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Source For Gloss Varnishes

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Not too sure how to title this question. I am building a Marten Howes Baylis Project X and a good bit of the woodwork is in Pear.


A question of finishes. Per the instructions the Pear wood is coated with Blackfriars Light Oak Gloss Varnish. Finishing wood is in another world for me so I try to get exactly what the kit manufacturer suggests. In Southern California the Blackfriars is weeks away if they will even send it. Any suggestions? I have searched the net looking for something local and am coming up blanks. I am trying to find a Gloss Varnish that is close in color but have not found anything as of yet.


I know that exact color matching is not necessary but I cant find a good example of Light Oak to compare with other Oak stains.


Thanks in advance,



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I did a Google search using: Blackfriars Light Oak Gloss Varnish

Clicking on the company site link

Their products are solvent based polyurethane varnish.

There is no shortage of quality brands at your local builders supply mega store or a hardware store.

The volume that you will need =  you could probably return it after using what you need and it would pass as full.  Not a suggestion for possible behavior.  It is meant as an exaggeration.

There are oil stains that mimic light Oak from several mfg from the same vendors.

The surface area that you will be covering is small.  Stain and finish as two steps instead of one,  will not cost you all that much more time.  I suspect that the original instructions are trying to save you money.

It may save you money if you contact your local woodworkers guild -  Someone there is likely to have leftover gloss polyurethane and left over light Oak stain.

(Or a local cabinet maker.)



I cannot resist an editorial.

These are "unique" instructions for a scale model ship.

Solvent based polyurethane produces a thick layer.  It was great for my Walnut stained White Oak kitchen floor in KY.  Not good practice on a scale model.  It is a thick plastic layer.

Gloss -  is an out of scale finish on a scale model.

I am guessing that this is an actual working motor craft that is intended actually float.

This moves it to the toy category and that makes gloss appropriate. The exposure to water makes solvent based polyurethane and gloss appropriate.

Because most Pear seems to be Swiss Pear - that is, it is steamed and therefore a darkish red and uniform in color, the Oak stain probably will only shift it to be a bit darker. 

Pear is a quality wood and unless using it where black is indicated,  a clear finish is enough.  It can be dyed black and it will stand in for Ebony. 


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A varnish described as “Light Oak Gloss Varnish” is what used to be called a “varnish stain,” a pigmented varnish.  This is not a product that I would associate with a high quality finish.  


I would first try try applying some clear varnish to a piece of scrap.  You might find that this is all that you need.  True varnishes generally tint the substrate that they are applied to; usually amber.


if you decide that you need to stain it, I agree with Jaager.  Stain separately from varnish.  Oil based stains can be tricky.  They are pigments suspended in a liquid, linseed oil or some sort of synthetic.  Dense, close grained woods like maple, cherry, or pear can be difficult to stain.  Instead of penetrating the grain structure, the pigment just sits on the surface.  The usual technique is to apply the stain, let it sit, and then wipe off the excess.  What usually happens (to me) is that everything just wipes off.  


A better choice would be some of the analine dye stains that do penetrate dense woods.  These come as a concentrate and are diluted with alcohol.


Varnishes come in four levels of sheen-  Gloss, Semi-Gloss, Satin, and Matt.  Try satin first.  If you need more sheen, rub it down and try semi-gloss.  Varnishes can be thinned, usually with mineral spirits to minimize buildup.  





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