I am trying to varnish the tiller of my boat with a marine PU varnish (International Compass - Datasheet).

I have hung the tiller from the ceiling (in a spare room at room temperature) using a screw in an existing hole. I have applied a couple of coats with my brush, but I always seem to get dry spots and some runs. If I use more varnish, I get less dry spots and more runs and vice versa.

Between coat I have been using a utility knife blade to scrape away high spots and when I am satisfied I have given the whole tiller a light sanding with wet sanding paper (400 grit).

I am quite inexperienced in varnishing, so I appreciate any tips and tricks.

I am considering if I need to use thinner to make it more liquid (it always seems to be already gelling when I am done applying it to the whole tiller, so I don't brush it over after I am done).

I am now at the point where I consider just living with the defects unless I get some hint about how to put a "perfect" coat on. In that case I would let it cure for a week or two, take out the high spots and then apply a final coat.

I'd appreciate any help finishing off the project!

  • 1
    Hi, welcome to Woodworking. I'm not sure how much help brief written descriptions are going to be here. Varnish application is like many things with various facets, you can describe it briefly or well, but not both. One thing I will say is that, as a new or first-time varnisher you shouldn't expect a perfect result! Varnishing is hard. Almost nobody says it plainly like that but that's the truth. Old books didn't mince words and sometimes say straight out that it's a job for experts only, that's how hard it used to be considered [contd] – Graphus Jan 21 '20 at 13:26
  • ....in an era where people were expected to be able to successfully paint their entire house, inside and out, from written descriptions (and possibly not a single image) in the same book o_O – Graphus Jan 21 '20 at 13:26
  • The instructions you posted actually do say that it should be thinned for brushing, so I think that's probably worth trying. – SaSSafraS1232 Jan 21 '20 at 16:48
  • Have you tried brushing and then running over the brushed surface with a foam brush? Just a light touch of a foam brush can help remove the running varnish and spread it over well. I did that with my boat's deck and it looks ok (the tiller is a mess though I'll admit as I was getting tired and sloppy!) – Tallmaris Jan 28 '20 at 11:33

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