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Thread: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

  1. #1
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    Default Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    So, I'm "okay" at rolling and tipping paint but varnish seems to be different. I am seeing brush marks. I'm guessing I'm waiting too long to brush out the varnish.

    Last coat, I tried just brushing (no rolling) and it still looks bad. I might be working it too long? It is hot right now so maybe that's the issue.

    FYI-I am working in the shade. The air temp is in the upper 80s. Using Interlux Schooner thinned out with Brushing 333 about 15%
    Chuck Thompson

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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    Don't roll and tip varnish. Basically, varnish is laid on with brush strokes leading from dry past your last wet edge. My best stroke actually draws along the new plus the two previous wet edges - long enough to prevent sags but not going into varnish that's started to dry enough to drag on the brush. It's a light stroke so that as you gently lift the brush from the end of the stroke you're not snapping the bristles and sending splatters about.

    If you can arrange it, practice on horizontal surfaces first.

    And there's a reason why I'll never varnish again. But really, it's not mysticism or that hard if you don't mind paying attention.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    I think the problem is the temperature and how long you waited. I rolled and tipped the varnish on my Starboat's topsides and it worked great (Captain's Varnish, un-thinned) by myself. I started at the bow with a roller in one hand and the tipping brush in the other (not doing both at once, but ready to do vertical bands as narrow as 12" or so). I worked down one side, around the transom and up the other side. The advantage of rolling and tipping is that it allows you to put on a thin and even coat - in my case, much more even and free of sags or drips than I can do with a brush. With any paint or varnish though, there is going to be a window of opportunity where you have to get the tipping done and get out of there - and the size of the window will depend on the exact product and the conditions. So you have to pay close attention as you start to quickly get a feel for how the stuff is handling that day and how long it will keep a good wet edge and allow the tip marks to flow out. I have since rolled and tipped several sailboats and canoes with either paint or varnish and even the varnished oak floors in my house with excellent results. Considering that I'm a pretty poor brush-painter, it has made a huge difference in the quality of my results.



    Last edited by Todd Bradshaw; 06-24-2017 at 10:33 AM.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    Very nice Todd. I was always taught to avoid overworking the varnish and that rolling would put bubbles in it. Clearly your work shows this is not necessarily so.

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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    Of course you can roll and tip varnish. What Todd said, well, at least some if what Ian said too regarding bristle. For me, larger areas are roll and tip - typically foam roller and foam brush. There is good foam, and there is crap, and there are some tricks. I use the little 'hot dog' detail rollers. I might use a good bristle brush only, and not roll, smaller areas and/or areas that require a lot of cutting. Where good bristle really shines is cutting.
    Last edited by Eric Hvalsoe; 06-24-2017 at 11:12 AM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    Rolling will definitely put some bubbles in. I roll over it a lot, in order to get it spread thinly and evenly, but only with moderate pressure. This helps reduce the number of bubbles formed and seems to keep them more on the surface than down deep in the paint or varnish. As long as you get there soon enough with the tipping brush, they knock down pretty easily. Over-rolling, or using too much roller pressure can certainly cause paint, varnish or epoxy to get foamy, and that is going to be difficult to fix with the brush. I have always used the Gougeon yellow rollers. I also roll and tip epoxy resin filler coats when fiberglassing, for smoother, more even coats. They will still eventually need sanding before finishing, but they come out more uniform when rolled heavily and then tipped. Instead of a tipping brush though, we use hunks of the yellow rollers hot-glued into a slot cut in a stick for epoxy, as normal brushes are too soft (and too expensive) to do the job. There are certainly smaller, more complex areas where varnishing needs to be done with a brush, but for wide open spaces, rolling and tipping works great.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    Thanks for the suggestions. I'll try to tip it out sooner next coat. Also, maybe I should do it in the morning when the temp is better.
    Chuck Thompson

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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    Having spent the past 2 years at the WoodenBoat School Alumni weeks, I've gotten a LOT of instruction on varnishing, and painting, techniques. They are more than a bit persnickety. I must be getting a better as I had no redo's this year, and got to paint and varnish 3 of their 12 1/2's, plus others. (Finally got to my boat this week.)

    The WB method is pretty much as Todd described above. It's important to load the roller (small foam ones) completely but with not a lot. Roll a relatively small area and tip into the previously varnished area with very light strokes. They use good brushes (NEVER FOAM! I learned that one last year!) You can only catch holidays, sags, for a short period, after that, leave it alone or you'll make it worse.

    I'd say the most important part is having good light, a light angled properly will show your progress. Under normal shop lights you'll miss stuff for sure. And I know that for sure.
    Steve B
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    "If a man must be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most." E. B. White

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    Yes chuck, varnish in the morning.

    Nothing wrong tipping with foam, unload the foam now and then. If your talking about a large area, I also make a habit of varying the length of my tipping stroke back into the previous work. This will mitigate 'blockyness'.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    Quote Originally Posted by SBrookman View Post
    Having spent the past 2 years at the WoodenBoat School Alumni weeks, I've gotten a LOT of instruction on varnishing, and painting, techniques. They are more than a bit persnickety. I must be getting a better as I had no redo's this year, and got to paint and varnish 3 of their 12 1/2's, plus others. (Finally got to my boat this week.)

