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Somewhere in one of hundreds of List posting I read that some have warmed their varnish to make it flow better.  I just put a coat of straight Z-spar 2015 on the wraps of an impregnated blank (not going to varnish the whole blank, just the wraps).  The stuff is really thick.  I can already tell I'm headed for the same lumpy finish I got on the first couple rods.

Should I warm a small amount in the microwave before applying the next coat?  Is there a chance that the stuff would explode in the microwave?  I still have kids to raise.

What about mixing in a little Penetrol.  I tried that on a test wrap but it looked to thin 80/20 varnish to Penetrol.  Seemed to slow the drying time down (as advertised).

Or am I just going to have to learn to sand the wraps without snaging some silk?

I really want to create a smooth flat finish on the wraps.  But I'm guessing my way through this.  My confidence level is very low after the first coat of some really expensive varnish.  (David Bolin)

    Don't microwave varnish! some things in the varnish do not microwave well. Warm water bath or I have a little lab temp adjust warmer.  (Timothy Troester)

    I remember someone saying they used a shot glass set in an old baby bottle warmer. I have not seen a baby bottle warmer at a garage sales in many years. How about one of those coffee cup warmers? Put a coffee mug of water on it with a shot glass of varnish in the water. Same thing. Could also use one of those scented candle warmers.  (Dick Fuhrman)

      It also sounds like the varnish is really thick out of the can. Warming only goes so far. In fact as varnish is heated it begins to evaporate. So, I would thin it a bit as well.  (Doug Easton)

    Thinning varnish works for me.  But you have to take care in thinning.  5% will make a big difference and 10% would probably be a maximum.  I use several coats of varnish thinned 10%.  (Al Baldauski)

    It sounds like the stuff you are using is way too thick. i would get a small can of Minwax. you can thin that just a little with turps or mineral spirits and it should work fine. i put about six or seven coats on before i get too sanding wraps.  (Mike Canazon)

    What I use to thin varnish or glue is to use my heat gun.  It does a very good job and is real quick fix especially in the winter time.  Another good use for a heat gun.  (Tom Peters)

    I think getting a small can of varnish & thinning it for wraps is a good idea. Heat/warm it in a pan of water.

    My dip tube is incased within a 4" PVC pipe with a input near the top that a hair dryer fits. On the side near the bottom are holes around the circumference for the hot/warm air to exit. By regulating how many holes are open I can control the varnish temp.  (Don Schneider)

    I use Epiphanes, which is really thick stuff, and apply it with a brush. First I dip out a small amount into a glass baby food jar, thin it, and then hold it up in front of the halogen work lamp I use to check the progress of my varnish work. Let it heat up slowly and you'll see all of the tiny bubbles come to the top and pop. When there is no more air in the varnish, brush it on.... make sure you set the jar on a board or something as it will be too hot to hold. Works for me.  (Mike Givney)


I recently found an item that might interest some of  you all.  It's called a "cozy-up warmer", and is basically a small hot plate with an on-off switch used for heating potpourri  (I was actually looking for the old style coffee cup warmer, which they stopped making, but this thing is exactly the same).  I got it at the local craft store (Michael's around here).

It's great - you just set your pint can of varnish on the plate and turn on the switch. 15 minutes or so later it's around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It would also work with varnish in small glass jars (like a baby food jar).   (Chris Obuchowski)

PS: The other heater that I got recently is called a "brew-band". It's a flexible strip heater designed to wrap around a carboy (read big glass tank) used to brew beer.  It holds the temp of the liquid at between 75-80F.

I've got it wrapped around (actually vertically up) the side of my dip tank to warm the varnish.  I have the whole thing wrapped in foil backed pipe insulation -  though I have to add the disclaimer that the packaging for the brew-band says not to over wrap with insulation to avoid overheating.  I bought it at the local home brew supply store.

    There's a small heater called a Golden Rod that Cabelas sell. I've been using one successfully for a few years as a heater in my drying cabinet and it keeps the temp at a constant 80 degrees F. Before varnishing, I hang the varnish tube and rod sections in the heated cabinet overnight or longer, and while the sections are drying.  (Ron Grantham)


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