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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've volunteered to varnish some pealed ceatoled teak wash boards for a friend.
How hard can it be?

It is turning out to be a project.
I scraped to wood. Sanded etc.
Followed the can directions, West Marine Epiphanies spar varnish.
4 buildup coats etc.

Any cool tips on how to support the boards so i can get all 6 sides at once.

I've been trying to do one side at a time and that is not working too well.

Also I'm using 220 paper dry for sanding between coats as per direction. A quarter piece lasts about 3/4 of a square foot and gets clogged. Is that about right?
What is good to clean off the dust before coating?
 

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Midwest Puddle Pirate
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I've volunteered to varnish some pealed ceatoled teak wash boards for a friend.
How hard can it be?
Why do you think he asked you?

It is turning out to be a project.
Your friend already knew this.
I scraped to wood. Sanded etc.
Followed the can directions, West Marine Epiphanies spar varnish.
4 buildup coats etc.

Any cool tips on how to support the boards so i can get all 6 sides at once.
No
I've been trying to do one side at a time and that is not working too well.
Be careful not to have any drips on the sides.
Also I'm using 220 paper dry for sanding between coats as per direction. A quarter piece lasts about 3/4 of a square foot and gets clogged. Is that about right?
Yup.
What is good to clean off the dust before coating?
Tack rag.
 

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Varnish is a black art best left to the masters of the Caribbean.

No thoughts on six sides at once -- with varnish patience is a virtue. Then again, you might try to support the boards with some 1x2s on edge and do one surface and all edges at once, let dry, sand, varnish the second surface, etc....
Buildup in the paper may be because you aren't letting it dry sufficiently.

I've been told by them that knows that a really good brush is critical. There are also techniques that border on black magic -- e.g. one Rastamon that did my companionway used to put the varnish in the frig for a few minutes before he applied it. My guess is that this was to slow down evaporation of solvents (?) allowing more time for the finish to "float". He also used to thin the first few coats to get good penetration of the wood and he claimed that six coats was the minimum needed for a good job.

Good luck. When it comes out well there's nothing like it!
 

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To support them I normally use one of two techniques
Either make a rack to stack them on out of scrap wood with long drywall screws or brads driven through the rack so you can set the part on the points of the screws, normally on the rabbets on boards, or the parts that are covered in mounting.
Doing it that way you have three (or four) tiny little pinhead spots that should be invisible when you're done, and if you're concerned with them you can hit each spot with an artists brush when everything else is done.

Other method is to drill small holes on 'invisible' sides and stick brads in the holes, then tie string to them and hang them from the rafters so they hang visible side up.
My coaming boards have two small holes in them where I used wood screws to hang them.

If you have screw holes etc, use those holes to hang the part.

Normally I have as many scraps of plywood with screws driven through them as I have parts to varnish.

For me old brushes seem to work best, new brushes always seem to have loose bristles they shed in your nice new varnish. And I just can't seem to get a decent finish with foam brushes.

Good varnish, and good brushes combined with carefull prep is the key.

Ken.
 

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Most varnishes only require sanding after a hardening period of around 7 days. You may sand some coats eg after say the second to remove the bits that lift up and after the 5th and say 11 th but it would be a light sanding with probably a much finer paper say 400. It sounds like you are taking too much off and it may not be hard enough in the temperature you have. They are washboards not fine furniture.
 

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Lots of coats so you do it once every 2 years. Like 15 coats or more.
I hung my trip pieces with nylon sail thread from the shower curtain. After it dried they required some touch ups, but it was only the width of a thread.

Do not drip varnish on the tub or tiles, it'll take 6 months to get it off.
Do not sand in your spare bathroom, dust will attach itself to the walls, ceiling, mirror, everything.

I've flicked the sandpaper every 30 seconds or so, and it helps slow the build up, but increases the dust in the air. Wear a mask. Sanding varnish takes a lot of paper.
 

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To support them I normally use one of two techniques
Either make a rack to stack them on out of scrap wood with long drywall screws or brads driven through the rack so you can set the part on the points of the screws, normally on the rabbets on boards, or the parts that are covered in mounting.
Doing it that way you have three (or four) tiny little pinhead spots that should be invisible when you're done, and if you're concerned with them you can hit each spot with an artists brush when everything else is done.

