which short oil varnish?

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Forum topic by mtx77 posted 02-19-2013 07:27 AM 4770 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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24 posts in 2141 days

02-19-2013 07:27 AM

I see the term “varnish” in things like “to make your own danish oil, mix varnish, blo and MS”...”to make a tack cloth drip some varnish on cheeseclose” and “make a varnish washcoat by mixing by thinning 50%”.

I go into rockler looking for a varnish and only see spar varnish, poly, and varnish/oil mixtures. I asked an employee and they said it sounded like i wanted a pure varnish if i was doing things like washcoating and making danish oil but they dont really sell anything like that anymore.

It seems like Pratt & Lambert 38 would work great, but I can only find it in gallons.

Can someone suggest a brand good short oil varnish that i can get in smaller cans, and maybe where I can get some?

6 replies so far

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

943 posts in 3515 days

#1 posted 02-19-2013 11:42 AM

when I hear that word “varnish”, the first thing that comes to my mind is a sticky and messy coat of old school “oil” recipies that get dark with the years…...
To me, Tung oil or The linseed Oil used by painters (refined) is all I need. Both can be ordered online.

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5074 posts in 2614 days

#2 posted 02-19-2013 12:21 PM

P&L 38 comes in quarts, maybe ask your dealer if he can get those. Another good choice (IMHO) would be the Sherwin Williams Fast Dry Oil Varnish. This is also an alkyd resin varnish (like the P&L) but uses linseed oil as the drying oil as opposed to soya oil (the P&L), so it has quite a bit more amber color. Another one, and it may have been discontinued, would be the Cabot 8000 series. That would be 8000, 8001, 8002, etc. Each number is a different gloss. This was actually the McCloskey Heirloom varnish, but when Cabot bought them out they relabeled it with their name. There are some polyurethane formulas I guess, but I don’t use them so have no recommendations on that type of varnish. Polyurethane formulas are still varnish, just made with a different resin. A lot of the stuff labeled “tung oil”, “antique oil finish”, and several other names are just the mixture you describe. Take a look at this article by Bob Flexner, it quite interesting.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3866 days

#3 posted 02-19-2013 01:33 PM

I used to buy the Valspar 8000, but it’s been discontinued. I’ve also used Z-Spar and Epifanes spar varnish, all gloss. I mix it 1 part 100% tung oil, 2 parts varnish, 3 parts thinner, 1/2 part Japan Drier. Mix as much as you’ll need and throw away the left overs. Rub it on then wipe it off. Keep building the finish, until you get the gloss you’re after.

View bondogaposis's profile


4931 posts in 2472 days

#4 posted 02-19-2013 02:12 PM

View Purrmaster's profile


915 posts in 2214 days

#5 posted 02-21-2013 09:36 AM

Lots of stuff that isn’t labeled as varnish is actually varnish. I don’t think there’s such a thing as a “pure varnish.” Varnish is the result of taking an oil (tung oil, linseed oil, soybean oil, etc.) and cooking it at high temperatures with a resin (phenolic, alkyd, polyurethane). You do that and you get a varnish. Polyurethane anything is probably a varnish.

Things like danish oil is what you get when you mix varnish with a quantity of oil. When you mix in oil it make make the coating weaker and softer. But it also makes it easier to apply and makes the coating more flexible.

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2482 days

#6 posted 02-21-2013 12:09 PM

Varnish is a meaningless term. Read my blog. Aside from thinning a finish to alter the flow, further tinkering doesn’t make it “better.”

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

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