Let's start with the finish...

  • Advertise with us
Project by BenchDawg posted 06-20-2011 11:59 PM 6639 views 54 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I just finished this set of Adirondack chairs.

They are the same type and pattern as my previous chairs. I just got a planer so I opted for rough cut aromatic cedar, common here in Oklahoma. It’s such an ugly tree on the outside but the wood is beautiful. It’s also pretty reasonable, cost wise. I enjoyed working with it.

What I really want to talk about is the finish. I have always been somewhat frustrated with my finish work. My previous chairs were finished with a regular spar varnish, applied with a cheap brush, because, who can really get varnish completely out of a brush and not leave it stiff and unusable the next time you need it?

I discovered Epifanes varnish. Epifanes makes a varnish that boat builders rave about. I figure if it is good enough for wooden boat hulls than it ought to be doubly good on patio furniture.

I followed Epifanes recommendations to a tee. I started with a 50/50 mix of varnish and mineral spirits and did my first coat. After 24 hours, I lightly sanded using a 220 grit. Next was a coat of 75/25 followed up with a sanding using 400 grit, again after a 24 hour drying time. The third coat was 85/15 with a 400 grit. And finally a 95/5 mix. Four coats and I got a great glass finish.

I bought the high quality brush they recommended, a two and half inch oval brush ($40 plus…) and a brush keeper. The brush keeper is nothing more than a Rubbermaid container that you hang the brush into after cleaning. The brush hangs suspended in a diesel bath, up to the ferrule, until it is needed again. Simply clean and use, then clean again and back to the bath. Apparently the oily consistency of the diesel keeps the brush in top shape between uses. The system is easy and my brush has remained supple and ready to use.

I also got a brush spinner that quickly spins the brush after cleaning. The entire system was a little bit of investment up front but I will never go back to my frustrating old finishing ways again.
I am sold on this process and that product.


21 comments so far

View cwdance1's profile


1164 posts in 4598 days

#1 posted 06-21-2011 12:12 AM

Wow that is a beautiful finish job. Thanks for sharing with us.

View Tomoose's profile


422 posts in 4712 days

#2 posted 06-21-2011 12:19 AM

Beautiful job on the finish – that should hold up tot he elements quite well


-- “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” Pablo Picasso

View Paul2274's profile


330 posts in 4451 days

#3 posted 06-21-2011 01:20 AM

Beautiful! I’ll bring the liquid refreshments ;-)


View KnotCurser's profile


2040 posts in 4407 days

#4 posted 06-21-2011 02:16 AM

The main thing I am impressed with – besides the finish – is the care you took to plug every hole. That will at least double the lives of those chairs!

Great job!


-- Robert Rhoades WoodWorks / Email: [email protected] /

View GeorgeGilesArtist's profile


31 posts in 4142 days

#5 posted 06-21-2011 02:51 AM

Wow . . .Shiny . . . .Going to buy Epifanes varnish . . . . should be nice for outdoor signs as well. . .

-- George, Maggie Valley, NC ,

View Richard's profile


297 posts in 3876 days

#6 posted 06-21-2011 02:52 AM

Everyone hesitates to sit on them, don’t they?
Have to do that touch thing to make certain they are not wet!
Really nice.

-- 'I sand, therefore, I am'. Richard. PNW.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 5012 days

#7 posted 06-21-2011 03:02 AM

Nice looking chair.

View Hoptown's profile


37 posts in 3872 days

#8 posted 06-21-2011 03:26 AM

great looking chairs…I may just have to go to the shop tonight and start on mine!!! I’ve got about 300 board foot of TN red cedar stacked in the barn….Again, great job!!

-- Jonathan- Scottsville, KY

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 4029 days

#9 posted 06-21-2011 03:44 AM

Where did you buy your Epifanes varnish? Your chairs are beautiful as is the finish!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View BenchDawg's profile


38 posts in 3932 days

#10 posted 06-21-2011 07:14 AM

Thanks all!

gfadvm: Got all my supplies at Jamestown Supply online. Check ‘em out.

View WoodNuts's profile


74 posts in 4287 days

#11 posted 06-21-2011 09:16 AM

Excellent. I’ve heard this was good stuff, but no info given on brush care. Thanks for the review.

-- ...there's a fix fer dat...

View Ken90712's profile


18100 posts in 4527 days

#12 posted 06-21-2011 12:48 PM

Great work and finish! I agree with Knotcruiser plugging all the holes shows you really care and take pride in your work! I like the contrast of the plags as well.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View GabeB's profile


23 posts in 3756 days

#13 posted 11-08-2011 12:40 AM

The finish is perfect! Also super nice chair layout.

View jdyke's profile


16 posts in 3986 days

#14 posted 01-23-2012 08:02 PM

Sorry to ask a dumb question but im a new “rookie” woodworker and i love the chair you have made but after looking on the internet for a set of plans for “jakes chair” all i have found were the plans from Jakes site and they are a little intimidating to me as newbie do you have a set of plans that you used for this chair available anywhere that would simplify this? i love your chair and the finish its super awesome!

View BenchDawg's profile


38 posts in 3932 days

#15 posted 01-26-2012 10:46 PM


No question is too dumb and you’ll find lot’s of jocks that would love to give you great advise. Prior to building my chairs, I was a newbie as well. It’s not as intimidating as you might think. the trick is, I believe, rolling up your sleeves and sloshing on in with the build.

I have seen the Jake’s chair sites myself. I liked the style of the chair but for my needs, I felt the width of the chairs, at 27” was too wide for my needs so I redrew the plans for a 20” seat bed.

I probably used the same directions you have found and adapted those to fit my redesign. If I recall, I discovered alot of things made more sense as I was working it out during the building process. Also, I didn’t necessarily follow the plans to a tee, in fact, I made some modifications on the fly.

I made my first chair out of pine to work out the challenges of building it, then moved onto to other woods. Each chair got progressively better and each chair got some little improvement over the previous one. I’ve built many of these chairs and have developed some jigs and spacers that have made the building process much easier.

I don’t actually have the plans available online but would be happy to advise you along the way.

showing 1 through 15 of 21 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics