Cabot's Interior Varnish Stain

Min Wax for those of us who can't get the real thing!

Cabbots Polyurethane Dark Sedar Stain

Having hear folks wax lyrical (so to speak) about the marvolous Min Wax, I've been quite keen to try and get hold of something similar over here in New Zealand (yup, it ain't imported over 'ere mate!).

I carefuly read all the bits and pieces on it from the DBA Resource Page, printed off the MinWax colour chart, held my breath, grabbed my credit card and went out to Mitre 10 (a local harware chain store) in search of a stain I could call my own. Hang on, that doesn't sound right...

After almost ½ an hour of dithering about, I finally went up to an assistant and asked. And lo and behold, he did point me to this stuff. Cabot's Interior Varnish Stain (Rich Cedar), a polyurethane interior wood varnish, made right here in En Zed. Tony De Lyall has informed me that the same stuff is also available over the ditch in Aus. And, wha ho, it's water based.

'That looks like it will do the trick' said I. (And 'Ouch, it's $NZ 25.00 [that's about $US 10.30 - the Kiwi dollar ain't what it used to be!] for a 500ml can of the stuff! Mind you, it should last me a life time...').

So, I got it anyway (ain't credit cards wonderful things?) and did take it home with me. And, well, so far I've only used it on six figures! Eight if you count horses seperatley ('tis a busy life...). And the results...

Cabot's Interior Varnish Stain take...

This was my first attempt. I pulled out some [now discontinued] Revell Gauls that needed to be touched up and rebased (from sand-painted-green-and-highlighted-yellow to flocked bases), and besides, they all look like well muscled 'He Men' and I thought they might show off any shading to best effect. The figure on the right is the result (no kidding Dick Tracy). The one on the left is there for comparison (and to show you the results of not giving the figure an undercoat before painting. These guys are actually from my very first DBA army, from almost 10 years ago...)

I opened the can (man, this stuff is dark - almost black, which was a bit of a shock) and kinda just slapped it on - this stuff has much less viscosity than PVA - and tried to prevent excessive pooling. It took about half an hour to touch dry, and that was in the end room of the house on a cool winter's day. I imagine it'll dry quicker in a warmer enviroment. I ended up with a finsh thus - kinda glossy (well, Satin to be precise - though not much more than a overcoat of PVA) and with this cool shading. Initially, I thought that I had used just a touch too much, so I tried again...

Cabot's Interior Varnish Stain take two...

I was looking for a more subtle result this time, and so used a touch less on the brush. Oh yeah, I brushed it on, rather than dipped the figure in the gook. Seemed to me to be by far the less messy way to go. And I figured quicker too, because there'd be less of the stuff to fiddle around with.

I quite like the way the stain has settled in the red and the grey, and especially the flesh. Really brings the face to life.

Upon further reflection, I might try for a finish between the two - not quite so heavy as the first, but not quite as subtle as the second. Anyway, having experimented thus, I decided that I might apply it to an element of Numidian Light Horse that I had just finished.

An HaT Numidian Light Horse element stained with Cabot's Interior Varnish Stain.

Didn't turn out too bad. I just undercoated the figues in black [acryic - all of my paints are acrylics], block painted the horses and used a "wargaming plus" painting technique (dark shade first, then a lighter shade of the same colour on top) on the riders. I had gone for a black lining effect for both horse and rider, simply by letting the undercoat show through between the colour divisions.

It has made the horses themselves look really good. As for the riders, well, I found that the varnish on top of the white tunics turned the white very slightly yellowy brown (but it's only really noticable from close up), and, again, it did the flesh (which had been shaded anyway) really nicely.

(June 2002)

Here's what my Numidian Light Horse General's element looks like after the Cabots stain was applied. (This shot was taken at night with the flash brining out the different shading on the flesh (that I had applied before the stain) better than the naked eye can pick out!)

On further reflection, the stian didn't seem to improve the paint job that much (though, again, I like the way it's finished the horses), and it has made the finish quite glossy. But it has also made the paint work pretty bullet proof, even in comparison with using PVA as an overcoat. Especially when you compared this with using nothing at all. I think I'll stick with it, perhaps looking for some "matt ing" stuff to apply afterward...

Overall, I'm quite impressed with this stuff. It seems to turn block painting (especially flesh and other warm colours) into something really quite respectable, as well as very effectivley protecting all your hard work.

Of Carthaginians and Cabbots...

(August 2003)

Mike Campbell sent these Carthaginian Cabots comments...

Hi Nick - thought I'd let you know that the Cartho's I got from you a few moths ago are coming on in...well....inches and millimetres (as opposed to leaps and bounds!)!! :)

I'll be finishing the Numidian light horse tonight - sticking the riders to the horses & finishing the "Cabotting" of them.

I found that the stain you used wasn't much good on greys tho (as in Grey horses) - I have quiet a nice technique for making a grey - I undercoat everything in brown anyway, so for a Grey I do a thick overbrush of white, which leaves a few random small bits of brown showing through. Then a wash of very diluted black and some thicker black on the mane and tail, and finally a wash of clean water along the horses back - this washes most of het black down to the horse's belly & makes it look really good.

For a brownish-white horse I did the same with a brown wash followed by clean water.

But ayway..... overstaining this with the brown Cabots doesn't look so good, so I got a tin of satin finish "Crystal Clear" - which is, as you might expect, a clear polyurethane from the same people - I thought of seeing if they had a grey stain but figured the work I'd done already was enough for the shading, and a clear varnish would be more useful for other applications.



Thanks for that Mike!

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