Re: Minor varnish issue

Posted by Steve Miller on Apr 29, 2006

First, forget the can directions. They are designed to get you to buy more varnish. For example there is NO reason to thin varnish coats when going over epoxy. You only thin the first two coats when going over bare wood. So consider the thinned coats as practice for now.

Now on to your problems. No thinners or tack rags between coats. Esp. Laquer thinner! - it is so hot and nasty that it likely caused the sticky issue on the second coat by attaching your fresh first coat. It is great for removing fresh finish not cleaning it. Using thinner or other solvents as a prep wipe also causes bubbles in the next coat.

I use a damp cloth since the only sanding I do between coats of varnish is wet. Plain old water. Then dried with clean towels. (if home washed cloth towels then no fabric softener or dryer sheets!!)

280 is way too coarse! Use 320 or even better 400. I only sand every other coat and use a 3M pad (extra fine fake steel wool) for the other coats just to knock the gloss and dust bunnies off. Be gentle with the pads though. The idea is to build a film thickness and smooth as you go. If you sand with 220 or 280 you are taking 3/4 of the stuff off you just applied. Varnish sands so easily that fine 400 wet is all the sanding you need to knock off the high spots and smooth it out.

Thin your varnish with a few ounces of Penetrol to ease the flow and make it take longer to set (holds the wet edge longer). You should not need thinner unless its really hot out then you should forget varnishing anyway.

I am not a fan of storing brushes in kerosene since it is a dirty solvent in my opinion. I like fully cleaning then washing (bit of dish soap) and drying the brush. I have several brushes so one is always dry. However consider a foam brush or even foam roller used like a brush then tipping with a foam brush when varnishing a big surface like a yak. I like thin coats and a brush tends to load too much on - and takes too long.

You have more practice coats to get it right since the only one that shows is the last one. :-)

In Response to: Minor varnish issue by Brett on Apr 29, 2006