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View gfadvm's profile

Rattle Can Lacquer: What Am I Doing Wrong?

by gfadvm
posted 926 days ago


29 replies so far

View DS's profile

DS

2131 posts in 1017 days


#1 posted 926 days ago

First off, 600 grit on raw wood is probably too fine for lacquer. 180 should be good, 220 at most. It needs the fine scratches for adhesion. Higher grits will work for subsequent coats.

To avoid orange peel, the material needs to atomize a little more. Try holding the tip further from the workpiece and spray lighter coats. Clean the tip after each use by spraying it upside down for a few seconds.

Also, temperature seems to be a factor. If your project, the spray can and the ambient temperature are very far apart in temperature, that can also cause problems. Let them all come to the same temperature before starting.

You can’t thin or reduce a spray can, so it is made to operate at more ideal temperatures. Too cold or too hot will end up with poor results.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View grizzman's profile

grizzman

6774 posts in 1900 days


#2 posted 926 days ago

what they said, ive done very light coats and have not had a problem, sorry andy, try what these guys are saying, dont burn it, it will work out…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

10539 posts in 1287 days


#3 posted 926 days ago

That helps. I was probably too close and too heavy per coat. So now do I sand til all the orange peel is gone and start over again or what? Shop, can, and material are all 60-65 degrees. Should I use the ROS now or hand sand? The brand is Rustoleum.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Jimbo4's profile

Jimbo4

1120 posts in 1360 days


#4 posted 926 days ago

I’ve had the same thing happen to me. Either the object was to cold, or the laquer was. Ennyway – instead of sanding, I used laquer thinner to remove the finish. Lot easier than sanding!

-- BELT SANDER: Used for making rectangular gouges in wood.

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2072 posts in 1237 days


#5 posted 926 days ago

Andy, don’t sand the orange peel with grit (400) more coarse than the original sand finish (600). The beauty of lacquer is that it will burn into previous coats, so you can level the surface with future coats.

The following is exactly how I do it and comes from Reranch:

Spray lacquer in “passes”. A pass is one spray pass. A coat is a number of passes from 1 to ? to result in a wet coat… just not all at once. In the technique used to develop these pages, a coat is typically three passes. Sometimes two will sufficiently wet out a small area and sometimes four will be used. Five approaches foolhardiness. Six will almost always guarantee a run.

Start with two light spray passes. Follow by allowing the lacquer to dry to touch and then three more light passes. Now you have a good base. Let the lacquer dry at least three hours.

For the first wet coat (after wiping with the tack cloth) make three passes and stop. The surface will probably not appear very shiny as it dries to touch. (If it does the coats may be too heavy). Now let this first coat dry at least three hours. Tack cloth the finish and make three more passes. As you proceed, wetter passes become safer to make so you may want to slow down the guns movement as you spray. These passes will appear wetter as the finish gets deeper. Let this coat dry at least three hours. For the last coat of the day, tack cloth, spray three passes and let dry until morning.

Before spraying the next coat, wet sand the finish to remove any runs or particles that may have settled onto the finish. Start lightly with #400, #600 and end with #800. Let the surface dry and repeat yesterdays schedule. I.e., three passes, let dry three hours then repeat and then repeat. Let to the finish dry overnight and sand as you did the first day.

The third days spraying is a “re-repeat”. Summing up this spray technique, spray three passes to make a coat, allow each coat to dry at least three hours and spray no more than three coats a day for at least three days. Hence, “The Rule of Threes”.

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2072 posts in 1237 days


#6 posted 926 days ago

...and to add to the post-lacquer final finish, wet sand by hand or ROS with 1200 grit only until the surface is uniformly smooth (but will not be shiny). As a matter of fact, the shiny spots mean you aren’t done sanding yet. Now machine polish with 3M Finessit II and see yourself in the mirror.

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View Jimbo4's profile

Jimbo4

1120 posts in 1360 days


#7 posted 926 days ago

David – Thanks for the info. Guess I’m in to much of a hurry to finish whatever I’m working on Patience is not one of my virtues.

-- BELT SANDER: Used for making rectangular gouges in wood.

