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Old 19-08-2017, 18:13   #1
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Varnish blues

Ok..Ive been through several quarts of varnish trying to get my technique perfect...good at least....Used both Epifines and Pedit....the problem is bubbles..small ones ..Ive used both foam and Bristol brushes and get fewer bubbles with the foam...tried it full strength and thinned...seems that at 20% thin( yes I know that is high) I get the best results, but still some bubbles....cant quite get this right....suggestions??
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Old 19-08-2017, 18:27   #2
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Re: Varnish blues

Stirring the varnish introduces bubbles. They should flow out, though. Unless you void the containers (there are sprays to do this, that remove the oxygen), there's always air in them, so any agitation might cause a problem. Jim used to only use natural bristle brushes, but lately has shifted to a kind of plastic brush that he likes better. Good luck with it, someone who's a better varnisher than me will chip in, soon. And "minaret" does beautiful varnish work, look at his "Nauticat 52 Refit" thread.

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Old 19-08-2017, 19:05   #3
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Re: Varnish blues

This time of year my first thought is that it's just too damn hot to varnish. I'm in south Florida and you just can't varnish outside this time of year. The problem is the solvent flashes off before the bubbles can pop and flow out. That would also explain why extra solvent helps.

If you tell me you're varnishing in cool temps, I'm at a loss. Someone smarter than me will be along soon.
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Old 19-08-2017, 20:18   #4
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Re: Varnish blues

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Originally Posted by HopCar View Post
This time of year my first thought is that it's just too damn hot to varnish. I'm in south Florida and you just can't varnish outside this time of year. The problem is the solvent flashes off before the bubbles can pop and flow out. That would also explain why extra solvent helps.

If you tell me you're varnishing in cool temps, I'm at a loss. Someone smarter than me will be along soon.


This. Plus, there's thinner and then there's thinner. The OP doesn't specify what he is reducing with. I'd suggest Epifane's special thinner. Lots of turps in that, it's a great thinner. Or switch to Awlspar...


These are nice brushes:

https://www.epifanes.com/category/BRU/Brushes


These are nice brushes which are also affordable:

http://www.leevalley.com/us/wood/pag...,43034&p=75814



Good brushes are critical. Badger or boar only for the novice. Once you are doing pro level work you need to upgrade, however there is too much of a learning curve for the novice to maintain expensive brushes that are not in regular use. Rule of thumb on high end brushes:

badger/boar-tough and stiff, suited to compound curves, most common, some very high end brushes made especially by European manufacturers

pony/goat-softer than boar, provides a finer finish, not as well suited to curved surfaces

skunk- mid range level of fineness, usually found as a "mop", common with French polish systems

squirrel-extremely soft, only for relatively flat/large surfaces, very fine finish

European ox hair (from the hairs inside the ears of the european ox), fitch, etc etc are also to be found.


The average user will find it extremely difficult to obtain quality brushes that are affordable in anything but the more common grades. Many are more common as artists brushes in most places, check art supply stores. Most of my big high quality varnish brushes are many years old, have obtained some of my best ones at estate sales and flea markets as brushes like that are either no longer made or exorbitantly expensive when found. Good varnish work is a full time hobby for sure!
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Old 19-08-2017, 21:23   #5
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Re: Varnish blues

Quote:
Originally Posted by minaret View Post
This. Plus, there's thinner and then there's thinner. The OP doesn't specify what he is reducing with. I'd suggest Epifane's special thinner. Lots of turps in that, it's a great thinner. Or switch to Awlspar...


These are nice brushes:

https://www.epifanes.com/category/BRU/Brushes


These are nice brushes which are also affordable:

Oval Varnish Brushes - Lee Valley Tools



Good brushes are critical. Badger or boar only for the novice. Once you are doing pro level work you need to upgrade, however there is too much of a learning curve for the novice to maintain expensive brushes that are not in regular use. Rule of thumb on high end brushes:

badger/boar-tough and stiff, suited to compound curves, most common, some very high end brushes made especially by European manufacturers

pony/goat-softer than boar, provides a finer finish, not as well suited to curved surfaces

skunk- mid range level of fineness, usually found as a "mop", common with French polish systems

squirrel-extremely soft, only for relatively flat/large surfaces, very fine finish

European ox hair (from the hairs inside the ears of the european ox), fitch, etc etc are also to be found.


The average user will find it extremely difficult to obtain quality brushes that are affordable in anything but the more common grades. Many are more common as artists brushes in most places, check art supply stores. Most of my big high quality varnish brushes are many years old, have obtained some of my best ones at estate sales and flea markets as brushes like that are either no longer made or exorbitantly expensive when found. Good varnish work is a full time hobby for sure!
As usual, Minaret, your knowledge blows me away. And it opens up a new, esoteric job description: European Ox Ear Hair Plucker! Must be kinda dangerous, 'cause those oxen are big, and plucking their ear hairs might well piss them off.

Good stuff, as always!

Jim
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Old 19-08-2017, 22:26   #6
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Re: Varnish blues

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Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
As usual, Minaret, your knowledge blows me away. And it opens up a new, esoteric job description: European Ox Ear Hair Plucker! Must be kinda dangerous, 'cause those oxen are big, and plucking their ear hairs might well piss them off.

