Varnish problems with stripper

I’m building a Redfish King Strip built. Two years ago I built a Pygmy Arctic Tern. When I varnished I used Captains Varnish. I applied a coat to the hull or deck then ran the whole length of the boat with a dry foam brush to get rid of runs, bubbles and smooth everthing out while the varnish was still wet. I applied 3 coats then wet sanded and carefully applied the 4th coat. I had good results. I’m now applying the varnish to the stripper and having terrible results. I’m using West Systems varnish and I’m fighting runs. I cannot use the same technique of varnishing the whole deck or hull then running the whole length of the boat with the dry foam brush to smooth out everything because the varnish sets up too fast. I can cover only about 6 feet before the varnish starts getting tacky where I started. If I go back to smooth out a run etc it “marks” the tacky varnish and shows after drying. I’m now on the 5th coat with huge amounts of sanding to get rid of runs or marks from the previous coat before applying the new coat. I’ve tried thinning the varnish but the problem persists. The only difference is the brands of varnish. Anyone got any answers, experience or tips? HELP!!

Post your question at this link…

I’ll bet you someone there has had the same or similar problem with that brand of varnish and will be able to help you. There are quite a few “experts” that post there, including the guy that designed/sold you your kit!


I just completed…

– Last Updated: Aug-23-05 8:24 PM EST –

.....refinishing my Coho after 3 years of use. I don't have experience with Captain's varnish, only System Three's. I've built two Pygmy's and used System Three varnish. You are right that you can't varnish the whole top or bottom and tip off.

I get good results by rolling on varnish to a section about 2 feet long and tipping off from dry to wet. I don't get any runs unless I deserve them (too much varnish, etc.) and I don't get any brush marks, either.
On my first boat I learned on the very first coat that I had to work in short sections and the second coat taught me to tip from dry to wet. I guess I'm a slow learner but my boats look pretty darn good.

Also ditch the 3" foam brushes and get the 4". Apply under the coaming with a 1" and tip off with a brush notched to fit under the coaming.

Thanks for the tips.
I’ll keep plugging away. By the way TrippS. Hows the Night Heron coming?

Foam roller, foam tipping brush,
and not more than 3’ at a time tipping from dry to wet as said above. Works like a charm for me.

Foam Roller…
I tried a few other quality 1/8" rollers other than the Wooster T1Z that Pygmy recommends and didn’t get good results. I don’t agonize over it now and just buy them from Pygmy or direct from System Three. Their prices are cheaper than I have found them anywhere else.

Also, for varnishing, I cut them into sections 3" long and use a short roller. I find that I get better control of the distribution and have way fewer runs to deal with. Just a thought. It works for me.

I used Helmsman Spar varnish
from Lowe’s with a roller and had one run and I caused it. But I wasn’t looking for a mirror finish either.

Varnish types
You can also post your question on in their builder’s forum. From my experience I can tell you all varnish is not equal and many things to include temperature and humidity will affect set up time.