Wood Boat Varnish Buffing – RJ’s Clinic

The last coat of varnish has been oh so carefully rolled and tipped. The mahogany gleams, but up close you see a bit of dirt, or maybe even lots of dirt has been trapped on your otherwise gleaming surface.

Using a pneumatic sander set at about half-throttle, RJ begins the buffing and polishing process wet sanding through five increasingly finer grades of wet/dry paper: 1000, 1200 1500, 2000 and 3000. His goal here is sanding every scratch out of the surface without cutting through the built-up layers of varnish.

After carefully wiping the surface dry, first with dry paper towels and then with Acetone, it is time to begin buffing the surface using our Makita buffer set at approximately 2,000 RPM and the Presta Buffing System.

The first two grades of buffing compound, Ultra Cutting Crème and Ultra Cutting Crème Lite, are applied with an 8-inch wool cutting pad. The final step, using a 9,000 grit foam pad, uses Polishing Crème to bring the surface to a brilliant shine.

Getting a fantastic gloss is all about achieving a flat surface, one that is completely devoid of scratches and even tiny hills and valleys. Compare your reflection in a cheap big box store mirror against it in a high-end mirror. The first can be wavy and even distorts the image you see, while the high-end mirror reflects all that stands in front of it perfectly.

Our goal is transforming that varnished surface into one that is as close to that high-end mirror as is humanly possible. Do it well and you see a face smiling back at you as you peer into its surface.