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Author Topic: Helmsman Spar Urethane review (clear satin finish)  (Read 790 times)

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Offline Crusarius

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Helmsman Spar Urethane review (clear satin finish)
« on: July 07, 2020, 03:53:19 PM »
Helmsman Spar Urethane testing (satin)
Every time I see someoneís nice wood working project with an amazing finish on it, I am usually the first to ask what finish it is, and how did they do it.
 
I happened to have a request from my wife for someplace to sit next to the playground while the kids are playing. I just happened to have an ugly curved walnut log. So, of course that got sawn into curved benches.
Now when it comes to lazy I can hold my own. I was looking for a good high quality finish that would last living outside and not require yearly touchups or stripping and redoing. Living in upstate NY I knew I needed something durable. I was also looking for something easy to get / locally available.
Well, where is the first place you go looking for any woodworking information? The forestry forum of course. I spent about a week searching through different threads. This one thread got my attention
https://forestryforum.com/board/index.php?topic=110457.msg1739798#msg1739798.
Most of the other threads I found were from quite a few years back. Some even older than 2012.
 
 
I am hoping this thread will be helpful to many that are looking for different finishes. Here is at least one thread getting really in depth into the Helmsman Spar Urethane (clear satin finish).



Part of the reason I decided to try the Helmsman was the availability. My wife picked it up for me at Lowes. I think it was $53 for the gallon. (Was better price point to go with the gallon).
 
My first observation, which didnít really make me all that happy, was the color of it. I was really hoping for a clear urethane. Unfortunately there is a pretty good tint to this. See image below.



 
Since I already bought the gallon, and was really interested in the product, I decided to continue the test.
Prep work consisted of a belt sander to smooth out the sawmarks and an orbital sander to smooth out the rest. I spent a lot more time prepping the top of the bench than the bottom. The images that follow are of the bottom of the bench. (Top of the bench photos will come later)
Initially I applied the finish using a cheap bristle brush that you can see in the image. I wanted to get a before picture of the boards, but as usual, I forgot. So I made sure the following images have a little of both.



 



 
This next image shows 1 bench completed and still wet with the other one raw.



 
Both benches with one coat still wet.



 
Both benches with one coat after 6 hours. Ready for sanding and second coat. I also added a scrap piece for a sample that you see in the center.



 
Both benches dry with single coat after hand sanding using 220 grit.



 
Second coat, wet.



 
Two coats dry



 
Two coats dry and sanded with 220 grit by hand



 
Three coats dry with sample. The sample is the top side of the bench that had the better prep.



 
I chose to do three coats due to the recommendations on the can. Two coats looked nice but I went for a little more protection with the thirsty raw wood.
 
I will perform the same review on the other side of the bench when I get time to finish it. I am also planning 1 month, 3 month, 6 month, and 12 month photos. That is the reason I made the sample. The sample will remain indoors and covered so we can see how the finish weathers.
 
I hope you enjoyed my little review so far. Stay tuned, more to come.
 

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Re: Helmsman Spar Urethane review (clear satin finish)
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2020, 04:01:30 PM »
The small sample in the center of the boards is a 3 stage piece. I have 1 coat 2 coats and 3 coats on it. same prep as the boards themselves.




Offline Nebraska

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Re: Helmsman Spar Urethane review (clear satin finish)
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2020, 04:56:57 PM »
 popcorn_smiley  cool..... that's what I am using for bench finish as well, but nothing outdoors like that as of yet. I am interested to see how long it will hold up.

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Re: Helmsman Spar Urethane review (clear satin finish)
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2020, 06:06:43 PM »
I have been using this product for about 10 years.  it is available at lowes and wal-mart, and amazon.  I get the spray and gallons.  for a large project i will finish from a can first until it has some build.  fine sand, and the final coat from a spray can.  it does not last forever, but if you catch it early, a light sanding and touch up is ok.  if the grain of the wood cracks, it will take more.  this is why I do not put my legs through outdoor benches, as this is where the surface finish will fail.  oil does not matter.  i like the satin, but you can use what ever sheen you like, as long as the final is the sheen you want.  to get the rays in maple, it is recommended you use the gloss.  you can give 10 coats of gloss, the a final spray coat of satin, and you get satin.  It can go over danish oil, and i do this for finer pieces made of walnut.  i us this on ERC and like the satin so it does not look like a gift from the I-70 truck stop. I have put it on ceiling boards and put it on with a short nap roller with a long handle.  very fast.
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

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Re: Helmsman Spar Urethane review (clear satin finish)
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2020, 06:12:22 PM »
 

 


 


 


 


 

some examples of projects finished with this product.  i may try to find some now pics, with an estimate of time outside.
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

Offline stavebuyer

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Re: Helmsman Spar Urethane review (clear satin finish)
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2020, 06:50:53 PM »
 

 

 I used this for a large number of red cedar projects. Inside the house is marginal. Nothing I have found will keep red cedar from fading to burnt orange if it gets sunlight.

