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Found 14 results

  1. Last day of spring here, heat index over 100 and about the 10th day of high temps and humidity. Ready for fall. Three Things about Varnish: Pros + Very protective + Higher chemical & abrasion resistance + Cheap and readily available. Just about any hard goods store, even groceries, will carry some varnish. Cons - Slow to apply & cure - takes days vs. minutes or hours - Not very repairable compared to most other finishes - Can add amber color
  2. Three techniques for good varnish finish Thin the finish. Most varnishes will flow out better if you thin them a bit. I like to thin the first couple finishes a lot (50:50), then move to 60:40, then 90:10 for subsequent coats. Stir well to bring the flatteners into suspension and regularly during application because they will settle out faster in a thinner finish. I like to pour out the varnish into a separate container so I don't contaminate the can. Brush technique. First, use a good, natural bristle brush. "Condition" it before use by wetting with mineral spirits, then wiping with a clean rag. Dip the brush into the varnish and remove excess on the side of the container. Start the strokes away from edges or you'll get a run on the edge. Work from one end to the other. When the whole surface is covered, wipe the varnish off the brush, hold it nearly vertical and "tip-off" the finish by lightly passing the brush from one end to the other. This fills the dry spots and cuts down the heavy spots. Sand between coats. Let the finish dry at least overnight. Sanding will remove the defects like dust, lint, and bubbles in the slow-drying finish. A good sandpaper is 3M's 216U, sold as "Sandblaster." P400 grit is a good one to use. This will level and remove the defects. A follow up with light gray Scotch-Brite™ Ultra Fine Hand Pad 7448 will provide an even dullness. Remove the dust with a cloth dampened in mineral spirits or naphtha. Steel wool can leave shards that might eventually rust.
  3. steven newman

    Next step...?

