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Homemade Varnish Recipe

Old Down East Deck Coating Formula

Wood has a natural beauty that many people wish to not only protect but enhance with either Oils or Varnishes. A good varnish applied to your boat will provide a barrier to protect against the elements that will attack the wood during the season--sea, rain, wind and sun.


Varnishes have always been considered a mysterious blend of black art and science. They are generally made up of oil, solvents and thinners, resins, dryers, and additives. By varying these components, and by adding UV inhibitors and other secret ingredients each particular varnish will have different characteristics. Varnish can have gloss or matte appearance, can be extremely hard and durable, and can vary in color.


Wood or Teak Oils generally penetrate more deeply into the wood fibers and maintain the original look of the wood more so than other finishes that are a mere surface coating. Oils will range in color from clear to dark brown. As with any wood finish, multiple coats will result in a more uniform finish and greater longevity. Oil is probably the easiest to apply--but still requires an amount of preparation for good results and it has the shortest lifespan of the group. Clean, sanded teak with several coats of oil can provide 3-6 months of protection.

Synthetic Wood Finishes

Synthetic Wood Finishes are more and more popular each year. They claim to be as easy to apply as an oil and have the durability of a varnish--which we are not sure is entirely true. We believe that they are a great easy-to-apply alternative that offers good durability with a reasonably good looking finish.

JD Homemade Varnish Recipe: An Old Down East Deck Coating Formula

Used on wooden decks for schooners, fishing boats, and porch decks. Makes for an amber finish. To customize the mixture, add more pine tar for a darker color or add less for a lighter color. Allow more drying time for the darker mixture.

Turpentine 1 qt
Boiled Linseed Oil 1 qt
Pine Tar 1/2 pt
Japan Drier 1/2 pt

* Covers approximately 100 square feet.

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