Results 1 to 39 of 39

Thread: Oil vs Varnish?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    USA: Paoli, Pennsylvania
    Posts
    487

    Default Oil vs Varnish?

    Laminated cross-arms on an outrigger canoe, cypress laminations, both salt and fresh water exposure.

    I know next to nothing about this stuff, but varnish seems tb the conventional non-fiberglass covering.

    But these things are going to take a beating abrasion-wise and oil is calling out to me.

    Is some sort of oil rubbed in to the wood a workable alternative to spar varnish?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    20,106

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    Quote Originally Posted by PeteCress View Post
    Laminated cross-arms on an outrigger canoe, cypress laminations, both salt and fresh water exposure.

    I know next to nothing about this stuff, but varnish seems tb the conventional non-fiberglass covering.

    But these things are going to take a beating abrasion-wise and oil is calling out to me.

    Is some sort of oil rubbed in to the wood a workable alternative to spar varnish?
    No. Oil will do you very little good. But, since the laminations are of cypress... there's no reason you can't simply leave them to weather gracefully.

    If you actually want to protect your cross-arms from water, solvents, abrasion, etc. you'll want some sort of film finish. The two I'd consider for that application are spar varnish and Sikkens Cetol Marine (both color coat and gloss).
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2000
    Location
    The land of reefs
    Posts
    35,342

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    Alternative, yes. Substitute, no. (My opinion, others will differ)
    Wear plates or coverings like leather might help, but nothing is going to keep wood from abrading if it's subjected to friction. Oil "penetrates" only a tiny bit, and offers very little protection from the elements. That said, varnish penetrates only a tiny bit, and offers very little protection from the elements.
    Never trust a man with a clean workshop.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    USA: Paoli, Pennsylvania
    Posts
    487

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    Quote Originally Posted by David G View Post
    ...since the laminations are of cypress... there's no reason you can't simply leave them to weather gracefully...
    And if I simply leave them, there's no problem varnishing them later, if it seems like a better idea - right? i.e. hit them with a sander, and apply the varnish.... no considerations with changes in the character of the wood with exposure to air/salt water...
    Last edited by PeteCress; 02-27-2012 at 10:15 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    20,106

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    Quote Originally Posted by PeteCress View Post
    And if I simply leave them, there's no problem varnishing them later, if it seems like a better idea - right? i.e. hit them with a sander, and apply the varnish.... no considerations with changes in the character of the wood with exposure to air/salt water...
    Just so. If, in the interim, you've spilled something oily on your cypress... you might need to soak out the spot with solvent, and/or bleach that spot in order for it not to show up, magnified, under the varnish.

    And... as usual... don't pay too much attention to Lefty's comparisons. I think maybe he hasn't had his first quart of coffee yet. A varnished bit will provide substantially more protection than an oiled one for both abrasion and intrusion by water, oils, chemicals, and solvents. Both oils and varnish require maintainance. Oils require lots of frequent very simple re-applications. Varnish requires less frequent, but fussier (more skilled) re-application. In order to last, it also requires that you quickly jump on any chips or dents that breech the surface film and would allow moisture to infiltrate.
    Last edited by David G; 02-27-2012 at 05:16 PM.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Whidbey Island , Wa.
    Posts
    14,767

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    Quote Originally Posted by David G View Post

    A varnished bit will provide substantially more protection than an oiled one for both abrasion and intrusion by water, oils, chemicals, and solvents. Both oils and varnish require maintainance. Oils require lots of frequent very simple re-applications. Varnish requires less frequent, but fussier (more skilled) re-application. In order to last, it also required that you quickly jump on any chips or dents that breech the surface film and would allow moisture to infiltrate.
    Varnish or oil , both will need reapplied, with varnish you'll spend twice as long prepping the same area and 4 or 5 times longer applying and cleaning up the "tools" you'd use.

    Oil could be your best bet , easy to re-do , pleasant, sort of, to apply.

    Sea fin Teak oil , and yes you can use it on other woods then Teak;

    SeaFin Marine Products

    Shop online for Daly's Products >>

    SeaFin Teak Oil [Specs] [MSDS]

    High quality, penetrating oil that dries to a low sheen to seal and protect interior and exterior woods from moisture and weathering. It creates a durable non-slip surface to repel water and resist wear. It reduces work and maintenance costs because it is easy to repair. It will not chip, crack, blister or peel. It is excellent for polishing and maintaining varnished finishes, or refurbishing and touching up worn surfaces.