Outside I will never, ever, ever consider using it again. In addition to discoloration the finish breaks down and peels quite readily. Save the expense and hassle of sanding and refinishing and let outside projects weather and then slop some deck waterproofing on it.

Three summers on an east facing covered porch.

 

 

Offline Old Greenhorn

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Re: Helmsman Spar Urethane review (clear satin finish)
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2020, 07:26:21 PM »
I use the Verathane version of this product and I am not sure how much difference is between the two, I suspect they are very similar. I have one nice bench that has been out in the weather all year, but not in direct sunlight and a nicer bar that lives outside but not in the sun or rain. I will try to get the one back that belongs to me and see how it has done. Mostly I find this holds up well. I gave a bench to a neighbor, it is maple and very light, so it has a yellowish patina as finished. That was left out in the rain/snow/sun since last summer and I saw it last week and it is not any darker than I recall.
 But I do have a question: I bought a gallon around June of 2019 and did a few good sized pieces, more than a few coats each. then I used it for a few more projects through the fall and winter, but around December I noticed it getting thick and dark and I still had just under a half gallon left. I figured it was getting too much air when I opened it frequently, so I got two new 1 qt. cans and poured it into those, but when each got down to half full, they developed thick skins and darkened more. What more, they gave a poor finish. SO I resolved to only buy them in 1 qt. cans. Well today I opened that can, which is nearly done and it too it skinned over. It's only 2 months old. Now my local source has been out of stock for over a week. I am thinking  about trying the min-wax version of this product. Have any of you guys had this issue with the min-wax? Any tips on getting it to hold up in the can?
 I think it's important to note that I use oil based, exterior rated type, not the water based. I have not seen nor heard of good outdoor results with the water based at all. I can't tell from the can in the first post which type it is.
Oscar 328 Band Mill, Husky 450, 372 (Clone), Mule 3010, and too many hand tools. :) I mill for fun and my mental health. NYLT Certified.

I ain't the woodcutter, but I can cut wood 'til the woodcutter gets here. OK, maybe I am the woodcutter now.
I can work with wood, but I am NOT a Woodworker

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Re: Helmsman Spar Urethane review (clear satin finish)
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2020, 07:44:05 PM »
they make and aerosol with I think Nitrogen (inert gas) to spray in you can as you close it up.  so the freash air dows not evaporate the thinner and oxidize the finish.  I have added thinner, mixed and strained the stuff and it does ok.  I guess you could use beer gas.  the nitrogen, not the CO2
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

Offline Old Greenhorn

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Re: Helmsman Spar Urethane review (clear satin finish)
« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2020, 08:04:22 PM »
SO I am guessing you don't use it Doc? I have never heard of using nitrogen in beer, but I don't know much about beer beyond which ones I like. I always used CO2 in my kegs. Maybe nitrogen oxide would be fun?  ;D I'll have to search for a source of this nitrogen you speak of. Does anybody have experience using this in their shop?
Oscar 328 Band Mill, Husky 450, 372 (Clone), Mule 3010, and too many hand tools. :) I mill for fun and my mental health. NYLT Certified.

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I can work with wood, but I am NOT a Woodworker

Offline btulloh

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Re: Helmsman Spar Urethane review (clear satin finish)
« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2020, 08:14:55 PM »
I use shielding gas from the MIG. On hand and easy to dispense. About three seconds worth and it keeps the finish fresh. The bit of CO2 doesnít seem to cause any problems.

Before that I had a pony scuba tank the dive shop gave after it couldnít be certified any longer. The also filled it with N when required, but it lasts a really long time. 
HM126

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Re: Helmsman Spar Urethane review (clear satin finish)
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2020, 09:25:12 PM »
I use the Verathane version of this product and I am not sure how much difference is between the two, I suspect they are very similar. I have one nice bench that has been out in the weather all year, but not in direct sunlight and a nicer bar that lives outside but not in the sun or rain. I will try to get the one back that belongs to me and see how it has done. Mostly I find this holds up well. I gave a bench to a neighbor, it is maple and very light, so it has a yellowish patina as finished. That was left out in the rain/snow/sun since last summer and I saw it last week and it is not any darker than I recall.
 But I do have a question: I bought a gallon around June of 2019 and did a few good sized pieces, more than a few coats each. then I used it for a few more projects through the fall and winter, but around December I noticed it getting thick and dark and I still had just under a half gallon left. I figured it was getting too much air when I opened it frequently, so I got two new 1 qt. cans and poured it into those, but when each got down to half full, they developed thick skins and darkened more. What more, they gave a poor finish. SO I resolved to only buy them in 1 qt. cans. Well today I opened that can, which is nearly done and it too it skinned over. It's only 2 months old. Now my local source has been out of stock for over a week. I am thinking  about trying the min-wax version of this product. Have any of you guys had this issue with the min-wax? Any tips on getting it to hold up in the can?
 I think it's important to note that I use oil based, exterior rated type, not the water based. I have not seen nor heard of good outdoor results with the water based at all. I can't tell from the can in the first post which type it is.
Have you done the flip trick? Where you seal the can then flip it over and the contents in the can seal the lid from allowing any air to get in. I do this with all my paints and have had almost no problems with drying up or skimming over.

