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Author Topic:   Varnishing help
Zack posted 03-07-2001 12:18 PM ET (US)   Profile for Zack   Send Email to Zack  
I now have 6 coats of Epifanes Woodfinish Gloss on the console and seat. I plan on putting on about 4 more coats. My question is; should I use the Epifanes Matte as the final couple of coats? I am not sure that I know what the Matte finish looks like. Any help appreciated. Thanks, Zack
jimmer posted 03-07-2001 04:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimmer  Send Email to jimmer     
We recently had a new console and seat beautifully made by a neighbor who is a highly skilled furniture restorer. A little research led him to finish it with a coat of West epoxy followed by a few coats of semi-gloss Cetol. Having grown up with this boat, I remember the original finish was much glossier than the resulting finish. As a result, I am currently using the excuse of a maintenence coat to apply a gloss topcaot.
dreid posted 03-07-2001 04:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for dreid  Send Email to dreid     
Anything you don't normally stand or walk on, if it was ever varnished by BW it was with a high gloss finish. Think this applies only to the earlier mahogany woodwork, none of the later teak. Best bet at this point is to finish off with a couple coats of the Epifanes Gloss followed by a rub down and buff with compound to remove final dust blems, etc. The Sikkens Cetol is good stuf, but I have no idea how it will interact with the Epifanes undercoat... could make a real mess if not compatible.
kingfish posted 03-07-2001 07:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
My understanding in general, gained from discourse with many painting subcontractors who have worked for me over the years, is that to attain a "furniture" finish with varnish, apply as many coats of high gloss as it takes to get where you want to be, (one test of which is that when you wet sand with a block, there aren't shiny spots to work at because all parts of the block are coming into contact with all parts of the varnished surface at the same time), you then finish off with one or two coats of semi-gloss. The effect is a surface that is not only completely filled, but while not overly shiny and subject to the slightest scratches, gives an appearance of great depth.

I would tend to think that the various marine finishes would respond similarly.

Orca posted 03-08-2001 01:47 AM ET (US)     Profile for Orca  Send Email to Orca     
Refer to the latest issue of Powerboat Reports. I believe doing the West System on Whaler wood is both misguided and devaluing.I have the best luck with Captains but how it is applied is what it is all about. I'm happy Cetol on my teak.
jimmer posted 03-08-2001 11:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimmer  Send Email to jimmer     
I don't know what "Powerboat Reports" is and I am not advocating the use of the initial epoxy sealer coat. What I can say is that 4 years in, it still looks damn good. I also wouldn't suggest mixing Epiphanes and Cetol. I would, however, support the common practice of building the primary coat with semi-gloss and then doing the top coat, as well as subsequent maintenece coats, in gloss.
It's been working very well.
Zack posted 03-08-2001 11:21 AM ET (US)     Profile for Zack  Send Email to Zack     
Thanks for the replies. I put coat 7 on last night. I will see what it looks like after I wet sand it after the 8th coat.

FYI, I have been using Penetrol (30%) with the Epifanes Woodfinish Gloss. It makes a very smooth coat. Much better than using the thinner. A friend who restores old wooden boats put me on to this. Judging by the finish quality of his boats it works great and hold up well. Also he put me on to using a roller (1/8' nap purchased at West Marine) for the varnish, using a foam brush for the curves and corners (also recommeded by Kurt Carlson). Should be finished with console next week. Again thanks for the replies.


KCarlsen posted 03-09-2001 01:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for KCarlsen  Send Email to KCarlsen     
Zack, I believe you are now ahead of me. I am running out of juice with this varnish stuff. I am just finishing my console and will start on the seat next week. I have ten coats of varnish on and all I can say is its a lot of work. I like your foam roller idea. I will use one on my next coat. They worked well when I did the hull. As for expoxy finishes, I believe BW used this type finish on thier 40th anniversary 13ft and got many boats back for warranty work because epoxy doesn't stretch like varnish so when the wood swells, the expoxy finish cracked. I believe I heard this from the experts. Zack, What is Penetrol and were did you buy it (marine store?) Kurt
JC posted 03-09-2001 05:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for JC  Send Email to JC     
I have some varnish work to complete, however I am confined to working in the garage which is better than being confined to the garage. Anyway I am concerned that temp. may effect the cure, make it look milky. Is 40, 50 to low? JC
Chesapeake posted 03-09-2001 07:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chesapeake  Send Email to Chesapeake     
I cannot necessarily speak for varnish, however,...

