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48 chevy woodie


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I have spent quite some time working on wood body, doors will be going back on shortly. Question is what is the proper material and procedure to get the wood finished? Do I use Shellac with many coats or some newer finish maybe a poly based finish? Is it sprayed on or brushed? When I did boats it was all brushed on.

 

If someone can offer some advice as to material and application methods that would be great.

 

Thanks, Wayne

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Ford used varnish, so I would assume other makes also used the same material. I know a few street rodded "Woodies" that used automotive clear, but to me it looks too "plastic". Varnish can be sprayed or brushed, I used cheap foam brushes and got great results.

Varathane makes varnish in spray can's for touch up work. If you do go with varnish, make sure it's a good quality product with the highest  UV rating you can get. I thinned the first few coat's and sanded between coat's with 220 and changed to 320 for the final few coat's. 

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I always use Marine Spar Varnish - https://www.amazon.com/McCloskey-Valspar-Spar-Varnish-Gallon/dp/B00176PIKS/ref=pd_lpo_1?pd_rd_i=B00176PIKS&psc=1

I always use satin finish because the glossy is just too shiny. It doesn't look right.

Follow what 46 Woodie said about applications.

I use a good quality brush to apply it.

I usually put 10-20 coats of varnish lightly sanded between.

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wow 10 to 20 coats, was not expecting that. Thanks for the great advice, I'll post some pic's when done. Hope to start it this coming week, front metal all primed waiting for paint. Might make a September drive.

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I am restoring a woodie. I do about 8 coats with light sanding in between coats. Brushed on. Purdy OX O Thin brush. I use Petit Captains 1015 and Petit Flagship 2015. They have a clear primer sealer they sell. Epifanes is another good one. They advertise in the Woodie Times. Instead of a primer sealer, the label says to use several thinned coats. Since these cars will spend most of the time in the garage, I don't think the brand matters. I order varnish from Jamestown Distributors or Hamilton Marine. 

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As Joe points out 10 coats is not unusual, remember the first few coats should be thinned and will soak into your wood. Sanding between coat's is a must, varnish doesn't like to stick to varnish with out being sanded. I also used Epifanes and did about 12 coats. An old timer gave me a tip on preserving the varnish in the can. Air is an enemy of varnish so when you are done putting a coat on and seal the can turn it over and makes the can air tight.

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Very good point. Varnish seems to gel in a few weeks or less after you open the can. When I first open a quart can, I pour it all into smaller jars without air space. I can use up the amount in a smaller jar in about a week. Also, pour just enough to finish your current coat in a separate container to brush out of. If there is any left over don't pour it back into the jar. I save a lot of jars and plastic food containers. I just throw them away after using once. 

 

Another tip I have figured out:  It seems to waste a lot of thinner to clean brushes after each coat. This is especially true when certain brands of varnish want you to use their thinner. Regular thinner from the hardware store does not seem to dissolve their varnish. I fill up a jar with the proper thinner and after each coat hang the brush in the thinner off the bottom. When you do the next coat just shake the thinner out of the brush and start varnishing. When finished, hang the brush again in the same jar of thinner. Only when I am finished with all the coats do I completely clean the brush with clean thinner and put it away in the sleeve. All the used thinner can be recycled. All the paint/varnish will settle out after a while and it will be almost clear again. 

