Monday, August 30, 2010

How to: Salt varnish

Unless you are an Olde Salt, you may not have heard of salt varnish.

On a cabin sole finished bright, with beautiful gloss varnish, how do you provide essential non-skid areas where they are needed? For example, on the edge of the raised area under the dinette on Eolian facing you, where people want to firmly place their feet while sliding out from under the table?

I had tried various alternatives, including a clear non-skid tape made by 3M (the adhesive failed wherever sun hit it). And then, like in most cases, I discovered that someone had solved this problem a long, long time ago, in a very elegant way: salt varnish.

Here's what you do:
  • Mask off the area to be "non-skidded"
  • Apply a wet coat of varnish
  • Immediately sprinkle it with a liberal layer of regular table salt
  • When the varnish is cured, sponge away the salt with a moist sponge
What is left behind, once the salt is dissolved away, is a layer of rough varnish. Perfect non-skid. And easily sanded for re-treatment when it is needed, since it is just that: varnish. I tried to show it in this picture, but it is not easy to capture, which is one of its virtues, after all.

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