    The WB method is pretty much as Todd described above. It's important to load the roller (small foam ones) completely but with not a lot. Roll a relatively small area and tip into the previously varnished area with very light strokes. They use good brushes (NEVER FOAM! I learned that one last year!) You can only catch holidays, sags, for a short period, after that, leave it alone or you'll make it worse.

    I'd say the most important part is having good light, a light angled properly will show your progress. Under normal shop lights you'll miss stuff for sure. And I know that for sure.
    Everything Steve B says here conforms to my own experience. To me, the trick is to work in small areas, because whatever tipping you're going to do has to be done before the material you've applied with the roller 'flashes over'. The trick is knowing when that has happened, which you can tell because the brush begins to drag. Once that happens, don't *ever* try to go back over it.

    His advice about good light is often overlooked, but crucial and spot on. Typically, I'll do a small section - no more than a square foot or so and probably less, then take the time to bend down and let the glancing light show me any missed spots, emerging curtains or flaws and fix them right then before it flashes over.

    To the OP's point, varnishing in the hot sun is certainly possible, but it also dramatically reduces the interval before flash over occurs...you're working window becomes exceedingly short. Early morning, after the dew has vanished is a good time. But be aware, if it's going to be getting hot, there is a chance that the 'skin' that forms at flash over time may crinkle on you. Remember that varnish cures from the outside in.

    -Paul
    s/y PickPocket

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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    [QUOTE=Eric Hvalsoe;5270464.

    Nothing wrong tipping with foam, unload the foam now and then.[/QUOTE]

    I agree, I use them at home, but as I found out, not at the WBS! Geeze, you'd a thought I ruined that Herreshoff when he saw me using that damn foam brush.
    Steve B
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    "If a man must be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most." E. B. White

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    Today's coat went better. Tried to work faster. Still brush marks on the big piece (a counter top). This one's harder to work quick because of the large area I think. I did much better on holidays and runs by paying super close attention to how it looked with the right light angle.

    I might try a bit of penetrol on the big piece tommorrow to see if I can get it to flow just a bit longer.

    I used mineral spirits instead of the Interlux 333 by mistake but it certainly didn't seem to hurt. Maybe it helped?
    Chuck Thompson

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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    Placing the can of varnish in the fridge the day before, and pouring off into, and working from a smaller container so it stays cool will give you a bit more working time.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    Ahhhh. Shades of H.A.Calahan. (For those of us old enough.)

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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    That actually sounds like it might work.
    Chuck Thompson

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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    I usually tip out paint and varnish with cheap bristle "chip brushes" (after combing them out carefully as they usually contain some loose bristles). I use them and pitch them, rather than clean them. My wife likes using foam brushes, and they will work but I'm not a big fan of them for painting in general. They seem to have a tendency to dump paint out their sides when tilted as I'm using them, which really annoys me. The thing about brush choice for rolling and tipping is simply how well it will knock down bubbles - not what sort of brush strokes it might leave. If you are tipping properly and at the right time, all you are doing is bubble popping. You aren't really applying enough pressure to move the material around, and any tiny ridges or other brush stroke marks left behind should flow out before the paint or varnish dries. The end result should be the pattern the paint flows to, not the pattern you brushed into it, so a soft brush from just about any material should work fine. If your tipping is leaving brush strokes, the paint consistency isn't right or you are tipping too hard or too late in the drying cycle. It should literally be a matter of holding the brush between your thumb and index finger and very lightly dragging it over the surface.

    I remember the old chilled varnish ads. Seems to me they used to run them in WoodenBoat.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    Ahhhh. Shades of H.A.Calahan. (For those of us old enough.)

    LOL,.... I almost mentioned "Calahan's chiltered varnish", but didn't know if anyone would know it. My family used nothing but that for decades.

    I will still put the can in the fridge.

    Chuck, you can also put the cold can of varnish in a slightly larger container with ice and water around it to keep it cold while varnishing in hot weather. You do need to adjust your technique a bit because the cold varnish is a bit thicker, then as it warms up on the wood it thins a bit. Apply it 'seemingly' just a bit thinner to avoid curtains and runs.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    Okay--just did another coat. I got help on the big piece so it could be tipped out immediately after I'm done rolling.

    And I did cool the varnish off in the fridge and added a dash of Penetrol.

    I guess Callahan has been gone a while. Or I missed it. I don't have any recollection of reading about the chilled varnish technique.
    Chuck Thompson

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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    I confess this is not a boat project. We are building a house and I'm doing the cabinets and trim work. Marine varnish is really not necessary But i figured it would be good practice for my boat varnishing.