    Key Benefits
    • Interior/Exterior
    • Brightwork
    • Doors, rails and furniture
    • Wood surfaces exposed to moisture
    • Polishing varnished surfaces




    Good luck.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2000
    Location
    The land of reefs
    Posts
    35,342

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    I rest my case!
    David has a point (Aside from the one on his head) in that a quart of coffee might work just as well on Cypress.
    As far as I know most commercial finishing oils are modified with resins and hardeners which makes them similar to thinned out varnishes. Varnishes, on the other hand, often recommend that you thin out the first few coats.... Making them similar to finishing oils....
    Personally for exterior service, I prefer a varnished finish, or no finish at all (Teak, Cedar, Redwood, Cypress).
    Never trust a man with a clean workshop.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    164

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    Oil is easier to apply, faster to apply, can be applied at a much wider range of temperatures and humidities, protects as well, protects better if the wood is subject to dings and chips, looks better on a working boat since dings don't show as much and is way faster to touch up when needed.
    A boat I built for show that will never be used on water and is hanging inside a bar has varnished gunwhales. The same boat I built to use has oiled ones.
    The right product for the application is the key.
    Last edited by Art Reinhert; 02-27-2012 at 12:48 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    USA: Paoli, Pennsylvania
    Posts
    487

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    Quote Originally Posted by Art Reinhert View Post
    Oil is easier to apply, faster to apply... faster to touch
    My little fantasy with oil was that I could keep a plastic bottle - like an old sunscreen bottle - full of the stuff and just slop some on when I noticed the need: no surface prep, no drying, no multiple coats, no sanding....

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    164

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    Quote Originally Posted by PeteCress View Post
    My little fantasy with oil was that I could keep a plastic bottle - like an old sunscreen bottle - full of the stuff and just slop some on when I noticed the need: no surface prep, no drying, no multiple coats, no sanding....
    I had a similar fantasy and its the only fantasy in my life that has come true. Minor cleaning and smoothing off a bad ding is called for but little else.

    What is the finish on the rest of the boat?
    Last edited by Art Reinhert; 02-27-2012 at 12:39 PM.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Wellesley, MA USA
    Posts
    8,865

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    I often fantasize that I'm young and handsome.
    Reality sucks.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    USA: Paoli, Pennsylvania
    Posts
    487

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    Quote Originally Posted by Art Reinhert View Post
    What is the finish on the rest of the boat?
    The gunwales, seats, and some other things are spar-varnished. The hull is cedar strips encapsulated in epoxy/fiberglass.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    20,106

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    OK - it's time for an overview and some definitions.

    Overview --

    Most finishes consist of some proportion of three primary components: oil; solvent; resin. Some small bits of additives are often included to achieve certain traits - like flowability, quick skinning, UV resistance, etc. But the types and proportions of the 3 primary components determine how to accurately label any product.


    Definitions --

    'Oil Finish' is - in my working lexicon - comprised precisely of the following percentages of oil/solvent/resin: 100/0/0. That is - oil only. The two most common used as wood finishes are Linseed Oil (usually boiled linseed oil), and Tung Oil. They're dead simple to apply, though tedious, and offer minimal protection. There are all sorts of hoary myths and old wives tales about why these "simple, pure, traditional finishes" are preferable - but in fact... they very, very, rarely are.

    'Varnish' contains all three primary components, plus additives. For marine grade or spar varnish the oils are typically tung, BLO, soy, and/or safflower. The resins typically are phenolic, acrylic, and/or polyurethane. The solvents vary, but usually include mostly mineral spirits. This is applied by brushing or spraying - which isn't nearly as easy as wiping on some oil - but protects far better when complete.


