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Thread: Varnish and Laquer

  1. #1

    Varnish and Laquer

    Would like to know what is the basic difference? Also about Shallac. The three different finishes for woodturners.And what gives the highest gloss shine on woodturnings.
    Last edited by elliott azis; 03-21-2008 at 08:19 PM.

  2. #2
    If you are finishing it on the lathe then lacquer is the way to go. Varnish is very slow drying, (around 24 hours) but after curing (about a week) it can be finished to a mirror gloss. Shellac is not very useful on objects that will be subject to a lot of handling.

    Dick

  3. #3
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    I have several web pages on finishing for the small/hobby wood shop, that you may find helpful... www.solowoodworker.com/wood/finish.html

    Those pages give general information, but focused on furniture. For turnings, I like nitrocellulose lacquer, since I can speed up the lathe, touch with a rag, and the heat will force dry the lacquer.
    Charlie Plesums, Austin Texas
    (Retired early to become a custom furnituremaker)
    Lots of my free advice at www.solowoodworker.com

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    Can someone please tell me the difference between the lacquer you find at say, one of the big box stores, and nitrocellulose lacquer? Is there some common example or brand of nitrocellulose lacquer out there? Seriously, I really am scared off by the big words when it comes to chemicals I don't understand...

    Thanks,

    Bill

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    Ordinary stinky flammable lacquer is nitrocellulose lacquer. Just as paint thinner is pretty generic, regular lacquer is pretty generic... use any brand, even the cheap stuff from the borg. It is made from wood fiber, hence the cellulose part of the name, and based on the name, they probably use nitric acid to dissolve the wood or something. Most finger nail polish is lacquer.

    Regular lacquer dries very quickly - so it is generally considered a "spray" finish. Deft has a "brushing" lacquer that is found in some outlets that cater to amateurs that may not have spray equipment - it is reportedly just regular lacquer with an added "retarder" to slow the drying, so it can be brushed or sprayed.

    There are some new high tech finishes that have many of the good characteristics of traditional lacquer, but get rid of the bad characteristics, and are called "lacquer," so I qualify the word lacquer with "solvent based" or "nitrocellulose" to refer to the "regular" or "traditional" lacquer. I have largely converted to Ultima Spray Lacquer (USL) from Target Coatings. It is waster based, but still dries fast, has full burn-in, and is even more durable than regular lacquer. The new finishes are not generic like regular lacquer... you need to specify a brand. (For more details, see the web pages referenced above).
    Last edited by Charlie Plesums; 04-08-2008 at 02:27 PM.
    Charlie Plesums, Austin Texas
    (Retired early to become a custom furnituremaker)
    Lots of my free advice at www.solowoodworker.com

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    In case your question was more in the area of what varnish, lacquer and shellac are made of, look them up on wikipedia. There are good articles on each.

    Mike
    Ancora imparo
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Lantry View Post
    Can someone please tell me the difference between the lacquer you find at say, one of the big box stores, and nitrocellulose lacquer? Is there some common example or brand of nitrocellulose lacquer out there? Seriously, I really am scared off by the big words when it comes to chemicals I don't understand...

    Thanks,

    Bill
    bill,
    any paint store will offer nitrocellouse.....it`s the cheapest stuff they`ll have. about 16 bucks a gal here. stay away from the box stores for finishes!
    some paint stores will try to sell you cab-acrylic or pre/post catylized lacquer....learn to use nitro before you move on to any of the hybrids.
    if i`m not mistaken the stuff charlie is speaking of is an acrylic? i`ve not tried any of targets stuff mainly `cause i`m in the if it ain`t broke- don`t fix it camp..
    tod
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Dare View Post
    Shellac is not very useful on objects that will be subject to a lot of handling.
    I find this interesting as I use shellac on the handles of my shop jigs. They receive some pretty rough treatment and have stood up well. I also use it on surfaces that will slide across tool tables (sleds, etc.). This is dewaxed shellac. I wonder if regular shellac would not bear up as well?
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tod evans View Post
    bill,
    any paint store will offer nitrocellouse.....it`s the cheapest stuff they`ll have. about 16 bucks a gal here. stay away from the box stores for finishes!
    some paint stores will try to sell you cab-acrylic or pre/post catylized lacquer....learn to use nitro before you move on to any of the hybrids.
    if i`m not mistaken the stuff charlie is speaking of is an acrylic? i`ve not tried any of targets stuff mainly `cause i`m in the if it ain`t broke- don`t fix it camp..
    tod
    Hi Tod,

    I gotta get out of the big city! If I remember right, Sherwin Williams was up to about $28 per gallon for NC lacquer (with a pro account) before I switched to Target Coatings. Home Depot sold a "Parks" brand that was reviewed "same as the rest" before I switched to Sherwin Williams when my HD stopped selling lacquer. Lowes sold Deft, but that was far more expensive because of the advertised brand and the 2 cents worth of retarder that they added. So, even though I hate the quality of most things from the big boxes, I didn't have a problem with their lacquer.

    Like you, I was quite happy with NC lacquer and didn't want to change. Four or five different woodworking friends kept trying to get me to at least try the Target USL. I didn't find a problem with my testing of various solvents, etc., but the KCMA doesn't approve regular NC lacquer, and has a lower rating on Cat NC lacquer than it does on Target Acrylic lacquer, so I couldn't use that argument to get out of trying it. I finally bought a gallon of USL, to shut them up if nothing else.

    After I tried the Target USL I was sold... and have gone through about 50 gallons since my "conversion." It is more expensive per gallon, but costs less per job (at least based on what I had to pay for NC Lacquer here), since the percent solids are higher. See the web page mentioned for temperature, humidity, etc. and other differences.

    My wife left a small decorative piece finished in NC lacquer near the kitchen sink for a few days. It got "water spots" that would not come out... obviously not just water, but who knows what sink solvent left those spots. I ended up having to remove the old finish, and put on Target USL, and put the piece back by the sink - and in several weeks it didn't get any spots. Lousy science, but one more vote in my mind for the new Target Acrylic Lacquer.
    Charlie Plesums, Austin Texas
    (Retired early to become a custom furnituremaker)
    Lots of my free advice at www.solowoodworker.com

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