Need pointers for final finish

Back in November I essentially finished and paddled my Auk 17. I am now getting around to varnishing it. I am using foam brushes, Interlux spar varnish, thinned with Penetrol. I put on the first coat, and it turned out decent. I used the scotchbrite pads and scuffed up the surface. The finish was smoother, but not as smooth as I thought it should be. The second coat turned out better. I used 400 grit and wet sanded, I was much happier with the surface. I haven't started the third coat, and have a few questions I'm hoping for help with before I start. 

1) So far I have used foam brushes from box stores, and when I bought foam brushes from a well established woodworking store during the epoxy application, they were more money, but when I used them to tip the epoxy, they didn't seem to do any better than the cheap ones. Should I try to find better foam brushes...( if so where )... or should I continue with the cheap ones.

2) The holes are drilled for the foot pegs, but they aren't installed yet, I didn't want to fill the screw heads with varnish, and worry about drips around them. I haven't drilled the holes for the deck cord, (not sure if I want any yet ), but if I do, I didn't want to fill those heads, or varnish around the tabs either. When should I install the pegs, or should I have already ?  

3) I plan on 4 or 5 coats.  After the last coat, if there still are some surface flaws, what is the best way to smooth them and maintain or   re-gain  the gloss finish, without having to re-coat...that seems like it could be an endless circle.

4) Last question...I'm taking my time putting the varnish on, but not too slow...should I at any point be adding more penetrol to the mix to keep it thinned?

I know it's a boat and should be paddled, not just looked at, but I would like it to be my best first time work.     Thanks everybody!!!!! 

4 replies:

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RE: Need pointers for final finish

1. I've found that the biggest difference between home center foam brushes and good ones is that the cheepies use a plastic insert to attach the foam to the handle, and the damn things are always breaking. CLC sells the good ones, and so does Jamestown Distributors

2. The big thing about drilling at any point through the hull is that you should drill oversize, then fill with thickened epoxy, then drill the right size. That will prevent water penentration into the wood under the finish. Water penetration will play havoc with the finish no matter how careful you are with what you may think is the final coat.

3. Repeat after me: There is no such thing as a last coat of varnish.

4. Somewhere on the CLC site there is a tip about how many seconds your brush should drip varnish as an indicator of whether it is the right viscosity. I don't remember the number, but then, it seems I'm not as fussy as you.

I hope you have a blast paddling and don't get too bent out of shape over your first scratch!

Best regards,



RE: Need pointers for final finish

Thanks for the info.

I went with the cheap foam brushes, but swapped them out for a fresh one at about the half way point of the deck and hull, so four total. Worked out fine.

I had drilled,filled, and drilled for the footpeg holes. Varnishing over the screw heads didn't cause the drip problem that I thought would happen.

I didn't have to worry about the surface finish. After the fourth and current final coat, the boat looks and feels great......(there is no last coat of varnish)

I'm not so sure that I was as much fussy, as  I was concernen that I was short cutting to the paddle stage. It wasn't necessary for me to be concerned.       

Thanks again.


RE: Need pointers for final finish

Nothing wrong with short cutting to the paddle stage.In fact, I like to take my boats out for a few spins just in their epoxy underwear to make sure that i don't need to make any changes before I go to all the trouble of varnishing or painting.



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