    In between those two are a pair of products - similar, but not precisely equivalent: wiping varnish and oil/varnish blends

    'Wiping Varnish' is simple to conceptualize. Take any varnish, and thin 50/50 with mineral spirits. It can be applied with a rag. Wipe on. Let sit briefly. Wipe off. Repeat as many times as you'd like. Because it's so heavily thinned, the film build will happen more slowly, and typically ends up far thinner than a brush-on varnish finish. Therefore... it offers less protection. But it's easier to apply and re-apply. Daly's makes one of these which is very good, called Pro-Fin. I'm not aware of any commercial versions with UV protection - but it's simple to make your own, starting with a good brand of spar varnish. Application of this type usually stops once a minimum level of gloss is achieved, but you could go on for days, slowly adding film depth and gloss... if you were so nutsy as to want to <G>

    'Oil/Varnish Blend' is more variable - depending upon the mfgr. Basically - you start with oil, add a bit of resin, then a good bit of solvent, and maybe some additives. This is the product that Mr. Girouard mentioned. Daly's SeaFin Teak Oil. Best of its ilk. I use it myself, quite happily. Typically, the resin content of this type of finish is less even than wiping varnish. So film build is slower, and protection less. One usually stops applying this before any gloss starts to happen. It's quite matte looking. Since it's also a wipe-on/wipe-off product... it's also quite easy to apply and touch up.


    So - I'd say you have four options for your cypress.

    First - do nothing. I'd leave oil out of the mix, since it does require some time/expense... and you get essentially zero protection from it. Bad return on investment. The only finish that's be more of a waste of time for your application would be wax.

    Second - oil/varnish blend, like the Daly's SeaFin Teak Oil.

    Third - make up some wiping varnish using mineral spirits and some good spar varnish.

    Fourth - brush on varnish.

    Given the finishes on the rest of your boat, one could easily make the aesthetic case for spar varnish. It matches the level of gloss of many of the rest of the components, and, practically, it's the best protection. But - it'll be the most work.

    OTOH - one could also make the aesthetic case that some matte components would provide some welcome contrast to all that existing gloss. In which case - nothing, or oil/varnish blend, or wiping varnish.


    I hope this helps you visualize your choices, and I hope it reduces the level of confusion about the terminology that is common when one discusses finishes.

    And for further reference - if anyone wants to learn more - my two favorite wood finishing bibles are Jeff Jewitt's book (I think it's just called 'Finishing'), and Bob Flexner's book, 'Understanding Wood Finishing'.
    Last edited by David G; 02-27-2012 at 05:19 PM.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    20,106

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    Or... what have you got against paint?
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2000
    Location
    The land of reefs
    Posts
    35,342

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    Quote Originally Posted by David G View Post
    Or... what have you got against paint?
    Getting the grain pattern just right takes ages!
    Never trust a man with a clean workshop.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Cushing, Maine
    Posts
    1,951

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    Some of the matte no sand between coats varnishes are pretty nice. Build perhaps not as well as the bright shiny stuff, but easier to fix when dinged up. And if they are in the cockpit of an open boat not as shiny on the eyes.
    Ben Fuller
    Ran Tan, Liten Kuhling, Vernon Langille, Josef W., Merry Mouth, Imp, Macavity and a quiver of unamed 'yaks.
    "Bound fast is boatless man."

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Marietta, GA
    Posts
    3,182

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    You may want to test a piece of cypress scrap with the oil finish first. Cypress is lovely when varnished, but I tried oiling a piece of scrap and it did not look very good.
    Fight Entropy, build a wooden boat!

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    20,106

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    Quote Originally Posted by Reynard38 View Post
    You may want to test a piece of cypress scrap with the oil finish first. Cypress is lovely when varnished, but I tried oiling a piece of scrap and it did not look very good.
    Always a good idea. For client's projects, we almost always make finish samples. For trying a new finishing schedule (sequence of sanding, products, and timing) we always make finish samples. Even for my own projects - trying anything new - I'll frequently make finish samples.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Carbonear, Newfoundland, Canada
    Posts
    1,519

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    Quote Originally Posted by David G View Post
    OK - it's time for an overview and some definitions.

    Overview --

    Most finishes consist of some proportion of three primary components: oil; solvent; resin. Some small bits of additives are often included to achieve certain traits - like flowability, quick skinning, UV resistance, etc. But the types and proportions of the 3 primary components determine how to accurately label any product.


