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Old May 10th, 2018, 05:41 AM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Central Coast - NSW, Australia
Posts: 1,471
to varnish or not to varnish

That is the question, wether tis nobler to suffer the marks & scratches of on-set use or to take arms against a sea of minor damage and by varnishing, minimise them.

I just got a new set of Kupo apple boxes and I'm not sure if I should just let them get battered about or hit them with some protection before they hit the set - any opinions?
Cheers - Paul M. :
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Old May 10th, 2018, 08:00 AM   #2
Obstreperous Rex
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Re: to varnish or not to varnish

Imaginary prize awarded for the best use of The Bard in a DVi post to date.

Meanwhile, do you have this stuff in Australia? Or similar. That would be my suggestion.

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Old May 11th, 2018, 06:48 AM   #3
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Central Coast - NSW, Australia
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Re: to varnish or not to varnish

woohoo! considering how long DVi's been going. that quite a prize (imaginary or not) - I'm going to imagine it on my wall.

We don't have that brand but similar, I was just concerned about making the surface slippery but I'm sure there is a matt sealer I can get
Cheers - Paul M. :
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Old May 11th, 2018, 09:08 AM   #4
Inner Circle
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Brisbane, Australia
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Re: to varnish or not to varnish

Actually, whilst we think of a gloss surface as being smoother and more prone to being slippery, the appearance of the coating is more to do with the internal reflectivity which can be reduced by the addition of a 'matting agent' such as silica particles.

The 'slipperyness' of a surface is due to the macro and/or micro (a little foggy on this as it has been a while) texture of the surface coating and is lab measured to be a certain value of a "static coefficient of slip resistance'. A change in the internal reflectivity via mixing in a matting agent will not affect this.

It's always possible that a matt finish version of a product could be a completely different chemistry and therefore technically a different product, but I doubt it. Your mileage may vary, etc.

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Old May 11th, 2018, 06:44 PM   #5
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Seattle WA
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Re: to varnish or not to varnish

Paul - this is another option.

It depends on how much work you want to put into it. Tompson's is definitely quick and I use it on my porch deck with a pump sprayer. The deck is 2-inch thick cedar planks and it will cause the water to bead like shown in the picture on the can so that's good. For the little boxes, though, brushing it on with a "chip brush" would be easy. economical, and less messy than spraying. It doesn't give a hard surface like varnish, though.

Another option is to varnish. If the wood is bare and has never been primed, then a few (two or more) prime coats will be needed, starting with a very dilute mix of varnish, then proceed to a less dilute mix, then on to full strength or maybe diluted 5 or 10 percent depending on what the manufacturer recommends. The early coats can be done with a cheap chip brush but the finish coats, for good looks and fewer brush hairs, should be with a better brush or a well used chip brush that has been cleaned. Varnish gurus will like to see six to eight finish coats ... never done that many cuz' not enough time in the season.

The ultimate, in both the amount of effort and cost, is to use an epoxy seal before going to varnish. A couple years ago I made a second set of hatch boards for the boat using mahogany plywood, and that is a very porous and soft wood. Applied prime and seal coats with an epoxy mixture and after surviving two winter seasons they are looking like new. I'm really impressed, and only have a couple varnish finish coats on them. Used "Smith's Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer" which I'm sure is not available in Australia but there is probably something similar and a marine store would be a place to look - ask for the "varnish expert".

A search for epoxy sealer at one of the Seattle marine stores:

Not sure I'd get "Smith's" stuff again - it was expensive! Mixed it in small batches using a digital letter scale and the micro-grams setting for weighing the mix. Sour grapes comment: Had to guess ad the specific gravity because the company contact, Mr Smith, wouldn't tell me because he said that was proprietary information.

Used the smallest grocery store plastic container (salad bar), did a tare weight, measured out a part one, mark side with plastic writing pen, measure out part 2 to the mark, and compare weights. Tweak the mixture a few drops to reach the proper proportion. It was really thin and runny but once it starts to set, it set really fast.

The epoxy prime route would be the most work but I can tell you, that surface is hard. Really hard. But it is the most work, at least initially, probably less work in the long term.

Epoxy mixes like to be well mixed, varnish and thinned varnish does not like to be mixed fast because it causes air bubbles. Do not shake a varnish can because it causes air bubbles. With varnish, air bubbles are not your friend.
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Old May 12th, 2018, 01:01 AM   #6
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Phoenix, AZ
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Re: to varnish or not to varnish

I'm coming in from the other side....They are Kupo apple boxes, are you kidding me? Varnish them??? I cannot even imagine saying to a grip or assistant "And make sure you don't scratch the apple boxes!" That makes me smile. But I am also the guy that tells friends and family to NEVER buy a used camera from a professional. My gear is not abused (mostly) but I am sure some of you would cringe when you see what I do to it on a job when necessary. Apple boxes are supposed to be used until you have to crush them trying to level a vehicle instead of gear.

Also, I have no idea what Andrew said ;-)

Kind Regards,

Been at this so long I'm rounding my years of experience down...not up!
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