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Expert's Corner — lacquer

TIP: Fixing a Worn Finish

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TIP: Fixing a Worn Finish

After a good deal of wear or abuse some areas of a finish may wear through exposing the lighter-colored wood.  As long as no stain, glaze or toner is involved, you can usually fix these problems simply by applying more finish on top. The easy test to see if this will work is to apply a little liquid to the wear-throughs with your finger. You could use mineral spirits (paint thinner) on any finish without causing damage, but the most convenient liquid is from your mouth. Wet your finger and wipe the liquid over a small part of the surface,...

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TIP: Shellac for Holdout

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TIP: Shellac for Holdout

Shellac is often recommended as a sealer, with one of the justifications being that it provides “holdout” so fewer coats of finish then need to be applied to get the same overall thickness. This is correct only if you are applying lacquer over the shellac, as shown in the first accompanying picture. I applied a coat of shellac to the right side of this panel and a coat of nitrocellulose lacquer to the left side. Then I applied a coat of lacquer to the entire panel. There is a little better build on the right side with the shellac sealer...

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TIP: Getting a Do-over - Removing an Application Problem

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During application of a finish, whether by rag, brush or spray, there are sometimes problems so severe that you would like to remove what you have just applied and start over. You can do this fairly easily with oil and varnish finishes, with somewhat more difficulty using water-based finishes, and not at all with shellac and lacquer finishes without removing all previous coats down to the wood. With oil finishes, you may have as long as an hour to remove the finish without damaging the coats below. Use mineral spirits (paint thinner). With varnish (including polyurethane varnish), you may have...

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TIP: Spraying Outside

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One solution for spraying your project when you don’t have a spray booth or adequate exhaust in you shop is to spray outside. There are some conditions, however, for getting good results. First, you need to pick a day with temperatures in the high sixties to low eighties. Colder will cause the finish to take much longer to dry and this will create more time for debris and bugs to land on and stick to the finish. Hotter will cause the finish to dry too fast, which may lead to dry spray—the finish drying before it lands on the object....

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TIP: Basic Understanding of Solvents

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Following is a basic understanding of the common solvents available in paint stores and home centers. Mineral spirits (paint thinner) and naphtha dilute and clean up oils and varnishes, including oil-based polyurethane varnish. Neither of these solvents damage any fully dried finish, so you can safely use them for cleaning—that is, removing grease or wax. Denatured alcohol thins and cleans up shellac. This solvent will damage a dried shellac finish almost instantly and lacquer and water-based finish fairly quickly, so be very careful if you use alcohol for cleaning. Lacquer thinner and acetone thin and clean up all solvent-based lacquer...

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