In order to give your woodworking projects a water-resistant, durable, and tough clear finish, then lacquer is your best bet. It’s been used for centuries when it comes to reinforcing and protecting your wooden furniture and tools.
Nowadays, they come available in brush-on and spray styles, plus they’re far more fast-drying than any other woodworking finishes in the market. When it comes to polyurethane vs lacquer, lacquer one-ups polyurethane because they’re easier to apply than polyurethane. They’re more forgiving, particularly in terms of brushing the lacquer on the surface.
Lacquer applications dry faster and have better results in fewer brushstrokes than polyurethane. Yes, it takes more effort to brush a lacquer finish, but it’s all worth it in the end. To brush lacquer means having a more complete finish compared to spray-on application.
The lacquer that’s used in woodworking finishes nowadays contain nitrocellulose, a special resin that (along with a few other ingredients) allows a thin lacquer coat to dissolve with the previous lacquer coat. This dissolution from one coat to another actually makes the finish a lot more malleable and forgiving of mistakes since you can always slap a new coat atop the old one every time.
In regards towhat is lacquer that’s centuries old(as mentioned above),it’s a popular type of finish that is actually derived from the varnish tree. This version of lacquer isn’t like modern lacquer, which has a hard yet flexible finish after multiple coats. However, old lacquer at the very least isn’t susceptible to ultraviolet light degradation like nitrocellulose is. Nitrocellulose was introduced in the thirties to help offer automobiles in colors other than black.
Shellac is usually confused with lacquer thanks to how similar their names sound, but they’re altogether different products when everything is said and done. Lacquer doesn’t come from the lac beetle, but shellac does. To be more specific, the lacquer comes from the tree’s sap then refined with lacquer thinner to create lacquer wood finish.
What’s more, there’s no denying the beauty of this varnishing finish. Raw, freshly chiseled tree stumps and newly assembled furniture become outright gorgeous masterpieces once lacquer is applied to them. You can even include paints with your lacquer to get a more durable paint finish that would last longer and prevent peeling early on, for your information. If you want durability from your wooden pieces, lacquer is the way to go.
Lacquer is quite user-friendly and has fast dry time. Those are the main claims to fame of this finish. At room temperature, you can have your lacquer dry out in as little as 15 minutes. You can apply coats in 15 minute intervals until you can get that smooth, flexible, yet hard finish that protects your furniture and wooden pieces from damage. Within an hour, you should be able to apply three coats already (you should give a bit of leeway after the 15-minute mark to ensure the lacquer finishis completely dried out).
Certain other finishing products, in contrast, takes hours before they’re completely dried out, like oil-based stain that requires 72 hours or three days to dry out completely. As for the user-friendliness of lacquer, it comes from how ready to use it is straight from its container.
You can apply lacquer either through spray or brush. However, you shouldn’t mix and match. If you’re going to spray lacquer on a surface, every last coat should be sprayed. If you’re going to brush it on, then stick with brush-on lacquer. The main reason for that is because sprayed lacquer dries quicker than brushed-on lacquer (because brushed-on lacquer is formulated to have leeway of application and evening out the finish when compared to sprayed lacquer).
When it comes to how to lacquer wood, you have to be careful. You should use high-quality bristle brushes with natural bristles to apply your lacquer unto wood. Start with a thin coat and don’t over-brush. Just pile on the coats later. Baste the surface with lacquer and let it dry.
Whether you’re spraying or brushing your lacquer, you should be careful to avoid common lacquer disadvantages. Blushing or getting a milky blotch might occur on your lacquer if the room is too cool or there’s a lot of humidity in the area. As for fish-eye or a round crater in the lacquer after drying, this happens whenever there are contaminates in the lacquer itself. Make sure the container containing the lacquer is properly sealed. That’s how you apply lacquer wood finishproperly.
With the right amount of presence of mind and understanding of why certain things happen, you can avoid all the drawbacks of lacquer application and end up with a good finished product. Speaking of which, spray-on lacquer can be applied through an airless or pneumatic sprayer, but beware of the price; it’s the more expensive solution.
The top contenders for wood finishing are shellac, natural oil stain, polyurethane, and varnish finishes. However, when it comes to a finish with a good balance of easy drying and intuitiveness, lacquers are hard to beat for sure. Deciding factors for a proper finish include appearance, affordability, durability, dry time, and user-friendliness, which are all things that lacquer scores high grades for, like a Straight A student almost.
Here’s what you should expect from spraying or brushing lacquer: You should get something that suits your specific needs. If you want a cost-effective and relatively easy-to-apply finish on your, say, wardrobe or armoire, then your best bet is to go the brush-on lacquer option while making sure that you’re in a normal humidity area that’s not too cool when applying it.
As for small objects like a woodshop piece or a statuette you put on display on your china cabinet, you can use spray-on lacquer to do the job. It’s expensive, but you’re only using it on wood with a smaller surface area plus it dries faster and works like a charm. The cost all evens out with the finished product and the benefits.
You should also avoid common lacquer pitfalls like getting contaminated lacquer that makes it create craters on the finish because the contaminants are making it difficult to spread and stick evenly on the surface. As long as you know lacquer’s limitations and do the proper steps to avoid them from surfacing, you should get a good deal and successful results from your lacquer product.