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Author Topic:   Final Coat of Varnish
Trainerjim posted 05-22-2015 09:52 PM ET (US)   Profile for Trainerjim   Send Email to Trainerjim  
I realize that a lot has been written about wood refinishing on this site, including an excellent article in the reference section by OutrageMan. I am refinishing the mahogany form my 15 Super Sport for the second time ( first time in 2002) and I have a question about the final coat. I am using Captains Varnish, sanded wood down to bare wood, and am on coat 8 of 10. I have been using foam brushes and have been told to use a fine, i.e. expensive bristle brush for the final coats after switching to 400 wet sanding between coats. Since the 3rd coat I have been using 220 between. Should I switch to a bristle brush and 400 or stay with a foam brush and use fine bronze wool? Thanks for any advice. I have searched the section and not come up with a clear answer.
Binkster posted 05-23-2015 08:20 AM ET (US)     Profile for Binkster  Send Email to Binkster     
You're making a simple process into "rocket science". Just continue as you are doing. I don't use foam brushes, only bristle brushes, but if they work for you, that's fine. Just scuff sand between coats with 220 dry.


Binkster posted 05-23-2015 08:22 AM ET (US)     Profile for Binkster  Send Email to Binkster     
I forgot to say that you need to wipe down the work with a tack cloth between coats.


wezie posted 05-23-2015 08:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for wezie    
Thank you Rich.
You helped me too.
dfmcintyre posted 05-23-2015 04:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
As Rich stated, important to wipe down. That deceptively simple procedure cannot be emphasized enough. I usually start with a complete dry vac of the wood, let any dust settle while taking a break, then tack rag.

One word of caution if varnishing indoors; you'd be shocked at the amount of dust that collect in fluorescent lighting while on. If they are on..... LEAVE THEM ON. They can drop the dust when turned off.

Don't ask me how I know....

Powergroove803 posted 05-26-2015 09:48 AM ET (US)     Profile for Powergroove803  Send Email to Powergroove803     
I saw on "How its made" an episode this weekend where a company was making wooden interiors for high end airplanes. They sanded with an orbital sander and then a long board with vertical strokes to take out the swirls between coats.
One thing they did at the end was polish the wood with some sort of polishing compound an orbital polisher. Anyone know what polishing substance they would have been using? Anyone ever polish their wood after varnish? granted that wood was going to be inside, but a polish coat makes sense as a protectant(maybe)
crbenny posted 05-26-2015 10:13 AM ET (US)     Profile for crbenny  Send Email to crbenny     
3M Finesse It II with a wool pad. Then wax. I think if you do a search it'll show up..


Trainerjim posted 05-26-2015 04:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for Trainerjim  Send Email to Trainerjim     
Thanks for the responses. You are right, I am over thinking. All the time between coats leaves a lot of time to over think.
andygere posted 05-26-2015 05:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
You can do a fine job using foam brushes. Keep a wet edge, and be sure to work small areas and tip out bubbles before it stops flowing. A slightly thinner coat (use mineral spirits, about 10%, or a thinner specific to your varnish) will allow better flow and help eliminate brush marks. I like to use two foam brushes, one for applying varnish and a second one for tipping out. Replace the application brush when it becomes saturated and floppy.

I used that method on this project with very good results: IMG_1807.jpg IMG_1788.jpg

PeteB88 posted 05-28-2015 08:50 AM ET (US)     Profile for PeteB88  Send Email to PeteB88     
Rich is correct - It ain't that hard. Over marine lumber or panels I scuff sand with like 120 Fre Cut maybe 220 before coating. You can vacuum and wipe with tack rag or if low humidity I sometimes hijack a terry cloth bath towel from the bathroom inventory, make it damp (wring out thoroughly) and use that for tack rag. Been doing that for years, no finish failure.

Scuff sanding is simple and quick and as a true master wood finisher told me when I was learning and obsessing he said ""it's a boat not a Steinway piano" For the record he and his dad were finishers for Baldwin piano.

Buckda posted 05-30-2015 10:08 AM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Important when you scuff sand: be sure you have a uniform haze on the surface, and any drips, sags or other blemishes need to be sanded out with a block or other method to keep the surface flat for the next coat.

If you have sags in the finish and don't sand them out, they will only compound the problem for each additional coat.

