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I have been using Minwax poly for dipping for over a year. I decided to try the traditional approach and contacted Mike Brooks and he has helped me procure the correct traditional materials. I now have Walnut/amber varnish and Waterlox spar and was starting to use it the other night. I cracked the can of Turpentine and WOW!!! The smell on my hands took two days to leave and the smell is still in the basement. To make matters worse, my wife is 10 weeks pregnant and her good nose is even BETTER.

Question......any suggestions on dealing with the smell or should I stick with poly? To make things worse, her recently late father liked to restore furniture and maybe the smell is triggering things there too. She hasn't said for sure. This all started when I tried to mix up a little bottle for wraps and spilled a little turp on the top of the can when thinning.

Any suggestions?  (Barry Janzen)

    I would suggest mixing this in a bathroom with the vent left on. I varnish in the basement bathroom, which is seldom used anyhow. I let the vent run for several hours. As you walk out and shut the door shoving a towel at the bottom of the door should minimize any odors. If there is a heat/ac register in the bathroom I would strongly recommend closing it to prevent dust from coming into the room. This has worked great for me so far.  (Scott Bearden)

    Look for an odorless thinner at an art store. I found it at a Hobby Lobby.  (Winston Binney)

      I got mine at Walmart in the Gallon size.  (Tony Spezio)

        What is the thinner called? Is it odorless mineral spirits?  (Barry Janzen)

          It is labeled  "Klean Strip" Odorless Mineral Spirits. It is in a white plastic container with a white label that has blue and yellow accents. Don't remember what it cost  for the gallon. On another note, I finally found some Naphtha and used it for the first time. I just used it to thin Helmsman for applying to wraps. Don Schneider mentioned it on the list. I found the Helmsman did not jell in the container like it did with Mineral Spirits. Personally I like it better.   (Tony Spezio)

    How about a room, air-circulation unit with a big HEPA filter? My shop is heated and cooled by the home system, and several years beck, I installed a HEPA filter in the return duct. I'm not certain what the spec. sheets promise on these filters, but no matter what smells accumulate in the shop, nothing seems to make it back into the house.

    On the other hand, no matter what finishes you use, the "best" one is probably the one you apply best. Potentially, this might involve a lot of things, as our list has shown, but just switching products isn't likely to give you the quantum leap you may be looking for. (Of course, we don't know what your complaints may be with your "old" system.) Your new results may be somewhat different, and it probably feels good to use traditional materials, but the end-results may not necessarily be better.  (Bill Harms)

      My old system of poly worked well. Good finish but just chipped too easy and had a "plastic" look and too clear. I was wanting a more amber look and the ability to buff and polish in the future.  (Barry Janzen)

        Polishing a poly finish is just as easy as a spar varnish. I use the Nova, three-part product, but there are many others out there. Any of them will knock the edge off that glaring, plastic look quickly and easily.

        It's true that the Minwax poly is very clear, and lacks that nice, traditional, amber hue. But this, too, is easily altered. Just and a drop or two of your favorite coloring agent into the can, and you're good to go.

        I'm saying these things, not because I think you should go back to your old system, but only to level the playing field a bit so you can decide.  (Bill Harms)

          Thanks for those tips, maybe I should stick with my poly at least until I can make a "dipping room" to contain the smell. My wife would be more understanding later I think. Right now morning/day sickness is about to kill her. Any odor is sending her to the bathroom. How about the chipping problem. Wouldn't spar be more durable? A year ago, I decided that poly was the best option for me. Spar seemed to have too many problems. Maybe I should just pause and back up. (Barry Janzen)

            Yeah, your chipping problems with a poly finish.... I didn't mention anything about that because I've never heard of it before, so I really don't know what to offer. Over the years, I've used a variety of polyurethane finishes on all sorts of woodworking projects (dining room tables, chairs, etc.), but I haven't had any chipping issues happen to me.  I wonder if anyone else on the list can chime in here with some insights or experiences.   (Bill Harms)

    And the problem is??????? Turpentine smells GOOD!<g>  (John Channer)

      Smell that?  Smell that??!

      There's only one thing that smells like that.

      That smell!  That gasoline smell! I love the smell of nepalm in the morning...

