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I've been using "Schooner"  for years and have my ritual down pat.

I am changing out the varnish in the tube today. I have two quarts of Schooner and two quarts of Epifanes.  I've never used Epifanes but would like to. For those who have used both, if you are out there, is the thinning regimen the same for Epifanes as it is for Schooner? Can I use it straight until it needs to be topped off? Should I thin first? Is this even the right stuff? These cans are blue labeled with gold and white stripes and is named high gloss, clear varnish.  If this is the wrong stuff, should I start building my wood boat now? I like Penetrol as a thinner, anyone using this for Epifanes?  (Mike Shay)

    I've never tried International Schooner, Epifanes Clear Varnish is  all I've ever used in my tube.  I do thin it app. 15% with Epifanes own thinner and a table spoon of  Epifanes Retarder. The varnish is very thick unthinned, like syrup, so I've never tried it full  strength other than on the wraps.

    When used on wooden boats, they recommend to thin it 50% on the first  coat, 40% on the next and so on finishing of with full strength on the last coat.  (Danny Twang)


Because I only make one rod per year, I have the problem that the varnish will get jelly inside my dipping tube all the time and I have to buy another can each time - which is not very economical I think ;-)

I used Epifanes spar varnish until now and I'm quite happy with the results. Do any of you have recommendations how to solve this problem or should I give a try to another product. If so, which one will do the job?  (Markus Rohrbach)

    In my experience polyurethane products are less likely to spoil in the can.  That might be an option worth pursuing.  Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane is popular on this side of the pond.  Perhaps something similar is available to you.  (Harry Boyd)

    I have two suggestions for your problem:

    1) We have something in the States called Bloxygen. It's an oenologist's product, I'm told, but we use it to displace the air in our cans and dip tanks. It may be available at either liquor stores or paint/hardware stores. I believe it contains argon and has a needle-tube nozzle to spray it into the container. It's sort of pricey at about $10 a can, but if you're using Epifanes, it'll probably seem rather cheap by comparison to losing your dip. And you don't use much each time - even though it feels absolutely empty when you buy it!


    2) You can take a gallon (or so) bottle, put some sodium bicarbonate in it, and pour some vinegar (acetic acid) and they will generate CO2 (carbon dioxide). The trick is to pour the gas into the varnish without pouring the generating fluid WITH it! You probably need to use about an ounce of each chemical.  (Art Port)

      If I can find the stuff here in Switzerland I'll give the Bloxygen option a try with my next can of varnish.

      Art, you wrote that it contains argon. We use this stuff in our welder as a protective gas.  Do you think this will work as well?  (Markus Rohrbach)

        Bloxygen is argon. Welding gas much cheaper if you have a bottle and regulator.  (Larry Tucker)

        You can use pretty much anything that displaces oxygen.  I've been using the stuff that comes in a pressurized can that computer shops use to blow out keyboards and inside the CPU box.  It's the oxygen that "oxidizes" the finish and starts to cure it.  Get rid of the O2, and little to no cure.  The gas has to be heavier than oxygen though, in order to displace it.  I'm guessing helium probably wouldn't work so good...  ;-)  (Mark Wendt)

        As an alternative and far less expensive gas, use Propane, it works well. I see people stressed about using Propane because it is a fuel gas. Give me a break ! That small amount of gas is nothing.  (James (JED) Dempsey)

          How about inserting marbles to raise the level of varnish in the can?  (Don Schneider)

    I’ve used Epifanes until very recently. I found it good for final coating but a bit fiddly for silk wrapping. No doubt it’s a good finish and strong varnish. However, I’ve bought some International Goldspar – a poly product – which was recommended by experienced bamboo rod makers. I can’t believe the ease of application on silk wraps. It seems much thinner than the oil varnishes – Epifanes included - I’ve seen in the past.

    I’ve heard that in the past poly varnishes have had less tolerance to UV and breakdown sooner than oil varnishes. So that may be something to consider as a tradeoff.  (Boris Gaspar)

      I always thinned the  Epifanes varnish by adding 25% thinner. Do you use the Goldspar varnish right out of the can or did you thin hem too. If so, how much thinner you recommend?  (Markus Rohrbach)

        When I used Epifanes I thinned the varnish for final coating - I used the pour on method for my rods since I don't have a dip tube. I thinned it much the same as you mentioned but for the first two coats I thinned it 50% with naphtha and decreased the thinner on successive coats.

        When varnishing silk wraps with Epifanes I can say categorically that neat Epifanes varnish always produced the best results for me. I learned to not use thinner when applying to silk. Thinned Epifanes soaked in well but always left 'shimmers' later down the track, sometimes the shimmers didn't show up until a month later when the varnish fully dried.

        I found the best results, and to aid penetration when I used Epifanes on silk was to use it straight. I heated up small quantities in a small metal vessel and applied it while warm. It produced very good results with no shimmers even months later when the varnish fully dried.

        I've only just started using Goldspar but it's a lot thinner and penetrates the silk very well, especially when warmed up. Not a shimmer in sight!  (Boris Gaspar)


I have just got hold of my first tin of Epifanes varnish.  It's called Werdol out here.  Also got some walnut alkyd medium, which was a work like unto the labors of Hercules in this country.

Can some of you who are experienced with Epifanes please tell me whether or not it sort of usually looks like chicken fried steak gravy, or do I need to heat mine up a bit to see if it clears before using it?

Other question - I have always used a polyurethane spar varnish (International Goldspar, Interlux over your way) to dip my rods.  Is dipping in something like Epifanes a viable option, or Waterlox? Just thought it might be nice to use something that was sans plastic for a change.  (Peter McKean)

    The gravy look is due to suspended solids, it needs stirring prior to use. I understand that Wayne Cattanach puts ball-bearings in his dip tube and rolls it around to get things stirred up prior to dipping. I used it for a couple of rods and was very pleased with the results, but it gelled in the tube in the months before another rod was ready to dip. That may have been my fault and not Epifanes. (Henry Mitchell)

    I don't know where "out here" is, but if it is Australia, I'd call up  SCOMAR distributors, div of Imtech.

    If you have the "matte" finish, the silica matting agent may need to be stirred up gently - no shaking.  If it is thick like gravy, it probably is oxidized and gelled and no good.  If you have the "gloss" version it should be amber and clear and not too viscous, certainly not gravy. You will see below they suggest that for large areas you chill it to 4 to 7 C, which is the temperature where a (gin) martini has its maximum viscosity, before application.  So it is probably not that thick at room temperature.  (Dave Burley)

    As you know I'm a bamboo novice, take my opinion with some reservation, However, I've used Epifanes/Werdol for my first rod, and so far, for the wraps on the second rod. It does look somewhat like you described when in the tin or in a container but finishes clear and brilliantly glossy. When applying to silk on first application I have better results if I add Epifanes 'stunt oil' to the varnish and heat it. It seems to penetrate better and reduces trapped air. All subsequent coats on the silk I are straight out of the tin.

    I can't see why you wouldn't use it for dipping although I poured my finish on which gave me acceptable results. I also reduced the viscosity by adding Werdol thinner.  (Boris Gaspar)


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