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Thread: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

  1. #1
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    Default Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    All,

    Going crazy over here. I've built a teak helm for my 15' Whaler. So far I have 2 coats of epoxy on it and 3 coats of Schooner Varnish. That varnish was ~4 years old and I was having some difficulty with brush strokes. It looked pretty good but not completely flat like a mirror. Thinking that a new can of varnish would do the trick I went to West Marine and spent my child's inheritance on a new can. Unfortunately they no longer carry Schooners Varnish so I went with the Captains 1015 Varnish.

    I CAN NOT KEEP THE DUST OUT OF IT. At first I thought maybe a little wind got to it so I made a little tent in my garage. 2nd coat still had quite a bit of dust so I made a better tent, mopped the floors, let everything settle for a day (garage off limits) and then tried again. I still got major dust in the finish!

    Maybe it's my brush? I keep it pretty clean. I'm also sanding, wiping w/mineral spirits, and cleaning with air between coats.

    Admittingly I'm still a novice but I've gotten way better results with much less effort in the past. What is the secret! Should I order a can of Schooner online?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    It may not be dust. I hope you're not shaking the can to mix the varnish with solvent.

    /Mats
    Yes the avatar depicts me; yes I drew the comic boat pic, it's a joke on the pop song I'm not a robot by Marina and the diamonds

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    no picture it didn't happen you used epoxy on teak outdoors? If you do varnish when it's cold it won't flow well. Many of us don't wait long enough for the coats to cure.. over night is not always enough.
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    Quote Originally Posted by mohsart View Post
    It may not be dust. I hope you're not shaking the can to mix the varnish with solvent.

    /Mats
    Nope, I generally give it a swirl the night before. Then I pour it into another container.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    I always put the varnish through a paint filter for my last coat or two. I buy them in bulk so only $0.10 ea. You should be able to find them in most any HD/Lowes or any paint store but then they are upwards of $0.50 ea.
    - John

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    Here is a picture. Very difficult to photograph.

    I'm going to try again friday with a new brush. The one I have now is Chinex. I'll have to see what sherwin williams has.

    https://imgur.com/gallery/3FEwa

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    Now that I think about it my first coats were with foam brushes and it was coming out well. Now I switched to a Chinex bristle brush and I wonder if that's my problem. Should I switch back to foam? If not, what's a good brush I can buy at a local big box store?

  8. #8
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by KiloRomeo View Post
    Here is a picture. Very difficult to photograph.

    I'm going to try again friday with a new brush. The one I have now is Chinex. I'll have to see what sherwin williams has.

    https://imgur.com/gallery/3FEwa
    Badger hair brush was always my choice, but did ok with foam brushes. It looks like you have outgassing pin holes in the epoxy,.

    Sent from my LG-M430 using Tapatalk
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    If those are dust nibs then there's dust in the air that falls onto the wet varnish. Or... there's dust on the wood before you begin to apply the varnish. You said you sand, wipe with mineral spirits, then blow with compressed air. Sanding certainly produces dust. If there's any dust on the rag you wipe with, it could end up on the wood. Blowing with air will stir things up well and then you'll certainly have dust nibs. So, do this: sand, vacuum if your vac has a hepa filter, wipe it down with a new tack cloth. Don't shake the can of varnish at all. Dust nibs are not the fault of the varnish unless there's dust in it.

    Is there dust on the ceiling of the garage? Is there a floor above?

    Jeff

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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    Try the foam brush. There is a chance you are getting dried varnish out of your brush.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    I'm going to switch back to the foam brush. I think that has to be my problem.


    All sanding occurs outside the garage with the garage closed and fan blowing dust away from garage. Then I wipe outside. Then I spray the floor of my booth with water. Quick blast of air on the curtains to hopefully get dust on the ground. Then I wipe the floor with a towel and move the helm into the booth. More water on the floor. That sits overnight and then the next morning I wipe down again and start the varnishing. I had problems with runs and sags with the old varnish but NEVER this much dust and I wasnt covering it or anything. The only thing that changed was the varnish, brush and now im way more sanitary with the booth. Im thinking it has to be the brush.

    I'll give it a try with the foamies. I just need one good coat so I can start putting the boat back together. Time to get fishing!!!




  12. #12
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    SWMBO asserts that I am a perpetual carrier of dust. Could be, but I prefer to call it 'man glitter'.
    If I'm being fussy, I'll take a shower and wear clean clothes. I stop short of varnishing naked, as some do.
    Last edited by JimConlin; 03-07-2018 at 10:02 PM.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    Get yourself a spray bottle that makes a fine mist. Cover your piece up and fill the air with the mist. When the mist settles varnish your work.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    First give up. Dust won. rub out dust with microfine sandpaper and polishing compound. Always did this with speedboat decks.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    IMG_4406.jpgI've had the same issues with a set of doors I was varnishing..I was pulling my hair out trying to figure it out! I do not know the cause...dust, degassing, dried brush varnish...all the culprits I heard of. Seemed counter intuitive, but I moved my project outdoors to varnish and my issues were reduced by 75%...almost tolerable.

