Some Of The Work Out Of Maintaining Varnished
Well cared for varnish work, be it interior or exterior,
definitely spruces up even the simplest yacht. A
trick we have used on all of our boats (which by
today's standards have a lot of varnish work on
deck) definitely makes keeping it shiny far easier.
No matter how careful you may be, varnished surfaces
on a boat will get scratched or scuffed. No matter
how many coats of varnish there are, any scratch
that breaks the surface will eventually allow water
to stain the wood beneath it. To prevent this you
need to sand and touch up the scratched area. But
finding, then opening a can of varnish, cleaning
a brush and finding sandpaper takes time and makes
a mess. So a varnish touch-up kit is a must. We
have cut all but one inch of the wooden handle off
a medium-sized artist brush (soft bristles). Then
we clean out a spice jar, drill a small hole in
the plastic top and thread a pan-headed (self-tapping)
screw through the lid and into the wood of the shortened
handle on the brush. We fill the jar with varnish.
A rubber band secures a piece of sandpaper to the
bottle and the kit is kept easily accessible in
the cockpit locker.
Once a week when we are cruising, we wander around
with this kit, sanding and feathering any damaged
spots on our varnished hatches and spars and brushing
on fresh varnish, leaving an eighth inch sanded
area at the edges to help us find the spot again.
Over the next several days we sand the area again,
going a bit beyond the previous patch to make sure
the edge feathers nicely. Then we add another coupt
of touch up varnish. If it is not time to varnish
the whole hatch or cabinside when we do the fourth
touch up we varnish right to the edge of the sanded
area. Now the patch has a good thick coating that
will blend in very well when we put the half yearly
fresh coat over the whole hatch or cabinside.
If we catch the scratch before the wood beneath
it has had a chance to discolor, you can barely
see where the varnish patch up has occurred. If
not, we find there is some color difference, but
one only we notice. Visitors only seem to see that
over-all the varnish looks shiny and the wood beneath
is a rich lovely color.
This brush in a bottle system also works fine for
paintwork. But for some reason it is more difficult
to seal paint into a bottle than varnish. So we
keep the paint and varnish touch up kit together
in a sealed plastic box on Taleisin.