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Thread: Spar Varnish

  1. #1
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    Default Spar Varnish

    E24F263C-C151-45E1-B6F4-11B51692FBC4.jpgSo I am finishing my first wooded sailboat, an 11ft flat bottom skiff designed by Arch Davis — it’s been a sporadic 10 year journey! I am ready to varnish the spars as well as the interior and exterior of the hull. I’m not sure what the best and most economic brand of varnish to use. Any advice from the experts on this forum would be appreciated.
    Bill
    Last edited by BillBro; 08-15-2020 at 02:19 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    Welcome to the forum! You will get lots of good advice here in a bit. Do you have any pics?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    Thank you, I do have pics but haven’t figured out how to post them. Bill

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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    Nice boat.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    epifanes,.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    Quote Originally Posted by pcford View Post
    epifanes,.
    + 1

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    Paint.

    (Can you tell what kind of a boater/sailor I am?)

    Good luck with the varnishing--I suppose someone has to do it... Just happy it's not me! The boat looks good.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    Quote Originally Posted by pcford View Post
    epifanes,.
    +2,

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    I use Feast & Watson spar varnish on my spars - with at least the first couple of coats well thinned. Nice wee boat :-)

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    Epiphanes is excellent but $$$.
    If economy is a factor, I would consider Rustoleum.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    Epifanes.

    Rustoleum is quite soft when fully cured. Fine for interior work but it wont last on a spar or thwarts.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    I have used epifanes before and was happy with it but i was really impressed with total boat gleam for quick drying and fast build. 3 coats in a day quite easily. No way I could do that with epifanes.
    Tom

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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    The trick with Epifanes is to use their thinner and get rid of that thick consistency it comes in. I am of the belief that they thicken up the product in order to pass the clean air rules. So, when you pay the price, you are getting one and a half times as much as with other brands. If you use their thinner, you will see that it will set up faster than with other products. Normally I uses turpentine for thinning varnish but Epifanes is an exception. Follow their instructions to the letter and you will get a fine result
    from doing so.
    Jay
    Last edited by Jay Greer; 08-21-2020 at 02:18 PM.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greer View Post
    The trick with Epifanes is to use their thinner and get rid of that thick consistency if comes in. I am of the belief that they thicken up the product in order to pass the clean air rules. So, when you pay the price, you are getting one and a half times as much as with other brands. If you use their thinner, you will see that it will set up faster than with other products. Normally I uses turpentine for thinning varnish but Epifanes is an exception. Follow their instructions to the letter and you will get a fine result
    from doing so.
    Jay
    It's true about your getting more in the thicker Eppi varnish, so there's a savings there, but their proprietary thinner isn't cheap either, so they get you going and coming.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    As I read its MSDS, the Epi thinner is naphtha. Available at your corner paint store.

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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    Ive never used anything but good mineral spirits to thin Epiphanes and have never had a problem.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    I was in the same place as you a few months ago, just finishing my first boat and thinking about varnish.
    I went to my local hardware stores to see what was available locally. I posted the the brands available on this forum. Several members gave feedback on the available brands.
    I ended up using McCloskey's Man O War Spar Varnish.
    The ability to buy locally was important in my situation.
    Nice looking boat!

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    Quote Originally Posted by BillBro View Post
    E24F263C-C151-45E1-B6F4-11B51692FBC4.jpgSo I am finishing my first wooded sailboat, an 11ft flat bottom skiff designed by Arch Davis ó itís been a sporadic 10 year journey! I am ready to varnish the spars as well as the interior and exterior of the hull. Iím not sure what the best and most economic brand of varnish to use. Any advice from the experts on this forum would be appreciated.
    Bill
    I agree with all the others about Epifanes. However, I would recommend Epifanes Wood Gloss Finish over the regular Epifanes Clear Gloss Finish. You can build up coats faster and easier because you can apply one coat over the next without sanding if done within 72 hours. So you are not constantly sanding away part of the previous layer before applying the next and having to tack up all the dust. It has nearly the same UV resistance. I will usually apply the last to coats (after lightly sanding) with regular Epifanes Gloss Finish for that beautiful gloss and slightly better UV coverage.

    I know some will disagree with starting with the Wood Gloss Finish and they may be right. I have done both. When you are starting with bare wood vs top dressing annually, I found it to be a real time saver with no downside from my perspective. It coats as thickly and is just as durable. I would stay away from Epifanes Rapidcoat - the coats are very thin so even though you can coat without sanding, you need many more coats.

    Are you up on the best way to start your layering up of the varnish? Best Brushes and brush cleaning storage? These issues can be just as important as what varnish you use.

    Here is a 60 year old sitka spruce mast that I completely refinished using Wood Gloss Finish and Clear Gloss for the last two coats. That was 4 years ago and it still looks great


    Mast.jpg
    Last edited by Boatbum; 08-19-2020 at 02:53 PM.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    Quote Originally Posted by JimConlin View Post
    As I read its MSDS, the Epi thinner is naphtha. Available at your corner paint store.
    Naphtha is now no longer available in California and a lot of other states. Lighter fluid is the same thing.

    Starting on bare wood, I always thin the first coat of varnish down by a bit in order to get good penetration. Usulally two hot coats of full strength varnish can be applied in the same day sans sanding. Next day sanding is done and an third coat is applied followed by a hot coat. That gives you five coats in two days. Next day sand and apply another full strenght coat and a hot coat. Sand again next day and a apply one more careful coat ending up with eight from bare wood.
    Jay
    Last edited by Jay Greer; 08-21-2020 at 02:26 PM.

  20. #20
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greer View Post
    The trick with Epifanes is to use their thinner and get rid of that thick consistency it comes in. I am of the belief that they thicken up the product in order to pass the clean air rules. So, when you pay the price, you are getting one and a half times as much as with other brands. If you use their thinner, you will see that it will set up faster than with other products. Normally I uses turpentine for thinning varnish but Epifanes is an exception. Follow their instructions to the letter and you will get a fine result
    from doing so.
    Jay

    This. I don't know why, but Epifanes bpvarnish and non-Epifanes thinners do not get along.

    My experience is that thinning Epifanes with other stuff makes it not flow well.
    You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound. ó P.G. Wodehouse (Carry On, Jeeves)

  21. #21
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rene' View Post
    Jack Tar Marine Varnish I have been told by a friend is the best stuff for UV protection. He uses it and believes in it.

    Rene'

    An alter ego of yours? #1 hit for "Jack Tar Marine Varnish" in google.

    https://www.tigerrant.com/users/prof.aspx?u=64017
    You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound. ó P.G. Wodehouse (Carry On, Jeeves)

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    Usulally two hot coats of full strength varnish can be applied in the same day sans sanding. Next day sanding is done and an third coat is applied followed by a hot coat.

    What do you mean by hot coat? Are you literally applying warmed varnish?

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    Le Tonkinois, is my favourite these days, seems to be very forgiving in use and very traditional.

    http://tarsmell.com/letonkinois_original.html

    and this side of the pond

    http://www.letonkinoisvarnish.co.uk/
    Just an amateur bodging away..

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    Quote Originally Posted by jdbondy View Post
    Usulally two hot coats of full strength varnish can be applied in the same day sans sanding. Next day sanding is done and an third coat is applied followed by a hot coat.

    What do you mean by hot coat? Are you literally applying warmed varnish?
    Hot coating is applying a second coat over the first before it is fully cured, The bond is typically more chemical than mechanical.
    Let the first coat get to the point where you can leave a fingerprint impression in the finish without any finish sticking to your fingertip.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    It's interesting that varnish, as usual, elicits so much interest. As part of our business, we do painting and varnishing.

    Which brand I use (if the owner doesn't have religious preference, as some do) partly depends on which substrate. Solid wood, or other applications where there'll be a good bit of movement, appreciate a more 'long oil' formulation that elongates better when dry. Won't be as rock hard and abrasion-resistant, but I'd rather patch a bit of abrasion usually... than have to continually repair a spot where the structure causes a crack that won't go away or stay fixed. Aggravating.

    And for the amateur boatbuilder, it also partly depends on what's available locally. Does the local chandlery carry Interlux #96 Schooner (my normal go-to) but not Epifanes? That's fine. You'll appreciate being able to lay your hands on more if you should run short. If you pick something uncommon... make sure you keep some extra stock on hand. No... one tin more than that <G> And don't forget to order more way ahead of time.

    So, yes, do your research. Then, my most important advice, pick a brand and get used to it. Don't bounce around. You won't be doing it that often, so do it with a familiar product. Nothing wrong with Epifanes. It probably IS the best product. But that's offset by the fact that it's a bit quirky compared to most of the rest - in ways discussed above. The thickness. The proprietary solvents. If you have anyone helping you - even experienced help - they will have to learn a slightly 'weird' product.
    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)

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    I agree with your observations David. Ever since the Behr Paint Company came into existence shortly after the Korean War.
    Behr Varnish was my and the varnish chosen from most of us in Newport Beach Ca. Actually the varnish was invented in the garage of Dick Crowel in Costa Mesa Ca and was sold to most of the local boat yards for professional varnish work. I remember my father going to the factory in Santa Ana Ca to buy the varnish that came with the Crowel name on the can before the Behr company that I belive was Canadian bought the formulation from Crowel and set up the factory that was in an old brick building in Santa Ana then. I used to give a member of the family a slip at my place in exchange of paint and varnish products. Of course the company has grown and the EPA no longer allows the original formula of Behr Varnish to be sold anymore which is sad because it truly was the best varnish the a fella could get his paws on.

    As to Epifanes, I suspect that they get by the EPA rules by selling a product of much higher viscostity than normal which cuts back on emissions. The only problem is that they charge a decient price for their thinner which is formualated to EPA rules
    and is rather expensive. Personally, I still advocate turpentine for thinning paint and varnish unless the products are too strange in formulation to react favorably with the product to be thinned. One strange thing about Epifanes is that it has almost a wet look to its gloss which is very odd when compared to varnishes made by other companies.
    You might hate me for this but, when I heard that Behr varnish was going to be shut down, I bought enough to last me a very long time. I also posted the info about the shut down on this forum. Only a few took the information and acted on it.
    Now they swear by Behr after there is no more of it around! We are all a strange lot us wooden boat builders and owners!
    Jay
    Last edited by Jay Greer; 10-03-2020 at 11:46 AM.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    I've used a lot of Epiphanes. For the last 20 years or so. Their "Woodfinish" is the stuff that can be applied without sanding between coats. It's nice stuff. I thin it a bit with regular spirits. No problems. At the woodenboat show one year I asked the Epiphanes guy what the difference was between their Woodfinish and their Varnish. They speak in double talk. However, I finally got a straight answer, which was that the Gloss Varnish was more UV resistant so it was good to use as a final coat. They're both weird coatings, as people have mentioned. And I agree with David G, learn one product, and stick with it. It took me some time to get good with Epiphanes. I have many times gotten two coats of Woodfinish on in one day. So it only takes three days for build coats.

  28. #28

    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    How do you do two coats in one day, do you need really warm long days? What is the drying time between coats, approximately? I can do three coats with Rapid Clear and it builds surpriseingly well for being so much thinner than Woodfinish.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    Woodfinish dries very fast. Sure it helps if warm out, but you could do it in a shop heated to maybe 50 degrees or so. It also doesn't have to be fully cured, you can "hot coat" it (as people here have been calling it).

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    Quote Originally Posted by dave10990 View Post
    How do you do two coats in one day, do you need really warm long days? What is the drying time between coats, approximately? I can do three coats with Rapid Clear and it builds surpriseingly well for being so much thinner than Woodfinish.
    It is called "Hot Coating" once the varnish has reached a point of tackiness to one of your knuckles , another coat can be applied over the previous coat. If you are an early bird and apply varnish before breakfast and then eat, often the material has set up after breakfast. Sometimes, if you time it right, a third coat can be applied and then sanded the next day. I never apply more than three in a day as there is a chance of ending up with "Ropey" varnish otherwise known as not very even in appearance. Also if there is too much build up the drying is slowed down and no advantage is realized since you have to wait till the surface is dry enough to sand.
    Jay

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greer View Post
    It is called "Hot Coating" once the varnish has reached a point of tackiness to one of your knuckles , another coat can be applied over the previous coat. If you are an early bird and apply varnish before breakfast and then eat, often the material has set up after breakfast. Sometimes, if you time it right, a third coat can be applied and then sanded the next day. I never apply more than three in a day as there is a chance of ending up with "Ropey" varnish otherwise known as not very even in appearance. Also if there is too much build up the drying is slowed down and no advantage is realized since you have to wait till the surface is dry enough to sand.
    Jay
    yes, you have to be careful to avoid wrinkling as well which can happen if you build too fast and the outer coat dries and shrinks while the substrate coats are still tacky

  32. #32

    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    I am familiar with "hot coating", but I find Epifanes Wood finish slow drying, so after the second coat, there may not be enough drying time before evening dew, or other dampness may form on it before it dries enough for it not to damage the finish. Also, I do get concerned about not allowing enough solvents to escape before there is to much film thickness which could cause wrinkles.

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    All in all, I found out at an early age that it is better to learn by making ones own mistakes than by listening to too much good advice and making someone else's mistake.
    Jay

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    Default Re: Spar Varnish

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greer View Post
    All in all, I found out at an early age that it is better to learn by making ones own mistakes than by listening to too much good advice and making someone else's mistake.
    Jay
    That is the best advice, in a way. I'm a Le Tonkinois fan.
    When the paints and varnishes discussions start, I need to get a portion of popcorn and a beer. Up to now this thread has been wonderfully mild with no heated tempers. Congratulations to all!

    Cheers, G.

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