    Definitions --

    'Oil Finish' is - in my working lexicon - comprised precisely of the following percentages of oil/solvent/resin: 100/0/0. That is - oil only. The two most common used as wood finishes are Linseed Oil (usually boiled linseed oil), and Tung Oil. They're dead simple to apply, though tedious, and offer minimal protection. There are all sorts of hoary myths and old wives tales about why these "simple, pure, traditional finishes" are preferable - but in fact... they very, very, rarely are.

    'Varnish' contains all three primary components, plus additives. For marine grade or spar varnish the oils are typically tung, BLO, soy, and/or safflower. The resins typically are phenolic, acrylic, and/or polyurethane. The solvents vary, but usually include mostly mineral spirits. This is applied by brushing or spraying - which isn't nearly as easy as wiping on some oil - but protects far better when complete.


    In between those two are a pair of products - similar, but not precisely equivalent: wiping varnish and oil/varnish blends

    'Wiping Varnish' is simple to conceptualize. Take any varnish, and thin 50/50 with mineral spirits. It can be applied with a rag. Wipe on. Let sit briefly. Wipe off. Repeat as many times as you'd like. Because it's so heavily thinned, the film build will happen more slowly, and typically ends up far thinner than a brush-on varnish finish. Therefore... it offers less protection. But it's easier to apply and re-apply. Daly's makes one of these which is very good, called Pro-Fin. I'm not aware of any commercial versions with UV protection - but it's simple to make your own, starting with a good brand of spar varnish. Application of this type usually stops once a minimum level of gloss is achieved, but you could go on for days, slowly adding film depth and gloss... if you were so nutsy as to want to <G>

    'Oil/Varnish Blend' is more variable - depending upon the mfgr. Basically - you start with oil, add a bit of resin, then a good bit of solvent, and maybe some additives. This is the product that Mr. Girouard mentioned. Daly's SeaFin Teak Oil. Best of its ilk. I use it myself, quite happily. Typically, the resin content of this type of finish is less even than wiping varnish. So film build is slower, and protection less. One usually stops applying this before any gloss starts to happen. It's quite matte looking. Since it's also a wipe-on/wipe-off product... it's also quite easy to apply and touch up.


    So - I'd say you have four options.

    First - do nothing. I'd leave oil out of the mix, since it does require some time/expense... and you get essentially zero protection from it. Bad return on investment. The only finish that's be more of a waste of time for your application would be wax.

    Second - oil/varnish blend, like the Daly's SeaFin Teak Oil.

    Third - make up some wiping varnish using mineral spirits and some good spar varnish.

    Fourth - brush on varnish.

    Given the finishes on the rest of your boat, one could easily make the aesthetic case for spar varnish. It matches the level of gloss of many of the rest of the components, and, practically, it's the best protection. But - it'll be the most work.

    OTOH - one could also make the aesthetic case that some matte components would provide some welcome contrast to all that existing gloss. In which case - nothing, or oil/varnish blend, or wiping varnish.


    I hope this helps you visualize your choices, and I hope it reduces the level of confusion about the terminology that is common when one discusses finishes.

    And for further reference - if anyone wants to learn more - my two favorite wood finishing bibles are Jeff Jewitt's book (I think it's just called 'Finishing'), and Bob Flexner's book, 'Understanding Wood Finishing'.
    5; You can apply wax and drive it into the wood with a heat gun, creating a water proof finish.

    6; You can apply a spirit varnish before the oil resin type. Alkyd resin most likely the cheapest. Acrylic, a water based resin, might not accept the oil/resin top coat. Spirit varnish is one that has the resin disolved in the appropriate solvent, very rarely mineral spirits, used mostly as a clean up solvent for domestic use.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    20,106

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    Quote Originally Posted by S B View Post

    5; You can apply wax and drive it into the wood with a heat gun, creating a water proof finish.

    6; You can apply a spirit varnish before the oil resin type. Alkyd resin most likely the cheapest. Acrylic, a water based resin, might not accept the oil/resin top coat. Spirit varnish is one that has the resin disolved in the appropriate solvent, very rarely mineral spirits, used mostly as a clean up solvent for domestic use.
    SB,

    You're right - there are several other products that I didn't get into - because I wanted to stick to the basics: wax, shellac, nitrocellulose lacquer, catalyzed lacquer, water-based topcoats, conversion varnish, 2k Urethane w/polyester, or any of the other more obscure or less marine-oriented finishes.

