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Author Topic:   Re-emphasizing some helpful varnishing tips
Jim Bennett posted 10-19-2001 12:09 AM ET (US)   Profile for Jim Bennett   Send Email to Jim Bennett  
Restoration of my 73 Outrage 21 is in progress. I just wanted to make some comments here about my experience with restoring the extremely weathered teak and re-emphasize a couple particularly helpful tips on varnishing that I gleaned from this site. I am not really a neophyte at varnishing, having totally hand stripped and re-varnished my entire mahogany console and reversing seat on my 68 Sakonnet about 5 years or so ago. At that time however, I did not have the benefit of the wealth of experience and expertise of this site. Nevertheless, my efforts on the Sakonnet turned out real well. As for now, I want to first express my appreciation to Don McIntyre for his helpful comments and to Larry Goltz and others for their useful and informative postings on varnishing.

Two tips in particular have been worth their weight in gold and I dont know who were the originators. First is the use of a safety razor blade to scrape off highpoints like small runs followed by sanding. The other is the use of sponge brushes instead of bristle. The razor blade trick saves a lot of sanding time. I did my own experiment to compare bristle with sponge brush results. The OR 21 has 2 small (~12x16) well lids which serve as seats in the stern. After much sanding to remove the weathered surfaces I put on 3 varnish coats, 2 diluted and 1 full strength, with a bristle brush. Sanded with 320 then another full strength coat with sponge then sanded with 400. Put on 5th coat, one with bristle and one with sponge brush. Truly amazing how much smoother and bubble-free results are with the sponge. Even after only 4-5 coats my RPS and all lids are looking like glass mirrors. Just thought it worth mentioning this since some of you may be planning some wood refinishing during the winter months.

One more comment and I am out of here. I had the good fortune last month while in Florida to find 2 identical solid teak louvered doors (12x18 1/2x 3/4) at a marine salvage yard; the visit was another good suggestion from Don McIntyre. Grand total of $30 including 4 ft of trim stock to frame doors. They were in perfect condition but yellowed varnish on one side. Get them back tomorrow from Amish furniture maker here in Ohio who is dip stripping them for me. Just hope they will eventually be like mirrors also.

dfmcintyre posted 10-19-2001 09:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
Jim -

Thanks for your kind comments, as I contemplate trying to get one last run with the Outrage before winterizing her and pulling all the wood, to add another coat. I've given up on trying take one more ride on the SuperCat, so the jib and tramp is coming off this weekend.

I'm still experimenting with the 1500 grit sandpaper/3M FinesseIt technique. When I tried it on the top of the RPS and the rear console door, it turned out _extremely_ smooth, with no surface imperfections (dust, etc), but not as shiny as my standard varnishing procedures.

Varnishing louvered anything is my nemisis.


OutrageMan posted 10-19-2001 04:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for OutrageMan  Send Email to OutrageMan     
I have written an essay on this topic, the hopefully will be included in the reference section of this web site when the final editing is completed. It can be seen at:


CascoBob posted 10-19-2001 05:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for CascoBob  Send Email to CascoBob     

Great write-up. I am just about to start refinishing the seats to my '85 Sport 13, so your timing is well appreciated. I have spent the last few weeks locating and reading the posts on varnishing and refinishing.

I am preparing to spend most of the winter months on this project. The console is a project for next year.

KeysWhale posted 10-19-2001 10:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for KeysWhale    
A friend recommended using the West System epoxy over the wood, and then using polyurethane over that for UV protection. Living in south florida this seems to be reasonable, any comments?
OutrageMan posted 10-20-2001 08:13 AM ET (US)     Profile for OutrageMan  Send Email to OutrageMan     
Recently, my father (Harpoon Harry) reminded me of a saying by a very famous boat finisher - "I don't glue with paint, and I don't paint with glue."

Epoxy has some of the worst characteristics when it comes to holding up to UV. It becomes brittle, cracks and eventually flakes. If you want to create a rot barrier, try using Interlux Wood Sealer or a similar product.

However, if you cut your varnish for the first three coats as I explained in the article, you will get deep penetration giving you rot resistance and UV protection from the get go. And you won't have the possibility that the epoxy and poly won't get along and adhere to eachother properly.


ValkariaKid posted 10-20-2001 12:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for ValkariaKid  Send Email to ValkariaKid     
Great tips!

If I had to do it again I'd try the foam brushes. I used cheap throw-away bristle brushes, and worked great as well.

I think the most important thing to do when varnishing teak is to sand with 320 or 400 grit after the first few sealer coats to knock down the raised grain. This will just about guarantee a smooth mirror like finish.

I also like the razor blade tip. My teak was in real bad shape, and I used a Black&Decker palm sander with 120 grit to smoothen it out. Man that palm sander was a godsend!

I posted a few pics of the finished result on my Yahoo website.

Check it out if you like!


KeysWhale posted 10-21-2001 02:52 AM ET (US)     Profile for KeysWhale    
Brain, great article, All the wood in my 13 will be new. Going to head up to the big city (Miami)soon and pick up the wood. The original wood is wrapped, cracked, modified and painted white. Thought I was going to have the next weekend off, but thats no longer true.
andygere posted 10-22-2001 11:35 AM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
Here's the final key to a perfect varnish job: A dust free environment. It's actually impossible to acheive, but with a little effort, you can get pretty close. First, go over your workspace with the shop vac as if you were planning a surgery instead of a varnish job. Next, wash down the floor (and walls if possible) and mop dry. Since it's difficult to remove all dust from a garage, barn or workshop, a smaller dust free environment can be created by tenting off the work area with plastic painter's tarps. Finally, wet the floor down before starting work, and don't wear cloths that will shed lint on your work. Wear a respirator because the fumes build up quickly in the varnish tent.

I used this technique on a kayak I built a few years ago, and the results were worth the effort. To see how it turned out, go to [/url][url]

One last thought: I would avoid polyurethane because it does not hold up well in the sun. Use a high quality varnish with UV inhibitors. I've had great luck with Captains brand, but there are many other good ones out there.

andygere posted 10-22-2001 11:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere
OutrageMan posted 10-27-2001 11:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for OutrageMan  Send Email to OutrageMan     
Thanks for the nice words. I intend to add to some areas that I think are lacking, and maybe rephrase some other areas.


Flipper posted 10-28-2001 11:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for Flipper  Send Email to Flipper     
As far as dust is concerned, I found that
if I elevated my work as high as possible
off the floor, and walked gingerly while
applying, I saw a difference. Another thing
I learned was not to varnish when it's
windy outside (all but the best workshops
are a bit drafty).
compounder posted 11-05-2001 07:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for compounder  Send Email to compounder     
I think the single best bit of information I picked up here was to use Epifanes brand varnish. My varnishing job on the Montauk teak is only one season old now, but shows no signs of age or wear. Even the bow locker lid looks has been sat on, stood on, & bird-crapped on as well as exposed to the sun for a year, but when washed and dried looks like a wooden mirror.

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