I am in the process of looking for a varnish. I was going to go with Pratt and Lambert Varmor, but I can't find it in stock anywhere within 100 miles and the only store that will order it wants me to buy a minimum of two gallons. Any suggestions on other polyurethane brands? (Mike Mihalas)
Quite a few use Helmsman or Man-O-War (AJ Thramer)
As for the Pratt and Lambert, I understand your dilemma. I use P&L Varmor R10 and I have to drive about 80 miles to get it, and if that store is out, It's another 70 on to the next place. Funny, Sherwin Williams now owns Pratt and Lambert, but I'm having a hard time getting the local SW Store to keep it. There are a lot of good varnishes out there. Pratt and Lambert is just one of many that make a good rod varnish. A search of the archives or suggestions from others that will respond to your email will probably turn up a good many varnishes that you can get locally. One time, it was time to replace my P&L, but I didn't have time to get away and drive the 80 miles to get a gallon, so I went to a local hardware store and bought a gallon of cheap outdoor gloss Poly to finish a few rods with. I did several rods with this, including the infamous "Snake Rod". The snake rod is apart for new ferrules and reel seat now, but the finish on it held up great! That was in 1991 or 92 when I made the Snake rod and it's cast probably thousands of miles of line, been thrown without a rod tube in the back of the truck, beat on, dropped, taken unexpected trips down waterfalls with me, gone white water rafting without a raft with me and it is still in very acceptable condition. Of course, I'll refinish it since I have it down for ferrules, but if it hadn't been for a bent ferrule, I wouldn't have touched it for another 10 years, if then. What I'm saying is, don't get too hung up on brand names. Find an acceptable varnish that you like and stick with it... if it's P&L you decide on, a gallon will last a LONG time, so it's not like you're going to have to make that 100 mile drive every few months to replace it. (Bob Nunley)
One of the things I've learned about varnishes is that they are remarkably similar in quality. Some do certain things better, some are glossier, harder, etc., a result of their chemistry, but virtually all are of the same high quality. Unless you have a specific quality for which you're looking, I wouldn't get too hung up on brand names. (Martin-Darrell)
As far as the varnish. Don't go buying 2 gallons. That will cost you a fortune. I did a lot of rods, with Walmart's Polyurethane varnish, and they look of. If you want a satin finish you can sand lightly with very fine wet or dry paper. (Ralph Moon)
Varmor is very hard to get. I got a gallon shipped to me from Seattle for about $70. Call Daly's at (206)633-4200. Their address is 3525 Stoneway North, Seattle, WA 98103.
You can get Epiphanes off the internet for about $17 a quart delivered. If you brush, that's plenty. Many also use readily available Minwax Helmsman spar. (Bill Hoy)