    I'm a bit confused by some of your post.

    "Spirit varnish" I know as an archaic term for shellac... and - even more obscurely - some other alcohol-soluble resins dissolved directly into the alcohol. Is there some other definition I'm unaware of? If it's shellac, I think we'd be well served to call it that. Much more commonly understood term. Shellac also used to be called lacquer - based on the lac-bug source of its resin. That term also is no longer used... as it would be too confusing. As far as I've ever known, neither alkyd resin nor acrylic resin are part of that group. Is that incorrect?

    And yes, one can always put shellac down first, before some other film finish. Shellac is a very good barrier coat, and is compatible with many other finishes. I use it to seal in pitch pockets, or as a sealer under water-based topcoats to supply some warmth and depth. However - I've always found it best practice to avoid mixing finishes unless you have very specific reasons for doing so. So - in the case of this fella's cypress bits... why would you lay down shellac first?

    Your wax comment puzzles me also. The only time I've seen this done was by a friend who restores/refinishes fine antiques. He says he does it because sometimes it's the only way he can achieve the correct color and sheen on a patch. He told me it's not as waterproof as the french polish around it (shellac) - which isn't high praise.

    Do you have a technique whereby one can turn a wax finish into a waterproof one - with a heat gun? I'd be curious if you could elaborate!
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Huntington, NY
    Posts
    1,097

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    I've been experimenting with linseed oil on my oak blocks. I bought an old fashioned oil can at the hardware store, filled it with linseed oil, and keep it on my boat. Once a week or so, I squirt some on a paper towel and go around and rub some into my blocks. I find that if you keep up with it, and keep the blocks protected from the sun (like under a sail cover) it gives sufficient 'protection' and keeps the wood looking good.

    I bring the paper towel home with me so I don't have a linseed soaked rag on the boat. People will tell you stories of these rags bursting into flames. Not sure if it's just one of those stories people repeat, but I ain't taking any chances!

    My main sheet block, on the other hand, is exposed to the sun all day in the summer, and I think that it will probably suffer over the long term. Not sure how long 'long term' will be, but we are talking years. Of course, in the winter, they are under the cover and not exposed to the sun.

    That said, I plan to varnish my new boomkin, which I can't really keep out of the sun.

    What do you have against varnish? It's not that hard to keep up, as long as you keep up with it. None of these finishes, including paint, can stand much neglect. Constant vigilance is the trick, and part of the fun of having a wooden boat.
    -- John

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Check out my blog: http://www.unlikelyboatbuilder.com
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    "What people say you cannot do, you try and find you can." -- Thoreau

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    20,106

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    jalmberg,

    Spontaneous combustion of oily rags is definitely not an old wives tale or urban myth. I've had several friends or colleagues over the years burn their shops down that way. It's not hard to avoid the issue, though. All I ever did was drape the oily rags over something that'd allow air circulation - porch rail, cart handle, etc. Once they're dry, they're no longer a hazard, and can be tossed into the garbage can. Some people throw them directly into the wood stove, while still wet. I've done that, but it always struck me as a little adventuresome. Some immerse the wet rags in water, then drape them and dry them later. What will get you into trouble is wadding them up and leaving them.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Charleston, SC
    Posts
    115

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    This may be shot to pieces by all on this forum but isn't there another alternative here? Coating the laminations with clear epoxy thereby sealing them and then some varnish now and then for uv protection. Best way to protect laminations. IMO

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    20,106

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    Quote Originally Posted by gray duck View Post
    This may be shot to pieces by all on this forum but isn't there another alternative here? Coating the laminations with clear epoxy thereby sealing them and then some varnish now and then for uv protection. Best way to protect laminations. IMO
    Yup... you could do that. Epoxy resin is tougher than any of the varnishes or paints. The spar varnish over the top would certainly protect the epoxy from UV.

    However - with that scheme, you're creating a hard-boiled egg effect. When a hard, brittle coating like epoxy is applied over a soft, dentable substrate - in this case cypress - you've set yourself up for problems. When the object takes a bump - the substrate underneath gives, removing support for that brittle film - which fractures. Like cracking a hard-boiled egg. The fracture is just the sort of thing you DON'T want in your finish. It's a place for moisture to infiltrate under the film, and cause discoloration, and even rot.

