TotalBoat Lust varnish?

DDW

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I've done two coats with Epifanes, but also had it wrinkle once doing that. It would be idea to have a test of some kind that says dry enough. When I've done two coats, the finish is noticeably softer the next day, which is in line with the warnings about consequences. Too thick, and the oxidation process that cures the oils slows down. Then you have to wait another day to sand. To quick, and the solvents cause the last coat to wrinkle.

I intend to try a side-by-side test with Epifanes (as I am familiar with it) and the Awlspar (which claims 2-3 hour recoat).
 

eliboat

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I've done two coats with Epifanes, but also had it wrinkle once doing that. It would be idea to have a test of some kind that says dry enough. When I've done two coats, the finish is noticeably softer the next day, which is in line with the warnings about consequences. Too thick, and the oxidation process that cures the oils slows down. Then you have to wait another day to sand. To quick, and the solvents cause the last coat to wrinkle.

I intend to try a side-by-side test with Epifanes (as I am familiar with it) and the Awlspar (which claims 2-3 hour recoat).
Awlspar claims are true. Temperature dependent, but even at the low end of the range (50 deg), 3 hrs works.
 

DDW

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I've tried Awlspar on a test piece. I could put 3 - 4 coats/day in 65 deg F shop controlled weather. I did the first thinned coat and 3 more full coats one day, 3 full coats the next, then waited 24 hours and sanded lightly to smooth, then 3 more full coats, sanded, and one final coat. The result looks pretty good.

Awlspar is thinner than Epifanes from the can, I did not thin it to apply. Epifanes always had to be thinned or it was brushy and didn't level completely. Epifanes is a little more amber on the wood than Awlspar. Awlspar tacks up much faster, in about an hour dust and bugs don't stick, while Epifanes goes at least 3 hours vulnerable. The flow and leveling seem about the same, once Epifanes is thinned enough to use. I used a 2" fine grained foam trim roller to apply without tipping, the varnish leveled beautifully within a minute. It did not seem to flash any faster than Epifanes, maintaining a wet edge was just as easy. Of course a roller is twice as fast as a brush to that helps either one. I am now a fan of Awlspar.

A downside of the Awlspar is it skins in the can very quickly, a partially used can will skin in just a couple of days. With Epifanes, the thinner mixes reluctantly and you can pour a little on the top which will just sit there forever and keep the varnish good. Mix it in when you want to use it (you're going to need some anyway). The Awlspar thinner mixes readily with the varnish and this did not work. Flooding it with argon before closing the can works, but requires an argon source (I have in the shop from the welding gear). I bought one of those little vacuum pumps for food preservation, it does what it is supposed to but it turns out a varnish can is easily collapsed by vacuum, it will withstand only about 12" of vacuum, 15" makes the can cave in. 12" of vacuum still leaves plenty of oxygen (equivalent to about 15,000 altitude) so I am not confident that will keep it long term, also, it is hard to judge when to stop pumping. As a solution I am going to try transferring the remains of the open can to Mason canning jars, these will stand 22" of vacuum which is what the little pump will pull. Being transparent, you can monitor what it going on.
 

Bryanjb

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We like Awlspar, pretty easy to build coats quickly. I machine flatten after 5~7 coats. Or you can just sail to Trinidad and have everything varnished by Abdul for $1,000. I do buy the varnish for him though.

We use Bloxygen with open cans of varnish to stop it from skinning. I think it's just argon.
 

DDW

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Ahh, to be in the land of varnishers.

The ability to do 3 coats a day instead of one, and not have to sand even the next day are a game changer over Epifanes. I got good results with 6 coats, sand, then three more. I had dust so I sanded again and one coat. I've taken a refillable paint spray can and charged it with argon, seems to be working and is portable.
 

eliboat

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I've tried Awlspar on a test piece. I could put 3 - 4 coats/day in 65 deg F shop controlled weather. I did the first thinned coat and 3 more full coats one day, 3 full coats the next, then waited 24 hours and sanded lightly to smooth, then 3 more full coats, sanded, and one final coat. The result looks pretty good.

Awlspar is thinner than Epifanes from the can, I did not thin it to apply. Epifanes always had to be thinned or it was brushy and didn't level completely. Epifanes is a little more amber on the wood than Awlspar. Awlspar tacks up much faster, in about an hour dust and bugs don't stick, while Epifanes goes at least 3 hours vulnerable. The flow and leveling seem about the same, once Epifanes is thinned enough to use. I used a 2" fine grained foam trim roller to apply without tipping, the varnish leveled beautifully within a minute. It did not seem to flash any faster than Epifanes, maintaining a wet edge was just as easy. Of course a roller is twice as fast as a brush to that helps either one. I am now a fan of Awlspar.

