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wipe on varnish

Wipe On Varnishes

Varnish is used to protect and beautify wood furniture. There are many different types of varnishes along with many different ways to apply them. Some can be sprayed on, some can be brushed on, and some can be wiped on. The method you use doesn’t really matter, but it’s still good to know the difference. This article talks about everything you need to know about wipe on varnish, from what it is to how you can make it your own.

What Is A Wipe-On Varnish?

As its name implies, a wipe on varnish finish is one that can be applied with a rag or towel rather than a brush or spray. Any kind of varnish can be used as a wipe on varnish as long as you add 50% thinner or mineral spirits. It is very easy and clean to apply because it doesn’t drip, run, or sag. It is also very durable, low maintenance and it resistant to drying out. Wipe on varnishes dry quickly so you can finish a project faster and there will be less particles stuck on it. However, it may require you to apply several coats before offering full protection for your furniture.



Wipe On Varnish Techniques

When wiping on varnish, the first thing you need to do is prepare the surface you are going to apply it on. Second, mix the varnish that you are going to use with some Tung oil or mineral spirits in order to thin it and make it suitable for wiping on. Put this on an applicator, usually a rag or a towel, and then wipe it on your project.

There are two ways to apply a wipe on varnish:

  • Wiping with the grain like you would when brushing on a finish.
  • Wiping with or against the grain in a circular motion, using sandpaper or steel wool, or a combination of the three.

Leave it to dry for 4 to 8 hours and then add another coat. Apply at least 3 to 4 coats and then let dry for at least a day. If you want, you can apply paste wax 24 hours after the last coat.

varnished wood boatAnother wipe on technique is to use Danish oils. Like in the first technique, the first thing you need to do is to prepare the surface that you are going to use the finish on. Then, apply stain and toners. Using a towel or rag, put on two coats of Danish oil and the let it cure for several days. When it is completely cured, apply a wipe on varnish with another towel or rag. Keep applying the varnish until you are satisfied with it but make sure to let it dry between coats. Before the last coat, wait for 24 hours and then sand the surface to make it level. Apply the last coat and then put on paste wax for a smoother and more protected surface. To make the wax easier to spread, you can mix it with some mineral spirits.

How To Make Your Own

It is quite difficult to know whether the varnish you are using can be used for wiping since most products don’t actually put it on the labels. In order to be sure that what you’re using is safe for wiping, you can actually make your own.

Making your own wiping varnish is very simple and easy. All you have to do is to choose which type of varnish you want to use and then thin it by using turpentine or mineral spirits. Commercial wiping varnishes usually thin it by 50% but you can thin it by less if you want a faster build. However, it is important to remember that by thinning it less, you are increasing the possibility of brush marks, bubbles, and number of particles that can stick to the surface of your furniture.



All methods of applying finishes can actually protect your wood and make it look better. The only real difference between them is the easiness of application. Wiping on varnish is actually the easiest and cleanest to apply since it doesn’t drip or run. It is also probably the cheapest because you can make your own at home so if you want an affordable yet efficient way of applying finishes, then wipe on varnishes may be your best choice.

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