Chris has already discussed the various finishes we use and why, but I thought I might add a little about her brush kit. For many years her brushes were kept on a rack in her studio, but that disappeared when we sold the house. During her first season on Zodiac I was still living in Seattle and casting about for things to keep my mind occupied. For our anniversary that year, I decided to make her a toolbox for her brushes and finishing supplies.
I adapted the design from a Jim Tolpin carving tools box in the "The Toolbox Book" (Taunton Press). His box was smaller but offered an interesting design with the potential for a safe storage for a large number of brushes. After spending some time laying out all the tools I wanted to store I settled on an appropriate size, approx. 24" long and 12" wide. Conveniently enough, I had a stack of salvaged VG fir boards that would provide all the material for this project.
The box was very easy to build, the two hexagonal ends being the only time consuming pieces as they needed to be accurate and identical. I used exposed screws to fasten the permanently fixed sides in place for strength and ease of assembly. The interior trays and partitioning were carefully laid out to hold all her needed tools and provide easy access. The leather carry strap and the hinge straps were fasten with clench nails and have held up well to use.
On the interior of the "roll-out" lid are the basic everyday brushes. Chisel end sash brushes in both natural and synthetic bristles, widths running from 1 inch to 3 inches are laid out , ready to go to work. The top lift out tray carries a pair of very nice badger hair varnish brushes, a set of round detailing brushes and all the cleaning, layout and marking tools. The lower lift panel carries her staining and blending brushes. Below that, in the bottom of the box lives a "flogger" for removing charcoal layout marks, scrapers and scraper blades. Some of these tools and brushes are holdovers from her days as a scenic artist in theatre and see little use aboard.
All the wood was finished with three coats of Deft high gloss lacquer, polished with paste wax. It's a silky smooth, durable finish with just the right gloss and very quick and easy to apply. Especially for projects that will receive abuse (such as toolboxes) it's one of my favorite finishes. Brushes are used, cleaned and returned to their place with a little oil added to the natural bristles. The Deft resists this oil and keeps everything in good shape.
Her toolbox has been is use for four years now and she loves it. It's traveled on three different boats and spent time in her office/studio in Bellingham, aging very gracefully. Now I'm brainstorming for another toolbox for my caulking tools.