Sanding final coat of Varnish

I am just completing my Arctic Hawk build. On previous builds my final coat of varnish was not sanded, nor did I apply boat wax. I am just wondering if many builders use this method, and if anyone can recommend a good boat wax to use. Thanks 

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RE: Sanding final coat of Varnish



i built the arctic hawk and followed the finishing guide to the T when i first built it....and it was an incredible, time consuming, learning experience and an exquisite result.

that said, i would not go with the 'polished waxed' finish if i was doing it again becuase i found it very difficult to touch up and maintain when the inevitable scratches happened.

i ended up redoing the boat with just the regular 'wet glossy' finish that is described on the clc website.....the boat still looked fantastic and it was significantly easier to keep clean and deal with scratches and other repairs that happen.

i used turtlewax paste when i did the original finish.   wax is not at all compatible with refinishing and repairs which is why i ended up redoing it after the second season.   before i redid it, any repair would have to ensure the wax was removed and then it was time consuming to deal with all the steps on a small repair.   if you didn't do all the steps it was visible and frankly it was just very challening to make a clean little fix.

so if you ask me, unless you want to learn the art of a polished waxed finish, i would  skip it and just follow the regular CLC instrutions.





RE: Sanding final coat of Varnish

Thanks Howard. Your quick reply is greatly appreciated. I have just completed my third coat of Varnish on the deck I was planning on a forth coat on the hull later today. I realize that sanding with 400-1200 grit will remove the glossy finish. Does the polishing with grey and then white Scitchbrite bring the gloss back? I would expect that the wax is the treatment that brings back the glossy finish and without that the finish would be dull.

RE: Sanding final coat of Varnish

  Reposting: Here is a copy of what I previously posted about on the topic of cleaning and waxing.  I have a different opinion and do recommend wax - more for the purpose of extending the life of the varnish than for the aesthetic look of the gloss.  I think waxing varnish is beneficial, and highly recommend it.  It helps keep the topcoats of varnish from oxidyzing and becoming inelastic, which is the whole point to making the finish last longer.  I've never scuffed the final coat of varnish - I've always left it glossy prior to waxing.


For cleaning, just about anything that isn't too agressive.  Dawn or Lemon Joy is always fine. (We always used these on long sailing trips as our "whole body" personal washes - they'll lather in salt water, and if you squeegee yourself with your hands and towell dry immediately after a rinsing swim you're actually quite clean and not too salty.  After a week or two your towell will smell like the bottom of the ocean - but there's no helping that other than a fresh water wash, and this is all a topic for another day.)  Back to the boat: Avoid aggressive detergents.  Warm water helps.  A big sponge and then lots of rinse water.  Of course, avoid anything abrassive.  Towell or chamois dry if avoiding spots - no different than washing a car, really, except nothing that equates to tar remover around the boat.

In my opinion wax is great for making and keeping painted, varnished and gelcoat boats looking good.  DO NOT use wax (or any finish) on any paint or varnish that isn't at least a month old.  I suggest avoiding the "modern" clear-coat types of teflon or "wet look" and other synthetic coating stuff - I think they "sink in" to the paint and mess with the ability to re-finish, and are generally very hard to buff out.  Also, I'd avoid any combo wax that says it includes "cleaner." In my opinion the more Carnuba the better. UV protection helps extend the life of the paint or varnish.  If you want to spend extra $$ you can look for wax for fabric covered airplanes.  Not sure it is really better, but it is good and you get some claimed UV guarantees with it.   If I took the liberty of recommending something, I'd go with Meguiar's Gold Class Carnuba Plus in the paste wax form. The Plus supposedly includes some synthetic polymers that add UV protection and extend time between waxing.

Stay out of the sun when waxing, mostly to avoid difficulty with the buffing! Buff just as soon as the wax is dry and has hazed over, even if this means you find some wax spots still a bit soft and streaky - if so, go over them a few minutes later, buffing more than once.  A very lightly damp rag can help on the first buffing if you're having trouble getting an area to buff out.  Using big terrycloth or micro-fiber towells and frequently finding fresh (without wax residue on the towell) areas is helpful.  Washing the towells afterwards makes them ready for next time.

Of course you'll have to ensure wax is removed before attempting any re-finishing, but by the time you sand and wipe with solvent prior to a first coat of epoxy or paint or whatever this shouldn't be a problem.

And finally, teach the youngsters about "elbow grease" - many hands make light work. That always helps, as well as repeating the good old mantra, "Wax on, wax off."  A kayak can be washed and waxed in less than 20 minutes total.

If you can't tell, yes, I've done this before.  Perhaps too many times...


RE: Sanding final coat of Varnish

   And I just re-read the post and realized I didn't address one question.  I don't think there is any way to bring the gloss back to varnish that has had any sort of scuff-sanding done, even if you move all the way to a rubbing compound super-fine polish.  I'd do another final coat of fresh varnish, use the boat for a month to make sure the varnish was good and hard, then wash and wax.  Repeat the wash/wax step as needed while in use.  The boat will stay nice looking for years.  And if you get scratches that need refinishing with epoxy or varnish in the meantime - clean the area with solvent (even before the first sanding), sand as needed, repair, sand, and re-varnish the area.  Then re-wax when ready.

RE: Sanding final coat of Varnish

the finish that you get if you follow the arctic hawk manual is 'polished'.   it is not glossy and while waxing is the final is more like a glass table top than a varnished look. by the time you finish the scotch brite steps it actually looks pretty good....the wax just finishes it and protects it.

if you want, take a sample piece of wood and finish it per the arctic hawk manual and you will get a taste of what it is like.


RE: Sanding final coat of Varnish

I think this gets down to how you're going to use your kayak. We've a couple of full-sized wood boats up in Quebec that I get to maintain. They get enough wear and tear each season that I have the priviledge of re-varnishing the top coat on them every couple of years.

If they were babied and didn't need to be refinished, then maybe I'd take measures like waxing to help the finish last for five years. I'd love that! But I don't think there's much point to waxing if you're going to be hitting them with varnish every year or two anyway.

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