How to Apply Varnish, Applying Varnish

How to Apply Varnish, Applying Varnish

Information and guide to the application of varnish.

Craftsman Style

Varnish should be put on in a thin coat, rapidly brushed out; if it is of good flowing quality and does not "set" rapidly, it is usual to brush it on with the grain of the wood, then cross-brush it, and again brush it with the grain; in this way inequalities in the coat are obliterated, and a fine uniform film is the result.

The varnish-user classifies woods as open-or close-grained; the most common open-grained woods are oak, chestnut, and ash; close-grained, the various sorts of pine, cedar, cypress, maple, birch, whitewood, cherry, etc. Open-grained woods must have the grain filled with what is called a wood filler; this is a sort of paint, made of silex, or ground quartz rock, mixed with a quick-drying varnish to the consistency of paste, hence called a paste filler; it is thinned with turpentine before using. It is nearly colorless; but if desired to stain the wood, before using, the filler may be colored as desired with an oil stain, which is a pigment ground in enough oil to make a paste; a little of this is added to the filler when thinning it. The filler is rubbed into the surface of the wood with a short, stiff brush. It will be fairly dry to the touch in a quarter to half an hour, and the surplus is then rubbed off with a handful of excelsior, rubbing hard across the grain of the wood, to force the filler into the pores as much as possible. Use sticks, not steel tools, to clean the filler out of corners and quirks of the woodwork. Interior trim is usually finished in its natural color; but sometimes the window-sash is stained, to resemble cherry or mahogany (with raw sienna); and sometimes the woodwork is colored with a dye dissolved in alcohol or turpentine; water stains are not used, except as to be described later. The filler should be allowed a day or two to dry, but close-grained woods do not require filling; then the first coat of varnish is applied. Greater economy will result if a coat of oil is first used, but it darkens the wood somewhat.

When the varnish is dry, in five to ten days, rub it with curled hair or excelsior to remove the gloss, and apply the second coat; treat this in the same way. This may, however, be rubbed lightly with fine sandpaper or glass-paper. If the third is to be the finishing coat (four coats are better), it may be left with the natural gloss, or it may be rubbed with pumice and water to a dull (flat) finish. The natural gloss is the most durable. For rubbing with pumice, a piece of felt is used; it may be had from half an inch to an inch in thickness; this is thoroughly wet with water, then a little powdered pumice is put on it, and the surface is rubbed with long, even strokes. From time to time the surface is washed off with clean water, wiped off with a piece of clean chamois-leather, dried with another chamois-leather, and examined.

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