    So... no... I wouldn't regard that finish schedule as optimum - or even advisable.

    Don't worry about being 'shot to pieces' on an internet forum. Exploring ideas is what this joint is all about.

    Oh... and I'd add - epoxy does have a place in his project. If he wants his new bits to last - every place where his cypress pieces will be pierced for bolts, he should dip a pipe cleaner into epoxy and coat the interior of the the bolt holes. No matter what else he does - water WILL get in there. The more he seals that tunnel, the longer before water causes swelling, discoration, or rot. Some will do this with thick shellac, which is easier than the epoxy, and certainly is far better than nothing, but not as durable long term.
    Last edited by David G; 02-29-2012 at 01:37 PM.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Huntington, NY
    Posts
    1,097

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    Quote Originally Posted by David G View Post
    jalmberg,
    Spontaneous combustion of oily rags is definitely not an old wives tale or urban myth. I've had several friends or colleagues over the years burn their shops down that way. It's not hard to avoid the issue, though. All I ever did was drape the oily rags over something that'd allow air circulation - porch rail, cart handle, etc. Once they're dry, they're no longer a hazard, and can be tossed into the garbage can. Some people throw them directly into the wood stove, while still wet. I've done that, but it always struck me as a little adventuresome. Some immerse the wet rags in water, then drape them and dry them later. What will get you into trouble is wadding them up and leaving them.
    Really? Several? You'd think after one friend burnt his shop down, the rest would smarten up. People are funny, I guess.

    Good to know that once they're dry, they're safe. I didn't know that. But as I say, I don't take chances, which is why I use paper towels and throw them into the fire if I've got one burning. Not adventurous... they just burn a little quicker than normal. No explosion or flareup.
    -- John

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Check out my blog: http://www.unlikelyboatbuilder.com
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    "What people say you cannot do, you try and find you can." -- Thoreau

  26. #26
    Join Date
    Feb 2000
    Location
    The land of reefs
    Posts
    35,342

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    Friends don't always know the other friends of friends.
    And despite all the stories I heard, and the warning of friends and acquaintances, one day, out of the corner of my eye I saw movement..... I looked again, and there was nothing.... A little while later, I smelled something cooking..... A little later still, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye again.... This time I saw a tiny tendril of smoke whiff off in the breeze.
    I investigated the trash can, and upon moving a clump of something, I provided enough fresh air to the smoldering oil soaked rag, and POOF! Fire! I'd always been very conscious of oily rags, but this one got by me somehow. Since then I've either burned them instantly, or draped them over wild Rose bushes that I'd be just as happy, or happier if they caught fire and burned.....
    Never trust a man with a clean workshop.

  27. #27
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Carbonear, Newfoundland, Canada
    Posts
    1,519

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    [QUOTE=David G;3323125]SB,

    You're right - there are several other products that I didn't get into - because I wanted to stick to the basics: wax, shellac, nitrocellulose lacquer, catalyzed lacquer, water-based topcoats, conversion varnish, 2k Urethane w/polyester, or any of the other more obscure or less marine-oriented finishes.

    I'm a bit confused by some of your post.

    "Spirit varnish" I know as an archaic term for shellac... and - even more obscurely - some other alcohol-soluble resins dissolved directly into the alcohol. Is there some other definition I'm unaware of? If it's shellac, I think we'd be well served to call it that. Much more commonly understood term. Shellac also used to be called lacquer - based on the lac-bug source of its resin. That term also is no longer used... as it would be too confusing. As far as I've ever known, neither alkyd resin nor acrylic resin are part of that group. Is that incorrect?

    And yes, one can always put shellac down first, before some other film finish. Shellac is a very good barrier coat, and is compatible with many other finishes. I use it to seal in pitch pockets, or as a sealer under water-based topcoats to supply some warmth and depth. However - I've always found it best practice to avoid mixing finishes unless you have very specific reasons for doing so. So - in the case of this fella's cypress bits... why would you lay down shellac first?

