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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 01-20-2009
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Neophyte Varnisher

Full disclosure: I have never, ever, picked up a varnish brush in my life. I’ve never even been near an open quart of varnish.

I am one of the lucky ones, I suppose. The PO had the checkbook open and had the interior completely re-varnished before I bought it. Thank you, very much PO.

But, the honeymoon is over and I need to learn the art and science behind this ‘skill’. Here are some of my questions.

1. Sand or strip? The pieces I have (mostly trim) are currently varnished, but need touching up. Am I supposed to sand the existing finish completely off, or sand lightly and reapply a topcoat or two? If the finish has to come off, so I sand or use a stripper?

2. What is the best practice technique?

3. Links to reading material, how-tos, or other digital resources that I need to read before I start.

4. Foam or China bristle or badger hair brush?

I realize there are hundreds of techniques and opinions out there. Looking for a good discussion and advice.

Jason

Last edited by jason3317; 01-20-2009 at 04:05 PM.
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Old 01-20-2009
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"Full disclosure: I have never, ever, picked up a varnish brush in my life. I’ve never even been near an open quart of varnish.

'and if you're smart you'll stay as you are! Any wood that you want to keep looking good should be immediately taken off the deck and placed below; on the wall of your living room; or in the trunk of your car. These are the best places for "bright"work,- any place outside, I call it "stupid"work! However I'm the guy sailing the "bleach bottle" about with the pretty picture of the boat with the teak all varnished hanging on my bulkhead. Enough said,- I'm sure there are plenty of more honorable hard working varnishers on this forum to put you to work. 'take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 01-20-2009
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Search CETOL on the forum...varnish belongs indoors!
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Old 01-20-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camaraderie View Post
Search CETOL on the forum...varnish belongs indoors!
Thanks, Cam. Very true, and I've read a few threads here about the benefits of Cetol. Believe me when I say it, the ONLY exterior teak I have are the cabin top hand rails. Thankfully.

I am varnishing some interior trim (that is already varnished), so I'd like to maintain it that way, if possible. I am talking things like teak hatch trim.

Btw, how closely does Cetol and Varnish lay up in terms of finish quality. Will I be disappointed if i have parts using these finishes next to each other...ie noticable difference?
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Old 01-20-2009
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I've had numerous compliments on what little refinishing I've done so far, I've been asked all the usual questions regarding whether I sand, scrape, heat gun, sand between coats, how many coats, etc,etc.

When I tell them I use a stripper, cabinet scraper ,sander and finish it off with Cetol ( 2 over 3 ) they actually seem surprised that it looks as good as it does.

Once I get 100% of the teak coated 2 over 3, I will go back and 220 everything and put 2 more coats of clear on and I'll be good for a few years
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Old 01-20-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jason3317 View Post

Btw, how closely does Cetol and Varnish lay up in terms of finish quality. Will I be disappointed if i have parts using these finishes next to each other...ie noticable difference?
Huge difference I am afraid...I would not mix the two down below or on deck in close proximity.
Are you talking about teak hatch trim down below in Varnish and then doing the hatch teak on deck in Cetol/CetolGloss? ...If so...that is fine...
I just wouldn't do the Toe rail in Cetol and the hand rail in varnish.

As to varnish down below on an already varnished surface in reasonably good shape...I would just rough up with 200 grit paper rather than take it down to bare wood. Do your varnishing with a good quality varnish and a badger brush. sand lightly with 400 grit between coats and use a tack cloth.
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Old 01-20-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poopdeckpappy View Post
I've had numerous compliments on what little refinishing I've done so far, I've been asked all the usual questions regarding whether I sand, scrape, heat gun, sand between coats, how many coats, etc,etc.

When I tell them I use a stripper, cabinet scraper ,sander and finish it off with Cetol ( 2 over 3 ) they actually seem surprised that it looks as good as it does.

Once I get 100% of the teak coated 2 over 3, I will go back and 220 everything and put 2 more coats of clear on and I'll be good for a few years
For a real newb; what is meant by 2 over 3?
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Old 01-20-2009
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Quote:
1. Sand or strip? The pieces I have (mostly trim) are currently varnished, but need touching up. Am I supposed to sand the existing finish completely off, or sand lightly and reapply a topcoat or two? If the finish has to come off, so I sand or use a stripper?
Sand lightly and apply a new topcoat. Every few years you are going to have to take it down to bear wood because of the buildup. When you do that, you can use stripper, but be very careful that you get all of it off before recovering the piece with new finish. If you leave anything underneath then bad things will happen. It can fester.

Quote:
2. What is the best practice technique?
Well uhmmm... - not sure what you mean here. Keep your brush as dry as you can. Make longer smooth strokes rather than short jabs. Affter a while you'll develop a technique that works for you. If you get drips you are puting too much on at a time.

Quote:
3. Links to reading material, how-tos, or other digital resources that I need to read before I start.
Too many possibilities to pick one. Read a basic "How to Varnish" primer. Pay attention to the composition of the product you choose and whether it was created for the purpose you are using it for. There are differences.
Quote:
4. Foam or China bristle or badger hair brush?
Badger. Foam is maybe kind of okay for bottom paint, China bristle can leave marks sometimes (for me anyway). Spend the money on a good brush and take care of it.
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Old 01-20-2009
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If you use Cetol, people may tell you how NICE it looks. They will be lying. The best way to remove old varnish is to scrape it off. You will suck when you begin, after days of scraping, you should suck less. Then you can learn to sand. You will suck. When you begin don't do the feature pieces first, do them last. First coat of varnish, thin it 50%. second coat, 75%varnish 25% thinner. 3rd coat 90%. Now sand lightly 220 grit to 320. Don't sand through, if/when you do, start again scraping and sanding. I do maintenence with 320 sandpaper, and light full coat. As an aside, If you are to use a satin finish or anything other than a gloss finish, the final result will be less harder than a gloss finish. It will scratch easier and look worse far sooner. Varnishing takes alot of patience and skills that can be learned. keep the area clean as if you were going to let someone operate on you. a shop vac with a hepa filter is a good start, as well as a good supply of tack cloths. Good luck.
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Old 01-22-2009
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I for one have a lot of bright work on deck and love it. I use Deks Olje. I originally laid up a six layer finish using foam brushes and every year brightened up with another layer in the Spring. It looked beautiful until last year (after seven years) when it began to lift in a couple of places. I got out the heat gun and took it all off and experimented with an oil finish last summer and had to recoat every month or so and it only looked good for a couple of weeks at a time. I'm going back to Deks Olje this Spring when the weather improves. It goes on easily and looks great.

ps I think Cetol looks bad!
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