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young salt
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I am all ready to varnish my sitka spruce spars, but am thinking of how I can put a full coat on the whole mast at once with out the wet varnish coming in contact with the saw horses.. should I varnish one side at a time, or will this leave seams??? do I rig something up like corn on the cob handles haha, I dont know. anyone varnished a downed mast with good results?
 

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You really are funny!!
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4,781 Posts
I had to overcome that issue an all our new brightwork that I finished before installing, I did one side at a time. On parts where a seam could develop, I sanded between coats to fair out.

I looked desperately, but found no quick fix for doing proper brightwork (like so many projects, the only right way was the labor intensive hard way).

Also, pics please! :)
 

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KNOT KNOWN
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Hang it from the ends and support the middle with the spreader. Do one side, roll, and support the other side with the other spreader, or use something spreader length if like 2x4 jammed into the spreader bases, you know what I mean.
 

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I rest my 50' spar at the sail track on 2 saw horses, and brace it at the winches to keep it from turning, and coat it all at once.

A wood block between the track and the horse will give better clearance. I do my sanding with it in this position as well. Varnish needs lots of time to harden up(a week or more).
 

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SaltwaterSuzi/CapnLarry
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I've varnished a few masts. Generally, we have hung them by whatever is convenient at a height which is comfortable to work on both top and bottom; roughly upper stomach to lower chest height. Then work you way from one end to the other. You can be less concerned with drips, sags, holidays, etc. above about 10 or 12 feet above the deck. Nobody can see it anyway. From there on down, do a great job, the more coats the better.

I remember, a long long time ago, we had chartered a classic wooden ketch in the Virgins. Two masts, both wooden, the main about 110 feet tall. Both varnished beautifully. I asked the Captain who had told me he and his family did all the varnish work on the boat if he had any hints he could pass on to us neophytes. He said. "Yep, start at the top."
 

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Over Hill Sailing Club
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Always found that resting on the track atop a couple-a-three saw horses worked as mentioned above. Just be sure not to glop up the track because it is where the varnish will want to collect. Work high enough to be able to see the bottom side and keep a wet edge all the way around. Use a really good brush. Varnishing one side at a time creates an overlap issue.

It's amazing how many people painting their houses have not figured out the "paint from the top" concept.:) It has to do with gravity.
 

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SaltwaterSuzi/CapnLarry
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It's amazing how many people painting their houses have not figured out the "paint from the top" concept. It has to do with gravity.
No, I think it has to do with the 'painting yourself into a corner' concept. If you start at the bottom of your mast, when you get to the top, you kinda have to wait until it dries to come back down.
 
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Over Hill Sailing Club
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:) I was thinking about the idea of not splattering paint on what you've already painted. Splatter of the contrasting fascia color makes nice designs on the newly painted siding below.
 

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Like the man said, I have usually vanished masts while they were up, starting from the top down. But when I have had to varnish a mast horizontally, I either stood it on the track blocked off the horse as mentioned above, or I have made a device out "all-thread" which I pass through the sheave box at the head of the mast, and tighten the nuts to the face of the mast, and then tie a loop of line to either end that passes through a block over head.

At the foot, I had a bronze/copper shoe fitting and so passed a line multiple turns around the shoe (with a clove hitch and one full warp either side), and that line passed through a block over head. that allowed me to rotate the mast back and forth something like 270 degrees and so keep my wet edge all the way down the spar. Here there might be merit starting from the deck end since the beginning strokes of a varnish job are usually neater then the last strokes.

Also, I typically paint the (normally)horizontal surfaces on the top of the spreaders and top of the mast with epoxy to seal them and then white to protect them better than straight varnish.

Jeff
 
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