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HARD (bar top type) VARNISH is best for interiors.
its not soft and flexible like spar varnish, can take 'dings' and abrasive wear fairly bombproof vs. water intrusion, etc.
Usually only available from a paint shop with an ancient proprietor who remembers how to make/blend this stuff (from scratch).
Is gloss only, but requires 'hand-rubbing' (like ALL good varnishes do) after curing .... if you want super-GLOSS are hand-rubbed with Rottenstone and water; If semigloss ... rottenstone and oil; if satin, fine pumice and oil.
Should be 'oil-based'. Tung oil base is probably best.
Straight Oil finishes can be made 'glossier' than varnish but require many 'thick' coats and/but will eventually oxidize and turn dark ..... look at the old sailing ships, thats not black paint on them but oil finishes that totally oxidized. Although oil finishes are easy and look good initially .. there will be a day of reakoning when the oil finish will have to be totally stripped, the wood bleached back to 'color' ... and on that day you will take the oath to varnish only in the future. Oil finishes will ultimately degrade to the apparent 'warmth' of a mausoleum or cave.
Synthetic varnish finishes are a royal bitch to repair if damaged ... usually requiring the WHOLE panel or piece to be totally stripped and re-varnished, etc. I have had good results with "McCluskeys - Tung Seal" a mix of tung oil base and 'synthetics ... plus colorizing 'tints' ... can be hand-rubbed to 'brilliance'.
'French Polished' Shellac is the 'brightest/shiney-est/most glossy' but is not water resistant (water rings) and is a bitch to 're-do'. Found on private jets and ultra-expensive mega-yachts.
Cetol, etc. .... for concrete floors, etc. When buying an expensive used boat where someone used cetol on the interior (and exterior) ... would be an instant 'deal breaker'
HAND-RUBBING develops the 'patina' of the surface wood cells under the finish coat and yields a glowing irridescent effect that is 'dazzling' to the eye.
Last edited by RichH; 09-14-2007 at 04:38 PM.