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Time for Epifanes?

May 6, 2018
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East Tennessee
I used a Minwax spar urethrane on my first canoe build, 4 years ago, and it held up very well. But not so on my recent build. I used the same on my Raven, but something is different. I took it out this morning IMG_20240412_112113272.jpg
The wind was challenging to say the least, but I bumped a rock coming in. Eh no big deal, I didn't build it to hang it in my living room, but it scratched into it worse then I thought it should've.IMG_20240412_205339170.jpg
I felt the urethrane coating is no where near as robust as it was on my first build. I took on a lot of scratches on the first one, but none looked as severe as this one did.

2 days ago, I started sanding the first one I made. It had lots of scratches, and I figured I'd refinish it and make it look pretty again. IMG_20240410_150248756_HDR.jpgIMG_20240410_165054822.jpg
I don't want to chance it with the Minwax stuff.
What do you think of the Epifanes? Is it a harder more robust varnish?
It’s a good varnish but I’ve used Intrlux #96 Schooner varnish as my go to varnish for 30 years. I find it easier to apply than epifanes and I get less crazing as the years go by. You do need to use their proprietary Special Thinner to clean bristle brushes which annoyed me but I got used to it.
I don't think the varnish has much to do with scratch protection, except for maybe how many coats you apply. I've found the biggest difference in depth of scratches depends on the epoxy used. I've found MAS to be quite soft and easily damaged, while System Three and West are fairly tough. I always use cheap marine varnish I get from the local hardware store, if I'm rolling it on, I go with five coats on the exterior.
Thanks for the advice. I saw the Interlux brand when I was researching yesterday.

I used the US Composites resin on the first build. It had a lot of blushing, I scrubbed my butt off with dish detergent and scotch Brite pads.
This recent canoe, I used RAKA. Very little to no blushing.
I'm not experienced enough to know if there was a difference in regards to hardness between the two.
The only difference was the time of year I applied the varnish.

Thanks again for the advice and input. Going to study on it.
I tend to agree with Mem that your top coat is going to have very little effect on damage resistance. I can see a stronger top coat helping with minor scuffs but I wouldn't expect it to provide much resistance to scratches or abrasion.

I've used RAKA almost exclusively so I can't comment on the differences between epoxy in terms of toughness.

Helmsman's spar urethane is what I nearly always use. It's nothing special.

Thanks Alan. I went out this morning and got a fresh can of the gloss Minwax, all I can find around here. Rolled a coat on the one I'm refinishing. First coat looked good outside, and then I moved it in the shop to dry. Not going to comment about how it looked when I rolled it in. What kind of lighting is good so a person can actually see runs, sags and missed spots? I figured another 3 or 4 coat.
I recoat my SR kevlars every couple of years with Epithanes mostly to improve appearance and perhaps provide some UV protection.
I find if you roll on a thin coat and then tip it off with a foam brush, the varnish rarely runs or sags. I have to admit, my standards are quite low though, I don't even sand between coats now, I just try to get it all done in one day.
Outside in the sun seems like it would be poor lighting and I'd worry about keeping a wet edge. Too many bugs out there too.

Inside the shop the lighting isn't always perfect either but I find that by constantly moving my head around I can get the light to highlight all the parts of the hull to check for runs or misses. I'm not always 100% though.

Thanks again for the advice. Did a little sanding on the hills IMG_20240414_095328930_HDR.jpg
Going to run a strip of tape down the center to section it off. I'll let you know.