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Expert's Corner — lacquer

Spray Pattern Heavier on One Side

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A spray pattern, with all the controls on the spray gun wide open, is supposed to be an even, elongated oval shape. If the pattern is heavier on one end than the other, the likely cause is that one or more of the holes in the air cap is plugged up. It’s also possible that the fluid nozzle has been damaged. To determine which, rotate the air cap one-half turn (180 degrees) and spray again. If the disrupted pattern switches sides, the problem is in the air cap. If the pattern stays the same, the problem is the fluid nozzle....

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TIP: Silicone and Spray Guns

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It’s widely believed among finishers, especially refinishers, that once you add a fish-eye eliminator to a finish and spray it, your spray gun is forever contaminated. You can’t ever get the fish-eye eliminator, which is silicone, completely removed, and little bits of it will continue to break lose and cause fish-eye problems. This is not correct and shows a misunderstanding of what silicone actually is. It’s simply oil with a very low surface tension. Silicone is noticeably slicker than mineral oil, for example. Rub a drop of whatever brand of fish-eye eliminator you use between your thumb and finger and...

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TIP: A Solution to Overspray Problems

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If you are spraying without adequate exhaust, you may experience finish in the form of fine dust settling on your work, sticking to it, and causing it to feel rough, almost like fine sandpaper. This isn’t a problem until your last coat because you can easily sand out the rough feel. But you can’t sand your final coat without then going to the trouble of rubbing the entire surface with finer-and-finer-grit abrasives until you create a pleasing even sheen. If you are spraying shellac or lacquer, there is a solution to the overspray problem. After spraying your final coat, spray...

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Rubbing a Finish: The Key to Quality

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Of all the steps in finishing the one that people seem most hesitant about is “rubbing.” Yet rubbing a finish is as simple as sanding wood, and rubbing is the only step in finishing that can raise the quality of your work from average to special. No matter how careful you are, you can’t apply a perfect finish. A brush always leaves brush marks, and a spray gun usually leaves some orange peel. Worse, there’s always some dust in the air that can settle and stick to the finish. Rubbing removes these flaws, and, in addition, improves the tactile qualities...

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TIP: Strip Don't Sand

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If you want to remove an old finish in order to put on a new one, it’s almost always better to strip the finish than to sand it off. First, except in cases where the old finish is flaking off, it’s a lot more work to sand than to strip using a paint-and-varnish remover. But more importantly, sanding cuts through stain and “patina” (the color changes in wood caused by light and oxidation), and it does so unevenly. Once you start cutting through this coloring, you have to sand through it everywhere to get an even coloring for refinishing. Stripping...

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