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

10539 posts in 1287 days


#8 posted 926 days ago

Thanks. That’s a lot of information. I was under the misimpression that lacquer was quick and easy. Not so! If I ever get this one fixed, I think shellac will be my next experiment. David, Your advice makes a lot of sense. I thought the lacquer would level itself with subsequent coats but it was getting worse instead of better so I thought maybe sanding would help.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View vonhagen's profile

vonhagen

483 posts in 962 days


#9 posted 926 days ago

first sand to 150 then use sanding sealer then spray your laquer, do light coats and make sure the temp is at least 70 degrees. if you sand to fine the laquer will not stick as the surface is polished you can go to higher grits after your first few coats. i wet sand with 320 in between coats as the laquer will stick because the solvent in the laquer is melting the previous coat. try using deft, it sprays very well and is solvent based and thining is not required when using a cup gun, get a cup gun from harbor freight they are 18 bucks and i can do a exelent finish with that gun , its called the industrial model and holds 1 quart. the problem with shaker cans is you cant get the fan or volume to do a good finish and the spray cans are expensive. i have done a piano finish with a harbor freight gun. frazee, vista offer great laquer products and i prefer a laquer finish over anything else except polyester but its illeagle in the us and i am certified to spray laquer and conversion varnish here i use conversion varnish mostly because of epa regulations as we are monitored very closely how much we spray. another advantage of using laquer is that once dry you can re melt it using laquer thinner for easy cleanup. keep trying you will get it and once you do you wont use any other finish because you will be hooked. at 75 degrees i am sanding betwwen coats every half hour.

-- no matter what size job big or small do a job right or don't do it at all.

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

1638 posts in 1519 days


#10 posted 926 days ago

When spraying using a rattle can of any type I immerse the can in hot water for 15 min before use. I do this winter or summer and it does help to get a nice even coat.

-- In God We Trust

View Greg The Cajun Box Sculptor's profile (online now)

Greg The Cajun Box Sculptor

4932 posts in 1905 days


#11 posted 926 days ago

I have sprayed about 50+ boxes with Deft can lacquer and have only had a problem with the first one and that was because it was the first one and i was not familiar with using it. Most of my boxes are sanded up to 320 grit by hand. I find that the lacquer works best when very light passes are used and the can is held about 12” from what I am spraying.I dont always find it necessary to sand after each coat…usually after each second coat works for me. I buff it after the last coat. It is usually about 70 deegrees in my shop.
I find it to be a very easy finish to use once you get the technique. Don’t get frustrated…just practice on some scrap pieces of wood that you sand the same as your work.

-- Every step of each project is considered my masterpiece because I want the finished product to reflect the quality of my work.

View tom427cid's profile

tom427cid

294 posts in 1068 days


#12 posted 926 days ago

I might add that after one or two sandings with finer grits-400 can be pretty agressive- but will be more manageable if you “wet”sand.I use mineral spirits and generally don’t ever go much beyond 600. The issue with sanding is that you never quite seem to get an even sanded surface. That said I will rub out the last sprayed coat with 0000 steel wool. It will blend the high spots and the low spots. then if you are looking for a real shine use a mildly abrasive car wax/cleaner and then a paste wax.
Hope this helps.
tom

-- "certified sawdust maker"

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2072 posts in 1237 days


#13 posted 926 days ago

On small or intricate sanding chores, make a mini-sanding block by wrapping your abrasive around a small square something (old cellphone battery is what I use on the guitars) so that your hand and fingers don’t make pressure furrows. Always sand wet if you are after a truly mirror finish with no forgiveness.

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View rance's profile

rance

4125 posts in 1757 days


#14 posted 926 days ago

Andy, Looks like you are going backwards. I’m trying to get AWAY from rattle can Lacquer and you are going TO it. FWIW, I’ve had the same orange peel experience. Same suggestions as others. I talked to a guy that had phenominal finishes. He says there’s no reason to sand more than 220. His finishes are my goal.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2072 posts in 1237 days


#15 posted 926 days ago

Not to disagree, but I don’t see how 220 is fine enough. I can easily see 1200 grit scratches with the naked eye. Truth be known, I have and use flexible 4000, 6000 and 8000 grit for impossible to machine buff spots. And I find that they are necessary. I’m going to put a guitar buff on the little box I started to see what happens. It may turn out to be so shiney I won’t be able to see it ! We will see.