A downside of the Awlspar is it skins in the can very quickly, a partially used can will skin in just a couple of days. With Epifanes, the thinner mixes reluctantly and you can pour a little on the top which will just sit there forever and keep the varnish good. Mix it in when you want to use it (you're going to need some anyway). The Awlspar thinner mixes readily with the varnish and this did not work. Flooding it with argon before closing the can works, but requires an argon source (I have in the shop from the welding gear). I bought one of those little vacuum pumps for food preservation, it does what it is supposed to but it turns out a varnish can is easily collapsed by vacuum, it will withstand only about 12" of vacuum, 15" makes the can cave in. 12" of vacuum still leaves plenty of oxygen (equivalent to about 15,000 altitude) so I am not confident that will keep it long term, also, it is hard to judge when to stop pumping. As a solution I am going to try transferring the remains of the open can to Mason canning jars, these will stand 22" of vacuum which is what the little pump will pull. Being transparent, you can monitor what it going on.
Turn your can upside down. The other thing that I do if I am varnishing a bunch over a two or three day period is decant a bunch of m3131 into a plastic mixing cup that has a lid, or plan on using a glove for a lid. It will skin over, but I just pour the varnish through a paint strainer, which effectively deals with any gelled bits and other contaminants. I’ll then put in a cap or two of Interlux 333 (plain mineral sprits works too) and off I go. The 333 helps a bit with the open time.
Your observation about the thickness of M3131 vs Epifanes out of the can is what I have observed too. M3131 straight out of the can brushes out very well. Epifanes used to 20 years ago, but something definitely changed I think when they tried to reduce the VOCs.
 

accnick

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Ahh, to be in the land of varnishers.

The ability to do 3 coats a day instead of one, and not have to sand even the next day are a game changer over Epifanes. I got good results with 6 coats, sand, then three more. I had dust so I sanded again and one coat. I've taken a refillable paint spray can and charged it with argon, seems to be working and is portable.
The real problem with putting on multiple coats without sanding is the accumulation of flaws--dust, lags, brushmarks--that gets amplified with every un-sanded coat. This is really true if you have to varnish in less-than-ideal conditions. However, everyone has different expectations of what the finished product should look like.
 

DDW

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Turn your can upside down.
That just seems to put the skin on the bottom of the can which then breaks up and is all over when I right it. I've transferred some to a Mason canning jar and vacuumed it to 22", will see what happens. The argon worked, but only if it was well flooded with argon. Spraying a little in with my spray can didn't seem to reliably work.
The real problem with putting on multiple coats without sanding is the accumulation of flaws--dust, lags, brushmarks--that gets amplified with every un-sanded coat. This is really true if you have to varnish in less-than-ideal conditions. However, everyone has different expectations of what the finished product should look like.
I agree with that, but also note that the Awlspar seems to level better than Epifanes, and tacks sooner, so there are fewer flaws to deal with. I am using a roller and not tipping, there are no brush marks and the fine roller stipple flows out completely. With Epifanes and a brush, it seemed like brush marks seemed to build on each other getting higher each coat which is non-intuitive - shouldn't it fill in the low spots? but maybe not on vertical surfaces as you are building a set of terraces I guess. I did sand the Awlspar flat after 6 coats, and again before the last coat which made the surface nearly perfect. A big issue with sanding is you are removing film thickness, so one step back each time you sand.
 

eliboat

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That just seems to put the skin on the bottom of the can which then breaks up and is all over when I right it. I've transferred some to a Mason canning jar and vacuumed it to 22", will see what happens. The argon worked, but only if it was well flooded with argon. Spraying a little in with my spray can didn't seem to reliably work.

I agree with that, but also note that the Awlspar seems to level better than Epifanes, and tacks sooner, so there are fewer flaws to deal with. I am using a roller and not tipping, there are no brush marks and the fine roller stipple flows out completely. With Epifanes and a brush, it seemed like brush marks seemed to build on each other getting higher each coat which is non-intuitive - shouldn't it fill in the low spots? but maybe not on vertical surfaces as you are building a set of terraces I guess. I did sand the Awlspar flat after 6 coats, and again before the last coat which made the surface nearly perfect. A big issue with sanding is you are removing film thickness, so one step back each time you sand.
Yes… it puts the skin on the bottom. Never had the problem you’re taking about with skin getting into the varnish using that method… certainly have by NOT dong so, as it’s basically guaranteed with the skin on top. Again, use of a 10 cent paint strainer deals with this. At the end of the day, this isn’t rocket science. Like anything else it becomes a lot easier and less fraught as you do it more and more.
 

DDW

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I don't mind the 10 cents. It is the mess that I don't like. You end up with an old container wet with varnish and skin, a 10 cent strainer soaked with varnish, very likely some spills, and need a new clean container to put it in - each time you open the can. A lot of very unpleasant tasks become accepted if you have to deal with it continually, but that doesn't prevent me from looking for a better method. In fact most of my life has been spent looking for better methods.
 

