Blog — Varnish RSS

The "Joy" of Sanding

I have a love/hate relationship with sandpaper. Before M&T, I spent better than a decade working on boats – mostly small, wooden sailboats, with the occasional lobster yacht or Nordic tug thrown into the mix. There was a beautiful Herreshoff Rozinante, built as finely as a violin, or that 1937 International One Design racing sailboat from Norway that had sunk three different times – each time, she was raised and repaired. I primarily did paint and varnish work, which meant that I spent winters sanding. A lot of sanding. At the end of each season, all the removable brightwork– tillers, wheels, seats, dropboards, hatches – I pulled off the boat, cataloging and shelving it all in my heated varnish room. The...

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The Unvarnished Truth About Shellac

Before I started working with Joshua in the studio doing conservation work, I spent over 10 years with some very pretty and very expensive boats. My primary gig was marine varnish, a seasonal process of sanding off last year's gloss, touching up, taping, cleaning, brushing on a coat of varnish, letting it dry, then sanding again and getting even more fussy about cleanliness in preparation for a final coat. Typically, the cleaning process involved thoroughly vacuuming the boat, washing with water, a wipedown with mineral spirits or alcohol (depending on my mood that day), then hitting everything with a tack cloth before finally beginning to coat. For new boats, this process is repeated 8 or more times over a period...

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