I've just finished putting the final coat of varnish (I really mean it this time) on the pond. I finally got the surface I wanted. The varnish I first bought wasn't quite glossy enough; plus the label made it sound like sanding between coats was optional, so I didn't. But it never would get as smooth and shiny as I wanted. I bought a glossier varnish and also started using a very fine sandpaper between coats, and it finally came out just perfect. Probably if I had sanded from the beginning, it would have gone better-- one of those cases where trying to take the lazy way ended up making more work, as any of my Mennonite farmer ancestors would have been happy to tell me at great length. But the different varnish definitely helped too.
I varnished both sides of the piece of wood, and even over the bark, to make sure all surfaces were protected. The underside, of course, didn't matter as much so far as appearances were concerned, but I'm quite happy with the way the top came out. On that side, I used concentric circular brushstrokes and didn't smooth the varnish completely, and it came out looking like ripples on the pond's surface, just as I was hoping it would. Not bad for someone who can barely wield a paintbrush.
Unfortunately, of course, you won't be able to tell any of this in a photo; a new photo at this point would just look like the previous one, so I haven't bothered taking another.
I will commence gluing this evening.
In between coats of varnish, I have started another project, which Marilee should recognize:
More to come on this one...