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Expert's Corner — lacquer

TIP: Durable Finish for Enclosed Spaces

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TIP: Durable Finish for Enclosed Spaces

A key factor in choosing a finish for an enclosed space such as a drawer, cabinet interior, humidor or a small room such as a wine or liquor cellar is residual odor. All types of varnishes and lacquers outgas smelly solvents for many days or weeks depending on the thickness applied, the temperature, and the air movement. If you can’t allow that much time, you need to choose another finish. The two that will leave the least residual odor are shellac and water-based finish. Both contain solvents that evaporate fairly slowly (alcohol in shellac and glycol ether in water-based finish),...

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TIP: Lacquer Over Glaze

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As long as you are using a spray gun for application and lacquer for your finish, you don’t have to let an oil-based glaze dry overnight before applying the finish. You can do it fairly quickly, without problems. The trick is to mist some thinned lacquer onto the glaze after the thinner in the glaze has evaporated (the glaze dulls) but before the oil or varnish binder begins oxidizing and becomes tacky. Unless the glaze is thick, in which case this trick might not work, the lacquer incorporates the uncured glaze and bonds to the coat underneath. After the mist...

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TIP: Spraying Lacquer Over a Paint or Finish

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There are risks to spraying any type of solvent lacquer over any existing, and older, paint or finish. The problem is the lacquer thinner in the lacquer. A wet application can cause many paints and finishes to wrinkle or blister, even an old coat of lacquer itself. The two easiest ways to avoid problems are to spray several light (almost dust) coats of lacquer to get a bit of a build before applying wet coats, or to apply a coat of shellac before spraying the lacquer. Both methods will create a barrier to keep the existing coating from being excessively...

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TIP: Finish color differences

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TIP: Finish color differences

Finishes differ in the amount of color they add to wood. Though you may not notice much of a difference if you are applying the finish over a stain, there is a significant difference when no stain or other coloring steps are used. In the accompanying picture, you can see the differences clearly. On the far left is paste wax. It adds almost no coloring to the walnut. Next is water-based finish, which also doesn’t add color, but it does darken the wood a little because of the penetration. In the middle is nitrocellulose lacquer, which adds a slight yellowing...

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TIP: Pigment Colorants for Oil and Varnish

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The two widely available pigment colorants for oils and varnishes are oil colors and Japan colors. The difference is that oil colors are pigment ground in linseed oil while Japan colors are pigment ground in varnish. So the difference in practice is that Japan colors dry faster and harder than oil colors, though if you were to mix an oil color with varnish, it should dry well. The name “Japan” comes from the attempt in the West to imitate Japanned furniture (also called Japanese or Oriental Lacquer) that was imported in the 17th and 18th century. So the harder drying...

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