Other method is to drill small holes on 'invisible' sides and stick brads in the holes, then tie string to them and hang them from the rafters so they hang visible side up.
My coaming boards have two small holes in them where I used wood screws to hang them.

If you have screw holes etc, use those holes to hang the part.

Normally I have as many scraps of plywood with screws driven through them as I have parts to varnish.

For me old brushes seem to work best, new brushes always seem to have loose bristles they shed in your nice new varnish. And I just can't seem to get a decent finish with foam brushes.

Good varnish, and good brushes combined with carefull prep is the key.

Ken.
Great advice. If you are sanding after the required drying time and find that your sandpaper is loading up badly, then either your miscalculating the cure time or you are using poor quality sandpaper. Wet sanding makes the job a lot easier, and applying some heat with a hair dryer for a couple of minutes will speed curing. Use a good quality automotive sandpaper.

Ideally, if you have the equipment, i'd hang the pieces and spray them, rather than brushing. even a cheap hobbyist air-in-a-can airbrush will make the job a lot faster and easier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
This is what I have so far. I'm still getting some shiny spots that follow the grain lines. This is after about 4 coats. What do I do next? It feels smooth to the touch.
 

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I varnished my toe rail on my Endev this summer. 42' boat and the toe rail is about 6" wide. It already had 2 coats from the PO so this is over coating.

I think you are sanding way too much. A 1/3 piece of 220 paper lasted about half the job. You only need to barely scuff the surface and if you put the coat on soon enough after the previous coat you don't need to sand at all. I used Flagship and their product specialist said a scotchbrite pad would be fine unless it has sat for a week.

I use foam brushes and go slow.
 

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1.Badger Brush a must.
2.Let dry 48 hours between coats.
3.make a board with stand-off wood screws, pointy end up to set boards on. This way you can varnish all sides at once.
4.Don't varnish out of can, and add a touch of thinner(touch)
5.Brush only on one direction, and keep a wet edge
6.Tip the varnish with brush, final brush
7.Use Interlux Schooner Varnish Only.
8.Vaccuum and Tack cloth before varnishing
9.Final Sand, the whole piece should be white sanded, I mean smooth, no ripples, smooth to the touch, and final sand should be with 400.
10.Have fun.
 

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David-

Keep putting on coats. You're getting close. You need to have a uniformly smooth surface after sanding. Also, use a sanding block, not the palm of your hand. Once you get the uniform, non-speckled surface, put the last coat on with quite a bit of thinner, and put on a very thin coat so it'll pull itself on nice and tight. That's the way you get good looking work.

good luck,
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
OK I can see I've been making a few mistakes.
1. Was trying to do coat after 24 hours.
2. Was trying to sweep instead of vaccum
3. Was using a regular rag damp with thinner instead of a tack rag.

It looks like a need a couple more coats to get it smooth.
After the next coat if I sand with a block and just do a light scuff sanding and still don't get it smooth I just do it again a couple more times, right?
 

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David,

It looks like you are doing well so far. You have not filled the grain yet with the number of coats you have applied and that is what you are seeing in your picture of the sanded piece. Depending on the grain in the piece of material you are varnishing and your sanding technique it may take more coats. At the end of the day you are looking for protection not perfection. Anyone that has done much varnish work will tell you there is no such thing a the final coat. That's just the way it is.

A few thoughts based on my varnish experience:

You should be able to sand and recoat in less than the 48 hrs mentioned above. What does the manufacturer say on the can? What temperature is your workshop and how does that compare to the application guidelines on the can?

What are you using to thin your varnish if anything? You will get as many suggestions about that as there are people offering advice. What does the can say? Some varnishes are tempermental about what you thin them with.

I use the Interlux Schooner product and use their #210 and #333 thinners sparingly. I prefer to use Flood's Penetrol product to help with brushing and flowout but everyone has their own preferences. Here in NC in the summer it gets hot and humid and if one can't lay down varnish in high heat and humidity then you never get any varnish on. The Penetrol helps alot.

I use the #210 thinner when I am varnishing at temps between 55 and 65 degrees but only in small amounts as it cause the varnish to "kick" more quickly. I use the #333 thinner to wipe the surfaces to be varnished after I vacuum the surface. A soft cloth wetted with 333 is used to wipe the surface before using the tack rag. Then I tack the surface. Not the only technique for sure, just what I was taught as a young man working for a wooden boatbuilder in Florida. It works, so I use it to good result.

