Which finish for the spars?

This may be a stupid question (not like that's ever stopped me), but what's an appropriate finish for a boat's spars?  Specifically, will they be happier with an all-varnish finish, starting with a thinned coat or two to soak deep into the wood, or the standard during this build, unthickened epoxy covered with varnish for UV protection?

 All-varnish sounds like a more old-timey solution, but back in old-timey days they seem to have had more time for labor-intensive activities---I can get behind splicing the mainbrace (for instance), but if there is a simpler and not-ugly modern solution to a problem, well, hurray for technological progress.

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RE: Which finish for the spars?

I'm not sure which makes a spar happier, but I am very happy with the results of coating my Douglas Fir spars with System Three Laminating Epoxy, and then a few thin coats of gloss marine varnish.

I think that if the spars are stored in a dry location, out of the sun, either approach should be fine.

RE: Which finish for the spars?

Hi SRoytman,

I put 5 coats of varnish on mine and they seem to be doing well, although it's only the first season. The first two I added were thinned 10-20% and the wood seemed to drink them up. Finally, I painted the last 8" or so with leftover white paint (except the foot of the mast).

If you plan to epoxy, be mindful of drips and runs. If you hang the spar the epoxy may run to the lower edge.



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