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post #1 of 4 Old 11-25-2003 Thread Starter
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varnish removal

What is the best(easiest) way to remove exterior varnish without doing harm to adjacent gelcoat/fiberglass? Joe
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post #2 of 4 Old 11-25-2003
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varnish removal

1. Heat gun ...but dont burn the teak

2. Paint Remover diluted with mineral spirits... if you spill, just wipe up quickly.

3. Full strength remover but be fast with wipe-ups and then buff-out the gelcoat.

4. carbide scraper or cabinet scraper.

5. The lazy-mans method: cover the checked/crazed varnish with saranwrap, place thin water wetted sponges between. Check back every few weeks to resoak the sponges. When the winter is over, the varnish will be lifted/loose, then finish the removal with a cabinet scraper, TSP, oxalic acid, etc. Takes about a month for the UV in sunlight and the high humidity from the wetted sponges to lift the varnish. Works on most boat topside paints also - including imron, awlgrip, interthane, brightsides, etc. ... keep them wetted/moist and they almost *fall off*. The warning: "not to be used for underwater surfaces" holds true - just go with the flow.

hope this helps
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post #3 of 4 Old 11-25-2003
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varnish removal

My preference for removing varnish is to use a heat gun and a sharp hook scraper. Use a piece of sheet metal or plastic sheet about 1/16-inch thick to shield the adjacent fiberglass or gelcoat. Heat the varnish only until it begins to soften, no more. The sharp scraper will do the rest.
Regards, George.
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post #4 of 4 Old 11-29-2003
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varnish removal

I agree with the heat gun. Have done it several times on our teak toe rails and other exterior trim. For protecting gel coat, it is helpful to have another person holding the strip of metal or wood against the side of the boat, that is if you are on the hard or in a slip. Be VERY CAREFUL as you will burn the wood before you know it! Count about 6 seconds and the varnish should be bubbling. Immediately scrape with a SHARP scraper. A dull one will cause you more work in sanding. You can sharpen your scraper with a flat file, filing in one direction only. Do it often. Be aware of where you point the heat gun...the cord and other things in it''s proximity, including your arms! will burn quickly. I usually wear a big work glove on the hand with the gun. Practice first until you feel comfortable with it. Hopefully you will be using shore power as the wattage is way too high (at least on ours) to use the inverter. Good luck!
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