BTW I am shooting the Behlen vinyl sealer, then the Behlen lacquer (both) with a Preval unit. That’s close to a rattle can… just no rattle.

Is this like the orange peel you want to be rid of ?

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile

TCCcabinetmaker

925 posts in 952 days


#16 posted 926 days ago

You’re sanding WAY too fine. It’s not letting the lacquer apply to the wood well, and you’re spraying way too close. You might also be having issues with the lacquer tacking too fast, but since you are using a spray can version, there’s little you can do about it.

Sanding lacquer to 1200 grit is something I hear about from automotive guys. They use it to, but I was helping a guy with a wood project and he sanded the sealer clean off, so when I sprayed it for him, it soaked into the wood, I was a tad annoyed as I told him, this is NOT auto paint, lightly sand it.

The magazines get lacquer allllllllll wrong. I’ve been using it for YEARS in a production environment. It’s really alot faster and easier to get right than they want you to believe. When you mix your own lacquer with the thinner and retarder though, you get a far greater understanding of the finish. IF you sand with steelwool, clean the dust off, if you use regular sand paper and do what the label says and LIGHTLY scuff it, you can leave the dust, this will help to fill the pours in the wood as the lacquer dust is re-melted with the added coat, and fills in more.
If you are going above 400 grit, you’re going way to fine. Wet sanding? really? on WOOD? wood absorbs water, when you sand too deeply the water goes into the grain, this can create problems with subsequent coats, such as bubbling, blushing, pealing, just don’t do it.

P.S David, if you can see the scratches, you aren’t going with the grain. And if it’s like that orange peel, you’re spraying too heavy.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2072 posts in 1237 days


#17 posted 926 days ago

After all the lacquer coats, if at the final finish I used 400 grit it would destroy the paint job. 800 grit minimum and very lightly, but 1200 best. BTW that is not my orange peel, just a pic for the OP to see if that is what his orange peel looked like from too heavy of coats.

You know there must be a huge difference in the techniques and procedures required to satisfactorily finish a piece of furniture versus a flawless mirror finish on an instrument.

P.S. A spritz of water on a 8 coat deep finish ain’t never gonna see no wood. Just don’t let it get in any of the control holes or routs (swell and crack the finish and make real tears, too).

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View vonhagen's profile

vonhagen

483 posts in 962 days


#18 posted 926 days ago

i agree with david on the fact that once the wood is sealed water is not going to penetrate into the wood, this is called a full fill finish or piano finish and i would go to to higher grits to get that mirror finish. in the end i use micro rubbing compound for a glass finish. on regular cabinet work i do one coat sanding sealer then 2 coats laquer sanding lightly with red scotch bright in between. some people dont like a full fill finish and want to see the open grain pores in the wood. and if you go to far it will get a plastic look to it so you do need to stop at a certain point. NEVER TRY USING MINERAL SPIRITS WITH LAQUER because they dont mix and wax is just a substitute to hide mistakes but it will shine up your piece. on most work you need go no further than 220 on bare wood because if you go higher than that it wont accept stain very well and the laquer wont grab onto the wood. i thin laquer to 50/50 and sometimes spray it warm with the binks heater and it flashes in 10 seconds or so and i can build up the finish fast this way using very thin coats and only sanding out the nubs when needed. the warmer it is and the lower the humidity the better so dry time varies greatly. here in sandiego the weather is nice for spraying year round. conversion varnish is great because its catilized like epoxy, there are 2 parts so weather is not a big factor and i can spray it hot with a binks heater that is basicly a set of coils that are heated up with electricity and the temp can be set at what ever you want, i dont go any higher than 100 degrees when spraying hot laquer. never heat up your wood with the sun or try drying it that way or you will get giant bubbles. be carefull with solvents because laquer thinner xylene and acetone will go thru your skin on your hands and into your bloodstream thru your kidneys then sit in your bladder. i was diagnosed with late stage bladder cancer at age 36 and survived and the cause was from spraying laquer and working with solvents. also the fumes on an open can of laquer thinner will travel along the floor and a small spark is all it takes to blow up so be carefull.

-- no matter what size job big or small do a job right or don't do it at all.

