Strange as it may seem, one of the most useful substances to modellers is domestic acrylic floor polish/varnish. This article explains some of the uses it is put to.
The liquid concerned is often thought of as a floor polish, but it is actually an acrylic varnish that is clear, extremely hard wearing (it is meant for floors!) and does not yellow with age.
It is made by Johnsons and is available in most parts of the world although it goes under different names – Future in the US, Klear in Europe.
Paints and varnishes specifially designed for modelling come in small bottles or jars of around 10 to 20ml. One of the great things about Klear is that it comes in large bottles – 500ml – and costs about the same as a 20ml bottle of varnish designed specifically for modellers.
Uses of Future/Klear
1. Gloss Varnish
Klear makes a very good gloss varnish for application by brush or airbrush. It does dry very quickly and when dry will resist most solvents, so great care is needed to clean the airbrush regularly during use and after finishing.
It can be used neat in an airbrush but it probably best thinned with a little water to reduce the chances of blocking the airbrush.
Use Klear whenever you would use a gloss varnish such as the following:
Finishing protective coat
If you want a gloss or semi-gloss finish on the model, then Kear makes a good protective layer. Although it is a gloss finish it usually takes several thin coats to get a high gloss and a single coat will ofter give a semi-gloss finish.
Between paint layers
When dry, Klear resists most solvents so it can be used during the painting process to protect previous coats of paint especially when changing painting mediums e.g. changing from acrylics to enamels or oils.
Waterslide decals need to be put on a gloss or semi-gloss surface. Klear is good for changing a matt/flat surface to gloss. Either coat the whole model in two or more thin coats, or just spray the area where decals are going to be placed. A layer of Klear over the top of waterslide decals will help to seal them in and hide the edge of the transfer film.
2. Adhesive For Small Parts
Klear is not intended as an adhesive, but is very good for holding very small pieces, such as photo-etch buckles in place. Paint Klear where the part goes and put the part on the wet Klear. The paint brush that is wet with Klear is also a good way of holding and placing small parts of photo-etch. A further thin coat of Klear over the top will help to hold the part in place.
3. Coating for lenses
One or more coats of Klear is a good way to simulate the glass on headlights, vision blocks on AFVs, hazard lights on aircraft, google on figures, etc.
4. Coating cockpit canopies
Dipping cockpit canopies in Klear, or spraying them with Klear makes them appear more ‘glass’ like and has become and accepted procedure with aircraft modellers.
When Klear has dried it is extremely hard wearing and difficult to remove. The only solvent that dissolves it is ammonia. Household ammonia can be purchased at hardware stores as it has many cleaning purposes. CAUTION – neat ammonia is very toxic and even a quick sniff of the bottle is very painful. Household ammonia should be diluted with water and in this form it will dissolve dried Klear very effectively.
Alternatively, some household cleaners contain ammonia and these are said to work well at removing Klear e.g. Windex window cleaning fluid.
New Formula Klear
Update: Feburary 2010 – It appears that Klear/Future which has been a very useful modelling material for years is undergoing a major change. In Europe, it is being replaced by ‘Pledge Multi-Surface Wax’. The product looks entirely different, being cloudy/milky with a brown tinge. It now also has a scented fragrance and comes in a white bottle.
It’s appearance would make it appear to be a very unlikely candidate for use on scale models. However, the new product has been tested by a few adventurous modellers and reports are that it still dries to a perfectly clear hard surface and the new formula can be used in much the same way as the previous version. Apparently, it does tend to pool in grooves more than the previous version so it is more important to apply it in thin layers.
A full bench test of the new formula ‘Klear’ appears in the December 2009 issue of ‘Tamiya Model Magazine International’. Our advice would be to proceed with caution. Stock up on the old formula if you can get it and when you have to switch to the new formula test it before using it on your completed model.