How to Varnish – Advice From The Pros & Supplies from JD

When we came across this article from Cruising World Magazine with tips from our customer and friend at Makai (Pro yacht painting! No website, no ads – no need! He’s a busy guy!, Mike Fletcher, we thought there might be a good collection of you varnishing these days in preparation for an early spring and launching your boat.

Since Tips from A Shipwright also offers great tips on how to varnish – we pinned this great video from Lou right down here to give you a visual reference to lots of what Mike is referring to. Lou is using our TotalBoat Gleam Varnish in the Gloss Finish (Sorry – Satin is out of stock right now) and he spells out exactly how to prepare the wood, thin the Gleam and then apply multiple coats.

Mike Fletcher’s advice, as compiled by CW Editor, Elaine Lembo, is below the video and is a very complete list of what you’ll need and how to get going for a killer finish on all your brightwork this spring.

Enjoy the advice from two top yacht painters.



Gleaming brightwork is the eye candy that sets hopeless romantics dreaming about setting off over the horizon in a classic boat. But I know that transforming those fantasies involves a lot of work; with my partner, Capt. Rick Martell, I’m the co-owner of the 1935 Crocker ketch Land’s End.

The reality is that varnish takes steadfast maintenance. If you’d rather spend more time sailing than sanding, a hull constructed of modern materials with brightwork accents — deck boxes, companionway washboards, grab rails — may be the more practical way to go (apologies to Capt. Rick). Or choose from among finishes that lend a snappy look to wood trim but involve less work. Heads will still turn and you’ll be able to boast about the miles in your wake, too.

To get some basic pointers on proper varnish procedures, I sought out the advice of a professional varnisher. Michael Fletcher, of the yacht refinishing company Makai in Bristol, Rhode Island, cares for the likes of the Bruce King-designed White Hawk, the Herreshoff NY 50 Spartan and the W. Starling Burgess-designed Chips.

If anyone knows what it takes to keep tabs on a special fleet, it’s Mike. If the high-luster look is what you’re after, read on for his advice on how to turn your woodwork into artwork. Continue reading

Spring Commissioning Special – Part 2 – VARNISHING


Get Ready for Spring!
Varnishing weather will come eventually. (promise!) Make sure that you are prepared when it finally returns. Here are some some great varnishing how-to videos to help get you ready. They are packed with tips and pointers on how to varnish like a pro.

Here is a playlist of 4 varnishing videos from our new TotalBoat YouTube channel.

We have loaded the playlist with varnishing videos about cleaning your brushes, how to prep for varnish and how to apply varnish. It can be a tricky job – but the TotalBoat experts from Jamestown Distributors have been advising people for years on how to best apply coats and get the desired results. If you have questions about certain brands or products, application issues, or anything else pertaining to your varnish job, the Tech Help and Call center experts are ready to assist you.

You can find all your VARNISH needs on our website. From brushes to rollers and strainers, tack cloths, tapes and your favorite varnishes – we have everything you need. And we even have an amazing new varnish product JUST released: LUST! Our new TotalBoat Lust High Gloss Varnish can be overcoated in one hour and you can apply up to 5 coats in ONE DAY!  TotalBoat has been developing and testing LUST for over a year and the reviewers are thrilled with the results. Get on board and try it out. Then go to the Lust page on our website and let us know what you think about it in a review.



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Hillary hand carves these babies. How cool is she? #wood #carve #sailboat #girlpower #sherocks #shopnight #totalboat #gleamvarnish

Hillary hand carves these babies. How cool is she? #wood #carve #sailboat #girlpower #sherocks #shopnight #totalboat #gleamvarnish