With respect to sanding , when starting from raw wood I use 2 coats of sanding sealer before I begin the varnish. If I am going to use a stain or paste filler, that gets done before you apply the sanding sealer. Once the sealer is hard, I use a foam sanding block with a half sheet of 220 grit paper wrapped around it and carefully block the flat surfaces being careful not to sand holes in the stain if used and to not burn through any edges, round or square.

Once that is done, a first flattening if you will, I begin to build the varnish coats and in doing so fill the grain. Depending on the graininess of the piece, I usually will apply 4-5 coats with just enough thinning to allow for good brushing and flowout. Between each of these coats I sand very lightly using one of the 1/4" foam sanding pads with a half sheet of 220 grit paper wrapped around it, This gives you a reasonably flat sanding pad and reduces the tendency to sand hollows with your fingers and just a folded piece of paper. I apply each coat and allow it to dry overnight then sand and recoat the next day.

After these build coats I do a second flattening sanding using the 1/4" foam pad and 220 grit paper. This sanding however is more aggressive but not so harsh that I burn away all of the previous 4-5 coats. This is where I am looking to remove most of the remaining effects of grain and brush marks. Once that is done, its back to build up coats. When sanding the sharp or rounded edges of the pieces be careful not to burn through the previous coats. The varnish there tends to be thinner and is usually the first to break down due to wear or UV exposure.

In my experience, 8-10 coats is necessary to achieve the UV protection and durability we need here in the south. Your needs my vary depending on your location so only time end experience will tell for your specific needs.

Respectfully, I disagree with one of the posters above who recommended a highly thinned coat as your final coat. In his experience that may have worked for him but it hasn't for me and is contra to most discussions and reading I have read about the topic. Only your trial and error will tell if it will work for you.

With respect to how to hold the pieces so you can varnish all sides, I drill a small hole on the edges of things like my drop boards and install a #6 screw leaving about an inch of the screw sticking out. These are used to hang the pieces from the overhead or tall sawhorse using safety wire or anything else you have to use for a hanger. Be sure to secure these well as there is nothing sadder than dropping a nearly finished piece and marring the finish or worse yet breaking the piece. (Don't ask me how I know :eek: )

Hope this helps, best of luck with your project.

Best Regards, John
 

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When I was doing my cap rail I was having some problems with the wood off-gassing, creating a lot of tiny bubbles in the varnish. Do you recommend shading the work from the sun with tarps to keep the wood from off-gassing?
 

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Varnishing teak needs a good cleanup before applying the coats. After using sand paper, use alcohol or acetone to clean the surfaces. Use two cotton clothes, one with alcohol or acetone and the other dry. Apply the solvent liberally with the first one and wipe with the dry one. Teak has a lot of oil in it which passes to he surface. A good varnish will hold much better if you clean these oils which means a shiny surface.
 

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JiffyLube, what varnish did you use on your cap rails? How did you stir the varnish before you applied it? Did you shake your varnish before you stirred it? Was the cap rail damp with dew or rain before you applied your varnish? Did you experience the bubbles after your first coat only or with the second and third coats etc? How did you apply your varnish? These might help us answer your question.

I agree it is helpful when varnishing teak and other oily woods like Ipe to wipe the raw wood with an appropriate solvent before applying the first coat of sealer or varnish. I'm not sure there is much benefit to wiping the work down with a solvent such as acetone or mek after the first coat with respect to the oil in the wood. I believe these are too harsh on fresh varnish and might cause you some problems.

I do wipe down between coats with mineral spirits or brushing liquid or turpentine but that is more to help pick up the fine sanding dust than remove any wood oils. Again, it helps to read the manufacturers instructions for the varnish you are using. There are many different products that are called varnishes. They are not all applied, thinned and/ or prepared for the same way.

Regards, John
 

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My recent experiences with varnish grew out of an article I read on-line that I, of course, cannot now find for you. It's OK because I remember the high points!

