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Old 17-01-2021, 07:25   #1
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Is this the difference between Cetol and varnish?

This is my first experience with any type of varnishing. I've read a lot about Cetol versus varnish but it seems to come down to whether the aesthetic advantage for varnish is worth the additional work. But I still haven't figured out what the aesthetic advantage is. The newer Cetol has reportedly mostly addressed the 'orange' issue. So what is it? Is it the smoothness of the finish?

Here's where I'm coming from. I sanded down my teak cockpit table to bare wood (220 grit last pass). I have so far applied 3 coasts of Cetol Marine Natural Teak and now 1 coat of the Marine Gloss. I'm set up in an indoor room at 68 degrees F. Using quality foam sponge brushes (which I know is a bit of a shortcut).

As you can see in the image, the result is great color with a brilliant shine. It looks good. BUT, there is a 'texture' that I wasn't expecting. It appeared with the very first coat and didn't go away. I was hoping that the additional coats would eventually even it all out to a nice smooth surface. It looks great from afar. But with the right lighting you can see the texture.

Is this where a high quality varnish will work better? Where the sanding between coats take the texture down, or maybe the varnish 'settles' better than Cetol?

I suppose the sponge brush may be the issue but I've read that lots of folks swear by them (for both Cetol and varnish).

Anyone have any ideas? I've only done a few hidden pieces so I can easily switch to varnish now although the thought of 8-10 coats with sanding is not something I relish.
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Old 17-01-2021, 10:06   #2
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Re: Is this the difference between Cetol and varnish?

Sanding between coats, whether using Cetol or varnish, will give you the smooth finish you desire. You can sand that gloss and add additional coats, sanding will flatten the surface.
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Old 17-01-2021, 10:11   #3
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Re: Is this the difference between Cetol and varnish?

Yep, just doing all the external wood on my Cabo Rico with Cetol.
I cheat a bit - I dont sand between the colored applications, buy when I get to the clear, I sand with 320 between first and second layer. By the third it is pretty smooth.
It looks really good!
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Old 17-01-2021, 10:14   #4
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Re: Is this the difference between Cetol and varnish?

I‘LL be on my third season with Cetol - holding up well in the sun of San Diego. Be sure to follow the application for the number of coats (that was a a painful mistake). If you get any on the gel coat, clean it up quickly.
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Old 17-01-2021, 11:15   #5
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Re: Is this the difference between Cetol and varnish?

Nothing comes out as smooth and pretty as high quality varnish.

220 paper is pretty coarse to avoid future sanding marks, sand every coat till smooth and no gloss with 320.

Throw those foam things away, there's a reason paint brushes were invented...a cheaper, soft varnish brush makes a world of difference and helps avoid ridges, bubbles, runs etc.
Thin every coat no matter what the can says with appropriate thinners...15-20% initially, 10% on last coat depending on environment...helps material to flow out and dry faster. If starting from bare wood,(important if previous finish was Cetol) 6 coats are necessary.

Cetol works nice on log cabins though.
Just my opinion after trying every shortcut already lol.
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Old 17-01-2021, 11:19   #6
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Re: Is this the difference between Cetol and varnish?

Paint and varnish both do a lousy job of filling the grain of wood. Sanding between coats eventually will do it, but the other approach is to fill the grain before you start:

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=wood+grai...l_1zqf1ljp5d_e
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Old 17-01-2021, 11:41   #7
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Re: Is this the difference between Cetol and varnish?

Warming paint and varnish will also help it flow out. Keep a small container in a pot filled with hot water and decant that into your brush or roller bucket.

220 for bare wood, 320 between coats to level and 400 before the final coat.
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Old 17-01-2021, 11:54   #8
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Re: Is this the difference between Cetol and varnish?

Is that an interior piece? I wouldn't use Cetol for interior work. Not a favorite outside for me, but some like it. It does not seem to flow as well as real varnish. Not sure why. But I see low spots in your piece that are at the grain in the wood, this usually means you need to sand between coats.
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Old 17-01-2021, 12:32   #9
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Re: Is this the difference between Cetol and varnish?

Thanks for all the great responses! I'm going to insert some sanding and try a couple more coats. Really appreciate the collective wisdom.

Cheechako - this is from my cockpit table so exterior.
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Old 17-01-2021, 12:40   #10
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Re: Is this the difference between Cetol and varnish?

I put on at least 2 coats between sanding and I use an electric random oscillating sander and hook and loop discs on flat surfaces. I also have a collection of homemade contoured sanding blocks for curved surfaces. In my experience it is worth it to buy premium abrasives, they cut faster and last longer. Whenever possible, when hand sanding, wet sand, it will go faster.
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Old 17-01-2021, 16:03   #11
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Re: Is this the difference between Cetol and varnish?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodland Hills View Post
I put on at least 2 coats between sanding and I use an electric random oscillating sander and hook and loop discs on flat surfaces. I also have a collection of homemade contoured sanding blocks for curved surfaces. In my experience it is worth it to buy premium abrasives, they cut faster and last longer. Whenever possible, when hand sanding, wet sand, it will go faster.
Thank you, Woodland Hills! I was about to post that very question (ie. whether or not a random oscillating sander would work) :-)
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Old 17-01-2021, 21:21   #12
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Re: Is this the difference between Cetol and varnish?

No, to the random, oscillating sander. Hand sand, with the grain of the timber.

Ann
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Old 17-01-2021, 22:14   #13
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Re: Is this the difference between Cetol and varnish?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Downeaster View Post
Anyone have any ideas? I've only done a few hidden pieces so I can easily switch to varnish now although the thought of 8-10 coats with sanding is not something I relish.
I donít think you have nearly enough coats. My cockpit table has 12-14. I consider 320 grit intermediate sanding. I donít care for Cetol, at least as a final series of coats, but that is certainly a matter of taste. Iíve been doing varnish for about 25 years and have found if I go thru a series of polishing pads at the end weíre approaching ď Steinway PianoĒ Territory. It all depends on how bad you want it. If youíre interested, Iíll PM an article Iíve written. Itís detailed and lengthy. But it works.
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Old 17-01-2021, 23:53   #14
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Re: Is this the difference between Cetol and varnish?

Perhaps you could do a search on

"The best marine varnish: Exterior wood finish tests"

Good luck
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Old 18-01-2021, 01:31   #15
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Re: Is this the difference between Cetol and varnish?

The thing is what type of finish are you looking for...if an amber orange peel is cool then ya Cetal is your huckleberry.


If you want a Steinway piano look then a conventional varnish like Petit Captains is the one.


If you go over 2 years in the Tropics without doing the brightwork then you don't care or have cataracts from not wearing your sunglasses.
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