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Sunday, April 17, 2011

3rd Varnish Coat Begins. 83 hours,

Varnish is interesting stuff and all about learning the technique required and that technique will be different for each brand of varnish and for every 10 degrees different the temperature is, even the humidity changes the "feel" of each coat. It's "wet-edge" working time is about twice as long as the clear coat I used on my Glen-L "Zip" runabout which makes it a bit more forgiving. Perhaps this is mostly due to the fact the temps are a good 20 degrees cooler than when I clear coated the Zip. The first coat I applied entirely with a 3" foam brush. It worked pretty good, although I did have one run and a couple "holidays". On the second coat I experimented with rolling the varnish on, then tipping it smooth with a 3" foam brush. That produced excellent results on the sides above the green trim but I couldnt keep a "wet-edge" long enough around the cockpit coaming so that produced ugly lap marks. I also wanted to try a regular brissled brush and did so for the second interior coat and 2nd cockpit coaming coat. It worked fine but the foam brush lays a much more consistent thickness of varnish so I will stick with the foam. You'll also need to learn how to control how your varnish behaves in different atmospheric conditions. Different brands of varnish have different "solids" contents and this will also greatly effect how much thinner needs to be added. In the pics below you can see the 3rd coat of varnish applied to the sides. The deck has been sanded with 220 then 320 in prep for its 3rd coat.

I think 3 coats is all I will need if I can get this 3rd coat applied nicely. The epifanes varnish is pretty thick and gives very good coverage. In the photo below I have already applied the 3rd coat to the sides with the roll and tip method thinned 10-12%. I will let this cure then in a couple days I'll tape along the deck/side seam and do the deck seperate this time, that way I wont get another run from the deck onto the sides. The tape line will be on a wood joint line and therefore be invisible especially if the tape is pulled before the varnish hardens. I will apply the 3rd coat to the deck with a foam brush only so I can work from bow to stern and equally along the cockpit coaming to keep the all important "wet-edge" as I work aft around both sides of the cockpit. I think varnishing with the roll and tip methond would be very easy on the deck if the cockpit coaming were left un-installed until after varnishing so you didnt have to try and work around it quickly. If I ever build another wood kayak I think I would do just that.

Varnishing a kayak this size is pretty easy to do by yourself but I can imagine that doing a large boat would be difficult to keep the "wet-edge" going and not have a section skin over before you got back to it. I would think if doing the deck of a large boat it would be nice to have a second experienced varnisher so that each person could start at the bow and tackle one side of the boat working all the way aft. If I decide to sand a re-coat my Glen-L "Zip" Runabout deck, I might have to train a varnish helper by having them do the build up coats with me before the finish coat.

Hopefully I can get the varnish on the deck done and the seat and seatback done by the end of next weekend.

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