Thinning varnish...

I finished my Shearwater with 3 coats of Schooner varnish and called it 'done' in my excitement finishing the boat in time for nice weather. Went paddling for 3 trips, hours at a time, very kool.

Then I hurt my back (doing something else), so I decided since I can't go paddling for a week or so to strip off my deck rigging and continue varnishing and wetsanding.

The finish is in my opinion getting worse, not better, from air contaminants settling on it and from the varnish being to thick, now that I am getting a feel for working with this stuff. There is always a small spot or two I miss somehow when it is too late to go back over it. I know something only I will ever see but it drives me crazy anyway sometimes.

Anyway, what products are you guys using to thin out your varnish and how much would you add to a quart to get the right consistency to make it lay out better? 



6 replies:

« Previous Post       List of Posts       Next Post »

RE: Thinning varnish...

I don't thin out a quart at a time.  Pour only enough to do the job at hand into a small roller pan.  A quarter of a can is more than enough to do a boat deck or half a hull.  Thin the varnish with generic thinner (that says it's for paints and varnish) to a consistency just thicker than water (about 1/3rd thinner).  Blend gently (stir, not shake).  Once I'm happy with that, Starting at the bow or stern, I roll it on only a foot, or so, at a time, with a Ultra Foam Smooth Surface 4"foam roller (available at Home Depot) then go over the just rolled area with a 3" wide foam brush, one pass usually does it, then on to the next foot and tip it out again.  The foot sections overlap and so does my tipping out with the foam brush.  Important thing here is not to rework or overwork any section.  I use a good light source reflecting off the wet varnish in order to see any holidays as I work along the boat. 

 Hope that's of some help and I'm sure there are many, many other ideas out there, but the above works perfect for me and, as that lady on TV says, "It's a good thing".    

RE: Thinning varnish...

Forgot two things.  Thought of them while walking the dog.  1) start brushing your first rolled foot with a semi-wet brush.  That will keep the brush from soaking up too much varnish which would result in a rough looking first foot.  Don't dip the brush in varnish from that point on.  2)  Always brush in the same direction from well into the dry to well into the wet with overlapping,a continuous long (two-three foot) stokes.  Starting the stroke in the dry allows the bush to shed some of it's excess varnish and avoids runs and sags.  Good luck. 

RE: Thinning varnish...

Thanks Jerry.

I put on a coat of varnish today, thinned as you describe. A very big difference, for the better, for physically working with it, seeing what I am doing as I work and also a nicer finish afterwards. If I had thinned from the first coat, I would be done by now. One more coat tomorrow and I will be finally finished with the deck, then will flip the boat over and put a couple more coats on the hull during the week after work. Then reinstall deck rigging and back to paddling on the weekend! 

From now on I will thin the varnish, always.

RE: Thinning varnish...

Unless it's freezing cold I often find that heating the varnish has the same result as thinning it out and gives a better finnish when cured.  I put the can, with the lid cracked open, in a pan of hot [but not boiling] water for about 5 - 10 minutes before use, and then apply it as suggested by Jerry.  Goes on silky smooth and sets up quite quickly, as long as it's not applied to thick.

Have fun!



RE: Thinning varnish...

 Spring, with all the pollen   and new bugs, and   road dust and gentle breezes   is   a very  difficult time to  varnish,  ( as opposed to  a still warm summer evening ).


  I  varnish in my carport,  completely  tarped with floor to ceiling drop cloths,  and   a gentle misting spray in the  enclosed area  about 2 hours before moving the the boat inside.  Not perfect, but better than in the clear outside, and better than in   a dusty shop.


« Previous Post     List of Posts     Next Post »

Please login or register to post a reply.


Follow us on Instagram: @clcboats & @clcteardrop