What you do is mix a quantity of varnish with an equal quantity of white
spirit. Brush it on and let it dry, then, after a light sanding, apply
another coat of the same.
After yet another light sanding, apply two or more coats of just varnish.
It's a pain and it takes a long time but the end result is worth the effort.
I think that will be too thin to allow the varnish to "go off." The
mix does look good though if you slap it on then wipe it off with a
cloth after a few minutes. It leaves a lustre in the wood with no
layer to speak of.
You can dilute the varnish with up to about 10% turps or meths (one or
the other not both) to help spread it out evenly.
Possibly, as will over-brushing, e.g. when the varnish is
drying ("skinning over").
The secret is to stain the timber before applying clear
varnish. Sometimes you can't stain easily, e.g. where
timber has been stripped of a previous finish, as the
stain won't be absorbed uniformly.
You may well be best advised to strip. However, you may
be OK if you de-nib with fine paper, then apply several
*thin* coats of coloured varnish.
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