Varnish = Urethane ????

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Off to the Orange Borg I go to buy some varnish and naptha to thin it with for use as a wipe on. No cans marked varnish but lots of cans labeled Urethane. Hummmm. So off to the Non-Orange Borg to see what they have. Ha, a can of varnish. Read the back and it says 100% urethane. So I'm now assuming varnish and urethane are the same thing and poly-urethane is something else altogether. Right?? Wrong??. The brands were Olympic or Minwax. Okay to use this stuff or would I be better off buying something online like Watco or the like from one of the finishing places like homestead? Mike in Arkansas
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On 01 Dec 2004 02:54:32 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (JMWEBER987) wrote:

http://www.homesteadfinishing.com/htdocs/oils_varnish.htm
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<< Ha, a can of varnish. Read the back and it says 100% urethane. >><BR><BR>
Urethane is not varnish. Not even all varnishes are alike. What do you need vrnish for? If it;s for exterior or waterproof use, get a marine spar varnish. If not, then you can probably use Waterlox instead. It wipes on, self levels and barely needs any sanding.
urethane has no flexibility at all, so it can crack. I almost never use it.
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Well, I'm doing some finish testing for a bed being built. Wipe on poly was available but most people here discourage using Polyurethane because of it's plasitic look. I have several samples of different stains on red oak topcoated with Olympic oil. I wanted to try a wipe on varnish on new samples of the two colors I like best and see if I liked that better than the oil as a topcoat. Depending on what it looks like I will need very little or a lot so I just wanted to get a small can for testing. Mike in Arkansas
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On 01 Dec 2004 04:30:45 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (JMWEBER987) wrote:

YMMV, but I've found that the Watco Wipe-on poly is thin enough that it doesn't give that plastic look.
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Mark & Juanita wrote:

Also, don't forget, that it depends a lot how much you put on per layer, and how many layers you put on. I'm especially partial to shellac underneath (to seal and "pop" the grain) and poly on top in very very thin layers. You end up with a durable finish that doesn't look plasticy at all.
-BAT
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (JMWEBER987) wrote in

The nice thing about Waterlox is that it is an oil/varnish, sort of like Watco, only with a lot more solids (resins). So it builds much more quickly. Two or three coats on red oak, and you're ready for wax, if you want to tone down the gloss. Application is incredibly easy, and it brings a nice, mild amber tone to unstained red oak.
See if you can find a sample...
Patriarch
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On Wed, 01 Dec 2004 06:38:25 GMT, patriarch

Waterlox also makes a urethane product that can be thinned and wiped on. The urethane and Original are both excellent products.
Tung Oil varnishes are sold under the brands McCloskey (Tung Seal and Gym Seal), and Hope's, among others.
Pratt and Lambert makes terrific alkyd varnishes, available at any paint store that carries P&L products.
Still want poly? ANY polyurethane can be thinned down to become "wiping poly", just like Minwax and Watco.
Plain old boiled linseed oil, from any hardware store will pop figure under any of the above or shellac.
** Don't forget that varnish and BLO rags can spontaneously combust, don't leave them around all balled up! **
Have fun, Barry
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patriarch wrote:
<<snip>

At the local Woodcraft store they have Waterlox samples in little pouches...should be more than enough to test on your samples. Samples of several Waterlox products are available...something like $2.00 each IIRC.
Walt
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I agree that brush-on poly can look plastic-like. About the only thing I have used it on recently is a hardwood bar top. Yup, it looks like plastic.
However I have used MinWax wipe on poly and it does a pretty good job of simulating oil. Others have said that the Watco wipe-on is even better but I have not used it yet. It does provide similar iridescence (for lack of a better word) as oil, in that the grain changes its character as light and your perspective changes.
I apply it in a similar manner as oil by flooding the first coat and letting it soak. Then wiping off excess. However subsequent coats are done lightly allowing the finsh to build slowly. A durable top such as a table will require several coats. I have built some tops to 7-8 coats because the product is very thin. Use the usual process for light sanding that you would for Danish or other finishes. Probably sounds silly but I often burnish the final coat or two with a piece of brown grocery bag (probably equivalent to about 600 to 800 grit paper and always available in the pantry). The good news is you can usually sand and overcoat on 2 to 4 hour intervals depending on temp and humidity
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DarylRos wrote:

Polyurethane can have a great deal of flexibility. It all depends on what you buy. "Polyurethane" covers a quite broad range of materials.
--
--John
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"JMWEBER987" writes:

Forget it, they don't have a clue what varnish is.
If you truly need varnish, shop at marine chandeleries such as Jamestown Distributors.
Don't be shocked at the price.
HTH
Lew
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On Wed, 01 Dec 2004 03:11:53 GMT, "Lew Hodgett"

So what is it ?
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wrote:

"ANY" product that is applied to cover a surface. Paint, Shellac, Polyurethane, All Varnishes. Varnish is a generic term. Varnish is not restricted to being oil, or water based.
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Leon wrote:

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, varnish is "Resinous matter dissolved in some liquid and used for spreading over a surface in order to give this a hard, shining, transparent coat, by which it is made more durable or ornamental".
Now what's your source for the claim that paint is varnish? It fails the transparency test. If one wants to be pedantic then 100% solids transparent urethane would also not be "varnish" because it's not dissolved in anything, it's all "resinous matter".
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The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
var·nish (vär'nĭsh) n.
1.. A paint containing a solvent and an oxidizing or evaporating binder, used to coat a surface with a hard, glossy, transparent film. 2.. The smooth coating or gloss resulting from the application of this paint.
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Leon wrote:

That's not exactly in agreement with the Oxford, but it's close. Note that "transparent" is one of the defining characteristics. If it contains an opaque pigment then it's not varnish.
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I'll go and agree with you on that point. Although I would think that a finish could contain some pigment and still be termed a varnish as long as it is not opaque.
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Leon wrote:

Which is the case for some urethane-based varnishes sold as "spar varnish", among others.
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I have another reference that states that a varnish need not be transparent, clear. It can also be translucent, which I would say most varnishes are.
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