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Lacquer smell

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Forum topic by bear123 posted 10-03-2016 01:31 PM 429 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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bear123

4 posts in 1169 days


10-03-2016 01:31 PM

I have made several boxes and have sprayed them with Lacquer , HOW do I get rid of the SMELL? it has been one week and still can not bring them into the house HELP

Thanks
David (BEAR123)


17 replies so far

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

703 posts in 855 days


#1 posted 10-03-2016 01:49 PM

This seems to be a common complaint with lacquer finishes. Some people say that you can get a smell from the inside of a closed cabinet for years. Many people wait at least 2-3 weeks before they polish a lacquer finish to give it plenty of time to cure and harden. Temperature and humidity probably play a role as well. The best advice may be to put a fan on it and just let it sit and of course leave the box open.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View rwyoung's profile

rwyoung

388 posts in 2939 days


#2 posted 10-03-2016 02:43 PM

Time and air flow.

Or top coat them with some shellac to seal the smell. Sort of defeats what look you may have been going for with lacquer though…

-- Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

4859 posts in 2281 days


#3 posted 10-03-2016 04:19 PM

Finishes off-gas for a while. Lacquer is one of the best finishes available. Just give it time.

I used to apply Howard’s walnut wax to projects, which has a nice citrus smell. Lately, I have just waited a little longer before bringing them into the house.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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Aj2

693 posts in 1265 days


#4 posted 10-03-2016 04:26 PM

I like the smell of fresh laquer.Maybe because I use it on my best work.
So I don’t know why you want to get rid of it.

Aj

View JBrow's profile

JBrow

819 posts in 388 days


#5 posted 10-03-2016 04:28 PM

bear123,

Lazyman’s ideas of moving the air and giving the lacquer more time to off-gas is practical advice. There may be some things that could make the process go a little faster. Since I have not tried these methods, I offer the reasoning behind the ideas.

I have always wondered whether the length of off-gassing of a solvent based finish is dependent on the wait time between coats. If minimal curing time is allowed for a prior coat when another coat of finish is applied, would this lock in the un-vaporized solvents from the prior coat? If so, this could explain why complete off-gassing of the carrier solvents can take so long to occur.

From what I gather, solvents commonly used in lacquer are butyl acetate and xylene or toluene. Butyl acetate has an odor similar to that of bananas or apples (Wikipedia). Xylene and toluene just smell awful. My guess is these solvent are the source of the foul odor.

Solvents have a property called vapor pressure which can be thought of as the force that a solvent vaporizes from a liquid to a gas. Vapor pressure tends to increase as temperature increasing, i.e. more evaporation at a higher temperature. But I also suspect that since the solvent is vaporizing into the atmosphere, increased atmospheric pressure could impede the vaporization of the solvent. If this is true, then if the boxes can be placed in a low pressure environment, the off-gassing should occur more rapidly. A slight vacuum can be introduced inside the boxes by introducing a strong flow of air over the openings of the boxes. A box fan on high could move the air across the top of the box (not forcing the air into the box). If the air can be heated, then the vapor pressure of the solvent would be increased resulting, I would think, in more off-gassing. If the shop is heated, then turning on the heat could be helpful.

Another factor I seem to recall is that as the area surrounding a vaporizing solvent becomes saturated with solvent vapors, the solvent’s rate of evaporation slows. I do not know the relative densities of vaporized lacquer solvents and air. But if the solvents have a greater density than the surround air, the solvent vapors sink and just accumulate inside the box (when the opening is oriented up) and impede the evaporation of the solvent. To determine whether it is best to allow the lacquer the cure with the boxes oriented with the opening up or down, allow one box to cure for a day upside down, ensuring that a gap exists where vapors can escape. Moving some air across this gap would help remove any sinking vapors. After a day, check to see which boxes have the greatest odor; the boxes left right side up or the box placed upside down. The box with the greatest odor should be flipped over to optimize curing.

View ScottM's profile

ScottM

347 posts in 1614 days


#6 posted 10-03-2016 07:18 PM

Just enjoy it!!

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3950 posts in 1961 days


#7 posted 10-03-2016 09:41 PM

The smell is from the witches brew of solvent, and moving air will speed up the process considerably. You are just waiting for them to evaporate. Oil based finishes, on the other hand, can off gas for a year in the right conditions.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View OggieOglethorpe's profile

OggieOglethorpe

1213 posts in 1578 days


#8 posted 10-04-2016 11:21 AM

I haven’t seen it mentioned, but unless you don’t plan to give or sell the box for quite a while, don’t spray anything that goes inside in the box, including the inside walls, with lacquer.

What works for me is to hit the interior with a washcoat of shellac, sand 400, then one more wipe with the washcoat. The exterior can be done at the same time, then overcoated with lacquer. I don’t put lacquer or varnishes on the interior.

In my experience, the smell will evaporate more quickly in warmer, moving air, and if some time was left between coats. Someone above questioned quick, heavy builds requiring more time to”destink”, in my experience that’s true.

I’ve also noticed that nitrocellulose lacquer applied with a gun seems to lose the stink faster than rattle can stuff due to varying solvents and more thinner and less solids in the rattle can.

View bear123's profile

bear123

4 posts in 1169 days


#9 posted 10-04-2016 02:19 PM

I want to thank all for your comments, most were quiet helpful …..now what to do with 8 boxes that were for Christmas? ....I guess there is a first time for every thing , can not give them as gifts . this was the first time using lacquer, and first time making boxes( curly maple , and black walnut burl 5X7) , so back to what I know turn 8 bowls and 25 pens and be HAPPY, maybe in 5 years I can give the boxes as gifts ,LOL.

My next door know it all (LOL) suggested pack them in RICE , any body heard of that???

Thanks
David (BEAR)
Jesus + nothing=Everything !

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

703 posts in 855 days


#10 posted 10-04-2016 02:33 PM

Surely, the smell would be gone by Christmas.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View ScottM's profile

ScottM

347 posts in 1614 days


#11 posted 10-04-2016 04:11 PM

You can’t give them because of the smell? It will go away. You know, like that “new car smell”. Same thing.

View OggieOglethorpe's profile

OggieOglethorpe

1213 posts in 1578 days


#12 posted 10-04-2016 05:54 PM

You’ll be fine for Christmas… Just leave them out in the open.

If you did the inside, leave the lids open.

View JBrow's profile

JBrow

819 posts in 388 days


#13 posted 10-04-2016 07:43 PM

bear123,

I am not sure whether rice would absorb the lacquer odor, but it would be easy enough to determine for yourself. Spray two small scraps with lacquer and let them air cure for a few days. Then place the scraps in Mason jars, but in one jar add some rice. The other jar contains the scrap only. Seal both jars. After about a week open the jars and take a whiff. If the rice works, the odor should be less in the rice filled jar.

View mahdee's profile

mahdee

3555 posts in 1235 days


#14 posted 10-05-2016 12:50 AM

Use some turtle wax on it and be sure to wipe it off according to the directions.

-- earthartandfoods.com

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3950 posts in 1961 days


#15 posted 10-05-2016 11:05 AM

I have heard of the rice trick, but never tried it. As others have said, the smell will dissipate.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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