thick enough coating of clear lacquer to be apply to wet sand, buff, and polish to a brilliant shine leaving not a speck of dust, a sag, or orange peel. You can always spray and abrade again. The modern two part acrylic clear coats are really "enamels" or coating systems, not a lacquer and won't adhere well, may even wrinkle up any lacquer underneath. You can wet sand lacquer and then brush or spray on an oil based varnish or one part urethane and it will adhere.
But for the speedy return of the original thickness and gloss of a intact but tired original lacquered finish, you will not beat spray canned lacquer.

02-10-2004, 04:26 PM
PS, Krylon clear is not a lacquer.