    Your wax comment puzzles me also. The only time I've seen this done was by a friend who restores/refinishes fine antiques. He says he does it because sometimes it's the only way he can achieve the correct color and sheen on a patch. He told me it's not as waterproof as the french polish around it (shellac) - which isn't high praise.

    Do you have a technique whereby one can turn a wax finish into a waterproof one - with a heat gun? I'd be curious if you could elaborate![/QUOT

    If you just rub on a coat or two of wax it is too thin, abrasion leaving gaps for water to enter. If you rub the stick with a block of wax, it will leave crumbs on the surface, that heated, will pull into the wood, provided it is dry enough, and the coating will be several mm thick.

    A spirit varnish is one that only has the resin and solvent, no oil. Yes it is an old term. There are plenty of natural resins or oleoresins still available and in use for purposes other than boats. I rarely use synthetic resins but see no reason why they should not work.

    Shellac is waterproof, but the coating is very thin and brittle, getting it to cover a rough surface completely and polished wood is a rough surface, could be very difficult.

  28. #28
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    20,106

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    [QUOTE=S B;

    If you just rub on a coat or two of wax it is too thin, abrasion leaving gaps for water to enter. If you rub the stick with a block of wax, it will leave crumbs on the surface, that heated, will pull into the wood, provided it is dry enough, and the coating will be several mm thick.

    A spirit varnish is one that only has the resin and solvent, no oil. Yes it is an old term. There are plenty of natural resins or oleoresins still available and in use for purposes other than boats. I rarely use synthetic resins but see no reason why they should not work.

    Shellac is waterproof, but the coating is very thin and brittle, getting it to cover a rough surface completely and polished wood is a rough surface, could be very difficult.[/QUOTE]



    OK - I understand what you're referring to by 'spirit varnish'. Shellac or some other resin/solvent combo. If I remember correctly, the only solvent involved was alcohol. Is that your understanding? Now... to repeat my question: why would you think to put something like that down first, under spar varnish for this application? What would be gained?

    Next question - what were your brief and cryptic comments about acrylic and alkyd resins about? Are we still in the context of spirit varnishes... or were you talking about something else?

    And finally - the waterproof wax finish. As I said, the only person I know who puts on wax with a heat gun says the result is NOT waterproof. You say your version is. I'm curious what EXACTLY you do to achieve this. For instance - what type of wax do you use? Spare no detail. Please!
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  29. #29
    Join Date
    Feb 2000
    Location
    The land of reefs
    Posts
    35,342

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    Bees wax is waterproof. I use it on a lot of turned pieces. Getting bees wax onto a large flat surface without it looking like something that Quasimodo made in 4th grade is another story..... The only way that I've found to do that is to warm the surface completely for a long time.... Like several days @ 70+ f or a day in semi-full sun. Melt (Double boiler or the like) the wax and mix it with pure turpentine (NOT PAINT THINNER) until it becomes the consistency of warm Maple syrup. Using a wad of balled up cheese cloth apply the syrup in a circular motion over small areas working the stuff in until it becomes tacky. Then recharge your cheese cloth and do another area, overlapping the previous a little bit. Continue until your arm is about to fall off. Now you will have an ugly swirly gummy mess. Now get a wad of burlap, and working across the grain scrub the surface until the burlap loads up. Find a clear piece of burlap and continue until you have stopped clogging the burlap. Now get a piece of clean whit terry cloth type towel. Scrub with the grain until it stops picking up wax. Now take a piece of old T-shirt and rub hard with the grain.... How's it look? It should be beautiful! But it's a LOT of work.
    Never trust a man with a clean workshop.

  30. #30
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Huntington, NY
    Posts
    1,097

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    If you heat bees wax and linseed oil together in the right proportions, pour it into a can with a lid (my wife supplies me with a constant supply of the perfect size can (below)) and let it cool, you end up with a nice paste wax that is easy to apply and buff. I get the bees wax from a local bee keeper for free in exchange for a can of wax (she has more beeswax than she knows what to do with.)