    Ok, so far...have about 4 coats of thinned Amber Shellac on the "Project" Next step is supposed to be a clear, gloss varnish..... 1: Do I also thin the varnish with the DNA? 2: How long do I leave the shellac "dry" before I brush on the varnish? Should I fine sand before the varnish, or not? have rubbed it down with 0000 steel wool.....will that be enough? Will "tack" things off, before the varnish. Rather a bit of a rookie, when using shellac.. No, this is not a "run" ... Actually, it is a bit of Curly Maple grain showing off. Varnish is Poly Gloss. I am used to using the stuff, just not over shellac.... Wet clothes may get tossed onto the top...doubt IF shellac would like that...
  4. Varnish 101 Let’s explore one of the most popular finishes – oil-based varnish What is varnish? Varnish is made by cooking a resin with oil yielding a new substance, varnish. Originally the resins were natural products (think Stradivarius) but beginning in the early 20th century, synthetic resins started to be used. And yes, Polyurethane is just one common type of varnish, using urethane (and alkyd) as the base resins. Varnishes are made by selecting 1 or 2 resins from column A and one oil from column B Resin Oil Sample products Urethane – toughest, but can be cloudy and has minimal UV resistance, doesn’t bond well to other finishes or to its cured self. Linseed Products that say polyurethane – Minwax, Varathane, Sherwin-Williams Polyurethane Phenonic - tough and flexible, but darkens Tung – often used with phenolic Waterlox Alkyd – less tough, but lighter color Soy (soya) – less yellowing Pratt & Lambert #38, Cabot 8000, Sherwin –Williams Fast Dry (usually products that don't say "Tung Oil" (phenolic) or (poly)urethane on the can.) The choice of which used impart certain characteristics to the final product, just as the choice of flour(s) impart certain characteristics to bread. Once cooked, the varnish is thinned with a carrier, usually mineral spirits, to make a workable product. Also added are driers to speed curing and unless it’s gloss, flattening agents (silica). How Varnishes Cure Varnishes “dry”, or cure, in two phases 1. The thinner (e.g., mineral spirts) evaporates. Known as “flashing off.” 2. The varnish absorbs oxygen and polymerizes into long chains. This can take about three weeks to fully cure. It helps to be at moderate temperature and fresh air. (This is also why it cures in a partial can.) Flexner calls varnish finishes "Tinker Toys" because of the way they cure. Once the product cures, it will not “re-dissolve” in the thinner, mineral spirits. Characteristics of varnish vs. other finishes Pros Cons Readily available. You can find polys at grocery and discount stores. Non-polys harder to find outside specialty stores Ability to apply with simple equipment. Long open time allows time to brush /pad out. Long curing time, increasing finish time and picking up dust. Cooler temperature increases cure time. Long dry time makes it problematic to spray. Durable finish, resistant to water and water vapor, heat, many solvents Difficulty to repair or strip (the converse of durability) Durable finish, resistant to abrasion Difficulty to rub out to adjust sheen or remove scuffs (the converse of abrasion resistance) Affordable cost options Unused portion can cure in can giving thick or skinned over. Poly has poor adhesion to other finishes or itself. Each coat must be lightly sanded so that the next coat adheres properly. Each coat is distinct from the one below it. This layer effect also makes it difficult to sand out blemishes in the finish: if you cut through one or more layers, a thin witness line will show along the boundary between the layers. Formats of Varnish Wiping Varnish Wiping varnish is simply a varnish with a higher amount of carrier (thinner) added to make a less viscous product. These are often sold under misleading names such as “Tung Oil Finish” (they are not or may not even contain tung oil) or “Oil-Urethane Blend” Gel Varnish A Gel Varnish is a varnish that has had a thixotropic (thickening) agent added. When at rest, it is a gel, and when energy is applied (e.g., rubbing) it reduces viscosity to a liquid, to return to gel when at rest again. Brushing Varnish If it doesn’t say the above, it’s probably a brushing varnish. This is a varnish that has been thinned with a smaller amount of thinner than wiping varnish. Long-oil Varnish This is a varnish that in the recipe has a higher proportion of oil than “short-oil” varnishes, the more common type. This makes a softer and more flexible finish. Usually called “spar” varnish. You may notice the oxymoron of products like Minwax Helmsman - a spar urethane. Urethanes lack much UV resistance, and yet many people think this is a finish suitable for outdoor use. Marine Varnish This is a spar varnish to which UV absorbers/inhibiters has been added. Usually pretty expensive ($50/qt) and available from marine supply houses such as Jamestown Distributors. Common brands are Epifanes, Interlux Schooner, and Pettit. It takes a number of coats (6-8) and regular maintenance and recoating to keep looking good in UV-rich environments. Food Safe Varnishes / Salad Bowl Finish All common varnishes are non-toxic once fully cured. Another marketing gimmick. One brand of salad bowl finish was exactly the same as the company’s wiping varnish. Just a different label on the can. Varnish Stains These are "all-in-one" finishes that are somewhere between a clear varnish and a paint. Common example is Polyshades. I generally consider this a type of "toner" - a finish with added pigment. These are very difficult to apply without getting streaking or opaqueness. So I don't recommend them. I have a finishing book written in the early 1950s that talks about how terrible these are. "The properties of a good stain are penetration and clarity. It does not penetrate the surface, and the varnish diminishes its clarity The result of using this stain is a muddy, streaky surface." (Gibbia, "Wood Finishing and Refinishing") Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose . Water-based Polyurethane / Water-borne Varnish These are completely different animals that are made and cure in very different ways. We’ll look at those later. More misleading labels. How to apply varnish There are three ways to apply any finish – cloth (wiping), brush, or spray. In coming weeks, we’ll look at varnish’s options.