View Earlextech's profile

Earlextech

902 posts in 1287 days


#19 posted 925 days ago

Rattle cans? Really?! ;)

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "finished"!

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

10539 posts in 1287 days


#20 posted 925 days ago

David, That orange peel pic looks EXACTLY like my problem. I think you all have diagnosed my problem, now I need to know whether to sand all the orange peel off and start over (I think I do). I’m sure I’m too close and spraying too thick a coat. Greg, I knew you and Andy used rattle cans and yours looked perfect so I thought I’d try. I really appreciate all you taking the time to try to help me! Edit: I should add that the top of this box is end grain. That’s why I sanded to 600. I also applied a well rubbed coat of BLO 2 days before I tried the lacquer. It seemed well cured in my heated shop.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

111999 posts in 2174 days


#21 posted 925 days ago

Spraying takes practice whether your using a spray gun or can. I have never found it necessary to sand the wood beyond 220 and many times less. The sanding of the finish is another story.After a couple good coats have dried use 400 grit and after they dry then 600 grit , the shiner you want the finish the more coats you add and the finer grit you go. In many books they call it finishing the finish. You also have the option of buffing the finish.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View tom427cid's profile

tom427cid

294 posts in 1068 days


#22 posted 925 days ago

Jonathan,Jim
Thats the way to do it. Especially the second sealer coat.
tom

-- "certified sawdust maker"

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2072 posts in 1237 days


#23 posted 925 days ago

@a1Jim, “Finishing the finish” is a great way to put that into perspective.

@gfadvm, exactly what are the approx. dimensions of the piece in question ?

@Earlextech, I have the earlex 5000 station (and like it), also a Wagner HVLP rig that is similar to it. But, with lacquer especially it is just too easy to rattle some Deft on a plane tote, or clear over a small project or even a couple of cabinet doors. The Reranch clear lacquer comes with two tips and they are awesome. Run out ? Toss it. Setup, cleanup, viscosity tweak, and test time ? Not required. Preval units are even better IMO, so the Earlex and Wagner get more rest.

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

10539 posts in 1287 days


#24 posted 925 days ago

David, This is just a small box with an endgrain top. Dimensiona are 8×7x5” approx. This has turned into a really frustrating mess. When I get this fixed/resolved, I think I’ll try shellac and if I can’t master that, its back to BLO and wax or wiped on Spar urethane as I seem to get along well with all of those. I just thought I would try to expand my horizans a bit. The next time I get this urge I’ll be smarter and practice on scrap! I knew better!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View dbhost's profile

dbhost

5378 posts in 1829 days


#25 posted 925 days ago

Orange peel is a painfully common result with rattle can finishes. They tend to dry too quickly to allow for levelling… Here is a good writeup of a way to reduce / eliminate orange peel…

http://www.woodturningvideosplus.com/lacquer.html

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

10539 posts in 1287 days


#26 posted 925 days ago

dbhost, Thanks for that link. Wish I had seen it sooner. I spent the day sanding all that crap off and will probably try shellac as it appears that me and lacquer weren’t meant to be.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Dark_Lightning's profile

Dark_Lightning

1667 posts in 1706 days


#27 posted 925 days ago

As far as I am concerned, lacquer and shellac are one in the same, as far as technique. I don’t worry too much about a little orange peel, that can be wet-sanded out. Though I usually reflow them both with an appropriate thinner. I paint cars and wood both with lacquer and get a nice finish- but that’s with a spray gun, not a brush (usually). Rattle cans work fine, it just takes some practice.

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile

TCCcabinetmaker

925 posts in 952 days


#28 posted 925 days ago

Nah not different appereances or standards, different necessities.

With an instrument, (Especially guitars) you are going to be in contact with the instrument far more, so require more work.

However, I have to do slightly different things when I’m forced to use the vinyl based lacquers, as they require more work than the nitrocelulose lacquers I prefer.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View rance's profile

rance

4125 posts in 1757 days


#29 posted 921 days ago

What you are saying about sanding grits makes sense Jim.

And David, nothing wrong with disagreeing. I like to hear other opinions and successful solutions, even if they oppose mine.

Thanks for that link dbhost. (for others… if/when this linki goes stale, just google for ”Orange Peel Eliminator” Lacquer steven Russell , with properly applied quotes.)

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

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