      Sorry, couldn't resist!  I'll go hide now... (Dennis Haftel)

      Kinda like hops.  I'm a hop-head.  I love the smell of hops in the wort while it's boiling.  Unfortunately, SWMBO doesn't.  Hence, my beer brewing, as well as my work on grass fishing poles, has been relegated to the "shop" and not the kitchen.  (Mark Wendt)

        SHOULDN'T good beer be made in the shop anyway?


        As far as turps being something a wifething shouldn't smell...if she complains about the smell, just say "What smell?" and stick to it. "I don't know what you're talking about." If she eventually breaks you down and beats you, pull out one of those car freshener things that looks like a little pine tree and tell her it's that she smells. That you thought she'd like it!

        Also tell her that the powered rougher in the living room is really a "Home Theater" unit. She'll thank you for being so thoughtful.  (Mike Shay)


I just recently had to touch up the wood rails on my pram. The product used by the manufacturer is Waterlox marine varnish and sealer. I had to order more than I would ever need for touch up so, I wondered if anyone has ever used this finish on their blanks or reel seats?  (Paul McRoberts)

    I know at least one of the famous old-time builders used Waterlox on rods, and CSE ( I think) sold it for a while.  The formulation is based on tung oil, and it is damn fine varnish.  (Brian Creek)


I am looking for some input on using Waterlox as a dip finish after applying their sealer, I want to use there gloss for a final finish and dip after the guides are done.  (Steve Kiley)

    I use the Waterlox varnish/sealer thinned with Penetrol for wraps and brush finishing. I have not used it for dipping.  (Frank Paul)

    I'm NO rodmaker but I've used Waterlox on a lot of wood projects. I made a hard maple workbench and used pure tung oil as an underlayer (sealer) then a few coats of Waterlox and it's still in splendid condition.

    I know you asked about their sealer (which I've never used) but just as an offhand feeling I think you'd be well off with it. With the Waterlox I used, it was a good enough varnish topcoat that I’m guessing a couple of dipped coats applied to a raw bamboo blank would seal it well enough without having to use a sealer first.

    If you try this please let me know but I'd almost be willing to say I'd buy a test rod if she's a 7'6" -8' 4wt that didn't please you. Really.

    It's a really good product even without any sealcoat underneath. If you've heard anything different about the sealcoat then I'd be well to listen but I'd use it alone on the blank. I've considered doing that very thing myself when I get to cutting cane.

    Let me know if you find anything not to your liking Steve.  (Jeremy Gubbins)

    When you talk about Waterlox, are you talking about the "original" gloss or the "original marine" gloss?  The local Woodcraft carries both, but I've not heard a distinction made on the list.  (John Dotson)

      Check out the Waterlox web site to help define the various products.

      Reading and guessing, I'd say the original Waterlox was Tung oil diluted with a solvent to speed up penetration.

      The Marine version has a resin added to provide a number of benefits and I would suggest that you seriously consider this version, as it seems to be for this exterior and watery use we are accustomed to, if you use Waterlox.  (Dave Burley)

      I don't know about anyone else but I bought THIS product from a place in Washington state for $55/gal. It's what I used on my workbench 20 yrs ago. Still a great looking top!

      In reading some posts (I'm not a rodmaker yet) it would seem appropriate to thin it  some for  our uses.  I'll  continue  to listen/learn...but I wouldn't bat an eye at using this stuff after thinning somewhat.

      You guys would know those ratio's, I don't but I'd guess it's less than 50/50 varnish to thinner?? (Artist's grade turpentine??..I’m listening here)  (Jeremy Gubbins)

    Thanks all for your input. I spoke with the company today and they were very helpful. It was recommended that I use the regular sealer and high gloss, the only difference was the marine has UV inhibitors, it has the same waterproofing qualities as the marine product. They kept saying that it was the best at keeping water out as the name implies Waterlox. I guess the regular high gloss is used on canoes quite a bit, so i am going to try sealing the ferruled blank by soaking it in the sealer for 10 or 15 minutes and wiping off, that should be long enough to get some good penetration, let set for 24 hours then 2 dips with high gloss cut 10% with turpentine as was suggested by Jim, let cure and do my wraps and then 1 final dip, that is kind of my normal procedure. I am giving this a try because in a test it really brought out the color and grain in my ammonia tempered cane.  (Steve Kiley)


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