Jim in Halifax

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Anyone tried these?
https://www.stoplossbags.com/
684758414991.jpg
 

DDW

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Have seen them recommended on the woodworking forums. It seems like a cost effective solution, and would definitely cut down the mess, at least after you'd performed the one-time transfer from the can. However there is some fine print:

Alert: StopLossBags® pouches should not be used with finishes containing Acetone, Benzene, or more than 1% Methyl Ethyl Keytone (MEK), Toluene, or Xylene.

According to the SDS, Awlspar contains up to 1% Methyl Ethyl Ketoxime. Also 1 - 10% trimethyl benzene, and 1% benzene, methyl. Not sure if that is disqualifying or not. Maybe I'll ask.
 
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Yes, with great success on everything so far. Heard about these from woodworking discussions and have used them for shellac, stains, and for varnishes (including the Total Boat that was the start of this post on a big kitchen cabinet project). Held finishes a year or more without problems. Can't say that for conventional paint cans. Once you figure out how to fill them (their funnel works well) they greatly reduce the mess. No air=no skinning and no evaporation to speak of. Definitely worth the cost to me.
 

DDW

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I got a reply back that said the 1% MEKO might be a problem, it is at the limit that they want to see. But also I could try it and if there was a problem they would replace each defective bag with two new ones. Problems being clouding or delamination of the bag. So I think I will order some and try them. One problem with cans or jars is you have to open them all the time to get more product out. Each opening is a bit messy, introduces more oxygen, compromises the seal a little bit. I'd guess with the bag you just squeeze out what you want and cap it again.
 

accnick

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I got a reply back that said the 1% MEKO might be a problem, it is at the limit that they want to see. But also I could try it and if there was a problem they would replace each defective bag with two new ones. Problems being clouding or delamination of the bag. So I think I will order some and try them. One problem with cans or jars is you have to open them all the time to get more product out. Each opening is a bit messy, introduces more oxygen, compromises the seal a little bit. I'd guess with the bag you just squeeze out what you want and cap it again.
The problem is that you always put more in your varnish cup than you need. I'm not a purist, and return mine to the can, typically but not always straining it as I pour it back in. By the time I'm halfway down the can, I am straining it out of the can every time because of skinning and contamination.

These bags would seem to work best if you are willing to discard unused varnish after every session. I'm not that accurate with the amount I pour out, and I want some left in the cup to maintain consistency and flow through the varnishing session.

It does not hurt to put thinned varnish back in the can, especially with Epifanes, since it thickens as you work your way down the can in any case. The only thinner I use with it is their brushing thinner.

These bags have some appeal, but I stack my varnish cans in a locker on the boat, and the metal cans make that easy. Not sure how I would store these bags.
 

DDW

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I try not to get more from the can that I need and never pour it back, even if that means getting into the can several times a session. To keep the mess out of the can rim and lid, I dip it out with a 5 oz Dixie cup - no pouring over the rim. I think the bags might serve my methods well. Epifanes always needs to be thinned (even as you use it), but I haven't had a problem storing it, even in a well used can, by pouring a small amount of thinner on top to cap it. The thinner doesn't mix in and it keeps the oxygen away from the varnish. I have had half used cans for well over a year kept that way. Of course if they are kept on the boat and you are bashing to windward it may not work as well.
 

slug zitski

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I try not to get more from the can that I need and never pour it back, even if that means getting into the can several times a session. To keep the mess out of the can rim and lid, I dip it out with a 5 oz Dixie cup - no pouring over the rim. I think the bags might serve my methods well. Epifanes always needs to be thinned (even as you use it), but I haven't had a problem storing it, even in a well used can, by pouring a small amount of thinner on top to cap it. The thinner doesn't mix in and it keeps the oxygen away from the varnish. I have had half used cans for well over a year kept that way. Of course if they are kept on the boat and you are bashing to windward it may not work as well.
take a small nail or pin prick and punch 5 or 6 holes into the base of the can lip

Paint will drain into the can

Don’t damage the lip walls
 

accnick

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take a small nail or pin prick and punch 5 or 6 holes into the base of the can lip

Paint will drain into the can

Don’t damage the lip walls
Or, just take a small piece of paper towel dampened with thinner, clean out the groove, and then wipe off the mating portion of the edge of the lid before you put the lid back on.

Incidentally, I dip out of the can until you get about half-way down, rather than pouring out of the can. Keeps the lid and can edges a lot cleaner, which is a priority.
 

DDW

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Some of those methods help if you are using Epifanes and closing the can for a few days or even a month. They do not work for longer than that, or on Awlspar. Once the can is down a ways, the oxygen in the air space is enough to cause the surface to gel. On Awlspar, this happens in <2 days, Epifanes, a couple of months. It doesn't matter how well you seal the lid, or how clean it is. The air either needs to be displaced (argon, or thinner cap on Epifanes) or removed (vacuum or the bag thingies).
 


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