If not using an orbital sander, be sure to sand with the grain because cross-grain sanding will definitely show through. Nothing worse than having to go back and strip down several layers to get to a mistake made early on. Varnish magnifies the character and beauty of wood...but it also magnifies your mistakes. Been there, done that...

dfmcintyre posted 05-30-2015 08:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
Dave -

After a three or four year lapse of varnishing the three small teak hatch covers in the stern of the 21' Outrage, and the helm seat. I decided to add a coat and repair some dings. Filled the dings with some epoxy, neat and took a page from the West Epoxy people; applied two coats of epoxy over each side and edges. Also sanded between the slats of the seat back, where the inevitable drips have coalesced into miniature stalactites of varnish.

The "new" guy (who's been refinishing wood boats here in town for three + decades) is working at the shop where I've been storing the 21 and Revenge and where we store and maintain the Sportsman. Anyways, he's a big proponent of spraying an automotive two part acrylic clear coat, and talked me into letting him spray the set. Sprayed two coats.

In a word.... wow. And the dings or run can be sanded and buffed out more easily then with varnish. Supposed to be more scratch resistant too. We'll see, as those hatches are always walked on and abused.

Regards - Don

64nauset posted 06-01-2015 09:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for 64nauset  Send Email to 64nauset     
During a complete re-do of the family Nauset wood, I got all crazy about dust specs in the varnish. All those perfect boat show yacht interiors was what I was chasing. Forget it. When finished the boat is on the lake with dogs, kids, and errant shrapnel, like its supposed to be. I don't have a yacht, and it can never look like one (smile). Pete makes a good point, "T'aint a Steinway."

I would say that the smoother the finish, the better, as a matter of pride. I used a sharp scrape between coats which removes most imperfections. It keeps a smooth finish going too. If not happy with the final coat; scrape, sand, clean, then lay down another...... It will be beautiful.

Powergroove803 posted 06-02-2015 09:47 AM ET (US)     Profile for Powergroove803  Send Email to Powergroove803     
Im on coat #3 of Epiphanes and its looking real nice, lots of wood on the 77 Outrage. How many coats is enough?
I refinished the wood 3 years ago but really one year without a cover destroyed the finish. I had 8 coats of Epiphanes on and it peeled in many places of direct sunlight in the South.
the clearcoat sounds like an option that may extend the life of this work, along with a cover!
Don, what specific acrylic clearcoat did he use?
dfmcintyre posted 06-11-2015 09:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
Powergroove -

Sorry for the delayed response. It was MetalLux Acrylic Urethane Clear. Two coats. No sanding needed. I'll post some shots later.

Regards - Don

Trainerjim posted 06-22-2015 10:03 AM ET (US)     Profile for Trainerjim  Send Email to Trainerjim     
Thanks for the help. I am finished with varnish and moving on to cleaning hull and replacing the wood. I will work on getting some photos.
PeteB88 posted 06-08-2015 08:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for PeteB88  Send Email to PeteB88     
[From a duplicate thread on this same topic, now deleted--jimh]

I would do what you have been doing but would totally consider using a natural bristle brush to "tip off" your finish coats, perhaps important for final finish, not sure. I would also stop where you are at unless you have some compelling reason to go 10 coats but you've come this far....

I've finished a lot of wooden boats and never did 10 or even eight, maybe four or five. Including over marine epoxy base coats. My preference is Captain's like you are using after trying all of them including Epiphane.

That varnish is very thick and coats are thick when cured. Therefore, I've always wondered about scuff sanding with ultrafine or fine sandpaper - what difference does it really make w/ marine varnish? I don't think much.

When I was doing it a lot we made sure each coat was fully cured before adding next. That was determined by testing surface in various places with sandpaper - if it powdered up and did not gum the paper, we considered that full cure. If it gummed up the paper we'd leave it another 5, 10 hours maybe another day. Usually not that long becuase we had a tricky way to speed up the cure.

Scuff sanding really simple, quick, I used 180 usually going into final coats, 120 for most of the base coats and didn't trip about it - good luck. Unless you want some seriously bad ass super smooth finish for boat shows. You'll get that anyway.

Powergroove803 posted 06-18-2015 12:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for Powergroove803  Send Email to Powergroove803     
[From a duplicate thread on this same topic, now deleted--jimh]

As far as the scuff goes, is its intention to allow better adhesion between coats or is it just to knock down any imperfections?

I just did 7 coats with 220 between each one.

Trainerjim posted 06-22-2015 10:06 AM ET (US)     Profile for Trainerjim  Send Email to Trainerjim     
[From a duplicate thread on this same topic, now deleted--jimh]

Thanks for your comments. I have finished varnishing and am moving to cleaning hull and replacing wood. I was able to get the console back together this weekend.

jimh posted 06-27-2015 03:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
[Two threads on same topic are joined here.]

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