Brushing Lacquer - Opinions?

Rennie Heuer

Moderator
Staff member
Messages
11,027
Location
Constantine, MI
Workflow in my shop comes to a near standstill near the end of a project to allow time for finishing. I've been using General Finishes Arm-R-Seal for a year or more now and I really like it. It levels well, does not show brush marks, and has a nice even sheen. On the down side, it takes 12 to 24 hours between coats. When applying 6 or more coats to a table top, well, I have to plan on an entire week plus a day or so for final cure before waxing.

I'm not in a situation were I could easily move to spraying, especially in the winter. So, I'm looking at brushing lacquer as an alternative. Pricey stuff at $28 a quart, but the advantage of being able to apply 5 coats in a single day is well worth it. I could chop 20% or more off my schedule on larger projects. Even more on small items.

I've never used the stuff, but I'm betting some of you have. Other than the fumes (presumably) what else should I know before ordering some? Tips and techniques? Best brush to use? Clean up?
 

glenn bradley

Member
Messages
10,850
Location
SoCal
Old Masters Brushing Lacquer. Quick to recoat, self leveling which means little to no sanding between coats. Downside is good ventilation is required so you want to open the doors. Compound this with the fact that cool weather finishing can lead to blushing and you see the catch 22 in winter. A reasonable quality natural bristle brush also does better than synthetics. I tend to reach for lacquer when the item is small and I can use a rattle can. :scram:

P.s. Wood Mag has some info on it here.
 

Mike Stafford

Member
Messages
1,405
Location
Coastal plain of North Carolina
I use brushing lacquer on most of my turned items. I never use it straight from the can. I pour a little into a small jar and then thin it with the recommended thinner. I have found that it works great and allows me to apply multiple coats during one session. I usually rub out the dried lacquer between coats with either cheesecloth or 6/0 steel wool. Be sure to clean the surface after using the steel wool with a tack cloth.

It does need to be warm; in my experience lacquer does better when it is warm.
 

Jim DeLaney

Moderator
Staff member
Messages
6,639
Location
Austintown, Ohio
check with jeff weiss from target coatings and see what he has to say. waterbase fumes are way less than solvent based fumes
I agree. the waterborne lacquer (Target EM6000) is much nicer to use. Can be brushed on in thin coats, and dries in a few minutes. There's also a high-build version (EM7000) that's very good.
 

Chuck Ellis

Member
Messages
6,366
Location
Tellico Plains, Tennessee
I've never used lacquer on my turnings... I do use the Old Masters sanding sealer on my bowls under the wipe on poly, but haven't tried lacquer... with all the good recommendations on here, think I may experiment with it a little later after the holidays.
 

fred hargis

Member
Messages
1,226
Location
Wapakoneta, OH
If you haven't used NC lacquer before, I urge you to not underestimate the fumes. There is an explosion element involved, but to me the bigger risk is the health aspect. I only use it when I can spray outdoors. I've even done this on 40º temps, and then bring the piece inside the shop to dry...that alone fills the shop with the odor. My shop was stand alone, so I could leave it be. but if you're attached to the house in some way, it will permeate into all the spaces. At a much lower level, but it will still stink. Consider some of the waterborne alternatives. They are not true lacquers (more like an acrylic) but you'll be doing yourself a favor. The drawbacks are they usually require a warmer temp to dry (typically 70º, though you can fudge on that a little) and the grain raising. But if you let the first coat dry and then smooth it out, you've solved the grain raising issue. Do check the partucular brand you use, some of them are tinted to mimic oil based finishes, and some aren't. It's usually indicated on the label or TDS.
 

Rennie Heuer

Moderator
Staff member
Messages
11,027
Location
Constantine, MI
I visited the Target site and found the products you all have mentioned. There is no reference to brushing these products in the description (not that I doubt any of you ;) ) so I sent a quick email to Mr Weiss asking him for some insight.
 

glenn bradley

Member
Messages
10,850
Location
SoCal
Rennie asked about lacquer so I guess I got predisposed to focus on NC lacquer. I want to pivot to waterborne products in the new shop and imagine I will finally try EM6000. Folks who use it (to spray) praise it to the sky and I have been wanting to try it. Cost and quantity have kept me at bay so far. I don't know whether they didn't used to have it in quarts or whether $25 a quart just doesn't seem so expensive now . . . :D
 

fred hargis

Member
Messages
1,226
Location
Wapakoneta, OH
Many waterborne finishes are formulated for one application or the other (brushing vs. spraying). One reason (I guess) is that the can't be thinned willy-nilly like an oil based finish. Most of them have limits on how much you can thin.
 
Top