Should I wait for a coat of varnish to dry and lightly sand before adding another coat? Would you recommend a foam brush over a roller for applying the varnish? What is the purpose of filtering the varnish from the can before applying to the boat? Not much experience varnishing and would like to do it 'right' the first time.

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RE: Varnishing

   I always sand in between coats, 220 or 320. Upon the initial opening of a new can I did not filter the varnish, but after it was used the 2nd or 3rd time I filtered only the portion I wanted to use. Never put unused varnish back in the can. It contaminates the can with air bubbles and particles. 30-40 years ago bristle brushes were used, for this boat I used a foam roller and tipped out with a foam brush. In fact, I used this same technique for epoxy, primer, paint, and varnish. Home Depot rollers but CLC foam brushes because they were a better quality than anything else I tried. I still got sags and light spots. Practice on some pieces first. You will pick up the technique quickly, And remember with Light coats  you can always sand out mistakes and recoat. You will be your worst enemy on the look of the finish. Everyone else will marvel at your work and not see the mistakes you see. I'm sure you will get more responses as this is a  common subject for builders. Have fun and enjoy the build.

RE: Varnishing

���I filtered every time I used the varnish, both from the can and back to the can. I put the three coats on my Sherry in one day without sanding (about 2 hours between cotats) this is a functional 10 ft finish (no show piece) but it saved lots of time. I used a foment brush and layer the varnish on vertically and then filled with horizontal strokes keeping a wet edge.

RE: Varnishing

What CLC has to say about varnishing.


RE: Varnishing

By dint of practice I'm beginning to think I have a little expertice in the varnishing realm.  As preface, however, I should explain that my experience generally runs contrary to most users.  Despite that I've had excellent results.


First, I don't filter out of the can, but I also NEVER pour anything back into it either.  I cover the top or an opened container of varnish with about 1/8" of xylene and seal it tightly and then handle it/move it minimally.  What then comes out of that can is picture perfect.

Dirt and dust is the bane of the varnisher.  I try to mitigate those problems first by brushing the pieces I intend to varnish.  Then I brush the work area under and around them.  I brush the pieces again with a 3" round bristle brush.  After that I use a tack rag, usually twice, to pick up anything that might still be adhering to the part.  Finally, I work in latex gloves and short sleve shirts to minimize dust and dirt falling from my clothing.  Once the job's complete, I leave my work area for at least an hour so that my movements will not be putting more dust and dirt in the air.

I've tried rollers and foam brushes as applicators and judge the results with even the best of them to be mediocre.  Instead, I prefer natural bristles -- my favorite brush at present is a 2" artist's brush purchased for $12.50 from Hobby Lobby.  Instead of applying light coats of varnish as many do, I pile it on.  I cover everything liberally and then before completing a section or a piece I tip it out lightly with my brush.  (On vertical areas and around edges you need to pay attention to avoid sags and drips, but with a little care they are easy to avoid.)  Immediately after coating a section or a piece I cross-check my work in glancing light for flaws.  If I detect any problems I re-wet that section with a little more varnish and then tip it out again.  I always wait 12 hours, minimum, between applying one coat and sanding for the next.  All of this may make me a dinosaur by today's standards, but I do get excellent results in four coats.

I hope this helps some.      

RE: Varnishing


Like your process! My only question is about using a tack cloth. I've used one while re-finishing furniture, but I think I read in another thread that the stuff that makes it "tacky" can build up a residue that affects the epoxy finish.

Personally, I'm of the "more light coats the better" crowd, but I'm open to change.


RE: Varnishing

  I need to know how much to buy?

Is a quart enough for 5 coats on a WD12?


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