I built a reversible pilot seat and the lower section of the console and conpletely stripped and refinished the upper section. I used about 5 coats of West Epoxy and then sprayed with Awl-grip. I have not had any problems with the epoxy cracking.

Rather, the seat (which is now 4 years old) and the console look like a perfect gel-coat finish. This is a boat that is stored in winter in temp of -20 degrees.

So far, so good. The wood (mainly mahogany ply and some solid mahogany) also has a greater resistance to dings and dents with the epoxy.

Again, no idea how this might work with varnish.


Zack posted 03-12-2001 05:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for Zack  Send Email to Zack     
Sorry for not replying sooner. I have been on the TX Gulf Coast sailing, fishing and buying another whaler. Kurt I got the Penetrol at Lowes, should be available at any hardward store. JC, varnishing works best with temp around 60 plus and hummity between 50-85. I also work in the garage and I just put a small electric heater in and let it go about a hour before I start. Then after finishing for the night I leave the heater on all night . Varnish is always dry in the morning. Average evening temp right now 40. BTW, My new whaler is 1986 Outrage 18 with 96 Yammy 150. Zack
Chesapeake posted 03-12-2001 06:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chesapeake  Send Email to Chesapeake     
Zack: Good luck with the new whaler. I love that Outrage, particularly with a Yamaha on the back.

I want a second whaler that is bigger: 19 to 22 foot for Lake Michigan. The early 70s ribbed outrage is a particular favorite (My brother at the Jersey shore just completely restored one - looks better than it did in 1971), but an 80s outrage has equally great lines. I will find one before too long...

Bob (Chesapeake)

KCarlsen posted 03-12-2001 09:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for KCarlsen  Send Email to KCarlsen     
Bob, I was wrong about the anniversary edition whaler. I checked; BW used a clear resin type product that they put on very thick. I was also told that some of the boats had cracked finishes even before they left the factory. Sorry for the misunderstanding. Kurt
JC posted 03-12-2001 10:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for JC  Send Email to JC     
Paint Legend posted 03-13-2001 04:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for Paint Legend  Send Email to Paint Legend     
Here is something I recently learned from my old Polish buddy who does fiberglass & painting work. He just did some mahogany boards for the interior of a 26' Lyman (it's a wood boat!). He brushes on a coat of Smith's Epoxy on "both" sides of the wood. Smiths is a penetrating epoxy intended for hardening up soft wood. This is a great product, but don't expect a lot of build. And of course you can use any epoxy or even varnish. When you seal both sides of the wood it tends to become more stable, it's not absorbing moisture from the air on the bare side. This goes the same for painting wood, even on your house. Then apply your favorite varnish!!

When I finish spraying the wood for my 13 BW I'll send in pictures. I haven't read anyone mentioning AWL-BRITE Urethane Varnish. This is the top end stuff, it's a high build urethane that has an automotive UV package in it. It can be wet sanded and buffed to a very high gloss. The wood looks like a lolli-pop when done!


Zack posted 03-15-2001 11:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for Zack  Send Email to Zack     
Last night my wooden boat building friend showed me a neat trick, its called shaving the varnish. Take a single sided razor blade perpendicular to the surface and scrap the varnish off. You will be able to see all the shinny spots. Do not try to shave all the shine out. Rather only take 1-2 mils off. Then sand as you would normally. This process used last night saved me about 3-4 hours of sanding. Also, when you are using Penetrol with your varnish, it will only be good for about 1 hour. If you feel any drag in your varnish, you need to add another 10% Penetrol. Hope this helps! Zack
kingfish posted 03-15-2001 11:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     

That sounds like a great tip! I am anxious to try it-


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