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Old 29-09-2005, 17:52   #1
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Wood refinishing tips


I had originally thought to make this a private message to Sean Sullivan ... then thought, "What the heck" others might appreciate it too.
I think the 2 most important tools in wood finishing are patience & concentration. The table in the photo above (I sure hope there's a photo above!) took me 2 weeks to complete. I had to wait for storms & hurricanes to go by, working when I could ... 2 weeks to lay down 7 coats of varnish. Like most people, I wanted it done "now!' ... patience really helps in this situation. As for concentration, there is a very fine line between too much varnish on the brush (runs, drips & sags) and too little (brush marks & missed spots) when you get the "feel" for what is just right ... you have to maintain it ... and that takes real concentration.
The single biggest rookie mistake I see people make is to lean on their sander ... this is a real no-no! It burns up the sander, burns up the sandpaper and puts the dreaded swirl marks in the wood. Use the handle portion of the sander to direct it ... do not put pressure on it!
We all want true perfection in our woodworking .. well ... unless you are fortunate enough to have a professional shop at your disposal ... ya better give that idea up right now ... because it simply isn't going to happen. Do your best, strive for perfection, but accept the limitations of where you are working, you can do a fine job working on the boat ... but I gaurantee you it won't be "perfect".
The table in the photo above was in such bad shape that I started by gluing and clamping the Holly strips back in place. I next stripped all of the old finish (polyurethane?) with 60 grit sandpaper. Snappy Teak Nu cleaner & brightner was applied, then it was sanded to a 150 grit finish. 3 coats of Flagship varnish, then sanded to a 240 grit finish, 3 more coats of varnish, another sanding to 240 grit, then the final coat of varnish.

L S/V Sew Good
Bob & Lynn
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Old 29-09-2005, 21:34   #2
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All good info and right on the mark. Nice job on the table. The real benefit to doing your own wood work is the feeling of completing the project far overshadows the few flaws. Also keep in mind that you will always see the flaws in your work, but few others will. It is like listening to a symphony. you hear the beautiful music, but rarely if ever hear the mistakes. After the concert, each musician can tell you of the note held too long, or played flat.
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Old 29-09-2005, 23:31   #3
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In my experience, all pursuits in life require patience and concentration to suceed.

There is no magic in an amatuer or competent handyperson being able to produce professional result if patience and concentration are employed. A few little tricks of the trade do not go astray either.

Power tools are great resources, and like you say, let the tool do the work, a quicker, cleaner and better result will be acheived.

Fair winds

Steve

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Old 30-09-2005, 11:18   #4
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Nice Job on the table. Looks great! I personlly don't like power tools. I like to sand by hand so I control the process more and it does not take that much more work, By time you get your power tools out clean them up and put them away you can be done with sanding.

Again, looks Great!

Matt Hager
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Old 30-09-2005, 12:41   #5
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Great subject

I'm inspired. In general I hate to use sandpaper finer than 80 grit even fishing out from the pile of used sandpaper the loaded up ones for the "fine" work....you can see that your advice to have patience applies to me! Ha!

Can't wait to read a comment from Wheels on this thread.
Thanks!
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Old 30-09-2005, 13:03   #6
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Varnish question

One question regarding your beautiful work. Some people have recommended progressive thinning of initial coats, Did you go with full strength for every coat?

Will Burton S/V Far Niente
Tarpon Pt Marina, Cape Coral
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Old 30-09-2005, 17:27   #7
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Will,
First of all, I'm just around the corner from you, in Marinatown.
On this table I used Flagship varnish ... simply because it holds a wet edge longer than the Epifanes that I'm using for everything else. I do not "thin" varnish at all ... although I do add "thinner", in this case, mineral spirits. When working from an open can of varnish the solvents evaporate faster than the solids do, so I add a capfull of mineral spirits to the can after each coat. Rather than stirring it in, I simply pour it in, seal the can, then turn it over, since the solvent is lighter than the varnish, it will try to float to what is now the top .. and mixes itself along the way. Stirring varnish puts bubbles into it, which will show up when you apply it.
A thought to add to my initial post ... prep work is everything. Every neophyte woodworker/painter figures that they can hide defects in the prep work with the finish coats ... unfortunately, life isn't like that. Any defect in the prep work will only look worse when the finish coat is applied ... so back to patience & concentration ... and get the surface the way you want it to look before applying the finish.

