Get Going Page 2

Maintenance Q & A — May 2003
By Capt. Ken Kreisler

Get Going
Part 2: Varnishing Tips
 More of this Feature
• Starter Problems
• Varnishing Tips
• PMY Tries... Griot’s Folding Crates

 Related Resources
• Maintenance Q&A Index

I have a teak rail across my transom that I’ve put two coats of varnish on. I don’t seem to be getting the finish I want and was wondering if I am using the right kind of brush. Do you have any tips on this? F.L., via e-mail
Try using a better brush. Most expert refinishers say a badger-hair brush is best for applying varnish. Good badger brushes are expensive but worth the investment if you’re striving for perfection. If you can’t stomach the cost of badger, natural China bristle also produces excellent results, but make sure you buy brushes of superior quality. Some refinishers use a badger or China brush for the first two coats, switch to a foam applicator for the build-up coats, then switch back to the natural bristle for the top coat.

Whatever type of brush you use, use it only for varnish work, and make sure it’s clean. Residue often gets trapped up in the ferrule and will invariably mix with the varnish during application and ruin your flawless coat. To prevent residue, always clean the brush thoroughly with the recommended solvent when you are done with it for the day, then wash the brush in a mild detergent—Ivory Snow liquid will do just fine—and warm water. Dry and wrap it in greaseproof paper, sculpting the bristles into a chisel-like shape. Finally, hang the brush by its handle to prevent spreading out or “fishtailing” of the bristles.

Need help with a maintenance problem? Write to Maintenance Q & A, Power & Motoryacht, 260 Madison Ave., 8th Fl., New York, NY 10016. Fax: (917) 256-2282. e-mail: No phone calls, please.

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This article originally appeared in the April 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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