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Thread: Newbie ?: Finish Adirondack Chair before or after assembly???

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Chicago suburbs
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    14

    Newbie ?: Finish Adirondack Chair before or after assembly???

    Title says nearly all. I'm thinking that I finish the wood prior to assembly primarily because the 3/8" gaps between the seat and back slats won't allow me to get a proper coat of spar varnish in those gaps.

    Am I on the right track here? Help is appreciated!!

    Also, if it is not too much trouble to comment further: I'm a little confused about how to get an even finish on all sides of the boards without drips. I plan on using Minwax Helmsman spray varnish in a semi gloss finish. 3 coats. What procedure would work best with what tools?

    This is my first woodworking project. The shaping of the wood was quite gratifying, but the finishing intimidates me as I want it to be as perfect as possible.
    It's a Bernaise.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    Shoreline, CT
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    I suggest rethinking the clear finish. First, Minwax Spar Varnish is one of the least durable available. Gloss varnishes are generally thought to be more durable as well. For a good spar varnish, you need a true marine, not marine sounding, varnish. Good brands are Epifanes Clear, Interlux Schooner, and Pettit Captain's. A good varnish brush is by far the best application tool. You will need to apply multiple coats--6 coats is a typical number. You can get away with a couple fewer if the chair will sit in shaded locations. But in any event even with the best clear finishes you will probably need to lightly sand every year or so and add another coat. Then after several years, the varnish is likely to start to fail, often by lifting off the wood--which shows itself as lighter "yellow" patches. When that happens it all needs to be stripped off to bare wood and the process begun again.

    A light colored high quality enamel would be a more durable alternative. Another good practice is to make or have made a Sunbrella cover for when it will be sitting unused in the sun.

  3. #3
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    Last edited by Charlie Hinton; 06-24-2019 at 9:45 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Denver, CO
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    I think your spar vanish spray is a fine idea, and I think you'll be able to get enough spray in those gaps to be sufficient. I wouldn't recommend a very thick film. A few light spray coats will give some protection, and the eventual wear won't be as annoying to deal with. Sand smooth between coats. A 320 sanding sponge will work great on the rounded edges and convex/concave surfaces. Depending on the type of wood you're using, another option is an exterior oil finish like Penofin.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Bastrop, TX
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    120
    Gordon ... I am RABID about pre-finishing before assembly. It makes sanding between coats and painting all-around so much easier. I got introduced to 'stand-offs' in HS shop class ... at that time ... it was nails driven-up thru some material. You paint one side ... flip the piece over ... place-it on the POINTS ... and paint the remainder. Google Painters Pyramids so that you get the idea ... I've made my own. I prefer to use 3" long sheet-rock screws; either with individual 'pads' or for many-piece jobs as your chairs ... I have 4 1x2's with screws every 6" that I use as dry racks. I paint on a rack with stand-offs ... I transport to the drying rack using a frame with stand-offs. I've even done this with raised-panel cabinet doors.

  6. #6
    I would recommend finishing before, at least the areas difficult to reach. When we bought our house the previous owner left a couple of Adirondack chairs. Both had some level of rot, especially where the screws were.

    If the chairs are to be left outside, I'd suggest using epoxy, at least in the screw holes. Even the best marine varnish won't seal out all the moisture. Right now I'm making a cockpit table for a boat and am still experimenting with how to best seal screw holes but maybe someone here with more experience can pipe in and provide better info.
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Chicago suburbs
    Posts
    14
    Holy cow!! I haven't checked this in a few days, so I have to thank everyone for the input!! Fantastic!!
    It's a Bernaise.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Deep South
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    3,800
    I sell wooden signs that are carved with a CNC router. There is no such thing as a clear finish that doesn't require frequent maintenance. I learned this in a very painful way. Steve Schoene is giving you good advice about varnishes. My experience has been that Minwax Helmsman spar varnish is the least reliable and shortest lived product I ever tried.

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