Good stuff, as always!

Jim


Lol! How about the poor skunk-plucker?



Unfortunately, I'm guessing they kill the critter first to ease the plucking. I'm sure your way would be more environmentally friendly, and would indeed create interesting jobs. Whether anyone would take them, though...
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Old 20-08-2017, 00:19   #7
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Re: Varnish blues

As a totally unrelated side note, Badger hair is used in high quality shaving brushes for wet shaving.

er...

Carry on chaps.
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Old 20-08-2017, 03:44   #8
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Re: Varnish blues

I'm assuming that:
- The wood you're working on already has enough coats on it to be sealed?
- You're not working in direct sunlight, nor places subject to big temp shifts right before/during/after coating?
From there, the temp's of everything involved can definitely play a role. As neither the wood's surface, it's core, the varnish right up against the old coat, or the top surface of the new coat will cool at exactly the same rates. And the size of the diferentials plays to causing cosmetic flaws to varying degrees. Though my grossly sleep derived brain is too tired to recall anything specific on such things at the moment. Someone else care to step in & flesh out such ideas. And or turn off my laptop

G'nite/G'morning all
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Old 21-08-2017, 00:32   #9
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Re: Varnish blues

I, too, have the need to varnish some things, specifically my tiller and some other light-exposed woodwork. The old varnish is actually flaking off and I am concerned that wood damage is coming extremely soon if I don't take action rather immediately.

If the heat and humidity of central Florida is high (and it is, about 90 degrees in the day, plus enough humidity to raise the sensed temperature to well over 100 degrees outside), can I still varnish, or am I better off to somehow cover the tiller/remove it long enough to let the heat go down and finish it indoors or some such thing? I am not currently set up to do indoor finishing at all, but if I have to, hey, I have to. Not sure what the Admiral will think of this, though..

I also have a wood ring that goes around the binnacle, and it also needs varnished, though it is covered and not as damaged as the finish on the tiller appears to be. I will have to probably sand the old finish off the tiller and start from scratch there, but the binnacle is less damaged.

Likewise, I need to refabricate a dining/chart table in the saloon, and I am curious about what will happen when I varnish it in there, and then the sun comes up and the humidity rises in the hull to the point that it gets ugly in there in terms of humidity. Will there be blisters and all manner of problems, or will it just be mold spores and the like ruining my work? Am I better off to wait until Equinox is actually in the water, and the temps thus reduced somewhat by the water pulling some of the heat from the submersed hull?
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Old 21-08-2017, 18:20   #10
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Re: Varnish blues

There are low temp thinners and high temp thinners.
See the manufactures recommendations...

Good brush hair knowledge. I preach it everyday in my store.(Art Supply)
Each type of hair will give different results. Some of the synthetic Badger and squirrel are pretty impressive now.
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Old 21-08-2017, 19:18   #11
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Re: Varnish blues

Quote:
Originally Posted by pwilletts View Post
Ok..Ive been through several quarts of varnish trying to get my technique perfect...good at least....Used both Epifines and Pedit....the problem is bubbles..small ones ..Ive used both foam and Bristol brushes and get fewer bubbles with the foam...tried it full strength and thinned...seems that at 20% thin( yes I know that is high) I get the best results, but still some bubbles....cant quite get this right....suggestions??
Sounds like it may be drying too fast, in direct sun maybe?
Heat will cause air in the varnish to come to the surface as well as "skinning" over to quickly not allowing the bubbles to "pop"
You might try a spray bottle of thinner or acetone to smooth out the bubbles when they appear. Just mist it lightly i is easy to easy to over due.

May dull the finish slightly, but better than unsightly bubbles.
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Old 21-08-2017, 19:22   #12
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Re: Varnish blues

This has already been mentioned but I believe that it's too hot and the varnish is drying before it's had a chance to flatten.

I do see lots of bubbles in the varnish when I apply it, but they disappear before the varnish dries.

These days I try to do my varnishing in spring and fall, to avoid the hot months and too much direct sunlight. April and October are best around here. An overcast day is ideal, even then.

I am using Pettit 2015 Flagship varnish, with 10 to 20% Interlux 333 thinner, and foam brushes.

If you're doing it at this time of year in the US, it's almost certainly too hot.
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Old 21-08-2017, 19:40   #13
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Re: Varnish blues

Surface prep makes a huge difference. While some tooth is good, too much can trap air. Also uncured fillers can out gas under the varnished surface and create bubbles.
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Old 21-08-2017, 23:02   #14
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Re: Varnish blues

Thanks all....my wood is filled and has more and more layers on it as I sand them down and start again,,,all work is in 70-75 degrees and quickly put in a sealed area to avoid dust,,,,,been using paint thinner as a solvent...might have to upgrade that...got some nice fine synthetic brushes but see no difference,,,,foam seems to have fewer bubbles but seems inconsistent...using pettit and ephinies both straight and thinned ,,,,much experimentation, no good results...not sure where to go at this point
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Old 21-08-2017, 23:38   #15
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Re: Varnish blues

It might be helpful if you could post a picture of the problem finish.
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