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Theres a Better Way

How to Make a Mess-Free Varnish Filter out of Cheesecloth

comments (6) June 5th, 2012
grateful.ed Chuck Miller, editor at large

Video Length: 1:08
Produced by: John Ross

If you need to filter an old can of varnish, polyurethane, or other clear finish for a small touch up job, you could pour the whole thing through a filter and make a mess... But, there's a better way.

This is a tip from Don Mathis of Macomb, IL. Instead of pouring the varnish through a filter, Don puts a filter in the can. He takes multiple layers of cheesecloth and lowers them into the can of varnish. The varnish comes up through the cheesecloth and filters itself. Now he's got filtered varnish, ready for any small finishing project.

More articles about painting and finishing:


- Stop paint from bleeding under masking tape
- Keep a paintbrush from drying out between coats
- Spray paint screw heads without the mess
- Paint doors efficiently



posted in: painting

Comments (6)

Benjamin1988 Benjamin1988 writes: Great suggestions here, Very helpful

Posted: 5:18 pm on June 15th

tpaul tpaul writes: Forget about cheesecloth. Snag an old pair of your wife's tights (pantie hose ?)
Posted: 10:53 am on June 12th

JoeKB JoeKB writes: For small amounts of paint/varnish from a typical quart can I use a 3Oz Solo or similar bathroom paper cup to dip it out of the can.
For filtering, it is awkward to use cheesecloth (who really has any in the shop?). Rather, it is far easier to buzz down to your autobody supply shop and pick up the nifty conical filters and a holder for them. Spend maybe $10 or so.
Let the paint/varnish drin into your mixing/dispensing container, set the paint/varnish can under the filter and let the dip cup residue drain back into the can before recapping it.
It pays to organize your paint facility into a smooth well supplied operation and keep it all stored correctly in its own cabinet or shelf. Makes the work go much faster and and your projects will look much better.
New paint cans are available from Sherwin-Williams, others to keep your supplies clean and useful.

Posted: 9:16 pm on June 11th

Bob1998 Bob1998 writes: This might help filtering out rust. A couple of cans of water based varnish and and one can of latex paint have corroded the lip of the can.
Posted: 5:09 pm on June 11th

oldbeachbum oldbeachbum writes: steal the wife's turkey baster?.......

small measuring cups dipped into the can?.....

just don't let the lady catch you or maybe ask if she has a spare
Posted: 11:24 am on June 11th

ntruro ntruro writes: Any suggestions on how to cleanly remove a small amount of varnish from a can without having to pour out over the can edge? I sometimes need a small amount, (3 or 4 oz), which needs to be thinned.
Posted: 6:14 am on June 11th

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