    Try a cup of linseed oil and 2 oz of beeswax and then adjust subsequent batches to your liking. It's water resistant/repellant, for sure. I plan on trying it on my blocks this year. Should be better than straight linseed oil.
    Last edited by jalmberg; 03-01-2012 at 08:52 AM.
    -- John

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Check out my blog: http://www.unlikelyboatbuilder.com
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    "What people say you cannot do, you try and find you can." -- Thoreau

  31. #31
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Carbonear, Newfoundland, Canada
    Posts
    1,519

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    All of the natural resins are water proof, application of one seals the wood first, put on the cosmetic coating after.

    Wax is aquaphobic, The only problem is in the application. Water has a high surface tension and a close knit film of wax molecules will not let the water in, thicker the better.

  32. #32
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Concord, Massachusetts
    Posts
    2,021

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    You say the hull is strips, glass, and epoxy. What is protecting it from UV?
    "Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. " - Thoreau

  33. #33
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    USA: Paoli, Pennsylvania
    Posts
    487

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fitz View Post
    You say the hull is strips, glass, and epoxy. What is protecting it from UV?
    I wish you had not asked that question..... -)

    My answer of the moment: "I do not know".

    I guess I have to confirm that something is.... or do something about it eventually...

  34. #34
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    20,106

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fitz View Post
    You say the hull is strips, glass, and epoxy. What is protecting it from UV?
    Quote Originally Posted by PeteCress View Post
    I wish you had not asked that question..... -)

    My answer of the moment: "I do not know".

    I guess I have to confirm that something is.... or do something about it eventually...
    I guess that'll teach me to assume. I assumed it already had varnish on it. You have two primary choices: varnish; paint. You certainly need to protect the epoxy from UV degradation. Those are the most common choices.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  35. #35
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Olney Md
    Posts
    47

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    I left a rag with boiled linseed oil on it in the trash can overnight, the next morning the trash can was smoldering and the rag was charred. Won't make that mistake again

  36. #36
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Charleston, SC
    Posts
    115

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    David - I get your hard boiled egg analogy. But aren't a lot of us bobbing around in eggs these days? Okume and cedar are both very soft and both are commonly sealed with epoxy in plywood and strip construction. True most of us do put some cloth in that coating layer to prevent the very problem you mentioned - bruises. I have some oak trim on a 12 year old skiff I built that I left as bare wood treated with 1/2 turps 1/2 linseed every now and then with furniture polish rubbed on after 24 hours - works well as protecterant but wood is much darker - but you can sand it down easy. a WHOLE lot easier than varnish IMO.

  37. #37
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Sweden,Scilly Isles, Siberia
    Posts
    4,470

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    pine tar thinned with turps, tung oil over the top,done right it will never rot.

  38. #38
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    20,106

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    Quote Originally Posted by gray duck View Post
    David - I get your hard boiled egg analogy. But aren't a lot of us bobbing around in eggs these days? Okume and cedar are both very soft and both are commonly sealed with epoxy in plywood and strip construction. True most of us do put some cloth in that coating layer to prevent the very problem you mentioned - bruises. I have some oak trim on a 12 year old skiff I built that I left as bare wood treated with 1/2 turps 1/2 linseed every now and then with furniture polish rubbed on after 24 hours - works well as protecterant but wood is much darker - but you can sand it down easy. a WHOLE lot easier than varnish IMO.
    Yes, you've answered your own question. Almost every stripper and a lot of occoume ply boats also receive fabric in the mix. That changes the equation substantially. And - occoume plywood, while a bit soft, is not as soft as a western red cedar plank. Much less of a hard-boiled-egg effect. Also - designers are mixed in their recommendations about putting epoxy resin only over the occoume. Some recommend it. Some don't.

    When it comes to a decision about whether to brush on varnish or wipe on something else... we all have to do our cost-benefit analysis. The wipe on choice means more frequent, but much simpler, maintenance. The varnish means less frequent, but more difficult (skilled) maintenance. The varnish protects better against against moisture intrusion and spills of gasoline, alcohol, chemicals, etc. Then factor in what 'look' you prefer. You pays your money and makes your choice. Or... as Pat Ford so cogently puts it - there is no free lunch.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  39. #39
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Concord, Massachusetts
    Posts
    2,021

    Default Re: Oil vs Varnish?

    Yes Pete, epoxy needs to be protected from UV with paint or varnish or it will degrade, turn yellow etc.
    "Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. " - Thoreau

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •