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Brightwork Anarchy


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Share your brightwork experiences, including the products you've used.

In the past few months I've had more exposure to brightwork than I ever wanted.  I've used three different "varnishes" - Total Boat Gleam 2.0, Interlux Perfection Plus & Interlux Compass Gold.  All are gloss finishes.

Total Boat Gleam 2.0 - We purchased a gallon online from Jamestown.  It arrived with a 2 plastic quart cups, 2 strainers, 2 foam brushes and some mixing sticks.  There were no solids sitting on the bottom and the mixing sticks came up clean of any unsuspended solids. 

TBG goes on very easily but has to be applied thinly.  The first task was a strip of teak trim running along the top of the raised cabin sides.  We had taken it down to bare wood.  We quickly learned everything under the teak trim needed to be masked or covered.  The thin viscosity makes it very easy to drip off the brush between the container and the surface. 

First thing we noticed was how dark it made the teak.  It was noticeably darker than before.  I think we applied 7 or 8 coats.  That was about 3 months ago and it seems to be holding up well.

I'll do the other two later.

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Its not necessarily the product that makes the difference, it's all the preparation with proper sanding and quality brushes and thinners.

You cannot be in a rush.  The weather also plays a huge part of it with humidity levels/wind/temp, and of course time of day.

I'm a big fan of Epifanes gloss.

 

 

thumbnail_IMG_1528.jpg

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Epiphanes is certainly what we have switched to (years ago) for all of our varnish, regardless of finish (gloss, satin, matte) and even some of their topcoats are really nice. I did my hull with their single part enamel and it was awesome coverage and held up for years.

But the varnish thins easily, accelerates well, holds up nicely. Highly recommend.

Ha! Irrational 14 beat me to it as I was typing!

Edited by suider
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Interlux Perfection Plus -

Practical Sailor did a test on finishes several years ago, before the Plus formula was available but they did test Perfection and found it to be the only finish that maintained coat integrity past 2 years.  Their testing was done in Sarasota, FL.  Gloss Retention was Excellent and Color Retention was Good.  Ratings were Excellent, Good, Fair and Poor.

I have applied it to the cockpit coamings and an outdoor table I made.  Thus far I have used 2 quarts.  I'm starting to really like this over the other two mentioned above.

Temperatures have been in the mid to upper 80s during application.  Humidity has varied from dry to very humid.  Right after the last application on the outdoor table, it rained and you could feel the humidity permeate the air.  No problems with the finish.  But one application done just before dusk on the coamings resulted in a flat sheen. 

IPP is fairly thick and it helps both flow and brushing if it's reduced a bit.  I used Interlux 2333N.  I started out using a foam brush but later changed to a Wooster Pro brush.  I'll never use a foam brush again.  I have some pricey ($30+ each) varnish brushes but tested the Wooster Pro brushes first and found the worked well. 

It taking a while for the finish to harden on the table, so you don't feel any drag when running a hand over it but the coamings, sitting in direct sunlight, hardened pretty quickly.  We did several applications on the coamings in direct sunlight without any problems.  We have one more coat left to do on the coamings but the love bugs showed up so it will be another week or more before we can finish that.

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I have used Interlux Perfection Plus with 2333N reducer on a number of projects and find it to be an excellent product.  Unlike most one-part products it is possible, with proper timing, to recoat without sanding.  This allows proper build to occur with fewer coats (since less of the finish is sanded off) and with much less total effort.  The activator contains isocyanates which are toxic.  Suitable respiratory protection must be used which is difficult in the covid-19 era as respirator supplies are strained throughout the supply chain, even for industrial uses.

I have used Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane for dozens of projects.  It is an economical one-part product.  Sanding is required between coats.  It is fine for what it is but will only last 1-2 years in full sun.

I use bristle brushes.  Cheap ones for the first few coats, good ones for the last one or two where appearance matters.

In many cases an initial coat of clear epoxy will reduce the number of coats of varnish considerably.

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This seems to be a constant topic on SA..............  Search and you'll find several threads on brightwork and varnish (including at least one still running.)

Over the years I've graduated from International Goldspar to Perfection (for limited, stand-alone jobs) to Awlwood MA, which is every bit as durable as Perfection but goes on quicker (up to 3 coats/day), easier to apply (use foam brushes or rollers) and (hopefully) easier to remove. Both are far more durable than the trad varnishes I've used.

Goldspar Satin is OK for interior work, but I've never found a low-gloss varnish which I really liked (there's an Awlwood Satin theoretically available....)

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Interlux Compass Gold

I've only gone through a little more than a pint of this thus far.  I'm doing the washboards and a cockpit table that's been sealed with epoxy.  With the washboards I started with 50% reduction then followed with 25%.  Hindsight says I should have used a sealer on this 34 year old teak.

I now have 3 full coats on the washboards and it's looking better with every coat.  The seal coats turned the wood really dark but as I lay full coats on it, it seems to be getting lighter.  Maybe it's the gloss compared to the flat sheen left after the seal coats.

It flows better with a 10-15% reduction of Interlux 333.  Temps lately have been in the upper 80s to low 90s and humidity has been pretty high.  All the work is being done outside, under roof.  I'm starting to like the workability, now that I have the reduction part down.  And it seems to flow pretty well.  But the old washboards are still looking a little rough, even with sanding between coats.

WB_Varnish_009.jpg.8ab3f17f51638727d7abbc3077ca1218.jpg

I'll have to wait until tomorrow to sand them again.  Sitting where they are, the finish isn't cured enough to sand before 24 hours has passed.

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On 5/21/2020 at 12:24 PM, suider said:

Epiphanes is certainly what we have switched to (years ago) for all of our varnish, regardless of finish (gloss, satin, matte) and even some of their topcoats are really nice. I did my hull with their single part enamel and it was awesome coverage and held up for years.

But the varnish thins easily, accelerates well, holds up nicely. Highly recommend.

Ha! Irrational 14 beat me to it as I was typing!

Oddly enough I know a yard that switched away from epiphanes to Pettit flagship captain varnish 2015.

When I varnished the first two cedar strip canoes I used epiphanes. Seemed like it took ages for the stuff to be sandable. But the result still looked perfect.  On the second on I used the epiphanes wood finish that allows a few coats a day without sanding, interior of that one got finished with rubbed effect. 
the third canoe I used the Pettit captain stuff. I had an easier time applying that. 
 

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I’m a big fan of Awlspar M3131.   Has great viscosity out of the can.  Recoatable in 3 hrs in temps above 60. Holds up very well.  
 

the truth is that all the major brands are fine and everyone will have their preference.  I will say that Epifanes (with an f...) and Captains are both different than they were 15 years ago, and I really don’t use either anymore, as they behave quite a bit differently than what I was accustomed to.  Specifically, cure time extended significantly to the point where I found these products to be almost useless in anything less than ideal controlled conditions, which rarely exist in a busy boatyard.  

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1 hour ago, eliboat said:

I’m a big fan of Awlspar M3131.   Has great viscosity out of the can.  Recoatable in 3 hrs in temps above 60. Holds up very well.  
 

the truth is that all the major brands are fine and everyone will have their preference.  I will say that Epifanes (with an f...) and Captains are both different than they were 15 years ago, and I really don’t use either anymore, as they behave quite a bit differently than what I was accustomed to.  Specifically, cure time extended significantly to the point where I found these products to be almost useless in anything less than ideal controlled conditions, which rarely exist in a busy boatyard.  

Thanks, I wondered about that because I used to be a regular at the Church of Epifanes, had my own nicely varnished pew, even.

However over the past ~5 years I have noticed that it's more difficult to work with, and doesn't get as good result as I remember. I thought my memory was at fault, and have just ramped way down on varnish work. The last thing I've done, a set of small boat tillers owned by a sailing program, was done with rattle-can spray varnish. I don't even recall the brand. They'll spend 99% of their time indoors and are more likely to get scraped and dinged than suffer from UV.

FB- Doug

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On 5/22/2020 at 12:08 PM, SloopJonB said:

Varnishing and anchors - eternal topics with no possible resolution. :D

Maybe if they stopped changing things around we could reach a resolution. :rolleyes:

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On 5/21/2020 at 6:11 PM, 2airishuman said:

I have used Interlux Perfection Plus with 2333N reducer on a number of projects and find it to be an excellent product.  Unlike most one-part products it is possible, with proper timing, to recoat without sanding.  This allows proper build to occur with fewer coats (since less of the finish is sanded off) and with much less total effort.  The activator contains isocyanates which are toxic.  Suitable respiratory protection must be used which is difficult in the covid-19 era as respirator supplies are strained throughout the supply chain, even for industrial uses.

I have used Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane for dozens of projects.  It is an economical one-part product.  Sanding is required between coats.  It is fine for what it is but will only last 1-2 years in full sun.

I use bristle brushes.  Cheap ones for the first few coats, good ones for the last one or two where appearance matters.

In many cases an initial coat of clear epoxy will reduce the number of coats of varnish considerably.

I have often used epoxy under varnish, with some good results, but have also had issues with the epoxy-wood bond breaking down, at least on hardwoods. So I did an experiment. This is in the PNW, so less sun than southern locales, but plenty of freeze/ thaw cycles.

I made new companionway bin boards and a new instrument holder, both the same wood (new jatoba) and prepared the same way. Both face the same direction on the boat, towards afternoon sun, and are essentially next to one another.

On the instrument holder I cleaned with acetone, then put down a couple of coats of thin epoxy (System Three), sanded, and finished with Total Boat Lust gloss. Maybe 3 coats of varnish as I recall. Fast recoat time is nice. 

On the bin boards I used only the varnish, first coat thinned, the rest put on fairly quickly, probably six coats over a few days.

After two years exposure, the finish on both is still glossy, but on the instrument holder the bond between the epoxy and wood has started to fail- not peeling (yet), just looking milky & discolored. The bin boards still look like new. Damage seemed to appear in the winter. My hypothesis is that the rigidity of the epoxy is the source of the issue, the varnish bond seems to tolerate wood movement with temperature better.

I have the instrument surround in the workshop now, stripping off the finish and will replace with varnish only.

Just another data point

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Years ago I tried epoxy under varnish on exterior teak and I'd never do it again.

It maybe added a bit of lifespan but it was a nightmare when it failed.

If you want bright exterior wood you just have to accept there is no magic bullet - you just have to do the work - forever.

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On 5/22/2020 at 12:08 PM, SloopJonB said:

Varnishing and anchors - eternal topics with no possible resolution. :D

What kind of varnish is best on an anchor to get that perfect look?

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1 hour ago, Bristol-Cruiser said:

What kind of varnish is best on an anchor to get that perfect look?

Troublemaker.

For the perfect look you get a mirror polished S/S anchor.

When someone scratches it you can simply break out the buffer.

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I'm in the middle (or maybe close to the end) of a "varnish"ing marathon.  "Varnish" in quotes because who knows what the fuck these finishes are made of today?

I remember when I was building my house.  My grandfather came over and did all the varnishing.  He sat there on a makeshift stool with sandpaper in one hand and a vacuum and rag in the other hand.  He would sand the red oak trim, wipe it, stick the rag in the vacuum hose to clean it, and repeat.  I walked in from work and saw this process and he just smiled.  So did I.

He taught me how to clean brushes, how to prep wood and how to actually varnish.  I have no idea how he'd react to today's "varnishes."  I suspect he might say, "What the hell are you doing messing with this shit when you have varnish?" 

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Yesterday I made up some trim teak pieces for a screen and plexiglas holder for the inside of the louvered washboard.  The teak used to be on the companionway.  After milling it to size, the surface was baby-bottom smooth.

Last night I applied a coat of Schooner Gold, reduced about 25%.  This morning the surface was rough.  The finish had raised the grain. 

I know WB finishes raise the grain but I've never heard of an oil-based finish raising the grain.

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We have a wooden 1-tonner built of KAURI and when we should varnish the hull I followed the recommendation from Awlgrip and Awlbrite paint system. Awlbrite is a 3 component varnish and it was recommended to use the 545 clear epoxy primer on the bare wood. I tried this but it did not work, I did a few accidental pull tests with masking tape and everything came off. I even had a International paint expert to visit without any substantial input.

Instead I sanded the entire hull again and applied two or three coats of laminating epoxy, sanded with grit 240-320 before applying 545 clear again and then Awlbrite. Total 16 layers of epoxy, primer and Awlbrite. We are now starting season 7 (weather here in Sweden is similar to PNW). I'm still happy with the gloss and durability and see no reason to re-spray her for another 2-5 years. Where I have seen problems is where there are visible staples or 2-3 small areas where there is a void in the different layers of KAURI wood.

Flirt prepared for winter.JPG

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Flirt of paget is hands down the most inspiring project on SA. As the owner of another (older, 1970) wooden one-tonner built of kauri you often cause me to hang my head in shame...

I have had excellent durability on some small craft where the softwood hull was sheathed in laminating epoxy and finished bright. Particularly if a layer of light glass is incorporated. I have seen years sitting in the open with no obvious deterioration to the epoxy bond, and only occasional need to restore the varnish. Where I have seen failures with the epoxy approach is on dense hardwoods.  I don't know if the problem is my method or if this is asking too much of the wood-epoxy bond, but my success with just straight varnish has been better on hardwoods. 

Keep those updates coming, that's just an amazing job. 

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Maybe I need FOP to stop by and share some of his knowledge.  B)

The Compass Gold and the washboards are somewhat trying my patience.  No matter what I've done, the finish sags on the louvers.  My solution was to prop the washboard up so the louvers are horizontal.  Still, it was tough getting the finish laid down deep into the louvers.

WB_Varnish_014.jpg.4ce6e71563e0f3f32d8d99ba9bf686c6.jpg

The other thing that's bothering me are the trim pieces I made from the old teak board, formerly used to slide the companionway hatch fore and aft.  I thought using the original teak from the boat would make a great match with the original washboards.  I was wrong.  The trim will be to hold the screen in place and to hold a Plexiglas insert when closing up the cabin is needed.  The original ones were broken and were nailed in place.  These will be held in with brass screws so changing out the screen will be easier.

WB_Varnish_018.jpg.47f5ccf5d069f49915800119d2c75088.jpg

It just got it's 3rd coat but it's still noticeable dark.  But it seems the Compass Gold is imparting some amber color to it.  Before the above coat, all the pieces had been sanded flat with sanding blocks.  And the finish still looks rough.  Next coat I'll strain it and see if that helps. 

I took the bottom washboard into the workshop and sanded it with a 6" RO sander with 240 grit until flat.  Hand sanding with blocks was taking forever.  It's finally taking shape.

WB_Varnish_017.jpg.b7674aeb70c856e1e1efb5595dc9a853.jpg

I did the same with the top piece so once the louvers are done, I should see the same flatness as the bottom piece.

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Now don't yell at me but I didn't strain the varnish on the last coat I laid down a couple hours ago.  But the RO sander is still the hero in this episode of brightwork anarchy

WB_Varnish_019.jpg.d96f73f5fd5a5fedf42b091d18db1197.jpg

Pretty golldern flat, considering how it looked like shit before.

Hey Jon!  Have you left Canada yet?  I got a spot cleared for your arrival two doors down.  Should still be plenty to do when you arrive. B)  If you haven't left yet and you still need some motivation, a new shipment of rum just arrived.

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13 hours ago, Jules said:

Maybe I need FOP to stop by and share some of his knowledge.  B)

The Compass Gold and the washboards are somewhat trying my patience.  No matter what I've done, the finish sags on the louvers.  My solution was to prop the washboard up so the louvers are horizontal.  Still, it was tough getting the finish laid down deep into the louvers.

WB_Varnish_014.jpg.4ce6e71563e0f3f32d8d99ba9bf686c6.jpg

The other thing that's bothering me are the trim pieces I made from the old teak board, formerly used to slide the companionway hatch fore and aft.  I thought using the original teak from the boat would make a great match with the original washboards.  I was wrong.  The trim will be to hold the screen in place and to hold a Plexiglas insert when closing up the cabin is needed.  The original ones were broken and were nailed in place.  These will be held in with brass screws so changing out the screen will be easier.

WB_Varnish_018.jpg.47f5ccf5d069f49915800119d2c75088.jpg

It just got it's 3rd coat but it's still noticeable dark.  But it seems the Compass Gold is imparting some amber color to it.  Before the above coat, all the pieces had been sanded flat with sanding blocks.  And the finish still looks rough.  Next coat I'll strain it and see if that helps. 

I took the bottom washboard into the workshop and sanded it with a 6" RO sander with 240 grit until flat.  Hand sanding with blocks was taking forever.  It's finally taking shape.

WB_Varnish_017.jpg.b7674aeb70c856e1e1efb5595dc9a853.jpg

I did the same with the top piece so once the louvers are done, I should see the same flatness as the bottom piece.

Did you take the washboards back to raw wood? If not, the pieces you've fabricated may well be the original wood colour and the washboards have faded (yellowed?) under the varnish. IME teak does that. If so, time will fix the problem........

 

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6 hours ago, Fleetwood said:

Did you take the washboards back to raw wood? If not, the pieces you've fabricated may well be the original wood colour and the washboards have faded (yellowed?) under the varnish. IME teak does that. If so, time will fix the problem........

Yeah, everything was taken down to bare wood.  The teak piece that was part of the companionway hatch slider was of thicker stock, 6/4 or 5/4 as opposed to the 4/4 that makes up the washboards.  When we bought the boat, that piece was in pretty bad shape.  So it's either from different stock (my guess) or long exposure with little varnish protection darkened the wood to the core.  I've never milled weathered wood that was weathered to the core, unless it was rotted.

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I took the washboard out in the sun for better lighting and placed the newly milled pieces of original teak where they will go.  At the bottom is what's left of the piece I milled.

In this picture the varnished part of the hatch cover only exposed to the interior is showing.
WB_Varnish_021.jpg.35f447d93b15bcc7000e7d590fdecc27.jpg

In this, the milled part of the same piece
WB_Varnish_022.jpg.252ff7da63537fde308e9f8966be13f5.jpg

So maybe it will lighten.  I haven't worked enough with teak to know.  But I'll let that piece of scrap sit in the sun for a while and see what happens.

 

 

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There certainly seems to be an enormous variation in "teak" colour. The teak on my previous boat, made in the 80s in Taiwan had an orange hue, the stuff we buy locally now is much more olive-coloured.

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8 hours ago, Fleetwood said:

There certainly seems to be an enormous variation in "teak" colour. The teak on my previous boat, made in the 80s in Taiwan had an orange hue, the stuff we buy locally now is much more olive-coloured.

That green teak just needs to oxidize. it only takes a few days after cutting to fade to gold. I used to see a lot of that back in the 70's & 80's when we still got the real thing.

The colour issue now is NO colour in that plantation shit.

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On 5/27/2020 at 12:36 PM, SloopJonB said:

The colour issue now is NO colour in that plantation shit.

I've only seen pictures of it online sellers have.  And I'm pretty sure everything available today is plantation grown.  But I've seen videos taken at boat years where they install teak decks and the color looks fine.

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This Schooner Gold takes forever to harden!  It's been 5 days since I put the last coat on the cockpit table.  Earlier today I folded up the table for storage until I could get it installed on the boat.  About an hour later I thought it might be better if I kept it open until I was ready to install it.  The wings were stuck to the center piece and when I finally opened it up, it took some of the finish with it!  Back to the sanding table...

Next coat is going to be satin.  Maybe it will flow better and harden quicker.

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Satin is out.  Doesn't look right.  Everything else in the cockpit is gloss.

I wish I could use nitrocellulose lacquer.  I love working with that stuff.  All the guitars I built were finished with nitro.  Mess up a coat?  Just spray another over it and it all melts together.  Of course, I never sprayed it when the temperature and humidity were in the 90s.

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The saga continues...

I took a 6" RO sander to flatten the surfaces and applied a reduced coat of Compass Gold.  Ah ha!  We're getting somewhere!

CpitTbl_033.jpg.d262889f649f6144a9a1290e657bd3c9.jpg

But I screwed up when I applied a second coat of Compass Gold to the other side of the table "leafs" so I had to resort to sanding flat

CpitTbl_034.jpg.a44248e79de9c43c6b52c10fa43af3f3.jpg

Now the leafs are waiting for the final coats but Cristobal has deluged us with so much moisture the windows are fogged.

I have no idea how those who are liveaboards in the tropics keep up with varnishing.

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1 hour ago, Jules said:

The saga continues...

I took a 6" RO sander to flatten the surfaces and applied a reduced coat of Compass Gold.  Ah ha!  We're getting somewhere!

CpitTbl_033.jpg.d262889f649f6144a9a1290e657bd3c9.jpg

 

That has got the desired "dipped in liquid" look.:D

Well done.

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6 hours ago, SloopJonB said:

That has got the desired "dipped in liquid" look.:D

The "secret" was thinning the varnish, a lot.  And sanding flat with blocks and finishing with a 6" RO sander.  The sanding pad is made for the automotive industry and designed for flattening surfaces. 

I am not well enough versed in the art of varnishing to know how much the heat and humidity affected the need to thin the varnish as much as I did.  I can't test indoors because the overpowering smell permeates the entire house.  Even varnishing in the garage, the smell gets into the house.  This stuff emphasizes the Volatile in VOCs. 

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  • 4 months later...

Just an update on the different varnishes we've tried so far.  All are gloss finish.

Interlux Perfection Plus has held up great.  With only four coats, max.

Total Boat has performed the worst.  Think we did 5-6 coats.  It was good for maybe a couple of months.

Interlux Schooner Gold hasn't held up much better.  Recommended was 4-6 coats, I think we did 5.  It's starting to fail now.

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On 5/21/2020 at 12:22 PM, Irrational 14 said:

Its not necessarily the product that makes the difference, it's all the preparation with proper sanding and quality brushes and thinners.

You cannot be in a rush.  The weather also plays a huge part of it with humidity levels/wind/temp, and of course time of day.

I'm a big fan of Epifanes gloss.

 

 

thumbnail_IMG_1528.jpg

Epifanes varnish is preferred because it has a very high density , solids content 

low density , low solids varnish means you bought  half a can of solvent,  mixed with varnish 

always use the correct epifanes thinner...it brushes,  levels .... “wet edge time “ and dries better 

thr epifanes accelerator “ drier “ is a valuable additive 

it speeds cure and allows the fresh varnish to be sanded after a shorter cure time 

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  • 1 month later...

I am finally getting around to doing the brightwork on our boat. Nice big flat pieces that can be unbolted and carried into the shop.

I put on the first coat of Petit Flagship High Build 2015 varnish, with a dash of EZ-Poxy Performance Enhancer (?? but it was suggested in the Petit literature to improve surface bond).

It looks beautiful and seals well, even relatively open-grained wood... and it dried hard to the touch in ~ 6 hrs despite the shop temp being in the 60s. At least the humidity is low.

The one problem I have is that apparently, there were traces of the old varnish remaining and the color is blotchy. I gotta do more sanding!

No idea yet how it's going to hold up to our sun / UV exposure. I'll let you all know next summer. My plan is to lay on at least 4 coats, maybe 5.

FB- Doug

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I'm still in the camp that starts with West 207.  If the substrate is teak it gets wiped down hard with acetone first to get the oil off, just prior to applying the epoxy.  

Then multiple layers of Epifanes gloss - at least 6 for exterior, 3-4 for interior.  If a gloss finish isn't wanted, Epifanes matte for the last two coats.

I have a pine driveway signboard that has been out in the sun, rain, snow, and freezing temperatures for at least three winters that has shown no sign of deterioration yet.  All the windowsills in the house are done this way.  They are fir and cedar, including a huge one for the bay window that sits in the sun daily, and they haven't been redone since the first time - up to 25 years ago for some of them.  The teak and holly floor on my last boat was done this way, and other than scratches the finish held up for over 10 years.  The finish on the teak handle on my companionway hatch board failed after a couple of years, but the wood wasn't sealed properly in that case - I was too lazy to remove the handle from the board (would have required drilling out the teak plugs and replacing the screws) and instead just sanded around the edges.  

The wood must be dried inside for a while to make sure the moisture content is low, and the wood must be sealed all the way around.  If there are screw holes they must be drilled oversize, filled with epoxy and re-drilled. If sealing all around isn't possible, like on a cap rail, it is probably better to just varnish as SJB says.   If any moisture gets between the epoxy and the wood, the finish will deteriorate quickly.

 Note that all this work has been done at home in a warm, dry basement.  Having to do this in situ in the marine environment is another kettle of fish.

One year old fir:

20201201_205134.thumb.jpg.782d303c2966765c1f4c480990c42985.jpg

Ten plus year old laminated fir:

20201201_205215.thumb.jpg.30e0c9e60f6236df20d78ec51fa2d22a.jpg

25 year old fir:

20201201_205300.thumb.jpg.bd7a957dda93c4d86482bac81f384178.jpg

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i talked to a friend who restores old woody powerboats.. they're all about the epifanes..

 

i've been using the minwax helmsman since i'm a cheap bastard...      redoing a set of seats and coming boards for another boat, been using a small cotton cloth to put it on , thinning with naptha, hand sanding with 220 in between..  happy with the results so far..

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55 minutes ago, toad said:

The best varnish I found was after about 10 years or sanding and one or two new coats every season was this stuff called "white paint" solves all varnish problems permanently- never looked back!

Was that the "Lazy" brand stuff?

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  • 2 weeks later...

OK, the first piece is done and reinstalled... The Petit Flagship High Build 2015 varnish came out looking great except for one thing: tiny bubbles in the finish. They are very spaced apart, after 3 coats trying to eliminate them I got them down to where they don't ruin the looks (to me).

Apparently I've lost the Zen. Do I need to store my brush with the bristles aligned to magnetic North, or maybe wear a red shirt while varnishing?

Mrs Steam thinks it looks beautiful (well, sitting next to one of the old pieces) so it's a pass for now. But what the fuck, I used to pride myself on perfect varnish (in small quantities)

- DSK

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On 5/24/2020 at 4:05 AM, Jules said:

I'm in the middle (or maybe close to the end) of a "varnish"ing marathon.  "Varnish" in quotes because who knows what the fuck these finishes are made of today?

I remember when I was building my house.  My grandfather came over and did all the varnishing.  He sat there on a makeshift stool with sandpaper in one hand and a vacuum and rag in the other hand.  He would sand the red oak trim, wipe it, stick the rag in the vacuum hose to clean it, and repeat.  I walked in from work and saw this process and he just smiled.  So did I.

He taught me how to clean brushes, how to prep wood and how to actually varnish.  I have no idea how he'd react to today's "varnishes."  I suspect he might say, "What the hell are you doing messing with this shit when you have varnish?" 

You want real varnish?..  La Tonkinois

American Rope & Tar LLC :: Le Tonkinois - Original (tarsmell.com)

The only stuff I'll use.. no bubbles, minimal preparation between hard layers.

 

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8 hours ago, Steam Flyer said:

OK, the first piece is done and reinstalled... The Petit Flagship High Build 2015 varnish came out looking great except for one thing: tiny bubbles in the finish. They are very spaced apart, after 3 coats trying to eliminate them I got them down to where they don't ruin the looks (to me).

Apparently I've lost the Zen. Do I need to store my brush with the bristles aligned to magnetic North, or maybe wear a red shirt while varnishing?

Mrs Steam thinks it looks beautiful (well, sitting next to one of the old pieces) so it's a pass for now. But what the fuck, I used to pride myself on perfect varnish (in small quantities)

- DSK

Wave a heat gun over the wet varnish - it pops the bubbles almost 100%

I find bubbles are a lot more of a problem with a badger brush than with a foamie.

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11 minutes ago, SloopJonB said:

Wave a heat gun over the wet varnish - it pops the bubbles almost 100%

I find bubbles are a lot more of a problem with a badger brush than with a foamie.

Badger brushes are better than cheap shit bristles, but I don't like using foam. I have two good badger brushes that I have coddled for decades. Of course I don't have any son to inherit and honor them. Maybe I need to get over it and use foam for the last two coats or so.

The bubbles are tiny, they just look like silver almost-microscopic dots in the finish. I cannot find 400 grit garnet paper locally (for now, the two stores that normally carry some say they will get it but don't know when) so I did 320 grit for the last two coats and that took the bubbles right off.

One thing I don't like about this Petit Flagship is that it's a full day between coats. 12 hours or so to dry/cure then sand as necessary. I want to try laying another coat on when it's just-past-tacky but don't want to experiment on a work piece. There's more expensive varnishes out there but it ain't cheap.

Thanks for the tip.

FB- Doug

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On 12/3/2020 at 7:42 AM, toad said:

The best varnish I found was after about 10 years or sanding and one or two new coats every season was this stuff called "white paint" solves all varnish problems permanently- never looked back!

I went with black. I’ll never look back. Have fun selecting brush bristles. The only teak was around the hatches and long looped handrails. The handrails-from-hell were replaced with stainless. All the rest painted in gloss black.

 

C345EB24-7505-4376-AB72-B713917F143A.jpeg

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varnish quality is a function of solids content , specific gravity 

the higher the solids content the higher the varnish quality ,...more varnish in the can ...hence more expensive 

generaly above 50 percent solids  is a good varnish 

epifanes, international gold ...good stuff

avoid varnish with less than 50 percent solids ...they are all solvent and no varnish .. they might be cheaper but there is a little varnish in your can 

LQL1596.pdf?la=en

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On 12/17/2020 at 6:17 AM, The Q said:

You want real varnish?..  La Tonkinois

Never heard of La Tonkinois so I looked into it. 

Via Internet - Le Tonkinois Linseed Oil Varnish is made from pure linseed oil and tung oil, cooked in a proprietary process by the same family in France since 1906. The recipe was, in fact, learned from the Vietnamese during French colonization, so its true age is unknown. For almost 100 years, it was the official varnish of the French Navy.  

I wonder if you could rub/wipe it on instead of brush?  I've done that with Waterlox for home interior projects and like the end result and ease of application.

 

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Pretty sure if there was a cure all it would be selling like hotcakes... I think the Behr home depot varnish thread on WBF lives on....

Varnish is and always will be vanity patching of a short lived life. Those who want it carry on those who don't consul color charts.

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Is -any- aesthetic a pure and absolute value? We love the looks of varnish because we see it on beautiful boats. We think good-looking boats look better with brightwork here and there.

Maybe part of the beauty of it, is the suffering one has to endure to achieve it.

I've owned boats that had far too much brightwork. My father owned a boat that had varnished topsides, cabin trunk, spars, as well as the usual coamings and trim; he only owned it for 5 or 6 years and devoted the first 2 years to bringing the varnish up to snuff but realized he could not maintain it all; spiffed it up a bit before selling it.

I think proper brightwork is beautiful, my current boat has very little around the cockpit and that  is in the form of trim that can be relatively easily unbolted and brought into the shop for work (which is what I'm doing now). Seems like a good compromise.

FB- Doug

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23 hours ago, yoyo said:

Never heard of La Tonkinois so I looked into it. 

Via Internet - Le Tonkinois Linseed Oil Varnish is made from pure linseed oil and tung oil, cooked in a proprietary process by the same family in France since 1906. The recipe was, in fact, learned from the Vietnamese during French colonization, so its true age is unknown. For almost 100 years, it was the official varnish of the French Navy.  

I wonder if you could rub/wipe it on instead of brush?  I've done that with Waterlox for home interior projects and like the end result and ease of application.

 

I suspect you could, but I don't know, I've just followed the instructions on the tin and am very happy with it.

With my current sailing boat only being 16ft, even though she has varnished decks and stern it's not too much hard labour to look after. I also don't have the problem of 30C plus  or  nor minus 15C temperatures in this area of the UK.

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Absolutely, it's all about protection of the wood.  We have been wittling down through trim etc painting stuff.  It's just super spendy and time consuming in the tropics with a ton of bright work, we are pretty much at ground zero now cap rail pilot house trim winch bases etc.  I won't go to paint on those, can't do it.  One of the reasons I came over here from WBF was I couldn't take the never ending condensing replys on not doing things to mythical downeast or PT standards.  I rather enjoy most of the info here the lack of filters makes for mostly good information that is based on someone's real experience.  There were lots of great people on WBF but the usuals like CF drowned everyone out.

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38 minutes ago, SASSAFRASS said:

Absolutely, it's all about protection of the wood.  We have been wittling down through trim etc painting stuff.  It's just super spendy and time consuming in the tropics with a ton of bright work, we are pretty much at ground zero now cap rail pilot house trim winch bases etc.  I won't go to paint on those, can't do it.  One of the reasons I came over here from WBF was I couldn't take the never ending condensing replys on not doing things to mythical downeast or PT standards.  I rather enjoy most of the info here the lack of filters makes for mostly good information that is based on someone's real experience.  There were lots of great people on WBF but the usuals like CF drowned everyone out.

You sound like a philistine.

Hell, you probably regard a boat built with an old ballast keel and a few scraps of old wood in it as a newly constructed boat and not as a restoration.

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100% paint it!!!

 

When crapping myself over the bottom paint issue I have on our keel I couldn't help remembering my friend telling me that when in a big ocean crossing he pondered the keel bolts on his 54 Atkins cutter.  You have to be slightly crazy to own a wooden boat in the first place, Varnish starts big and certainly pulls itself back as you move on down the line. At one point we were going to have a boat soup hull on the inside?!??!? I sleep easy knowing when we grace BC waters again we can go back to a ridiculous regime of bright work everywhere for the two weeks of sun Someday we will do the Vic boatshow

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 12/17/2020 at 9:17 AM, The Q said:

You want real varnish?..  La Tonkinois

American Rope & Tar LLC :: Le Tonkinois - Original (tarsmell.com)

The only stuff I'll use.. no bubbles, minimal preparation between hard layers.

 

I was intrigued by this stuff so decided to buy some. Even with super thin coats, it is taking a painstakingly long time to harden. I'm now at 36 hours and just put a fingerprint in a handrail from picking it up. Temps are between 60 and 70 degrees, humidity is less than 50%. Seems long, no? 

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4 minutes ago, ghost37 said:

I was intrigued by this stuff so decided to buy some. Even with super thin coats, it is taking a painstakingly long time to harden. I'm now at 36 hours and just put a fingerprint in a handrail from picking it up. Temps are between 60 and 70 degrees, humidity is less than 50%. Seems long, no? 

yes, seems long.

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22 minutes ago, ryley said:
26 minutes ago, ghost37 said:

I was intrigued by this stuff so decided to buy some. Even with super thin coats, it is taking a painstakingly long time to harden. I'm now at 36 hours and just put a fingerprint in a handrail from picking it up. Temps are between 60 and 70 degrees, humidity is less than 50%. Seems long, no? 

yes, seems long.

9082181-Crown-Japan-Drier-1-Quart

Works with every kind of non-water-based paint I've ever tried it with. When the humidity is up, especially.

My dad used to use a dollop of this and somewhere between a half-dollop and 1.1 dollops of Penetrol in pretty much everything including his varnish.

FB- Doug

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30 minutes ago, Steam Flyer said:

My dad used to use a dollop of this and somewhere between a half-dollop and 1.1 dollops of Penetrol in pretty much everything including his varnish.

is dollop a George Smoot-approved measure? ;)

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1 hour ago, ghost37 said:

I was intrigued by this stuff so decided to buy some. Even with super thin coats, it is taking a painstakingly long time to harden. I'm now at 36 hours and just put a fingerprint in a handrail from picking it up. Temps are between 60 and 70 degrees, humidity is less than 50%. Seems long, no? 

Never had it take that long, I normally varnish one day,  very light rub down the next morning and then put the next coat on. An hour or two under the recommended 24hours.

I live on the coast of Norfolk so mid summer all I get is similar temperatures to you. If I get much more heat than that the humidity goes through the roof here..

The only things I know of that Le Tonk doesn't like, are epoxy that hasn't been cleaned off properly, or if its been thinned down, it doesn't like that.. it's recommended only 10% white spirit for the first coat only.

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1 hour ago, ryley said:
1 hour ago, Steam Flyer said:

My dad used to use a dollop of this and somewhere between a half-dollop and 1.1 dollops of Penetrol in pretty much everything including his varnish.

is dollop a George Smoot-approved measure?

Well, it's a good old Anglo-Saxon word. Dunno about Smoot, my father was more of a Dagwood in most things except that he seemed to get outstanding results with everything from boat varnish to British sports car engines. I've never been able to get a varnish finish as good as his.

Our boat's brightwork is very meager

DSCN0919varnish.thumb.JPG.54c036ded4939b8236251a494bdbb2df.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These two are done. Petit Flagship 2015 as noted previously

Close-up

DSCN0920varnish.thumb.JPG.6719598476e161557ae2e78a23708b64.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bolts all had black spots around them and there multiple peeled & gray spots along the top. I apologize for not taking "before" pics. Didn't do quite as much homework as I should, this is the first & worst of them.

DSCN0922varnish.thumb.JPG.be63da6747f7c73cd88fdd2b9d8a4745.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last one, just got done with "teak brightener" on the black spots, will sand some more with 180 grit and possibly another round of brightener/scrubbing/rinsing before putting on a first coat.

 

 

Then, there's the bigger PITA project

DSCN0921woodwork.thumb.JPG.37fc1d4325d27750408e386786a2046b.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two of these, port and starboard, I think the glop on them is old Cetol. I don't think they come out but have not examined them in detail. We don't use these lockers. Since this boat is a weekender for us, we have not stuffed every possible storage place with stuff. But I want them to look nice!

FB- Doug

 

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On 12/18/2020 at 11:14 AM, yoyo said:

Never heard of La Tonkinois so I looked into it. 

Via Internet - Le Tonkinois Linseed Oil Varnish is made from pure linseed oil and tung oil, cooked in a proprietary process by the same family in France since 1906. The recipe was, in fact, learned from the Vietnamese during French colonization, so its true age is unknown. For almost 100 years, it was the official varnish of the French Navy.  

I wonder if you could rub/wipe it on instead of brush?  I've done that with Waterlox for home interior projects and like the end result and ease of application.

 

Anyone tried waterlox on the interior or exterior of a boat?  I put it on the floors of my house and rather like it.

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On 6/6/2020 at 10:40 PM, Jules said:

I took a 6" RO sander to flatten the surfaces

Beautiful! When you fine sand with the RO, what grit are you using?

[I feel like I spent last Spring in "varnish 1st grade," refinishing my hatch boards and exterior trim by hand with Epifanes. Now I aspire to more and better work, although I sense this is a potential addiction.] 

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On 1/5/2021 at 6:03 PM, efrank said:
On 12/18/2020 at 11:14 AM, yoyo said:

... I wonder if you could rub/wipe it on instead of brush?  I've done that with Waterlox for home interior projects and like the end result and ease of application.

 

Anyone tried waterlox on the interior or exterior of a boat?  I put it on the floors of my house and rather like it.

Have you got a little left over, we could put a test board out on the dock and see how it holds up to UV.

A matte or satin finish from wiping it on would be fine with me, "shiny" just means glare but that shiny varnish is hypnotic too.

FB- Doug

 

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They do make a Marine Waterlox that is supposed to have additional UV protection.  So there should be some user feedback online.

I no longer have any exterior wood.  Some of the interior wood has a nice thin satin almost oil or hand rubbed finish which I really like.  So I am trying to decide how to refinish that.  

On a side note I tried the total boat Halcyon amber on some of the interior wood that was obviously varnished at one time (one vertical panel and one floor board).  5 coats in a day and easy to apply.  The amber color is not exactly the same as varnish but looks better than any poly I have tried.  It is also not as glossy as varnish and I am ok with that.  Its too early to tell but the one floor board I used it on has held up to 5 months of limited abuse (not in the main traffic area).  The flexible bag container should become the standard for all finishes.  Squeeze out all air and screw on cap.

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6 hours ago, Israel Hands said:

Beautiful! When you fine sand with the RO, what grit are you using?

[I feel like I spent last Spring in "varnish 1st grade," refinishing my hatch boards and exterior trim by hand with Epifanes. Now I aspire to more and better work, although I sense this is a potential addiction.] 

Usually 180 or 240

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I am in search of a varnish that won't darken teak.  My Jeanneau cruiser needs some interior wood refinished, and all the products we have tested will darken the teak so it no longer matches the rest of the interior. 

Jeanneau told me that their original varnish was a proprietary 2-part factory mix that is not sold to the public. 

Not my boat, but same type, and shows the interior varnish colour quite well:Used Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 36.2 Yacht For Sale | Boat Ref 36096 | Ancasta

 

Any ideas from the collective knowledge base?  

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50 minutes ago, Rain Man said:

I am in search of a varnish that won't darken teak.  My Jeanneau cruiser needs some interior wood refinished, and all the products we have tested will darken the teak so it no longer matches the rest of the interior. 

Jeanneau told me that their original varnish was a proprietary 2-part factory mix that is not sold to the public. 

Not my boat, but same type, and shows the interior varnish colour quite well:Used Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 36.2 Yacht For Sale | Boat Ref 36096 | Ancasta

 

Any ideas from the collective knowledge base?  

Call them back and say, "If you won't sell me some, I swear I'm never buying a Jeanneau again!"

There used to be a product called tinker's shellac that was intended for use on bright metal to keep it from tarnishing. Possibly the origin of the term "brightwork"? A lot of older musical instruments have this coating. It's as clear as water. Unfortunately I don't know where to get it, the only can of it I ever had was inherited from my father's garage which he inherited from my grandfather's basement; long gone now. But hey, you can still find Japan Drier so maybe you can still find this stuff?!?

FB- Doug

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19 minutes ago, Steam Flyer said:

Call them back and say, "If you won't sell me some, I swear I'm never buying a Jeanneau again!"

There used to be a product called tinker's shellac that was intended for use on bright metal to keep it from tarnishing. Possibly the origin of the term "brightwork"? A lot of older musical instruments have this coating. It's as clear as water. Unfortunately I don't know where to get it, the only can of it I ever had was inherited from my father's garage which he inherited from my grandfather's basement; long gone now. But hey, you can still find Japan Drier so maybe you can still find this stuff?!?

FB- Doug

Lol! Lurking through some of the on-line boards there were some posts from 2014 that mentioned Sigmavar S2U Satin as being an acceptable, if not good, match.  Is this stuff available anywhere?  It seems to be a Euro product.  Google doesn't turn up much.

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Forget shellac unless you are restoring an old piece of furniture - it disappeared for good reason.

 

Shellac, one of many wood furniture finishes, is a resin made from the lac bugs of Southeast Asia. These bugs secrete a natural resin that is then turned into a commercial product you can apply as a finishing coat to wood. Shellac has been around for hundreds of years and is still used today by fine furniture restorers.

Pros

Shellac has many advantages. It is nontoxic with no fumes, and it's safe for surfaces children and pets will be exposed to. It is easy to work with because it dries quickly and can be applied by spraying or brushing it on. Shellac also provides a hard finish and doesn’t yellow like varnish. If you need to make repairs on shellac, you can simply apply a new top coat of shellac over the old finish to get rid of scratches or blemishes. It is also a favorite of fine woodworkers because it comes in a variety of colors and can be stripped off wood with alcohol.

 

Cons

There are some disadvantages to using shellac as a finish as well. One of these is that anything with alcohol, such as liquor or even cologne, can blemish the finish. Other chemicals like ammonia also cause problems so you have to be careful what you clean shellac with. Heat softens the shellac, so it is best if you avoid anything putting anything hot on or near the surface. If someone sets a glass down, the condensation may leave a white ring especially if the finish has a higher wax content. Shellac does start to deteriorate after it sits in the alcohol mixture for a period of time.

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9 hours ago, Steam Flyer said:

Have you got a little left over, we could put a test board out on the dock and see how it holds up to UV.

A matte or satin finish from wiping it on would be fine with me, "shiny" just means glare but that shiny varnish is hypnotic too.

FB- Doug

 

Good idea!  I do have some left, although it is a bit old.

The stuff I have is satin finish.  It definitely does not give the glassy finish of a polyurethane, but that is not what I wanted with my floors. 

Mostly l, I was thinking about using it on the interior of my boat. I would like to keep the wood as light as possible.  Have to do a little experimentation.

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1 hour ago, efrank said:

Good idea!  I do have some left, although it is a bit old.

The stuff I have is satin finish.  It definitely does not give the glassy finish of a polyurethane, but that is not what I wanted with my floors. 

Mostly l, I was thinking about using it on the interior of my boat. I would like to keep the wood as light as possible.  Have to do a little experimentation.

The water-based polyurethane stuff I tried was far lighter tone than the oil-based. Might be a high varnishing crime, though, so I sanded it off. Seems identical once cured.

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I tried some of that water based varnish about 15 years ago. Terrible. From what I understand, it hasn't gotten much better in the mean time. Never again. 

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"Gloss" seems to be a subjective term with multiple interpretations among different paint manufacturers. It's been years since I did any varnishing and clearly things have changed. I'm about to start doing the brightwork above and below decks on my boat and have some questions.

1. Captains was my go to for years because it was almost impossible to screw up badly, even for me. It wasn't very UV resistant and annual, multiple recoats were necessary for exterior application.  Now I guess this has changed, the UV resistance is OK but the application is a little less forgiving? Maybe I should switch to Epifanes for interior or Awlspar for exterior?

2. For interior, a coat of 2 part epoxy sealer/penetrating solvent followed by a first coat of Captains just as the epoxy got tacky to the touch almost obviated the need for multiple follow up coats on bare wood. I didn't use this on exterior wood because of the brittleness of epoxy under expansion contraction but didn't seem to have this problem belowdecks. However, the epoxy did seem to darken with time. Anyone else experience this?

3. I was always under the impression less gloss was associated with less UV durability. Others here are talking about using satin or mat finishes in exterior applications. Am I out of date on this?

4. In general, I don't prefer high gloss finishes for interiors because they show fingerprints, spilled beer smudges and the like. OTOH, satin or flat varnish just doesn't look right either. I used to mix one part satin with three parts gloss to get a nice, rich lustre that was more forgiving of my housekeeping habits. Can I do this with the above products, assuming I stay with the same family of thinners, driers and varnishes?

5. For the record, I had terrible luck maintaining expensive badger bristle brushes. After one use, and even using buckets of solvent to clean them followed by a wash in soap and water and hanging them up vertically with tinfoil wrapping for long drying times, the brush would become a stiff ball of hair on a stick. I went to foam brushes and had to learn better techniques of picking up sags and avoiding drips but still got decent results without the aggravation and expense. Everyone here is harping on bristle brushes. So, what was I doing wrong?

 

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5 minutes ago, IStream said:

I tried some of that water based varnish about 15 years ago. Terrible. From what I understand, it hasn't gotten much better in the mean time. Never again. 

Might have been the older water-based acrylic stuff. That was weird shit indeed. Some idiot splashed that around my boat...luckily sparingly. And it basically peeled off like kitchen wrap. The water-based polyurethane appears to cure to the same finish as oil-based...just lighter. But someone else will know better...I only use it at the cabin.

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