The Ultimate Outdoor Finish
In the article Torture Test for Outdoor Finishes (FWW, issue 205), one of the best finishes was the combination of a penetrating epoxy sealer under Epifanes marine varnish. Originally demonstrated by Sean Clarke in FWW issue 179, on a recent trip to see Sean in Columbus, Ohio, he took me to see a church door that he had used this finish on three years earlier. Despite having snow shovelled against it for much of the winter, the finish looked as if it had been applied last week.
I decided to use this finishing method on a bench at the New Haven Rowing Club, of which I’m a member.
|More on outdoor finishes:
• Torture Test for Outdoor Finishes
• A Durable Exterior Finish
• Wood Against Weather
The bench top had consisted of two, 11 in. wide, 11 ft long boards of Honduras mahogany. Because of their width, the boards had cupped badly and held standing water after it rained. The only solution was to rip each board into four slats, remove the old finish and start again. After applying two coats of the epoxy sealer, I sanded the surface, then applied an oil-based grain filler. Not only was this to fill the open pores but also to fill several areas of checking where water had got under the old finish. After removing the surplus filler, I applied one more coat of epoxy and then started using the Epifanes varnish. In all I brushed on 7 coats on the top, sanding with P320 grit between coats, except for the last penultimate coat that was wet sanded with 600-grit paper. For the final coat I thinned the varnish by about 50% and wiped on a coat with a cotton rag. In this way I was assured of a smooth surface that dried before dust could stick to it. The underside received five coats that were not sanded between coats.
I created a new profile for the support cross pieces that not only is more comfortable than a simple flat bench, but it also angles each slat to help it shed water. The bench faces southwest so the UV protection in the varnish will be given a good test, but hopefully I won’t need to re-varnish it for several years.
|More outdoor furniture projects:
• A Classic Adirondack Chair
• An Outdoor Table in Ipé
• The Lutyens Garden Bench
• A Japanese Garden Bench