    For the rest of the work, I may invest in a decent HVLP sprayer and use a lacquer. Probably would be worth the time saved and, with all the nooks and crannies, easier to do.
    Chuck Thompson

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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    Calahan's used to make two varnishes, "Chiltered" and "Chilled". I don't remember the difference, might have been the level of UV blocker. When growing up I bought out the last inventory at our local boating supply place,... oh about 1974. They've been gone for a while.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    Super aggravated right now. Could it have something to do with the flattening agent? I think I'm mixing it pretty well.






    Chuck Thompson

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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    Mixing it !?!?!?!

    With varnish you carefully decant from can through a strainer, maybe adding some thinner or brushing agent at that point, but you don't mix, shake or stir varnish.

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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    I am using Interlux flattening agent to get a semi-gloss finish. It has to be stirred gently in. I understand about moving the varnish too much. I should have used the term "stirred." "Mixing" does evoke images of aggressively whipping up the varnish. I'm not doing that.
    Chuck Thompson

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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    Maybe I'm putting it on too thin? Or perhaps my assistant was using too much pressure tipping out. I'm bringing the last pieces in the house for the next try.
    Last edited by chuckt; 06-25-2017 at 06:09 PM.
    Chuck Thompson

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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    Quote Originally Posted by chuckt View Post
    Super aggravated right now.




    Looks like it's sucking moisture about of the air...this will cause flatting as you show. You are in South Carolina after all. What is the humidity?

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    I've had trouble at times getting an even "matte" or finish on non gloss varnishes. I have had the best success laying on as heavily as I can (within reason). Almost more of a 'floating' it on to get a consistant shean.
    Looking at you picture I would be inclined to agree with you 'too thin'. To the right of the hole looks pretty good, and that appears to have a thicker coat.

    (I have noticed that today all varnishes, semi & glosses say to stir them. That used to be complete taboo, it was open the can and go.)

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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    Quote Originally Posted by pcford View Post
    Looks like it's sucking moisture about of the air...this will cause flatting as you show. You are in South Carolina after all. What is the humidity?
    We have had very humid days lately. Didn't think about that.
    Chuck Thompson

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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    Quote Originally Posted by nedL View Post
    I've had trouble at times getting an even "matte" or finish on non gloss varnishes. I have had the best success laying on as heavily as I can (within reason). Almost more of a 'floating' it on to get a consistant shean.
    Looking at you picture I would be inclined to agree with you 'too thin'. To the right of the hole looks pretty good, and that appears to have a thicker coat.

    (I have noticed that today all varnishes, semi & glosses say to stir them. That used to be complete taboo, it was open the can and go.)
    Yeah--looks thin to me too--maybe, as you suggest, it takes some more volume for the semi-gloss mix to come out well. PC might be on to something with his humidity observation. It was about 80% when I applied it. It is 59% now and is about ready to climb back up as the evening sets in.
    Chuck Thompson

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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    Isn't semi-gloss varnish a bit like no-alcohol beer?

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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    Isn't semi-gloss varnish a bit like no-alcohol beer?
    Yes! or a kiss from your maiden aunt Jessie.

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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    Ahh,.. yes, the humidity to as Pat suggested. I hadn't thought about that down there. If you are chilling the varnish quite cold, that could be contributing (actually getting condensation. Like taking a bottle out of the fridge, on a minute or so it is wet on the outside.

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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    Quote Originally Posted by pcford View Post
    Yes! or a kiss from your maiden aunt Jessie.

    Ha ha. Maybe.
    Chuck Thompson

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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    I have never been able to keep flatting agent in suspension for more than a few brush strokes. Then I have to stir it up again. Otherwise the surface with be "blotchy" or an uneven gloss. Consequently I don't bother with it and if it needs to be semi-gloss and I don't want to just wait a year or so for that, I use rottenstone or pumice powder after it is cured to break the gloss. These days I just wait for it "patina", that happens soon enough!
    (When I was painting cars with metallic or pearl in the paint, the gun had an automatic agitator that slowly revolved in the cup to keep an even consistency.)

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    Quote Originally Posted by chuckt View Post

    For the rest of the work, I may invest in a decent HVLP sprayer and use a lacquer. Probably would be worth the time saved and, with all the nooks and crannies, easier to do.
    The difference in time spent applying marine varnish by brush and spraying lacquer is so vast that relativistic effects must be taken into consideration when measuring the difference. Lacquer practically jumps out of the gun and begs to lay down flat. Knowing what I know about finishing, the only non-boat things I would finish with varnish would be outdoor furniture, and then only if I was feeling especially masochistic.

    Buy the gun.

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Roll and Tip--How long does one have to brush out?

    It may not sound impressive or high tech, but when I build stuff like your cabinets, I use satin Minwax "Wipe On Poly" (diluted polyurethane that comes in a rectangular can for about $11 per quart). You wipe a coat on without having to be particularly neat about it, it dries down tight to the surface, usually perfectly, and you can put on a couple coats per day. After about three or four coats (maybe with a bit of a quick Scotchbrite rub down between coats) you will get an awfully nice, semi-oiled-looking finish which is quite tough.



    Sprayed gloss conversion varnish on top, satin wipe-on for the body back and neck.


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