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Author Topic:   Another Varnish Question
compounder posted 03-12-2001 09:14 AM ET (US)   Profile for compounder   Send Email to compounder  
What is the best applicator tool and technique for applying the last couple of coats of varnish?

I have tried synthetic brushes, natural brushes, and foam applicators, but they all leave tiny bubbles. Some of the bubbles go away, but some remain as blemishes in the top coat.

Anyone with experience have some tips?


kingfish posted 03-12-2001 09:32 AM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     

I have had good luck when working with (poly?)urethane marine spar varnish with a soft natural bristle brush (not too large); clean, strained varnish; wet-sanded, thinner-washed and completely dry surface; handling the brush gently while loading it up, moving it to the surface, and spreading the varnish; and then spreading out a brushfull, brush out bubbles in one direction, towards the area where the next brushfull will go, spreading another brushfull adjacent to the first, brush out bubbles starting about halfway back into the fist area and brushing through the new area, then continuing in that same manner as you go, always about halfway back into the last area you put down, and always in only one direction.

dreid posted 03-12-2001 11:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for dreid  Send Email to dreid     
Kingfish - that's a textbook answer and pretty much exactly what works for me. Would like to see your rig here on the site.
Paint Legend posted 03-12-2001 04:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for Paint Legend  Send Email to Paint Legend     
I too like the above advice! The bubbles don't make sense. I would throw out the following potential problems:
* don't shake the varnish, always stir slowly and completely.
* make sure the prior coats are completly dry, you could have solvent entrapment.
* always apply wax and grease remover between sanded coats, the oil from your fingers could be contaminating the surface.
* try using penetrol, people who use this flow agent swear by it.
* reduce with recommended thinner, make sure the varnish isn't applied to thickly, the varnish then dries unevenly -see solvent entrapment from above.
* is the brush really clean? Try a brush comb.
* are you wearing powdered latex gloves? Some actually contaminate the surface.
* are you using a tack rag between coats?
* I have noticed alot of static electricity on recent project, this is due to cool, dry air, especially in heated shops. PPG makes a prep wipe that helps eliminate static.
* spray the wood, if you don't have a sprayer rent an HVLP unit or talk nice to a friend that has spray equipment.

Good luck!

jimmer posted 03-14-2001 10:48 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimmer  Send Email to jimmer     
This may be off base but the one time I got small bubbles in my varnish coat I was rushing (...isn't that where the problems always start?)and didn't let the piece dry completely after wet sanding. The trapped moisture caused alot of small bubbles, a bit of cursing and alot more sanding.
kingfish posted 03-16-2001 11:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     

Sorry for not responding sooner - guess I drifted away for a while...

Anyway, my rig *is* on the site - check Cetacea for 22' Outrage, Outre'. I oil the teak on Outre', though; the varnishing I did was on the teak on my last Montauk, now owned by my sister. She doesn't hang around here (in fact I've got to call her on the phone to tell her to read her e-mail); I'll look around and see if I have any photos.


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