View Poll Results: What finish for that old-time 50's look?
Spar Varnish? 9 32.14%
Shellac? 6 21.43%
Tung Oil? 5 17.86%
Polyurethane? 4 14.29%
Other - please explain 4 14.29%
Voters: 28. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 02-07-2009, 10:48 AM   #1
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1956 22' Safari
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Which finish on vintage wood?

The cabinets in our '64 GlobeTrotter were in great shape which necessitated minimal work. Not so with our '56 Safari cabinets which were painted and have been stripped down to the bare wood. They are birch - most are original, some new pieces and some new birch veneers over the original cabinets where the damage & staining was too great. I LOVE the old-time, high gloss, clear/amber finish in the '50s trailers but also want it to be maintenance free or low maintenance after we are done.

I am considering Spar Varnish, Shellac, Tung Oil and Poly-Urethane.

What should I use for an "original" look? Are there any I should absolutely stay away from in this application? Any others I should consider?

Shari
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Old 02-07-2009, 11:02 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InsideOut View Post
The cabinets in our '64 GlobeTrotter were in great shape which necessitated minimal work. Not so with our '56 Safari cabinets which were painted and have been stripped down to the bare wood. They are birch - most are original, some new pieces and some new birch veneers over the original cabinets where the damage & staining was too great. I LOVE the old-time, high gloss, clear/amber finish in the '50s trailers but also want it to be maintenance free or low maintenance after we are done.

I am considering Spar Varnish, Shellac, Tung Oil and Poly-Urethane.

What should I use for an "original" look? Are there any I should absolutely stay away from in this application? Any others I should consider?

Shari
Shari.

There are many types of furniture paints, and most have some sort of draw back.

We use a clear paint, or you can tint it if you wish, that is not harmed by UV, is water proof, takes a beating, and you can wax it if you wish.

Big secret? Nah.

Tons of gloss.

Ordinary high quality "automotive clear."

You can brush it or spray it, depending on how you thin it.

We have used it for years.

Andy
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Old 02-07-2009, 12:01 PM   #3
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Spar varnish for the original "glow". This stuff will last for 50 years inside a trailer. Then give it another coat and it will be beautiful for another 50 years.
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Old 02-07-2009, 12:05 PM   #4
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When we redid our TradeWind, we used spar varnish and are very happy with the results. Its not extremely high gloss but it is shiny. Spar is used on boat interiors and exterior wood so we figured it would hold up to anything inside an Airstream.

Good luck with your decision.

Brad
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Old 02-07-2009, 12:31 PM   #5
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1961 22' Safari
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A trailer is just a landlocked boat so, from a builder of wooden boats-----Spar varnish.
Sam
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Old 02-07-2009, 12:38 PM   #6
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I used a Spar urethane finish in my 64. I do not know the difference from a spar varnish. I do know that is more water resistant, and has that UV protecting quality that you want in a trailer usage situation.
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Old 02-07-2009, 12:43 PM   #7
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I have been using a product called crystalac for a few years. It is a waterborne finish. I am very happy with its ease of use and quality. I plan on using it for my cabinets when it comes time for finishing. They also have a marine grade varnish called Crabcote. Check out their website and see what you think. www.crystalac.com
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Old 02-07-2009, 01:45 PM   #8
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I've got shellac on doors and millwork in my house. It's mighty fragile stuff and easy to mar. We're refinishing as we can and have to be very careful not to leave any lac residue -- it can cause hot spots (adhesion, bubbling) under alkyd varnishes.

I sure like Pratt & Lambert Varmor satin urethane. It's what you'd call oil based, so it's a little pricy for not being VOC compliant. Personally I don't know if I'd want the 'build' (thickness) of a spar varnish. Either spar varnishes or urethanes are as tough as they come though.
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Old 02-07-2009, 01:58 PM   #9
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"Spar" varnishes are formulated to be UV resistant, which is not necessary for interior cabinets. Such varnishes are commonly yellower than oil-based varnishes for interior use. Almost all varnishes will yellow over time. Some of the water-based clear finishes do not yellow on their own, but the underlying wood may yellow with time to achieve the "look" you want.

For ease of application, some of the rub-on urethane or polyurethane finishes are hard to beat and they are capable of producing a very nice finish with several coats. Minwax and Rocklers both offer good rub-on products of this type and they produce a somewhat golden finish. The Rocklers finish produces a satiny gloss and Minwax offers both satin and gloss versions.
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Old 02-07-2009, 02:29 PM   #10
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The spar varnish has an amber tone to it and it will change the color of the stain,may yellow, darken the wood color etc. also it is an oil base coating that requires paint thinner to clean up, it can be a little messy and sticky. Being an oil base it takes longer to dry and extra long in areas with high humidity. The newer water borne clear coats are great. They will not yellow, change the color of the stain or wood. Works well in all climates, multi coats can be applied in a short time, sands easy, easy clean up etc. Home Depot has a few to chose from Fletco Varethane Diamond Finish in different sheens satin, semi gloss, gloss. I like the satin finish it looks hand rubbed
and easy to touch up. Good Luck

I voted other "Water Borne Clear Coats"
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Old 02-07-2009, 02:43 PM   #11
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My thoughts so far...
  • Wouldn't the UV protection of Spar Varnish be a good thing in a trailer with as many windows as we have?
  • We are most likely NOT going to stain the wood first - we like the light birch - and it's most like the original
  • I don't mind yellowing or the amber cast - adds character & looks vintage IMO
  • We want a gloss to high-gloss finish like a boat interior
  • LOVE the look of Shellac - but we're feeling it's not right because of it's fragility and incompatibility with water
  • I guess we are leaning towards the Spar Varnish but the idea of 4+ coats with 48 hours between coats is a bit overwhelming - we do have day jobs :grin:

Keep your thoughts & suggestions coming in...I don't have to make a decision today - still lots of prep-work & re-veneering to do ~

Shari
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Old 02-07-2009, 03:19 PM   #12
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I guess I'm the only Shellac lover here, but that is what I put on all my 81 excella cabinets and even the table, I have venered all cabinets with bamboo then shellac 2 or 3 coats (like 10 min between coats) then I sealed with a water based poly. Holding up well and the reason I used the shallac is the color it gives the cabinets. On the 68 Ambassador I'm just using a low sheen polyurathane or varnish to give the waxed look for the walnut walls.
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Old 02-07-2009, 03:21 PM   #13
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Road Trip ! May I suggest that you go to Home Depot or ? and pick up a good size piece of wood similar to the wood in your AS, then a small can each of the finishes you are considering and do sample boards. That way you can see the finish and workability of each coating. It shouldn't cost to much. Don't rule out the new water borne clear coats until you give them a try, gloss finish re-coat in 45 min. When applying an oil base Spar Varnish do not apply it to thick, it will skim over before it dries and the solvents will not evaporate and the finish will wrinkle, thin coats are best. Again Good Luck
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Old 02-07-2009, 03:24 PM   #14
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Blue Pearl, They do look GOOD!!
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