Hey everyone, I'm planning on finishing my entire Shearwater Sport with marine varnish. Throughout the build I've used some homemade cradles to support the hull/deck. To varnish the entire kayak, do you do all of the coats of varnish on the deck, then flip to do all coats for the hull? Or is it better to do a coat on the deck, flip, and do a coat on the hull, etc.? I know people have reported their varnish staying soft and "dentable" for at least 1 week, so I can't imagine taking 5-10 weeks to finish the whole kayak.

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RE: Varnishing

I'd vote for one side at a time. What would be the point in constantly flipping the boat? You're not going to be maintaining a wet edge.

If you do the top and bottom as separate coats, there's no way you're going to hide the line where the top and bottom varnishes meet - even with flipping. Therefore you'll need to manage that line - with tape and a bit of sanding - to force the boundary into the location of your choosing. Fundamentally it's no different than varnishing one side and painting the other.

RE: Varnishing

   I assume you got a couple of holes for handles on the ends by now?  If so,figure a way to hang it from your cradles or saw horses.

You will save 1/2 the time.  Each coat will dry faster than the previous for recoat.  Figure 5 coats= 5 days.  Wait a day or two and wet sand before final 1000thcoat ( just kidding) 100 coats sould be fine.  

RE: Varnishing

I do my boats half at a time.  Put a coat on the bottom, let it sit until the varnish is safe to touch, then rotate and do the top.  Most varnish are safe to touch in about 3 hours and the saw horses do not mark the fresh varnish as long as you have some kind of pad (even a towel works).

If you make the break between the top and the bottom at the sheer, you will not see the seam between coats.  Just make sure that you don't get a run.

I recently started using Epifanes RapidClear on my race boats.  It is a semi gloss so not as shiney as Schooner but it does not need to be wet sanded between coats and can be recoated in 5 hours.  I can get two complete coats (top and bottom) in one day with that varnish.  I do recommend s light wet sand before the last coat because that will knock down any little nubs that have accumulated.


RE: Varnishing

just another approach to share.  i do my boats one side at a time.

i time my boat building so my varnish work is typically being done during the hot part of the season here in the Washington DC area ...80 degrees and above.  so i do a morning session and an evening session which allows me to get 2 coats per day and i typically go with 4 to 5 coats and finish varnishing a boat (both top and bottom) in about a week eleapsed time.

i try to be careful to work when dust and disturbances are low and i have been careful to use varnish bags to make sure my varnish stays thin.   i am also very carefl to ensure i am applying thin coats of varnish as it has a significant impact on how fast it 'dries' and can be overcoated and not dented.

i use blue tape along the sheer line to manage the overlap.  i always start with the bottom of the boat first (to get my skills refined) and the do the top.  you would typically have to put your face right up to the finish to see the varnish line created by the tape becuase i optically align it with the sheer line.

even with temperature good, i do fine varnish dentable for a bit, but like mark, i now use a wide cushion with some soft towels for varnishing and that seems to have addressed the issue.

picture below is a recently refinished 10 year old night heron with 5 coats of varnsih..  apologies for not smiling...i was really very happy inside.



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