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Expert's Corner — flat

TIP: Testing Your Finish for Hardness

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TIP: Testing Your Finish for Hardness

You can use architect’s pencils to test for finish hardness (scratch resistance). The lead in these pencils is rated from about 6 or 7B, the softest, to 6 or 7H, the hardest. HB is in the middle. You don’t need to buy all these pencils, just the middle five or six, because most finishes will test to one of these. To prepare the pencils sharpen them with a pocketknife, not a pencil sharpener. Then ground the tip of the lead perpendicular to the length of the pencil on fine sandpaper, or regular paper if the lead is close to flat....

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TIP: Lacquer Colors Vary

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TIP: Lacquer Colors Vary

Lacquer is a very versatile finish, especially because of its widely understood easy application in varying weather conditions. Not so widely understood is the range of colors—the amount of yellowing (or “oranging”) of the various types of lacquer. For example, nitrocellulose lacquer (on the left in the accompanying photo) adds a noticeable darkening or slight orange coloring to the wood. This can be very pleasing on dark and dark stained woods, but some find it objectionable on light woods such as maple and birch and on white pickled woods. In between is acrylic or “water-white” lacquer, which isn’t totally water...

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TIP: Crackle Lacquer

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TIP: Crackle Lacquer

Crackle lacquer is a manufactured lacquer product with so much solid material, usually silica, added that there isn’t enough binder (lacquer) remaining to glue all the solid particles together. This results in the lacquer cracking when it dries and shrinks. The usual way of applying a crackle-lacquer finish is to first apply a colored background, usually a pigmented lacquer coat. Then spray a coat of colored crackle lacquer, which cracks revealing the color underneath. Simply by moving your spray gun faster and slower and at greater and lesser distances from the workpiece, you can create a pleasing effect. You can control...

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