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**History of Varnish:**
– The word varnish comes from Mediaeval Latin vernix, meaning odorous resin.
– Early varnishes were developed by mixing resin with a solvent and applying them with a brush.
– Varnishing was a technique well known in ancient Egypt and in the history of East and South Asia.

**Safety Precautions:**
– Many varnishes and drying oils are flammable and may spontaneously combust.
– Flammable components include plant-derived oils, synthetic oils, and resins.
– Manufacturers list safety precautions for storage and disposal of varnishes.
– Proper disposal practices for rags and items used to apply varnish are recommended.

**Components and Curing of Varnish:**
Varnish traditionally consists of a drying oil, a resin, a thinner or solvent, and a metal drier.
– Film-forming substances in varnishes harden through different processes.
– Environmental factors such as heat and humidity affect drying and curing times.
– Exposure to energy sources like sunlight can speed up the drying and curing process.

**Types of Varnish:**
– Violin varnishing involves a multi-step process with various coats and clear topcoat.
Shellac is a widely used single-component resin varnish sourced from the lac insect.
– Alkyd varnishes offer good solvent, moisture, and UV resistance.
– Spar varnish was originally for ship spars and offers water resistance and elasticity.
– Polyurethane varnishes are hard, abrasion-resistant, and durable with a tendency to yellow over time.
– Acrylic varnishes are water-borne with high transparency and good UV-resistance.
– Two-part epoxy varnishes are formulated for various applications with different mixing ratios.

**Specific Varnish Types:**
Shellac: Basis of French polish, available in clear, amber, ruby, and yellow varieties.
– Alkyd: Modern varnishes with good resistance properties and UV-absorbers.
– Spar varnish: Originally for ship spars, now offers elasticity and UV-resistance.
– Drying oils: Commonly used for varnish-like effects in modern applications.
– Polyurethane: Popular for hardwood floors due to its toughness and waterproofing properties.
– Acrylic: Water-borne varnishes with high transparency and good UV-resistance.
– Two-part epoxy: Formulated for various applications with different mixing ratios.

Varnish (Wikipedia)

Varnish is a clear transparent hard protective coating or film. It is not to be confused with wood stain. It usually has a yellowish shade due to the manufacturing process and materials used, but it may also be pigmented as desired. It is sold commercially in various shades.

Varnish on wood stairs
Varnished oak floor

Varnish is primarily used as a wood finish where, stained or not, the distinctive tones and grains in the wood are intended to be visible. Varnish finishes are naturally glossy, but satin/semi-gloss and flat sheens are available.

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