Polyurethane varnish is available in various colours or clear, the latter in at least three different textures: gloss, satin and matt.

Varnish should be applied in a dust-free atmosphere and in the direction of the wood grain, either using a brush or wiped on with a lint-free cloth pad. The first coat has the effect of raising the grain, so the entire piece must be rubbed over after the first application with fine-grade steel wool until it is smooth. Second and third coats are then applied, which in most cases will give the desired finish. However, for surfaces that are in a prominent position or receive a lot of wear, such as a table top, I sometimes apply a fourth coat.

On some projects I do not wait until all the construction is finished before varnishing, as it is sometimes easier to get to all the inaccessible corners if it is done as work progresses.

When using varnishes of any description, make sure you are in a warm, well-ventilated room. Because of the nature-of the solvents used in their preparation, follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully.

FIG 5.2

Applying filler with a flexible decorators' knife.


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