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Re: Helmsman Spar Urethane review (clear satin finish)
« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2020, 09:28:17 PM »
btulloh great idea. I never thought of doing that but the flip trick has worked great for me so I will keep doing that.

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Re: Helmsman Spar Urethane review (clear satin finish)
« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2020, 09:38:28 PM »
Well, less is more. If the flip is working, you canít beat it for simplicity. 

Seems like the ox in the can would still cause problems, but thereís no arguing with success. Guess I better try the flip.
HM126

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Re: Helmsman Spar Urethane review (clear satin finish)
« Reply #13 on: July 08, 2020, 05:50:54 AM »
It does to a point but the little bit I may lose is not a big deal. It is the full gallons that you lose that really stink!

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Re: Helmsman Spar Urethane review (clear satin finish)
« Reply #14 on: July 08, 2020, 07:34:47 AM »
Got a PM from another member with another method.  He's been using a bit of propane from a torch and it works fine.  Everybody's got a propane torch handy.
HM126

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Re: Helmsman Spar Urethane review (clear satin finish)
« Reply #15 on: July 08, 2020, 08:01:38 AM »
Propane is good idea. it is heavier than air so will displace all of the oxygen in the can.

Not so good for opening it if your a smoker or working with sparky

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Re: Helmsman Spar Urethane review (clear satin finish)
« Reply #16 on: July 08, 2020, 08:38:03 AM »
I second what Stavebuyer said, Ill never use it on an exterior horizontal surface again. I use a good quality varnish on my wooden boats, usually get 4-5 years before a light sanding and re coat.

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Re: Helmsman Spar Urethane review (clear satin finish)
« Reply #17 on: July 08, 2020, 08:39:09 AM »
I use a good quality varnish


What brand would that varnish be?
HM126

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Re: Helmsman Spar Urethane review (clear satin finish)
« Reply #18 on: July 08, 2020, 08:55:58 AM »
I think any "inert" gas that can displace the oxygen.  I think it is a combo of evaporation of the carrier/thinner, and oxidation at the top of the pool of finish.  so each time you open the can, you have a fresh volume of air to finish.  As you use the finish, get a high volume of air to finish ratio.  OGH what kind of beer do you drink.  I have been meaning to ask.  Beer makes its own gas usually.  After fermentation in an open container, we add a little more sugar and bottle the beer.  or put it in a keg and turn on the CO2 gas.  either way it gest carbonated (CO2).  It is the stouts that use nitrogen.  this is why the bubbles are tiny and you get the cascade effect from like Guinness.  My favorite beer back in the day, was a black and tan.  so half a glass of (Bass) ale in the glass first.  then a spoon at the surface and add the stout, and it foams and lays on the top.  fun to drink and see the bi-layer, and when the stout is getting old, you get to the ale.  the lore was the English and the Irish did not get along and did not mix.  I agree that this finish is not perfect, but let me know what is better.  The one table I showed in the metal frame is designed so I can pull the wood out and run it through the planer and re-finish and good as new.  It is out by the pool year round!  a dunk in epoxy might seal it up, but no uv protection.  you can get a small aerosol can of nitrogen from woodworking suppliers like Rockler.  I used for a while the stir and pour lid that goes on a gallon can.  but had more trouble if it sat for 6 months.  you can break up the top skim. it feels like plastic.  I run the remaining finish through a strainer and add some thinner and do ok.
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

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Re: Helmsman Spar Urethane review (clear satin finish)
« Reply #19 on: July 08, 2020, 10:52:41 AM »
Well, I didn't mean to hijack the thread but I just learned a lot. I am usually pretty good about re-sealing the lids and keeping them clean. The issue seems to be related to the volume of air the can can hold. No issues when it is nearly full, but once there is only a little left, that's when it starts. I will give some of these ideas a try, sounds like they all work. I should get some thinners too, to fix/salvage what I have.
Oscar 328 Band Mill, Husky 450, 372 (Clone), Mule 3010, and too many hand tools. :) I mill for fun and my mental health. NYLT Certified.

I ain't the woodcutter, but I can cut wood 'til the woodcutter gets here. OK, maybe I am the woodcutter now.
I can work with wood, but I am NOT a Woodworker


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