Airline_BoatUSAd_10-12.qxd:Layout 1 10/18/12 4:14 PM Page 1
third coat to go on without a hitch. Sand
lightly with 120-grit paper. Don’t rub too
hard or you’ll go right back to bare wood.
If the varnish balls up into a gummy
mess, it needs longer to harden.
After sanding, it’s essential to remove
all of the sanding residue, dust, and
dirt. Use a vacuum cleaner with a brush
attachment on the woodwork and adjacent areas to remove as much dirt as
possible, then wipe down all woodwork
with a rag lightly dampened with solvent.
Turn the rag often to avoid spreading dirt
from one area to the next. Decant some
fresh varnish into a clean pot through a
strainer, but before starting to apply the
varnish, lightly wipe the surface with a
tack rag to remove the last remaining
traces of dirt. Wipe an area just ahead of
where you’ll be varnishing. For example,
I’ll wipe about three feet of toerail, then
leave my tack rag at the point that I
stopped wiping. Working toward the tack
rag, it’s easy for me to pick it up and give
the next three feet a quick wipe as I make
progress along the boat.
Think of laying on the varnish rather
than brushing it on. We’re not painting
a fence here – we’re on a journey to a
smooth, mirror-like gloss. Varnish should
be applied with a slow, deliberate stoke.
Grip the brush like a pen and draw it
across the wood, laying down a uniform
coat. If needed, you can
use two or three extra
sweeps of the brush to
distribute the varnish.
Finish by drawing the
can in hot
brush from the wet
area to the dry along
will make the
the length of the grain.
Reload the brush and
apply varnish to the
next section of wood,
“landing” the brush just
into the end of the wet edge. Repeat the
process until you reach the end of whatever you’re varnishing. Occasionally sight
along the work with your head almost
touching the surface. If you spot any
areas that you’ve missed, or you see runs,
make a note of them for touch-up with
the next coat. Don’t try to fix things now,
because varnish starts to skin up remark-