    WgMkr

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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    I have the rigid version of this brush, should I try this?

    https://www.amazon.com/Purdy-1440807...o+extra+rigide

    Also, what makes for a faster cure time? Is it heat or direct sunlight? I'm having an issue with runs, they don't fully cure for a few days which keeps me from sanding. Should I move it outside in the sunny 50* weather or keep it in my garage/house where the temperature is closer to 70*.

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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    Direct sun is not your friend here

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    Faster cure time? Try a few drops of japan drier carefully stirred in to your varnish. This is only my observation, but I believe the factors that most affect the drying time of varnish are temperature and ventilation.

    As to your dust/bubbles, don't scrape your brush on the rim of your varnish pot. If you feel a need to get excess varnish off of your brush, after dipping 1/4" of the brush tip in the varnish, lightly touch it to the inside of the pot.

    I've stopped wiping with thinner before varnishing. Instead, after wiping with dry lint free rags and vacuuming, I wipe well with a tack rag, turning it frequently.

    Beware of static electricity. No amount of cleaning will suffice if your wood surface continues to attract dust from the air while you are coating it.

    While it doesn't seem to be a problem with the piece you pictured, beware of inside corners. It takes particular attention to get them dust-free.

    Remember that wood is an organic material. Wood breathes; even decades after being cut, milled, and installed in a boat. If you varnish early while the day is still warming, the warming wood will be exhaling. The bubbles that result can look like dust nibs. As Pat mentioned above, you can polish the dust off your finish coat of varnish. Polishing won't work as well with bubbles.

    Most importantly, stick the tip of your tongue out the corner of your mouth while brushing your varnish. I'm not sure what result this has, but the guy that taught me to varnish did it, and his jobs were always perfect. I'm right handed and I stick my tongue out the left side of my mouth, but my mentor was ambi-tongue-stress.

    Even more importantly --- be happy with your final result. Nobody else will notice those tiny flaws that will jump out and hit you in the face every time you look at them.
    Schooner captains love to get blown offshore!

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    Haha!

    I've formulated a plan to tackle this once my last coat cures. Gonna go heavy on the water sprayer, foam brush and tack like crazy,. I'm also changing the order and where I start varnishing of the sides.

    Hard to explain with a picture but basically with the helm vertical I'm going to start on the underside (purple arrows) and then the sides and back (red arrows). Then I'll rotate the helm and do the green arrows followed by yellow.


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    It could be from your clothing... (Pretty common)

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    If this was a concours competition show boat I'd understand. In my experience, having spent hours getting a decent finish on a mahogany decked runabout, the first twenty minutes belting about with spray and salt and well, generally all that stuff that boats are about, its all seriously less perfect than when I left the dock.


    And is this a fishing / recreational boat....? what about sand from the bottom sinker, the lead banging against the finished wood, the rods skittering along the gunnel when you think its all under control and you strike into a hefty fish....general wear and tear ....I think I'd relax a bit about it , or never take the boat out of the shed.
    Last edited by jonboy; 03-08-2018 at 12:04 PM.
    'C'est la vie' say the old folks it goes to show you never can tell

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    Schooner Rat pretty well nails it. When all else fails and the surface has dried a week or so, a dab of fine rubbing compound on a damp terrycloth pad will bring up a bright shine.
    Jay

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    Suspend your work from the ceiling and then varnish upside-down so that no dust falls on it. This is the technique that Michaelangleo used to get that beautiful dust-free finish on the Sistine chapel.
    I will beg you for advice, your reply will be concise, and I will listen very nicely and then go out and do exactly what I want! (Apologies to Lerner and Lowe.)

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    Looks to me like your varnish came out very well, and, with a little TLC, you could get it to look like you want it to.

    When I restored my ancient Etchells-built Lightning, I had a heck of a time getting the trim to look right. No matter what I did, the varnish looked rough, with some of the things you are running into. My neighbor, the auto body man, told me to wet sand it with 1500 & then 2400 grit paper, and then use a polish on it. I used a polish with a very fine compound that I got from West Marine, and, all of a sudden, my varnish job looked like it had been done by a professional.

    So, what I am trying to say is: I wouldn't pull my hair out because the varnish didn't come out perfect. I would try to sanding and polish method to see how it would look after that.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    Hi, Pro painter/varnisher here. Most of the time dust comes from the brush or nooks and crannies of your work. (assuming your shop is fairly clean). Compressed air and vacuuming before hand is a good idea. Foam brushes give a very clean look, but tend to result in a very thin coating that often times goes dull before the end of the season. After 30+ years I can't get satisfactory results with one. They do work well for roll and tip, though.

    We use woolsey yachtsman brushes and they are changed out often.

    We use Epifanes varnish. Woodfinish gloss for the base coats followed up by the regular Epifanes varnish for the topcoat.

    We get the room temp as warm as we can get it and soak the floor with water before we start.

    Good luck.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    Well the foam brush solved the dust problem. Unfortunately now I have a bunch of runs! I'm going to try again tomorrow with a wider brush. What about a foam roller? Any luck with those?

    This captains varnish takes forever to harden, I'm talking 48hours and the runs are still very soft and unsandable. Am I missing something?

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    I spent some time in Aalsmeer, Netherlands, the land of varnished beauty. I'm an amateur so I talked to the folks at Epifanes, (Aalsmeer is their headquarters) they explained that I need a lot more coats. I ordered so much they had to deliver in a truck. Turns out they have a special roller for applying base coats.

    While they respect Epifanes at the boatyard there, they don't always use it. My favorite boatbuilder took me aside and said that the last two coats he uses a special varnish from Italy, sheeeeee, don't tell anyone. His work is stunning.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    You can roll and tip varnish. The roller can be helpful in metering the varnish to a more uniform thickness.

    I have always found Captains thin and runny and preferred Flagship or Epifanes, but that is purely personal preference.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    Add a little japan drier to your varnish. It won't help the runs, but it will speed up the cure. A little bit of jap goes a long way. Don't overdo it. A capful a quart is my rule of thumb. I suspect that I may often overdose by a little bit, but I never use more than a few drops.

    Your runs are technique. You've brushed on too thick a coat to contain itself. There's a fine line between thick enough to cover and thin enough not to run. Every varnish will handle differently. Here's where experience rules. The varnish in your pot will thicken if you spend more than a few minutes varnishing. You'll feel your brush pulling. Add a little of the proper thinner...I also like to add a little Penetrol or boiled linseed. Work in sections that are about 1 foot square. You can go bigger when you start to get a good feel for varnishing. Be consistent! Always dip your brush the exact same 1/4". Always touch the tip of your brush lightly to the inside of your varnish pot to remove drips. Unload the varnish from the brush onto your 1 foot square as evenly as you can. Use 2 diagonal strokes to create an X in your square. Use one side of the brush for the first stroke, then flip your brush for the second. Now brush it out, always starting your stroke from your wet edge. Keep the same angle on your brush throughout the stroke. Keep the same pressure on the bristles (or foam). Be consistent! If your coverage is thin (holidays and dull spots), make your one foot square square a little less than one foot square. If the coverage is too thick, (runs and lace curtains), make it bigger. Find the sweet spot and always put the same amount of varnish on the same square footage of wood and always use the same technique to apply it. Don't overwork your varnish; unload your brush, spread the varnish evenly, and move on. Start by trying to err a bit to the thin side. Coverage that is less than thick enough can easily be sanded, and the next coat can be thickened a bit. Runs are not so easy to deal with, as you've discovered.

    And don't forget the tip of your tongue sticking out of the corner of your mouth!
    Schooner captains love to get blown offshore!

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    In order to speed up drying time of varnish, a bit of Japan Drier can be added to the varnish bucket. Oops, I see that Ratty was postting just ahead of me. All I can say then is that I second Schooner Rat's comment.
    Jay

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    Captains varnish, rolled and tipped (cedar planking covered with mahogany veneer set in epoxy, coated with WEST 105/207, sanded smooth and finally Captains Varnish used full strength). Gougeon foam rollers and a chip brush for tipping. Started at the bow stem and worked down one side, around the transom and up the other side in one continuous session. No runs or drips, mostly due to really rolling the coats out to be pretty thin and even.


  32. #32
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    Welp, I'm still here trying to get the perfect coat. I've tried everything. Currently using a badger hair brush and my technique is spot on but I'm still getting dust. No more runs but definite dust.

    The only thing I havent tried is the Japan drier. I'm down to my last 1/6 of a can of varnish. How much should I add? Should I also add penetrol or anything? I'm going to give it one last shot with the drier, and a new paint filter.

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    Quote Originally Posted by KiloRomeo View Post
    Welp, I'm still here trying to get the perfect coat. I've tried everything. Currently using a badger hair brush and my technique is spot on but I'm still getting dust. No more runs but definite dust.

    The only thing I havent tried is the Japan drier. I'm down to my last 1/6 of a can of varnish. How much should I add? Should I also add penetrol or anything? I'm going to give it one last shot with the drier, and a new paint filter.
    If, after all this, you're still not getting it... I'd suggest one of two avenues.

    First choice - give up on perfect. Second choice - follow Pat Ford's advice and simply add a rubout to your finishing schedule.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    https://www.facebook.com/HarborWoodworks/

    "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)

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    Quote Originally Posted by KiloRomeo View Post
    Welp, I'm still here trying to get the perfect coat. I've tried everything. Currently using a badger hair brush and my technique is spot on but I'm still getting dust. No more runs but definite dust.

    The only thing I havent tried is the Japan drier. I'm down to my last 1/6 of a can of varnish. How much should I add? Should I also add penetrol or anything? I'm going to give it one last shot with the drier, and a new paint filter.
    Probably coming from your clothing or your surroundings. You are wearing a Tykek suit with a hood over your naked body, and the floor is wet with water, right?

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Captains Varnish - What on earth am I doing wrong

    Are you still using the same can of varnish?

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