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Wet Sanding & Buffing

Posted by on Aug 9, 2011 in DIY How To | 0 comments

Wet Sanding & Buffing

Bristol Finish Traditional Amber Urethane is designed to deliver a beautiful finish to your wood using standard application techniques; however, there are also post-application procedures that may be used to eliminate minute defects from dust, as well as the blending of repairs. Wet sanding out small defects, then buffing out the sanding scratches back to a high gloss is a standard finish procedure for the most demanding applications.

Perform the standard application of Bristol Finish, applying two extra coats (up to eight). Allow to cure fully, usually one or two weeks, depending on factors such as temperature, humidity, air flow, and coating thickness. As a general rule, more time is required in cold weather, and less is needed in hot summer weather. More time may be allowed with no problem.

Wet Sanding

Start sanding with whatever grit is appropriate for the defect size, generally no coarser than 400 grit, and no finer than 600 grit wet-or-dry paper. Sand until completely smooth.

Remove any dust, and sand again with a grit increment of 200 higher than the previous, either 600 grit or 800 grit; on the final pass 1000 or 1200 grit should be used.

Wash the surface with clean water and towels to remove all of the dust and wet sanding sludge.


We recommend the use of 3M buffing, polishing, and waxing compounds simply because we know that they are top quality, we have experience with them, and we know they work. Their full product line can be viewed at www.3m.com. There are, of course, many other manufacturers of this type of product.

Buff the sanded surface using either 3M Perfect-It Foam Polishing Pad or 3M Superbuff 2 Plus 2 Pad on a slow speed (1500 to 2500 RPM) machine.

Start with 3M Imperial Microfinishing Compound and buff overlapping areas (2′ x 2′ or smaller) until gloss is achieved. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.

If further finishing is desired, use 3M Finesse-It Finishing Material. Again, follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.

These steps will produce a high gloss, totally defect-free surface. If desired, you may also use final finishing products such as UV resistant glazing and wax products.

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DIY Guidelines Part 3 – Application…Getting Results

Posted by on Aug 9, 2011 in DIY How To | 0 comments

DIY Guidelines Part 3 – Application…Getting Results

This is where the project really starts to move, and the results begin to quickly show. It’s just the thing to lift your spirits after the dirty parts of the prep work.

Taping and Masking

This is a very important part of the job, but it’s really no big deal. There are a few things you need to know that make a big difference in both the effort required and the results you will get.

First, decide now how to break the project into workable sections. Don’t assume that you will tape up the whole boat in an hour. It takes a little longer to do the job right, and we sometimes plan this for the last day before beginning the application. It makes for a very easy and usually short day.

Second, don’t use cheap white masking tape. At the very least, get the green or blue tape, which can be left on for a couple of days, and used for several coats. If you want the ultimate, get 3M #1071 blue vinyl tape. It can stay on for long enough in the Caribbean sun to get the entire job finished, and be easily removed in a single piece. It costs more, but it saves a lot of time. One tape-up job as opposed to several sure makes sense to us. Available at better marine and hardware stores.

Take your time and get the taping done right. Back the tape away from any joint by 1/32″ to 1/16″, to make sure that no small slivers of wood are left bare. Burnish the tape down with a paint stirring stick so that nothing creeps underneath.

Now the Good Part

Finally you’re ready to go! Give all of the surfaces a really good wipe-down with acetone as you go, and don’t get too far ahead of yourself. Mix the Bristol Finish like the directions tell you (you did read the directions in the kit, right?) and you’re ready to start.

Proper Painting Technique

People make this out to be much more than it should be. Here’s the info you need, and you can ignore all the nonsense you will hear. It’s just so simple…the “experts” want you to think that varnishing is something difficult.

First, always use the widest brush that will fit on the piece. Keep a small one handy for corners and tight spots. For example, varnishing a 2′ x 2′ hatch cover with a 2″ brush will guarantee brush marks.

Second, lay the coating on with one brush stroke. Gently, using light pressure. You’re not whitewashing a fence, so there’s no need to madly flail back and forth with heavy pressure on the brush. Resist the temptation to give it one final stroke. Without all of the needless over-brushing, the finish will flow out like glass, with no bumps or lumps or brush marks.

Continue with the other coats when the last one is dry enough (as described in the kit directions). If you get lucky with the weather, you’re done in a day or two at the most. We have applied six coats in one day so many times, but three today and three tomorrow isn’t bad either. Let it dry, pull up the tape and admire the beautiful finish that you’ve created!

Also (after you get some dinner and rest) get ready to continue admiring the beauty for years to come. This is where Bristol Finish really delivers the payoff – a stunning appearance and very low maintenance.

You will wonder why everyone tried to tell you how difficult a varnish type job is.

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