Finishing Tips #4: Gel Stain & Gel Varnish

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Blog entry by pjones46 posted 02-08-2013 07:11 AM 8666 reads 2 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Spraying Lazy Susan Part 4 of Finishing Tips series Part 5: Links to finishing topics of Interest »

Just used the Bartley line of Gel Stains and Gel Varnish.

After reading a number of articles in American Woodworker, Wood, and other such woodworking magazines written by many independent professional finishers, they recommend the Bartley line of Gel Stains and Gel Varnish. Bartley were sold to Seagrave Coatings Corporation who now manufacture the Bartley line using the original formulas.

Seagrave has very few distributors/dealers that specifically cater to the small woodworking shop or finisher so the product is somewhat difficult to find and at a reasonable price. The labels are the same on the cans rather it be the Gel Stain or the Gel Varnish which indicates to me that it was specifically in production for the professional restorer who has used it for years.

In one of the articles on Lumber Jocks, some said that he had looked at Bartley website, however, it was Bartley Classic Reproduction who sell the Bartley Line and in no way connected to Seagrave/Bartley.

Anyway, I just got some from Woodworkers Supply and tried it. This is the best product I have ever used as compared to redily available over the counter products you can buy at the Big Box Stores or your local Hardware store. I think it is even better than the General Finishes Line as their product seems to muddy the grain, where the Bartley seems to be more transparent.

As far as the colors go, you really have to search to find all of them, as many dealers do not carry the complete line which somewhat limited anyway, however, by wet over wet staining with different colors and using a thinned down Gel Varnish as a first coat sealer, many different shades can be created.

There are two articles written by Kevin Southwick in the Feb/Mar 2013 issue #164 of American Woodworker and another in April/May 2012 issue #159 and another written by Dave Munkittrick in September 2005 issue #116 as an online web extra. There are other articles which started me on my search for Gel Varnishes and stains but to tell you the truth I have read so many I can’t keep track of them.

I also have purchased other colors of the Bartley Gel Stains from Kilian Hardware which are not available from Woodworkers Supply.

Read the articles if you can get them…..excellent info.

Finishing Tips #4: Gel Stain & Gel Varnish
©2010-2015 Paul Jones – All Rights Reserved

-- Respectfully, Paul

4 comments so far

View Chris Mobley's profile

Chris Mobley

30 posts in 2705 days

#1 posted 02-08-2013 04:06 PM

Nice tips!
Thank you!

-- Chris Mobley -

View chopnhack's profile


375 posts in 3163 days

#2 posted 02-09-2013 03:51 AM

Thanks for posting, good stuff :-)

-- Sneaking up on the line....

View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 2959 days

#3 posted 02-09-2013 04:55 AM

great info,i like the georgia cherry.very nice looking.

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View pjones46's profile


1001 posts in 3412 days

#4 posted 03-02-2013 06:22 AM

I just added a link to a video in the above from American Woodworker web extras….give it a watch It offers an alternative to other blotch contols.

-- Respectfully, Paul

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