need advice, paddle refinishing

Kind of frustrating weekend. My Bending Branches laminated wood canoe paddles have worn down to the bare wood on the edges and I want to touch up the finish before my next trip May 15.

The Bending Branches web site says: “Apply two or three thin coats of solvent based (not water based) outdoor or marine grade polyurethane.” I have never heard of solvent-based polyurethane, only oil based and water based. (Could “solvent-based” mean oil-based?)

So I drove to West Marine 30 miles away, and they didn’t have anything they would describe as solvent-based polyurethane. The only polyurethane was tinted for paint (“Hatteras White” and such). So as not to waste the trip I bought a pint of Epifanes clear varnish (extra UV-filter, it says).

So, you wood finishers and paddle gurus, can I use the Epifanes? Just sand my paddles lightly, thin the Epifanes a little with turpentine, and apply it?

I have a similar need to refinish the thwarts in my canoe where squirrels have chewed them a bit, I assume for some minerals/salts in the finish. (They chew pressure-treated wood on my woodshed and my deck occasionally.)

Thank you for any advice you can give! I saved my West Marine receipt in case the Epifanes is totally wrong and I have to take it back.

G in NC

Epifanes is ok. They say solvent
based because the “oil” does not go into the final product (the hardened varnish) but into the atmosphere. If you thin a varnish with turpentine or mineral spirits, those go into the atmosphere while the varnish constituents harden.

Probably close to right, but some geek will refine it.

Simple rule.

– Last Updated: May-01-12 2:05 PM EST –

If finish cleanup instructions say "clean with water", it's water-based. If they say "clean with solvent (mineral spirits, lacquer thinner, etc,), it's solvent-based. edit:(Bnystrom is right - that should be "oil-based")

Helmsan “indoor/outdoor spar urethane”
works very well. I have gotten it at Sherwin Williams paint store, and yes it is solvent based. may also have gotten it at Ace Hardware.

Yes, That’s What I Use
But too much humbug touching up my paddles all the time with all the sanding and multiple coats. It’s a full time job with kid’s paddles. So now I only buy paddles that come with Dynel or some other protective band around the entire outer edge of the paddle. This way spend more time out on the water instead of doing repairs.

I also use Helmsman Spar poly.
home depot carries it.

Epifanes is good stuff
Sometimes I bleached the wood to remove the dark color where the raw wood aged. Then I varnished. Now I don’t varnish at all. I either oil along the handle or paint after filling the blade damage with epoxy.

I’m wondering what to do with my Lumpy. I think I’ll fill in the missing chunks with epoxy, sand the whole thing some more and then about 4 or six more coats of oil.

doesn’t get better than Epifanes …

– Last Updated: May-01-12 12:31 AM EST –

..... the Epifanes marine grade (spar) varnish is as good as it gets . It's a tung oil base and phenolic modified alkyd resin . It's a "spar" varnish ( a real one) , it does what it (a spar varnish) is suppose to do , expand-contract and flex under the changing exterior and marine environment w/o developing micro cracks .

Sand the paddle's edges as needed to fair and smooth , put the 1st coat on , you can (should) cut the 1st coat up to 50% w/turpintine to get it to soak deeper into the raw wood and let dry (the sealer coat) , you can do a 2nd sealer coat w/the cut mixture also ... re-sand w/finer paper and coat again (do not cut , thin) following coats after the sealer coats) .

Aplly the uncut coats (at least 2 is best) in a thin layer , although the Epifanes is high solids and rather thick just apply it thinnly and don't over work it , keep moving up the line . Sand between each coat , let each coat dry fully before re-coating .

Epifanes has their own flow agent additive if you want to use it ... makes things a little easier and levels smoother if that matters to you .

Not exactly

– Last Updated: May-01-12 7:02 AM EST –

The oils and resins in varnish (whether traditional or polyurethane) combine with oxygen from the air as they cure. The oil doesn't evaporate. As you stated, any thinners will evaporate, but they're not a structural part of the finish.

For varnishing a paddle, I don't seen any point in thinning the varnish. Epiphanes flows pretty well straight out of the can.

"Solvent-based" is just a poor description of oil-based varnish.

It is an excellent varnish
I refinished my S&G with Epiphanes. It was the easiest to use as well as being (it seemed) a bit thicker than the stuff I’d used earlier. Has a beautiful gloss.

Epifanes , not the other Epiphanes …

– Last Updated: May-01-12 11:49 PM EST –

...... Antiochus IV Epiphanes , the wicked Seleucid ruler guy 2nd century BC , Babylon , Hebrew (Jewish) persecutor causing the Maccabean revolt ... Jews kicked some Seleucid butt and celebrate it by the festival of "Hanukkah" .

The breakup and division of Alexander the Great's empire after his death , his generals attempting to be rulers of parts of the empire became "satraps".

Perdiccas (a general) became the empire's regent and now comes Seluecus (a commander and chief for Perdiccas) and soon was party to the assasination of Perdiccas to establish himself in Babylon ... Seleucus was fearse and became a strong ruler with a big army , Seleucus's rise to power began the "Seleucid" Empire ... Antiochus IV Epiphanes was a decendant of Seleucus and successive ruler .

I used the Minwax Helmsman…
…on my Grey Owl kayak paddle, but I may have laid it on too thick because after I hung them to dry I noticed runs later that weren’t there after I finished brushing it on. The stuff is so thick that it took several minutes for these runs to develop and by then it was too dry to do anything about them but wait for full hardening, sanding and reapplying. I would like to thin it, but the instructions say you should not. I guess the solution is to apply extremely thin coats then, right?

Thank you all very much!
I will proceed with the Epifanes. I am so glad I don’t have to drive back to Raleigh to return it!

Just to add a happy note: The paddles will get a nice workout on a beautiful blackwater river in NE North Carolina: the Cashie. My canoe partner and I are going to camp on platforms in the swamps down there. Roanoke River Partners, a nonprofit, has done a nice job of constructing camping platforms in order to attract paddlers to that part of NC, where the enonomy has taken a lot of blows.

I had previously posted here to get recommendations on a new canoe. In the end we shortened the distance and decided to take our old Old Town Osprey. Slow as can be. But who’s in a hurry! Thanks again, all.

G in NC