  5. TGIF 2017-06-27 Last week, we looked at varnish, how it’s made and its properties. Today we’ll look at two of the three ways to apply this finish – spray and brushing. Spraying Don’t, just don’t. When I first got my spray gun, I tried spraying poly. I still have spots on the top of my tool box and I’m glad my cars were well out of the way. Why? Shellac, lacquer and water borne, dry very quickly. The over-spray dries and settles as dust. Varnish dries slowly, so the over-spray drifts, lands on flat surfaces wet, where it dries and cures. And it didn’t get cleaned out very well from the gun, which then required a good cleaning. Shellac and lacquer are easily cleaned from the gun with their respective solvent. Brushing Process Here is the technique that I use. The first coat provides the “sealer” There is no need to use a separate sanding sealer. There are several disadvantages to a sanding sealer – another product to buy and its reduced resistance to impacts and water vapor transfer. Sanding – Few of enjoy sanding, yet a poorly sanded surface will not give you a good finish. I usually stop at 120 or 150, or 220 if I’m refinishing a veneered surface. After sanding wipe off dust with a cloth dampened in mineral spirits. For opened-pored woods like oak, you might blow out the grain with compressed air. Preparation - Since varnish can attract dust into its finish, being clean is very important. Work in a clean room, preferably not the one where you’ve done sanding, clean the surfaces prior to applying the varnish, wear clean clothes, and apply the finish and leave for the day. Also pour some finish out in a separate container and use it from there. This keeps debris from getting into the varnish can. You can also use a paper filter to filter out any lumps. When you can, work on horizontal surfaces and with a long angle light behind the finishing surface. Use a natural bristle brush. Shake out any loose hairs prior to use. Then dip in mineral spirits to condition the brush. For the first few coats I use a good quality brush. For the last coat or two, I use a “badger-hair brush”. No badgers were actually used in its construction. If you are using a satin or semi-gloss varnish, stir the finish well before dispensing into your application container. Stir again after thinning and stir regularly during application as the flatteners will settle out. First coat – thin the varnish significantly so that it cures faster (a thinner coat). I thin 50:50 with mineral spirits. Apply with a brush. No need to be super critical here, just avoid heavy runs and puddles. Let dry overnight in a room-temperature room. Temperatures below 60 or above 80 will affect any coat curing Second coat - repeat same process as first coat. Third coat – Sand with P400 sandpaper. I like to use 3M’s 216U (sometimes labeled “Sandblaster.”) This will level the surface and remove any raised grain. You can also use ScotchBrite light gray to get an overall dullness to the surface. Wipe the surface with a lint-free cloth dampened in mineral spirits. For this coat, thin the varnish, somewhat less, usually 3:1 varnish to thinner. Many varnishes are very thick in the can to comply with VOC regulations. Adding thinner may take it out of compliance, but will make a much better flow out. Your objective here is to put on a thin coat. Thick coats cure longer and sometimes poorly. It's why varnish can look plastic or have deep brush marks. If you've ever seen a thick run or drip that is just gummy underneath, you see that thick coats don't cure well as they cure from the top down. Apply the finish in the direction of the grain. Flow off the end of the board and start the stroke about 1” in from the end. Once you’ve applied the finish, wipe the brush off on a rag and tip-off the finish by moving this brush across the surface with a light tough and nearly vertical to the surface. This will smooth the finish, cut down the thick parts and fill up the low spots. Let dry overnight. Fourth coat – Sand like for third coat. Lightly sand with same sandpaper and clean as before. This this coat, but now only about 10%. Apply in the same way as the third coat. If you are happy now, you can quit, but you have a couple more options. · Apply a fifth coat just like the fourth · Sand again and apply a thin coat of wiping varnish (next week’s topic) This will give you a nice even finish. · Finish the finish to smooth it out. One way is rub with 0000 steel wool and furniture wax, then buff out the wax with a clean soft cloth. Or you can take a crumpled up paper grocery bag to lightly abrade the surface. · Rub out with rubbing compounds (after 3 -4 weeks cure time). Varnish does not rub out as well as harder finishes like shellac or lacquer, so it’s better to just pick the right sheen from the can. Sheen information If you want a flatter finish than you have, you can let the varnish sit for a few days. Decant off the top part of the can and stir up the bottom part that will have the majority of the flatteners. Some people say to apply gloss finish up to the last coat, since it determines the final sheen. Not a problem if you have it, but I’d not buy a second product just for this purpose if I didn’t have other needs for it. Cleaning the brush I keep two or three jars of mineral spirits and label them III, II, and I. First wipe off the excess varnish from the brush onto a clean rag. Then dip and swish in jar III. Wipe off again, Dip in jar II, wipe off. Then dip in jar I. In time, jar III will get too gunky to use. Let it dry out and throw out the solid residue. Promote jar II to jar III, jar I to jar II, and start a new jar I with fresh mineral spirits. Store each jar with a well-fitting lid. Once you’ve reached this stage, I have another jar with lacquer thinner that will clean and remove some of the oiliness of mineral spirits. Wipe the brush dry and store in its jacket to dry. Over time the brush may get thick. You can buy a commercial brush cleaner that is a soup of solvents that will strip out most finishes. I also have use NMP stripper as it’s a bit gentler on the bristles and less noxious to the user. I wait until I have a few brushes in this state, then soak overnight in the solution with a plastic bag rubber banded over the top. Some more reading: http://www.popularwoodworking.com/techniques/finishing/finishing-for-first-timers
  6. Teri Chapman


