spar varnish in the can drying out; what's to be done?

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Jul 25, 2012
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Given the state of the union, this is a small potatoes problem but one that's aggravatious anyway. I buy these small cans of spar varnish and most times before it gets used up the contents will get this crust/scum of part dried varnish. Now I get the lid back on tight and all but it still happens. Often, I have to cut the crust with a knife and fish it out before I can get to the remaining varnish.
Is this just one of the cosmic rules of the universe and I need to learn to live with it or is there some way to avoid the dreaded crust?

Old and crusty and don't like it,

Rob
 
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Do you pound the can with a mallet? Since I have started doing that, after carefully wiping off the lid, things are better. Not perfect. I have much better luck with quart cans than the pints.

I have wondered about transferring to a jar with a screw lid but never tried it. Of course than I would have to label the jar. Otherwise I might mistake varnish for bourbon.
 
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There are some inert gas products you can by to shoot into the can (the name escapes me at the moment). I know folks who just shoot a little propane (unlit of course) into the can before seating the lid.

Storing the cans upside down helps a lot as well, as any skim coat is now on the bottom.

When my leftover varnish gets really low and skimmy skummy I will either filter it and use the remnants on some less than critical project, or dump equal amounts of boiled linseed oil and turpentine into the varnish can (a 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 mix is good) . That combination make a great oil for wood gunwales, and with the linseed oil and turpentine it doesn’t harden nearly as quickly as straight varnish, even in a partially filled can.

I have tried to buy smaller pint sized cans from paint stores without success. I can find virgin quart sized cans, but I tend to by my varnish is quart cans anyway, so that’s no help.
 
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hmm same principle as carrying water for hiking when its below freezing. Something to learn every day! I oopsie my water bottles so I can drink water without breaking ice in the winter.
 
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I have read that its the air space that causes the skinning. I have read that some people put marbles back in the can to take up space. If I could find my marbles,(I seem to have lost them a long time ago) I'm not sure I would want to put them in a varnish can.

After re-reading my post, I guess I can't offer much help. I'm off to look for my lost marbles. Dave
 
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I have read that its the air space that causes the skinning. I have read that some people put marbles back in the can to take up space. If I could find my marbles,(I seem to have lost them a long time ago) I'm not sure I would want to put them in a varnish can.

After re-reading my post, I guess I can't offer much help. I'm off to look for my lost marbles. Dave

Maybe you DID put them in the can :) Your explanation makes sense though. You must have a marble or two left.
 
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Well you guy's it been an eventful day. Spar Varnish doesn't taste a bit like bourbon, although I may have discovered a new way to diet. At least until the waterproof properties of the varnish break down.
I tried the mallet method, now that lid is staying down; but there's little point cause most all the varnish came out when the can burst. The up side is that for a little while I had a very shiny workbench top. So then I tried out the method of just a little propane in the top of a second crusty can. It took me a while to find the burnzomatic torch, I'd pretty much forgotten about it. I'd really forgotten about how the thing starts all by it's self if you press that red button. After the fire department got the workbench put out, that left me with the marbles idea. But at this point I've pretty much used up all my cans of varnish so I'll have to wait until I get some more. But even thinking about it from a distance, won't the marbles be hard to spread out evenly?

But thanks everyone for all the help!

Rob
 
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Thanks everyone for all your good advice and help. No kidding, I mean that!

Yellow Canoe, I don't know if this would be welcome or not but for the last twenty something years I've been cutting my own hair using a method taught to me by that old sheepherder I've spoken of in the past. If your husband wanted to cut his own hair, he could save the money and not be obliged to drive to Portland. Of course this offer comes from the same guy who makes "cowboy coffee" that nobody else can drink!
Exactly what this has to do with canoes I'm not too sure.

Best Wishes, Rob
 
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Spar Varnish Longevity (DUH)

Spar Varnish Longevity (DUH)

I’m getting ready to do some varnish work, hanging the paddles, getting out the varnish, brush, paper, stirrer, mineral spirits and rags in case I dribble….and a disposable plastic cocktail glass.

No, not to fortify myself with a shot of Blantons (although that’s not a bad idea). I realized that one of the simplest varnish preservation techniques was never mentioned.

The disposable plastic cup is used to decant some volume of working-in-hand varnish before resealing the lid.

Not leaving the entire can of varnish open and exposed to the air (and whatever else) while brushing out a varnish job is an easy first step, and I’d rather hold and work with 2 or 3 ounces of varnish in a tapered to grasp cup than a 1 quart can.

I keep a stash of plastic cups on hand for varnish and epoxy. And some plastic shot glasses for mixing tiny batches of G\flex.
 
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