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I wanted to pass on what is so far promising for me and see if anyone has an opinion on this type of homemade varnish. Yesterday I mixed up a concoction of 1/3 Interlux Original spar, 1/3 turpentine (pure stuff), and 1/3 pure Tung oil. I wiped it on the blanks and left them wet for 15-20 minutes before wiping clean with a dry lint free paper towel. So far, the finish looks hard and is far more dust free and streak free than I would have imagined. It also seems much thinner (better in my opinion) and less plastic-like than my usual PU dipping which I am unable to do with this cold snap. If this continues to be promising, I may use it a lot more, as I see it as very easy to execute with minimal set up and good results. It is easier for me to take a short break from cutting blanks to wipe on another coat than it is to go upstairs and dip.

What am I missing out on here guys? What is going to go wrong that I am just not seeing yet. Being a pretty strict Helmsman guy for 5 years going, this is pretty new to me. Next to using the Landmark impregnant from Hal Bacon, this seems as easy as it gets.  (Bob Maulucci)

    I have used this sort of finish on a number of rods. The approach was taught to me by a professional cabinet maker. He felt that it was plenty durable and gave a  look that was "closer to the grain." He used about 4 coats but increased the varnish proportion and reduced the oil as the number of coats increased. The only problem I have had is that to do a nice smooth job you have to put the finish on before you wrap with the attendant difficulties of doing that.  (Doug Easton)


I've been messing around with making varnish and found this to be an excellent link for other tinkerers.  No financial interest, of course.  (Joe West)

    These formulas make spirit varnishes (alcohol based) as opposed to oil varnishes.  Some, I realize, have been successful using shellac on rods; most of us use a drying-oil based varnish.  Has anyone been using spirit varnish and can comment on its resistance to weathering?  (Jim Utzerath)

      BUT!!!  Take a look at the weird alchemists potions they sell for use with oil-based finishes.  I should have linked to this page instead:  scroll down and see some of the cool stuff.

      I too would be interested in hearing if anyone else is using spirit varnishes.  (Joe West)

    I've been using oil-based violin varnishes on wraps, following the "Golden Witch regimen" for the  more expensive Alchemist varnish.  Like the Alchemist varnishes, violin varnish contains no driers.  The procedure is:

    1.  thin coat of violin varnish; rotate for 1-1.5 hours

    2.  another thin coat of violin varnish; rotate for 3-4 hours

    3.  coat of regular spar; rotate for 8 hours

    Excellent penetration, especially for clear wraps.  I usually add a tad of extra driers to the spar for step 3.

    For varnishing the entire rod, since driers are not present, I would think it would be difficult to use.  UV light is supposed to speed up the curing process, though.  (Rich Margiotta)

      Do you have any recommendations for using Japan Drier? I have some, but have only added miniscule amounts to spar or walnut oil varnish for wraps. Is it useful, and how? Thanks,  (Bob Maulucci)

        The stuff I use as a drier is called "siccativ" which is actually a generic name for driers, from International Violin.

        I'm sure it's essentially the  same as Japan driers (lead/ cobalt mixture, I think).  I only add a few drops to about 10 ml of varnish.  I haven't done any tests, but I think it helps kick the violin varnish.  (Rich Margiotta)

    If memory serves me, Chris Lucker makes copal varnish. I believe the ingredients are available at a well stocked art store.

    Bob Nunley also posted a spirit varnish recipe in 2/2000 if anyone's interested.  (Mike Shay)


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