After your prep work is done, as detailed by the posters above, I recommend thinning the varnish to the manufacturer's specifications before applying the first couple of coats. I've had good luck with Epifanes but then, I've also had good luck with Rust Oleum's Spar Varnish from off the shelf at the hardware store! I do like the Epifanes better but the cost is not always justified. (Don't ever use polyurethane varnish for exterior work.)

The revelation I received was in the application. Use a roller. Use a short nap roller like you'd use to roll on epoxy resin. By the way, you'll make life and the durability of what you're coating much easier if you first coat it with epoxy and then sand that smooth before going to the varnish. Roll on very thin coats of varnish with the short nap roller and then "tip" it with your brush to remove any bubbles or imperfections. Don't play with it. If you're getting the brush tip saturated with varnish, you're rolling it on too heavy. You're just dragging it lightly over the surface with only just the tip to take out the tiny bubbles the roller will leave. If you get an "oops!" leave it alone. Playing around with it will just make it bigger. You can clean it up far better with wet/dry (always wet) sanding later. This technique will leave you with a nice even and thin coat of varnish that will dry evenly and need minimal sanding between coats.

If you espy dust specks all over your dried coat of varnish you must shift locations where you're varnishing or eliminate the dust source. I do mine in the garage and I've learned to do nothing that will stir dust up before hand. If your floor is dusty or dirty, wet it down if necessary to keep the dust down.

Also, buy a whole bunch of those cone paint filters from the Home Marina. If I have not thinned my varnish I will return the excess to the can but I strain it through one of those filters both when pouring from the can and back into the can. Don't combine thinned varnish with un-thinned in the can. The filters are cheap enough so don't be a pinch penny with them. Contaminated varnish will have you holding a gun to your head eventually.

Using the roll and tip method will take you awhile but you'll get great and consistent results. Don't screw it up by getting greedy and trying to put on a nice heavier coat with just a brush to speed things up! Don't ask me how I know that. This method goes fast also. You knew there had to be some benefit in it, didn't you? (g)

Badger hair brushes are just great! At least, I think they are. Have you ever priced a good badger hair brush? Rembrandt wouldn't have paid that much to coat a painting! Get some decent natural china bristle brushes, never a synthetic bristle, and try to keep them clean. If you're tipping with one and it's not working right, toss it and grab a new one. There's no making a bad brush better. If you figure out a fool-proof method for getting your brush flawlessly clean after each use, let me know!

You can use those foam rollers designed for epoxy rolling but I've had really good luck with the 3" white foam trim rollers from Home Marina. Their only negative is that they tend to soak up more varnish than necessary. Discard each roller after use, while still wet, so you can clean up your roller handle and ensure the next roller used won't hang up on it.

Good luck. Varnishing technique is where it pays to be anal about details and prep. (and I'm not anal about anything so take me seriously there!) If you've the least desire to rush, it's not the time to lay down a coat of varnish. It's just mind-numbing, meticulous repetition of what works. And DON'T play with it! Roll it on, tip it out, and leave it alone...everything you "fix" is going to look worse than you can imagine.
 

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JiffyLube, what varnish did you use on your cap rails? How did you stir the varnish before you applied it? Did you shake your varnish before you stirred it? Was the cap rail damp with dew or rain before you applied your varnish? Did you experience the bubbles after your first coat only or with the second and third coats etc? How did you apply your varnish? These might help us answer your question.
The material I used is called Honey Teak which is is a two step, catalyzed acrylic urethane enamel coating made by Signature Finish.

The directions call for adding a measured amount of catalyst and flow fluid to the paint (paint is what they refer to it as, but it's not paint like we would associate paint to be). After adding the three components together together, you then hand stir them together. No shaking.

It is possible there was some moisture on the wood, as the evenings were a little damp even though the nights were clear...but I didn't notice any moisture on the wood before working on it the following mid-morning.

The material can be applied wet on wet, and the tiny bubbles developed shortly after each coat was being applied, starting with the first coat. I used a good varnish brush, and applied 4 coats wet on wet. These bubbles were not like bubbles made from foaming action, they appeared to be rising through the material from the wood.

I did notice that areas that were shaded from the sun did not develop nearly as many bubbles, as those areas that were exposed to the sun.
 

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Jiffy,
Shade alone may not be the answer to solving off-gassing. The wood itself may already be too warm. The best time for painting and varnishing is in the morning after the dew has burned off but before the heat of the day arrives.
 
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