Guest Post : Von Leadfoot Experiments

Published on 22.03.2016 by Von Leadfoot

So the other day I found myself in a situation - both out of necessity and by my own curiosity - that forced me to track down an oil based, clear, matte, varnish. Anyone who has looked for this sort of thing before might already be aware of the struggle and difficulty that is involved in tracking down such a product. I’m not entirely sure why something like this is not more readily available, but the struggle is real and the need to find an alternative to water based clear matte varnish was equally as needed.

Here's the story...
As a pinstriper and sign painter I tend to work on a lot of vehicles, old and new, cars and motorcycles alike. This is the main reason that my search began for such a product. When lettering vehicles, more specifically motorcycles and scooters, using water based products is a bit of a joke. The main reason is gasoline. Petrol eats through water based products as well as yellows and stains them. Not to say that the same thing can’t happen with oil based or 1 Shot products, but with these there are steps that can be taken to ensure a resistance to fuel, though that isn’t of importance for this article. Just know that Oil Based clear matte vanish, not water based, was needed in this circumstance.

Step one; find an oil based, matte, clear, varnish. This is the hardest part. Everywhere, from Leyland and other such chains, all the way down to the small 'mom & pop' paint and hardware shops, no longer carry such a product. Most employees of these locations flat out say it doesn’t exist. Nobody can answer me as to why this is, it just is (apparently). Having a few 'old boy' sign painter friends, thankfully, I can usually place a call and get to the bottom of this kind of situation. Same goes in regards to having AS Handover on speed dial on my phone.
A very knowledgeable, third generation sign painter that I know, told me once that clear matte oil based varnish is next to impossible to get, and that you never let go of your source once you find a
supplier. As of this moment of time, I can’t even find anyone that carries this shit!

Moving swiftly along, I called up AS Handover. One product was brought to my attention, and ordered as a back up, but the general fear was that because it has Linseed Oil in it, the product would gradually yellow overtime. Nobody wants a product that can potentially yellow, even if it is ten years later. With the product ordered as a Plan B I tried to work out what my Plan A would be.

Having used One Shot throughout the duration of my career as a painter, I asked AS Handover if there was anything that One Shot made that would help me in this situation. Personally I had heard years ago that somebody, somewhere, was making a powder that you could add to your oil based paints as a flattening agent, but this was years ago and I couldn’t remember the manufacturer name. Alternatively I’ve heard that you can add talcum powder, but I wouldn’t dare to try this as just the thought of it makes me imagine far more problems than it would solve, especially with things like paint inconsistency as just one of many such issues. Another of these issues would be pockets of powder that didn’t mix properly and then “popping” open when applied with a brush, spilling their dry contents into a fresh paint job. So my question was answered when it was brought to my attention that One Shot makes a Clear Flattening Paste. The next question would be, of course, will it flatten One Shot Clear (4003, One Shot Clear 'Varnish') as both are both oil based products, and so together could potentially be exactly what I was looking for. The One Shot guys said it would. The concern now being, would the Flattening Paste turn into too much of an opaque 'color' and fog the varnish or paint pigment, like most water based matte clear varnishes do...


Lets find out!

I made a sample (pictured above) of the spectrum running from One Shot Clear Flattening Paste straight from the tin, all the way to the other end running One Shot Clear straight out of the tin, and percentages mixed to 10 all the way along.
First things first, One Shot Flattening Paste, is not really a “paste” as the name implies. Looking at the opened products side by side shows that the Clear and the Paste look almost identical both in color and clarity.

The Flattening Paste has a slight fog within the container where as the One Shot Clear is transparent - visibly hard to see in the photos, but they’re both nearly one and the same at first glance. What I discovered is that between the ratios of 40% flattening paste and 60% clear varnish, very little was achieved. I was expecting there to be a bit more of a variance as the flattening paste ratio was added in, creating more of a satin or semi gloss before it flattened right out. At the 40/60% mark you can just start to make out that something is starting to happen.
The flattening, or satin, didn’t become apparent until I hit the 50/50% mark. I painted my test panel in One Shot Lettering Black (oil based gloss) at the bottom and standard (water based) black board paint at the top. I wanted to see if any reactions would happen where they weren’t expected as well as show what the flat and clear (gloss) would look like across the spectrum when going over the top of opposing finishes. Once the 50/50% mix was reached, it became visibly clear what the outcome would be, as pictured.

The mixture was also drying off a lot faster without the Clear 'varnish' in it. One Shot Clear takes about 6-8 hours to be tack and dust free, with a 12 hour re-coat time, but the One Shot Clear Flattening Paste goes off in about 30 minutes to 1 hour. One thing that does get brought up though in the fully dried results is the visibility of 'clear' or 'gloss' streaks in the 90/70% flattening samples. This might show the importance of an even coating during the application process. It could also be a lack of mixing as thoroughly as needed...

I was quite pleased to see that the Flattening Paste didn’t fog the One Shot Clear and that, with care taken, a spectrum from a semi gloss all the way to a dead flat finish could be reached. If you ever use this product I’d recommend two key things, one of which being; use an air brush where possible for the application to get the smoothest/most even finish possible and, if brushing on like I did with the examples, try to get as even an application and mixture to avoid potential gloss streaks.

- Von Leadfoot →

Shop Flattening Paste →

Shop One Shot : Sign Restoring Clear →


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