    Hi! I am going to refinish a child's rocking chair for my granddaughter, but I'm not real experienced with this stuff, so I'm needing to ask a couple questions. What type of top coating finish is usually used on children's furniture? Here are a couple pics of the rocker i have. Can anyone tell what the finish might be, so I know what kind of stripping agent to use. Could it be laquer or varnish? Thanks for any help y'all can give me! Teri
  7. John Morris

    English China Plate Cabinet

    From the album: Old English Plate Shelf

    Finished and ready for delivery. My go to finishing schedule for most of my flat work is water based dyes for color, followed by a coat of boiled linseed oil, then oil based varnish. I still love the warmth and glow of oil based varnishes, it has a warmth that I love.

    © Courtland Woodworks

  8. John Morris

    English China Plate Cabinet

    From the album: Old English Plate Shelf

    Young Patriot Woodworkers, they are not ready to see this one leave our shop. As with any project that takes time, it becomes part of the family, and the kids always hate to see it leave the shop.

    © Courtland Woodworks

  9. steven newman

    Finish Is On

    a little tool chest varnish/BLO/walnut stain. insides are filling up quick. Might just be a decent chest. From a pile of old bed parts
  10. John Morris

    English China Plate Cabinet

    From the album: Old English Plate Shelf

    The cabinet in place at its final resting place, with pewter molds in place. You'll see the tails are cut into the side of the cabinet and exposed, I set the tails on the side of the cabinet to lend it downward strength, the mechanics of the joinery will not allow any weight to push down and separate the corners.

    © Courtland Woodworks

  11. John Morris

    English China Plate Cabinet

    From the album: Old English Plate Shelf

    In place at a home where the resident loves colonial works, and this piece fit right in.

    © Courtland Woodworks

  12. John Morris

    English China Plate Cabinet

    From the album: Old English Plate Shelf

    The customers pewter molds on full display. The pewter molds are one area of his vast collections of antique in his home. These molds were used to make breads, bread puddings, and puddings, in the shape of the molds.

    © Courtland Woodworks

  13. John Morris

    English China Plate Cabinet

    From the album: Old English Plate Shelf

    The curls are wonderful in this lumber, thank you Bob Kloes.

    © Courtland Woodworks

  14. steven newman

    The $5 Coffin Smoother Rehab

    Awhile back, picked a Scioto works #8 coffin style smooth plane at an antique toy store.    Missing a bolt to hold the iron and chipbreaker together.   Missing the strike button on the backside.    So, Found a tap that was close to the size i needed to make a new thread in the chipbreaker.   Turned out to be a 10-1.5 Metric plug tap.    Ok, we have the matching bolts at work.    Brought one home that I found on the floor.   It came out of the shelving system they use.    Takes a 6mm allen wrench to loosen.   Ground the head down a bit, to almost flat.   And still leave a bit for the wrench to grab into.  Shorten the threaded part a bunch.   had to clear the wedge.    Sharpened the iron  back up, adjust the chip-breaker for a better fit.   Beltsander and sandpaper on a tile to sharpen the iron.   A look at the back side Soaked the wood body in a BLO/ Varnish/ Walnut stain mix.....about ten coats.    Wood was VERY dried out.   Markings on  the iron are from Ohio Tool Co.    Thistle Brand Made in USA Took a handplane to the sole for a tune up. nise was worn quite a bit.   Got the sole nice and flat, and gave it a coat Yep, there is a crack in the heel.    Right where the missing strike button USED to be.   Guess that is why it is AWOL.    Decided to make something to take it's place.    Didn't like the idea of a carriage bolt stuck up in there.   Didn't have a big enough bolt, so, a washer of sorts was made, and a smaller bolt added.    Filled the hole with glue, and tapped the parts in place Almost like a Lincoln's spare tire..... Got everything back together for a test drive The shaving is the full width of the pine scrap I was using.    Had it set a bit deep, though.     Not too bad for a $5 plane  

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