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Behlen's Rock Hard Tabletop Varnish
by Sal Marino

Rockhard Table Top VarnishIf you are looking for a good old fashion varnish that is very resistant to, alcoholic beverage spills, abrasion and water rings, Behlen's Rock Hard Tabletop Varnish is a great choice This oil based varnish contains natural gum resins that were commonly used to make varnishes in the 19th Century. It has been blended and modified to produce excellent protection while still retaining all the good qualities of varnish like ease of application by brushing and a beautiful amber color.

Only available in gloss, it can be rubbed to achieve any sheen from satin back up to gloss. Rubbing should be done after the last coat of varnish has been applied and all the coats have had time to cure, meaning all the solvent in the varnish has evaporated. This could take anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks, depending on how many coats you have applied, the temperature and humidity. If you are not sure, wait as long as you can before you start rubbing.

Most oil based varnishes can be reduced with either gum turpentine or mineral spirits. If you wish to reduce Behlen's Rock Hard Tabletop Varnish, you must use a special reducer that has been specifically formulated for it, (Behlen's Rock Hard Reducer). I have always found that reducing varnish helps it flow out better, it's also true for this varnish. I generally reduce the first one or two coats 50/50 (1 part varnish to 1 part reducer). This acts as a sealer and prevents the other coats from penetrating too deeply into the more soft or porous areas of the wood, thus giving you a more uniform sheen.


To apply this varnish, I use a 2" high quality natural bristle brush. As mentioned above, reduce the first 2 coats 50 percent (1 to 1). Sand lightly between coats with 320 grit paper and make sure to wipe off dust with a tack cloth before you apply the next coat. After the sealer coats are applied, I reduce all other coats about 20 percent (4 parts varnish to 1 part reducer) again sanding lightly between coats with 320 grit paper and removing the dust with a tack cloth. Wait overnight between coats.  Three or more coats are usually necessary, depending on how porous the wood is. Once you have a uniform sheen, no additional coats are necessary, but I like to apply 1 more coat after this.

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