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Thread: More Varnishing Questions

  1. #1
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    Default More Varnishing Questions

    I HATE VARNISHING!

    No, actually . . . I really like the look of varnish when it comes out well, but I really hate it when I work hard to do everything right and it doesn't come out at least half decent.

    I am using Epifanes Clear Varnish and a new Epifanes brush that I am working very hard to keep clean. And I am using Epifanes thinner. And the varnish is new and I am straining it into a separate container.

    I decided to finish the entire inside of the hull bright on my new Lightning . . . it seemed like a good idea at the time . . . I am about 10 days into a sanding, cleaning, wiping, and varnishing marathon, and it is wearing me out. And I still have 3-4 coats to go!

    Anyway, I thinned the first couple of coats a good bit in accord with Epifanes instructions, which instruct you to thin the first coat 50 % and the second 25 %.

    When I first apply the varnish, it looks rough, literally. So I try to tip it to take out some of the roughness, which helps a little bit, but the finish is far from nice. After sanding in between coats, I have vacuumed vigorously with a brush attachment, wiped everything with Epifanes thinner, and also used a tack cloth. I am pretty darn sure there is very little dust left by the time I apply the varnish, which I do right after the tack cloth. On the latest coat, I tried unthinned varnish, but it came out about the same.

    So, anyway, my biggest question is this: How much sanding in between coats is the right amount of sanding?

    Epifanes recommends sanding with 220 in between the first couple of coats and then working up to 320. So far I have used 220. I am using my little Festool orbital sander for that job, set to the slowest speed. I recognize that hand sanding would be better, but I have had terrible tendonitis in my elbows at times during my build, and don't think I could do all this sanding without setting my elbows on fire again.

    How much am I sanding? I am basically just trying to take the gloss off of the latest coat. I must have gotten that idea from one of the many videos I have watched. The surface is nice and smooth before I varnish . . .

    Any help would be much appreciated.

    Mike

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Default Re: More Varnishing Questions

    is it a fresh can of varnish? are there blobs in the can?

    what temp is the varnish and your work area? if it's cold it could be affecting the flow.

    have you tried a lil penetrol in the varnish pot?


    it's been cool temps but I've had no troubles oiling this week, far less finicky than varnish though.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: More Varnishing Questions


    I'm about as far from a paint/varnish expert as you can get. But my recent adventures with varnish have worked out quite nicely.

    First off, I apply varnish over poxy. A layer or two of poxy equals several layers of varnish. See http://epoxyworks.com/index.php/varnish-over-epoxy/

    I've been using Pettit 2015 https://www.jamestowndistributors.co...uct.do?pid=101. I always strain it and (I'm ready fer the groans from the experts) roll and tip.

    Fer an amatuer like me, it has luckily come out quite nice.

    I lightly scour tween coats with a ScotchBrite, mounted on an RO sander when possible.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: More Varnishing Questions

    I think I bought the varnish about 6-12 months ago, and just opened it last week. I did stir the varnish when I first opened it - no blobs.

    My garage has been about 55-60 when I have been working on the varnish job.

    I don't know anything about penetrol.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Default Re: More Varnishing Questions

    I used Epifines two pack for this seasons winter maintenance, took all the steps as OP and found when it had dried there where specs on the deck. After giving the brushes a good clean at the end I am now convinced that the issue is not cleaning the brush thoroughly between coats and that particals of dried varnish are migrating from deep inside the brush

  6. #6
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    Default Re: More Varnishing Questions

    Mike, I've a reasonable amount of varnishing but I'm not a professional. The varnish haters can leave now. The temps seem a bit low for varnishing, probably taking a long time to dry. The idea is too start of with a couple of thin coats hot coats (term for applying another coat whilst the first one still is a bit tacky to touch but not too thick!). Penetrol works well, makes the varnish flow a bit better and connects better with a drying edge. Doesn't need much in the paint pot, couple of teaspoons. About every 4 coats I would bring it back with 240 to flatten out the brush marks which get a little worse with each coat. I wouldn't varnish the inside of a boat, particularly trad construction, shiny isn't good, unless the boat is a large workboat. Oiled finish is better but not as clean. Maybe scotchbrite pad and Deks Olje D.1.
    Hope this helps
    the invisible man........

  7. #7
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    Jan 2002
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    Default Re: More Varnishing Questions

    Another thing, I use ordinary cheap brushes, wide but thin preferably natural bristles, harder to find now. They lose bristles but you pick them up with the brush and grab them with index finger left hand and the paint pot, not an issue. I leave them in mineral turps for the duration of the job and whack the brush backwards and forwards on a I painted wooden post before use. Be careful using gum turps, can affect some finishes unfavourably.
    the invisible man........

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Default Re: More Varnishing Questions

    One factor for varnish not coming out as one should expect, after taking all of the normal precautions for cleaning the surface, can be overzealous use of the tack cloth! Many people believe that a tac rag should be used just as it comes out of the bag which, is a folded pad. Too much pressure on the pad can force waxy oil from the rag onto the surface and cause the finish to be less than hoped for! I always unfold a new tack rag all the way and then lightly bunch it together. The wadded rag is then, lightly, passed over the surface to be varnished. I have found that tack rags seem to get better with age, just like wine. Keeping the rag in a sealed container allows it to age with a bit of grace and remain useful for a very long time!

    I am also very fussy about brush cleaning and use no less than four thinner changes for working the brush clean. The left over thinner is then stored for the first rinse after the next use of the brush. The brush is then wrapped with blotting paper which absorbs residual varnish from the heel of the brush. I keep my brushes stored vertical in a gallon mayonnaise jar of thinner. But kerosine or diesel fuel works well too. Storing the brush on end in a paper sleeve maintains the chisel edge of the brush. Thinner is becoming difficult to find in some states so the diesel and Kerosine are alternates to this but, they should be rinsed out of the brush prior to use to aviod streaking the surface of the applied varnish.
    Jay
    Last edited by Jay Greer; 03-11-2018 at 01:55 PM.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: More Varnishing Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greer View Post
    One factor for varnish not coming out as one should expect, after taking all of the normal precautions for cleaning the surface, can be overzealous use of the tack cloth! Many people believe that a tac rag should be used just as it comes out of the bag which, is a folded pad. Too much pressure on the pad can force waxy oil from the rag onto the surface and cause the finish to be less than hoped for! I always unfold a new tack rag all the way and then lightly bunch it together. The wadded rag is then, lightly, passed over the surface to be varnished. I have found that tack rags seem to get better with age, just like wine. Keeping the rag in a sealed container allows it to age with a bit of grace and remain useful for a very long time!

    I am also very fussy about brush cleaning and use no less than four thinner changes for working the brush clean. The left over thinner is then stored for the first rinse after the next use of the brush. The brush is then wrapped with blotting paper which absorbs residual varnish from the heel of the brush. I keep my brushes stored vertical in a gallon mayonnaise jar of thinner. But kerosine or diesel fuel works well too. Storing the brush on end in a paper sleeve maintains the chisel edge of the brush. Thinner is becoming difficult to find in some states so the diesel and Kerosine are alternates to this but, they should be rinsed out of the brush prior to use to aviod streaking the surface of the applied varnish.
    Jay
    Thank you, lots of good advice. Do you know of a more available alternative to Epifines two pack polyurethane thinners / brush cleaners - it is relatively expensive stuff and I can’t find out what it actually is Epifines website does not have a data sheet or COSHH info that I can find

  10. #10
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    Default Re: More Varnishing Questions

    I might add that I have successfully used turpentine for thinning Epifines.
    The trick is in not using too much as it will retard drying time.
    Jay

  11. #11
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    Default Re: More Varnishing Questions

    Personally, I pefer the 55-65 temperature range. It gives you a bit more working time and the cooler temp lets the brush marks settle out, and makes the varnish a bit thicker and less likely to run (in other words you can lay on just a tad heavier coat). # 1 is a clean brush (some of mine are 40 yrs old. You need to learn how to clean a brush. After cleaning and well dry you should be able to fan the bristles well in a stream of sunlight and not see anything come off the brush.

    (don’t know why it is sideways, sorry about that.)
    Attached Images Attached Images

  12. #12
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    Default Re: More Varnishing Questions

    I had the same problem with a bathroom bench top. Advice from the paint manufacturer was to use a pour on epoxy first, then finish off with a clear product, the name of which I've forgotten. The poured epoxy was beautiful, like glass. After that things went pear shaped. I dusted, I wiped, I vacuumed, I washed with thinners. I used very fine sandpaper. No matter what I did I ended up with a surface which seemed like it had lots of dust particles in it. I ended up sanding with very, very fine sandpaper for a nice smooth slightly matte finish. Sometimes you just have to get on with life.

  13. #13
    Join Date
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    Default Re: More Varnishing Questions

    I appreciate all of the suggestions . . .

    Another coat on the forward half of the boat today. When I used the varnish full strength a couples of days ago, it seemed too thick. So today I decided to thin it, and managed to overdo that. Anyway, I am still getting the same results and guess that is the way it is going to be. Not going to be confused with a professional job, but at least the wood should be well protected. Looks OK as long as you don't get too close . . .

    DSCN1684.jpg



    DSCN1681.jpg

  14. #14
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    Jan 2002
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    Default Re: More Varnishing Questions

    When I do the dark coloured 240, I use it wet. Bit more forgiving if you sand too early, less likely to clog. My preparation is remove sanding residue with a wet kitchen cloth, chux?, let dry, and then a run over with another kitchen cloth that is just damp. Let dry and maybe a slow wipe with a paper towel to catch any damp bits. Once I started using water as the cleaning liquid, dust problems are just about gone. As above, I use ordinary cheap brushes, after the varnishing they become paint brushes, after the paint they become anti foul brushes or silver paint brushes. I don't have contamination issues because I leave the brush continually mineral turps for the duration of the job, rarely reuse the brush for varnishing again. Try an area with varnish with a little Penetrol added and see what you think. I live in a generally warm dry climate so varnishing here is reasonably easy. My varnish work is good enough for a sailing boat, maybe not for a heirloom yacht, and maybe not for fancy furniture. Check the thread Resurrection of the Ghost, should be some images of my mast for varnish assessment. I use Feast & Watson Spar Marine, localbrand, easy to use. I think a lot of fuss is made about varnishing, its just not that hard. Recovering old surfaces with unknown previous coatings, that's when it gets interesting.
    the invisible man........

  15. #15
    Join Date
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    Default Re: More Varnishing Questions

    I think I see a big part of your problem. You have lots of little inside corners where your planks sit against your ribs. Those little corners are perfect for storing dust that is almost impossible to remove. After sanding, clean the inside of your boat as well as your can. Then clean some more. Now, look closely at those corners --- look closer! See that dust in the corner. Try getting rid of the dust you can see. Still there, eh? If you can find an efficient way of getting that dust out, let me know. I have some methods, but they'd take as long as building the boat. Otherwise let your final finish coat cure for a week or more, then polish it with a fine rubbing compound. If it's really bad, start with 1200 grit or finer wet or dry sandpaper.
    Schooner captains love to get blown offshore!

  16. #16
    Join Date
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    Default Re: More Varnishing Questions

    I got some advice today from Epifanes tech, and thought I would pass the advice along. I really like the assurance that scuffing with a Scotch brute pad between coats will create a sufficient mechanical bond. Here is the response:


    The initial thinned coats, will always “raise’ the grain and will produce a rougher, than normal finish. 50-60 (degrees) is o.k, I would not thin it anymore than normal. Maybe up to 5%.

    When applying varnish, keep going. Do not go back to “tip” it. Yes, you will see air bubbles. They go away on their own.

    One year old, unopened varnish, is perfectly fine.

    Store the brush wet. We recommend diesel fuel. Rinse before and after with mineral spirits.

    The boat looks great! If anything, it looks like the varnish is being applied light. It looks like there is not enough of itself to flow out. Try a heavier layer.

    Sanding with a Scotch brite pad is fine. Just a thorough scrub is enough to create a mechanical bond. Do not use steel wool. Bits of invisible, steel threads will break off and will rust at a later date.

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