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Wayne, I found out that the biggest thing about varnishing is to not "overthink" it. When I was ready to start the varnishing process on my '46 Ford wagon I went out to Wavecrest, the biggest Woodie show in the world. I talked to several people that did their own varnish work and this is what I got from our conversations. I researched varnishing and actually purchased a book from a woodworking supply company on finishes. It recommended these very expensive brushes made in Finland that cost about $150 each. One guy that had a beautiful finish on his car told me "BS, buy cheap foam brushes and throw them away when you are done between your coat's. Well, that is exactly what I used. Next thing I did is fabricate a simple "clean room" in my basement using plastic sheeting/drop cloth's. Varnish likes it about 70-74 degrees, so I used a small electric heater and thermometer to keep it in that range. Never sand or use an air hose to clean off your wood in the "clean room", everything you do to clean off the sanding dust is done outside the room.  Use a tack cloth outside the room, just before you varnish, not in the room. Before you enter the room blow yourself off, you would be surprised how much sanding dust can get carried into you varnish room, on your clothing and in your hair. Don't be tempted to keep playing with the finish, any blemishes can be sanded out. I did my car 20 years and 50,000 miles ago and have driven the car from N.Y. to California with the last three day's in rain coming home and my varnish is holding up nicely. Where are you located Wayne and are you a member of the National Woodie Club?

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Wow again great points, I was planing on varnishing whole car at once, even though I was thinking of doing it piece by piece in a warm space, your points really just made job easier for me. I can do it piece by piece. The doors are all being stored indoors, you just opened my eyes to begin varnishing the doors now while finishing up car work in the garage. Last week I drove it out of garage on new drive train (250 6 cyl, 350 auto), body parts waiting for it to warm up before I paint it (oxford maroon). Looks like I start building a clean room for varnishing.

 

I live in Conn. and yes I'm a member of Woodie club.

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Since you are a member of the NWC and live in CT. I hope you will be able to make one or more of the Woodie Car show's in the New England area. Heritage Museum and Gardens in Sandwich MA on June 11th, will have a section just for Woodies. Mystic Seaport, Woodies and Wooden Boat's, on July 23rd, Ogunquit ME, Woodie's in the Cove Show on August 13th and Woodies on the Green, Wareham MA on Sept.11th.

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Yes, I am planning to be in Mystic, and will try to make the heritage show, hopefully Ma. show, was not aware of Me show.

They are on my calendar.

 

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I would put one or two coats inside the doors to seal it from humidity expansion and contraction and any rain that might get past the window seals. Woodie station wagon bodies were almost always made by outside contractors such as Campbell, U.S. Body and Forging, Cantrell, Hercules, Ionia, etc. Ford was the exception as they made their own wood bodies at Iron Mountain Michigan. 

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The show in Maine is held in Ogunquit on August 13 this year and is the larger of the NE shows. There is usually about 30 Woodies at the event. In 2023 the National event will be held in Mystic Seaport and should bring quite a few Woodies. When the National event was held in Ogunquit two years ago there were about 80 Woodies. As far as finishing the inside of your door's, I would also recommend doing so. 

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Again, thank you!  we will try to make Woodie show in Maine, probably camp somewhere near by. I don't think our car will be ready for that, but should make Mystic 2023. The new drive train runs, metal body parts are prepped for painting, wood is about 60% done. If it ever warms up here in CT I'll be on it full time, at least trying to get it driving around town.

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Thanks for the pictures. What did you come up with for the door panel plywood? What kind of wood veneer? I had to have mine custom made to get what I wanted/duplicate what was original. 

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I bought it out of a wood dealer in New York, it is mahogany both sides, a little expensive but I thought it was worth it. I think $250 per 4x8 sheet. They had the Ash so I ordered it all at one time. I think all the wood was $1250.00. I'm changing all the mahogany so it will all look identical (I hope).

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  • 1 month later...

Nice work! Nice to see another chevrolet resurrected. 

 

I have a '48 chevrolet woodie that was finished about 20 years ago. It was Will O'Neil's car before he died. 

 

I modified mine to have a woodgrain dash and tore out the plywood rear deck and put in an ash deck- it looks better. The car looks pretty stock from the outside, but has a 400 hp chevrolet small block, with a Mustang II front end and a triangulated four bar rear end. Discs on front and rear. The only "stock" car I have is a '49 Chrysler town and country. I must say I prefer driving the resto mods, as they can be driven anywhere. 

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  • 3 months later...

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