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Thread: varnish repair

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
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    Brookhaven NY USA
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    79

    Post

    My mahogany speedboat has 12 coats of carefully applied Epiphanes and has looked great for three years, however, at the end of last season several cracks appeared in a number of places. Can I lightly sand through the affected areas, scuff the whole surface and recoat?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
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    Provincetown, MA
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    I'm no expert at maintaining varnish, but what you suggest sounds plausible. If you've got a varnished mahogany runabout and don't already have it yet, I'd suggest that Rebbeca Whitman's book "Brightwork" would be a sound investment. I suspect our hosts sell it right on their on-line "store" on the home page. She describes the technique for what you're up against in great detail.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
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    Hyannis, MA, USA
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    Post

    You can repair varnish if there's been no serious change in the wood color. Unfortunatly, it often happens that the wood changes color over time under the varnish and when you sand to wood you may well create a fresh wood surface of a slightly different color.

    So, firstly, try not to sand too deeply.

    Best practice is to work a little too hard and do all your bring down sanding with 220, so you don't take too much off. Make a gentle bowl in the varnish - you end up sanding a lot around your problem.

    When you apply new varnish with each coat, do not go out to the good varnish. Leave a sanded perimeter so you can see where you're working. Each new coat should cover somewhat more area than the one before - evenly filling that shallow bowl.

    Build up enough coats in the repair area, then finish sand and varnish the whole piece.

    G'luck

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Cleveland, OH
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    551

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    Good explanation of feathering and even buildup, Ian. Y'always endup topcoating the wholething that's fer sure. If I got a scratch in my furniture, I used to call them $300.00 mistakes because you had to respray the whole thing for one little scratch. If the cracks are simple stress / shrinkage cracks, what about the "doping in" method where you syringe in some thinned down varnish into the cracks where the solvent may soften and re-seal them? Just a thought. That way you don't have to sand out too much, but you still want to topcat again- JB

    [ 01-14-2003, 02:37 PM: Message edited by: John Blazy ]
    Imagination is more important than knowledge - Einstein <a href=\"http://www.pbase.com/dr_dichro\" target=\"_blank\">http://www.pbase.com/dr_dichro</a>

  5. #5

    Post

    Are the cracks along seam lines?
    Classic Boatworks of Maine - We build and restore classic wood boats!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Brookhaven NY USA
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    79

    Post

    The cracks are not all along the seams, just random. And thanks for the thoughts. I'll try the sand a 'bowl' and fill in layers technique. Because there is a good base to start with there are no spots where it has gone through to discolor the wood.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Lexington, SC
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    Default Re: varnish repair

    I just dug up this thread for some advice. I don't have cracks. But do have dings here and there. I'll do what Ian suggests. I'm not ready to wood big swaths of brightwork just yet.
    Chuck Thompson

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Port Townsend WA
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    10,553

    Default Re: varnish repair

    Varnish re-touch over small areas can often be made using a sign writing brush. These brushes can be found at sign supply dealers.
    I deal with Art Essentials LTD. NY. Look for the brushes known as flats or quills. Flats were formally called "Grey Hounds". The smaller brush in the lower photo is a 1" Grumbacher Flat. They are made in many smaller sizes down to 1/8" However Quills are better for smaller sizes. Jay
    Jay
    http://artessentialsofnewyork.com/brushes.html

    http://artessentialsofnewyork.com/brushes.html


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Lexington, SC
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    Default Re: varnish repair

    Jay--basically just fill the "depression" made after sanding out the spot as Ian describes?
    Chuck Thompson

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Central Coast, Ca
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    17,611

    Default Re: varnish repair

    I often "scrub" the wound and a bit of the surrounding area with a 3M scrubber pad, give that a coat of varnish and repeat maybe 3 times, then block it back to the original suface with maybe 220 grit and fill it again. When it is finally level (and this may take 15 or 20 coats) block it all and give it a nice topcoat, or two!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Port Townsend WA
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    Default Re: varnish repair

    Another tool I use, in my conseravator work, is an airbrush. This will allow the finish to be applied just where needed and the edges tapered off if filling a dent or depression.
    There are completed airbrush sets on the market that are extremely reasonable in price if you choose to use one.
    Jay
    Last edited by Jay Greer; 11-14-2017 at 12:31 PM.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Padanaram, MA USA
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    9,265

    Default Re: varnish repair

    Take care not to sand down through the color of the wood, whether stain or sunbleaching.

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