L S/V Sew Good

Bob & Lynn
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Old 30-09-2005, 19:08   #8
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Wahoo!

Please explain just how you uploaded that large jpeg into the message area of the submission. I understand how to refer to a webiste jpeg yet yours is the first one that I've seen done so well.
Thanks for the great submission,
Rick
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Old 30-09-2005, 20:33   #9
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I started as a purist, hand planing, and sanding. Then I started to work on wood boats. First it was the palm sander, then the DA. Next I discovered shaping wood with a grinder. I hate to say it, but I have no hesitation wth using power tools, and feel just as much satisfaction when it is done.
I still find great enjoyment in a good hand saw, but fitting the frames in a transom is far better with a grinder.
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Old 01-10-2005, 03:19   #10
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When Varnishing new timber, It's always good practice to thin the first coat as much as 15%. This is basicaly a penetrant. In fact a product that can be used to do the thinning is called Penatrol, and is often one of the solvents in most single pack type Varnishes, along with Tongue Oil. Tongue oil by the way, is not from tongues, but an oil produced from the Tongue tree.
The second coat should be about 10% and the third 5%. These coats should be considered as only one coat done in three stages. After that final stage 3 coat, you should apply at least two none thinned top coats, preferably three and up to as many as you like. However, if you are going for more than two coats, ensure you allow the correct drying time at the correct temperature. If you don't you may have a reaction later from a coat below. It is also very helpful to have good ventilation, as in a little air movement over the painted surface. The solvent has to evaporate away from the surface and just like water, a little air movement aids that process.
Use a good brush. Don't skimp here. I always use just one brush, but some of the top guns use two. One for applying and brushing out and the second to layoff. Laying off requires a "dry" brush, or In other words, not full of paint. You use just the tip of the brush and very lightly and slowly brush the wet surface. This causes the surface to flow out to a very high gloss.
There are three stages to applying the paint. Well actually four if you count the application of the paint by a roller. Not all do this roller stage. But I will start with that. So....
Apply the paint via the roller and cover an area about 300x300mm(1ft x 1ft) The roller controls the paint to a very even film depth. If applying via brush only, then use a crisscross fashion. This is to ensure the same even film depth. Then brush across (brushing out) in straight lines and finish off (laying off) with a direction 90degress to the brush out. If it's a big surface, then the layoff direction will be in the direction that you are working.
Never apply paint to too big an area at a time. You MUST keep a wet edge so as the paint melds into the adjasant application.
As Bob said, Don't shake or stir too vigorousely as you don't want to airate the Varnish. Some ultra clear varnishes will actually say in the instructions not to stir at all.
And finally, I lightly sand between every coat. This is just to ensure little bits of dust haven't been trapped in the surface. If you trap dust and the paint over, each time you add a coat, the spec will get bigger. Use a Tack rag to clean the surface before the next coat.
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Old 01-10-2005, 04:18   #11
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Wow - thanks for a succinct, precise, & comprehensible description !!!
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Old 01-10-2005, 04:52   #12
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Rick,
The photo is compressed, reducing the file size, then I simply uploaded it to my gallery. From there I opened the image right clicked on it and went to properties, I then cut the "http" address and pasted it in the "img" box.
Alan,
What you have described so nicely is the classic way to apply varnish, and to those willing to do it, I say "More power to you" ... but ... with some 15 years experience behind me, I say "it can be done a lot easier". I use penetrol on occassions (where I fear the varnish will not get a decent grip on the wood) by applying a single undiluted coat of it directly on the raw wood .. then the rest of my coats are undiluted varnish. In the case of this table, I didn't feel the need to use the Penetrol and omitted that step. As for brushes, this will horrify many .. I use exclusively foam brushes ... the table was done with nothing more than a handfull of 2" foam brushes ... and I think the results will speak for itself. Often times, I'm trying to get a coat of varnish on before dashing off to work .. it's very convenient to simply toss the brush in the rubbish and go. There is a learning curve for working with these brushes but once you have a "feel" for them, they work great. Sanding between every coat (no matter how lightly) means many, many more coats to get the same film thickness, and that after all is what gives varnish it's longevity .. so I only sand between the 3rd and 4th coats ... works for me.

