So, after wanting to "get into woodworking" for 20 years, I've finally
started dabbling a bit. I endured several cold evenings in my un-heated
garage in the middle of this pretty cold Illinois winter. I now have a
small project I would like to varnish... but the varnish says not to apply
if it's below 55 degrees. My unfinished garage has no heat, and won't be
above 55 degrees for a couple of months. And I can't varnish in the house
because my wife can't handle the fumes.
Do I just have to wait for it to warm up?
Because you are going to be applying varnish at a colder temp, the varnish
you apply is going to 'cure' more slowly than at more appropriate temps.
You might be able to circumvent this problem by applying your varnish in
thinner layers by diluting your varnish with mineral spirits. Allow to cure
for 24 hrs and reapply. The thinner layers will cure much easier at the
lower temps than the 'out of the can' concentration. I would FIRST try this
on a piece of scrap wood NOT on your project.
fyi... wipe on poly @ 60 degrees takes about 4 days to dry without
being tacky(at least on the project I just finished). I imagine below
55 degrees, the solvent doesn't flash off. Maybe a heat lamp in an
insulated box that is spark proof might work. Wipe on poly's work
great, but best @70 degrees. You can experiment on a piece of scrap
wood, its better than screwing up your hard work.
What I often do for glue-ups is to bring the pieces of wood inside to
warm up, glue it up, put it on the bench, plug in a small ceramic
electric heater into a thermostat wired to an extension cord, put it
on the work-bench, put the heater under the bench and cover the whole
thing with a tarp. I don't know if this will work with varnish, but in
the immortal words of the late Paul Radovanic, "If you don't
experiment on scraps, you will experiment on your project."
Alternatively, you could try using shellac which is dissolved in
alcohol and is not harmed by cold. It just will take a little longer
Replace "nonet" with "yukonomics" for real email address
Is it insulated? You can get a oil-filled space heater to heat your
garage if you've got power. We've got one in our garage to keep things
warm out there. (It's connected to the house, but not the heating/cooling
Can you isolate a room of your house? Maybe you can work in there and
keep the house from smelling like varnish and still warm enough to dry.
We've been polyurethaning floor boards in our garage for a shed and
shutting the door keeps the fumes from going all over the house. (It was
apparently an outside door at one time. You may have to consider that.)
Old computers are getting to be a lost art. Here at Uncreative Labs, we
Or try Albuquerque. It's been in the 60's during the day
for most of the last three weeks. I spent weekend out
in the shop and backyard building counter tops. In the
sun it was over 65 F. Made it real nice to be working
outside. This place is, unfortunately already being
invaded by Californians, so the secret is out.
This part of the Midwest is beginning to shut down sawmills and pulp
operations because the yet unfrozen ground won't permit harvesting of
If you need hardwood, get in before the shortage is accute.
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