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Thread: A better varnish container??

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Maine
    Posts
    291

    A better varnish container??

    I'm in the process of refinishing a bunch of windows and doors. I'm in and out of a can of spar varnish every day. No matter how tightly I seal the can, by the time I'm halfway down, it starts to gel. I've tried the Bloxygen route and had no success.

    When my kids were younger they were bottle fed. The plastic bottles had a plastic bag liner that collapsed as the kids drank. That way they never drank air. Why can't the varnish makers come out with similar air tight packaging?

    Grumble, grumble, grumble......... Damn kids get off my lawn!
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    Jim Mackell
    Republic of Arundel, ME

  2. #2
    Google "Stop Loss Bag".

    Lee Valley sells these, and as luck would have it, they are offering free shipping (> $40).

    For my money, prefer to split my quarts of finish upon purchase into 4oz Boston round glass bottles. These single-servings are best IMHO because the unused bottles are never opened and will stay fresh for long periods of time.

  3. #3
    I use the Lee Valley bags and love them. I also use these for longer term storage of pre-mixed shellac. The plastic is not affected by the water in the shellac mix. If you've ever had a can fail on the shelf, you know what I'm talking about. The reduction of air space is a bonus.
    Last edited by glenn bradley; 04-05-2017 at 8:38 AM.
    Purgamentum init, exit purgamentum

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    State College, PA
    Posts
    196
    Plus 1 for StopLossBags.

    I tried the 4-ounce bottle approach but found that I use finish so slowly that I would lose at least half of every bottle. I tried adding marbles to take up space in the bottle as I used the finish, but found that too messy.

  5. #5
    Genius!

    I probably use about a can of finish per project... Not because I use that much, but rather because by the end - the varnish has gelled and is useless...

    The worst part is that with our fine government ruining all the good varnishes via low VOC regulations - my choices keep getting more and more limited. I really dont like urethane products because they don't cure right on rosewoods.... Where a day or 2 of good sunlight would cure out a good phenolic short oil varnish.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    408
    The best solution I've found is soda bottles, or even water bottles (but they tend to be pretty thin.) I rinse them out and dry them well. I fill them to the brim and screw on the top to eliminate any air. Every time I use them, I just crush them till the air is out. I've kept Waterlox and Pratt and Lambert 38 in crumpled bottles for 5 years without any thickening or loss.

    I always thought I could find some IV bags that would be fillable. It looks like Stop Loss bags are just that. I bet some med supply places has something very similar.

    Dan

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Maine
    Posts
    291
    Well, I bought some Stoploss bags and color me IMPRESSED. Aside from minor dribbling when I filled the bag, it works like a charm. I've already varnished twice. Just remove the cap, squeeze ou exactly what I need and recap. No muss, no fuss and best of all, NO AIR TO GEL THE REMAINDER!

    The instructions say to inflate the bag and then pour in the varnish. Of course you then have to burp the air out. Think on the next can I'll try starting with a collapsed bag.

    Thanks to all of you who pointed me in the right direction.
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    Jim Mackell
    Republic of Arundel, ME

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Tampa Bay, FL
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    If you start with a collapsed bag, you need to burp them mid pour, which is less convenient, but certainly not a deal breaker.

    I like the stop loss bags too, but there are some minor annoyances with them (cleaning the funnel afterwards is one).
    "A lot of people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of widths" - Steven Wright

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    E TN, near Knoxville
    Posts
    3,945
    I haven't tried the bags but I use another method. Based on the Bloxygen idea, I keep a tank of nitrogen in the shop and replace the air in the can before storage - MUCH less expensive than the Bloxygen (if you happen to already have the gas). CO2 or argon would work as well but I already had an extra tank with nitrogen. The advantage is being able to keep the finish in the original can. The disadvantage is acquiring the tank of gas and a regulator.

    JKJ

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Maine
    Posts
    291
    Just a quick update. I varnish a lot of old woodwork and I'm in and out of the can frequently. Transferred a can of Epifanes varnish back in April. Just finished it today. This is the first can in some years that I've managed to use every last drop! I'm a happy customer. If you haven't tried them, you should. And unless you're incredibly neat, buy some extra caps at their web site. It's wicked easy to gum up the threads if you don't wipe them faithfully.
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    Jim Mackell
    Republic of Arundel, ME

  11. #11
    I've had good luck with these: https://www.amazon.com/Vacu-Vin-Vacu.../dp/B000GA3KCE

    Pour the finish in an old wine or beer bottle and seal every time.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Posts
    655
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Hahr View Post
    The best solution I've found is soda bottles, or even water bottles (but they tend to be pretty thin.) I rinse them out and dry them well. I fill them to the brim and screw on the top to eliminate any air. Every time I use them, I just crush them till the air is out. I've kept Waterlox and Pratt and Lambert 38 in crumpled bottles for 5 years without any thickening or loss.

    I always thought I could find some IV bags that would be fillable. It looks like Stop Loss bags are just that. I bet some med supply places has something very similar.

    Dan
    The soda bottles are an intersting idea!
    Gary

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Fredericksburg, TX
    Posts
    2,249
    I use a modified Danish Oil mix for my turnings that I do in about gallon quantity. I have purchased several sizes of flexible plastic bottles from Dharma Trading Co. that I transfer the mix to for use. The flexible bottles collapse some as product is used, and the bottles have Yonker spouts and caps to seal or also the screw cap. I use most out of the 8 oz size, but do have the 2, 4, 8, 16, and 32 oz size. The squeeze bottle works well with a rag and wiping on finish.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Hampton, GA
    Posts
    73
    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Lightstone View Post

    I like the stop loss bags too, but there are some minor annoyances with them (cleaning the funnel afterwards is one).
    Then the funnel at Duckworks might be just what you are looking for. It pretty much burps the bag for you and dried finish doesn't stick to it. Standard disclaimer, no connection just like it.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Kansas City
    Posts
    652
    cubitainers work well too, a little sturdier than pop bottles.

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