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Thread: Need to go to lacquer school.

  1. #1
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    Need to go to lacquer school.

    Been struggling to get the "glass like" finish with lacquer. I have tried 3 different lacquers and have been getting lots of streaks in the finish. I have a gallon of pre cat acrylic lacquer that is crystal clear and seems to flatten o.k. but on some woods it seems to go to an orange peel finish. I have tried to spray it with an HVLP gun but that is not spraying a fine enough mist. Also tried to wipe it on with first a rag/paper towel and then a brush.

    I first sealed the wood with shellack.

    I have not tried rubbing it out with rottenstone yet because I didn't have any pumic to rub with first.

    I really need to learn how to do this because i have a grand piano to re-finish and figured that I should pick on some small projects before attempting a professional look. I have been told that pianos have something like 17 hand rubbed coats on them.

    The first box is in birdseye maple. that has not gone well and I have sanded it back 2-3 times. A walnut/cherry box seemed to take the lacquer better.

    Maybe when I figure it out I can post a pic or two worth looking at.

    I also tried thinning the lacquer with Lacquer thinner but it only made the problem worse.
    I'm a certifiable tree hugger. (it's a poor mans way of determining DBH before cutting the tree down)

  2. #2
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    Sounds like contamination. Are you using a air line that maybe had some oil or water at one time from the compressor? Are you using a water separator on your air line?? I always use a separate air line to spray with not the one I use from the compressor everyday as it WILL be contaminated.
    A Turn N Time
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  3. #3
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    paul ,,air presure can be part of it, but the shellac on as sealer is not causing your trouble, and you can get glass with lacquer i have done it.. and i di rub it out with comet, actually it was the bar keepersfreind brand.. i had shellac as a base then 2 coasts of lac sealer then at least 7 or 8 coats of lacquer rubbed out.. lacquer goes on thin if your thinning it.. which i did at 25 to 30 % the spray system will make the job. and i have dry air paul, i run a water trap close to the compressor then another in the finish room and then another on the gun.
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  4. #4
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    I was using a spray can at first and then switched to an HVLP sprayer. (No water with that) Sounds like I might raid the wife's cleaning supplies.
    I'm a certifiable tree hugger. (it's a poor mans way of determining DBH before cutting the tree down)

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Downes View Post
    I was using a spray can at first and then switched to an HVLP sprayer. (No water with that) Sounds like I might raid the wife's cleaning supplies.
    As I understand things, you can still have water problems with an HVLP gun.

    The times I've gotten a "piano" finish with lacquer on flatwork, I had to rub it out. I've used 600 grit wet or dry paper, followed by automotive buffing and polishing compounds. I've also played with the pumice and rottenstone approach, but I liked the automotive compounds. On turned pieces, I'll wet sand to 600 then buff them with tripoli and white diamond compounds, or "PL" compound from Don Pencil.
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  6. #6
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    The shellac you used could have been not wax free, or just old stuff. For a really nice glass like finish, sand to 180x. Then apply a "paste wood filler" AKA "grain filler". It's not a wood putty or hole filler. What it does is fill the pores of the wood. Follow the directions to a "T". For moisture control fit a disposable bulb filter to the gun. Then use a lacquer sanding sealer..a couple of applications. Do not use shellac. Then start applying coats of lacquer. Allow each application to dry. You need to get a sufficient build (many coats) in order to "rub it out".

    Use wet-or-dry sandpaper (silicon carbide) the charcoal grey stuff, and water. Start with 280x - 320x. Then use 400x, then 600x, then 800x, then 1200x. You could go to 1500x to 2000x. By the time you get there, it will take very little "rubbing" to get a glass like finish. You can use automotive compounds. In fact if you trot down to your local automotive paint and body finishing supply store, they will have several brands, like 3M, and DuPont compounds in numbered series of abrasiveness.

    If you want to experiment, you can pick up the sandpaper at the auto paint store. You could also just try Turtle Wax - Scratch and Swirl Remover, after the wet sanding.





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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn McMillan View Post
    ...The times I've gotten a "piano" finish with lacquer on flatwork, I had to rub it out...
    Isn't lacquer SUPPOSED TO BE rubbed out? I'f gotten some pretty good surfaces straight off the gun, but for a really smooth, glass-like finish, I've always had to 'color-sand' and rub it out. Back in the day, when lacquer was still being used on car finishes, etc., rubbing out was a given - it was just part of the paint job.

    That said, lately I've been using General Finishes' "Enduro" waterborne lacquer, and it's been giving me the best 'off-the-gun' results I've ever gotten with a lacquer. I started using it after having a 45 minute conversation with Jeff Jewitt, during which he recommended it for use in my gravity feed HVLP 'touch-up' gun (unthinned, and with a 1.2mm tip, BTW). First time I used it I was instantly impressed with it, and have pretty much decided it's now my 'finish of choice' for furniture and decor pieces.
    Jim D.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim DeLaney View Post
    That said, lately I've been using General Finishes' "Enduro" waterborne lacquer, and it's been giving me the best 'off-the-gun' results I've ever gotten with a lacquer. I started using it after having a 45 minute conversation with Jeff Jewitt, during which he recommended it for use in my gravity feed HVLP 'touch-up' gun (unthinned, and with a 1.2mm tip, BTW). First time I used it I was instantly impressed with it, and have pretty much decided it's now my 'finish of choice' for furniture and decor pieces.
    If you check the MSDS you'll find it is commensurate with a waterbased polyurethane. Calling it a "lacquer" IMO is just a marketing tool. Due to many reasons, I don't use solvent based lacquer anymore, but waterbased polyurethane instead.




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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike marvel View Post
    If you check the MSDS you'll find it is commensurate with a waterbased polyurethane. Calling it a "lacquer" IMO is just a marketing tool. Due to many reasons, I don't use solvent based lacquer anymore, but waterbased polyurethane instead.
    Not sure about that, Mike, but yeah, it seems to lay down and dry/cure about the same as poly. General does claim that it'll "burn in" like lacquer (if recoated within 8 hours) though.

    As for solvent stuff, I've pretty much given up on using them, too - except for shellac. (Speaking in generalities, though, 'cause technically WATER is a solvent, too. )
    Jim D.
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  10. #10
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