L S/V Sew Good
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Old 01-10-2005, 07:35   #13
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Great!

This is a great thread. I only wish it was up BEFORE I had started... ha ha ha. I learned all that the hard way. Initially, I thought I could blast through the sanding - I did have a power sander...

However, I found that I can only really use the power sander for the larger areas of varnish removal, and in a limited way toward corners. In the corners, I am using a good old sanding block, and when that doesn't fit... a folded piece of old sandpaper.

The project is now going along very well. The initial strange white stuff from my other post was indeed some kind of crappy filler the folks at Gulfstar used to cover up inferior quality wood. I am slowly, but surely coating it with several coats of my teak sealer to mask it. It has reduced down about half way in intensity now.

By trial and error, here is my process, which will differ from the traditional processes, since I do not desire the beautiful finish in the original post of this thread. (Beautiful by the way!!)

I'm going for a simlar look as to what you see on Armani's new megayacht. It's the look of natural, slightly weathered teak, rather than high gloss finish.

I sand with 50 grit to remove the varnish and get to the bare wood. I use a combination of electric sander, sanding block, and folded sand paper after buying a Dremel, which is useless for this application.

I then smooth it out with 220 grit.

Next, I wash it with Whisk laundry detergent to give it a weathered look. I rinse, dry, and finally apply a few coats of teak sealer.

This produces the coolest look... I'll show you all later when it's done. It'll be on our website.

Thanks again for the post. It's very useful to everyone who is new at woodworking.
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Old 01-10-2005, 10:59   #14
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Whisk? Can't wait to see that one. I have never heard that before.
I have used the foam brushes, and I do not like them, but there is nothing particularly wrong with them, I just do not lke the way the material lays down with them. A good brush really is important. I would say AS important as the prep work. Nothing worse than applying your 3rd coat, and finding shed bristles. MAN that sucks. I think the bottom line is technic. Develop your own, and do what works for you. That is something wood work has over metal work.
And a useful tip, When doing large areas such as the hull or deck, an electric DA sander works well. A pad is available for advesive sanding disks, and these same adhesive sanding disks will also fit perfectly on the typical store bought sanding block. This enables you to remove the partially used disk from the sander to tak care of your edges and finish sanding. It also means no wasted paper, and not cutting to fit. Most auto paint supply places sell rolls of the adhesive disks much cheaper than you can buy sheets, or hook loop disks.
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Old 01-10-2005, 13:57   #15
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Hey, as the saying goes, "What ever floats ya boat"
Ok so now that I have stated the umm... proper way to varnish. Let me also jump in with my short cuts that would make the ole timer proffesionals cringe.
I love using two pot paints. Expensive, but damn easy to use, very forgiving, hard as hobnails and a very big shortcut, IF, used against all the directions
You can only do this on flat horizontal area's like say a hatch cover. Once again, prep work is essential. But I sand to 80grit if it's outside and 120 if it's in, for the final bare wood sand. Then I coat on one thined coat, allow to dry and sand the wood fibres that have stood up. Then I poor on one thick layer of two pot, brush very lightly the pool out to a even layer all over and then play catch the drips for a few minutes around the edge of the surface, till it firms up. The stuff cures in one hit.
Another paint that is a dream to use, is moisture cure. It's fantastic on boats as it is a high moisture content area.
A couple of area's I really went to town on with the two pot pour method, was firstly.... I had a shower with a hand basin and head. The basin had a tiled top and the basin it's self had been placed on top of the top. This meant a 1/4" or more lip stopped water from draining into the basin from it's counter top. So it would pool. So I firstly poured epoxy all around the top and let it settle out to be level and cure. Then I put a tape along the edge to stop paint flowing over the side and poured 1.5lt of two pot white polyurathane over the epoxy and brought it up to the level of the basin. I now have a very hard wearing, very nice looking white top level with the rim of the basin and very easy to clean.
The other area was my Pilot house floor. It wasn't very level and water would pool in area's instead of going down the drains. So once again, I poured a heap of two pot white poly all over, capped of the drains and let it flood the area and self level.
Warning to those with weak hearts!!! the stuff is damn expensive and it has to be poured out like that described above with a cold conscence, or even the strongest would break down and try to get it all back in the pot
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