Clear Lacquer on Alder

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Forum topic by RamonaPro posted 02-09-2011 05:51 PM 3278 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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7 posts in 2660 days

02-09-2011 05:51 PM

Topic tags/keywords: alder cabinets clear finish conditioner

First of all, I am new to the site and let me just say, it is an awesome resource! Thanks to all who contribute and keep it up and running.

I did a search, trying to find an answer to my question, but had no luck specifically, so here goes:

I have probably finished 100 sets of new alder cabinets over the years, but in every single case, I have conditioned and stained them, prior to sealing/sanding/lacquering. I have a project now where the customer wants the crown and bottom rail trim stained (easy enough), but want the rest natural/clear.

My question is: Do I need to condition the boxes/drawers/doors that are not getting stained? Will the clear sanding sealer and clear lacquer give a nice uniform finish, without the blotchiness you see if you stain without conditioner?

Thanks in advance


7 replies so far

View Colin 's profile


93 posts in 2808 days

#1 posted 02-09-2011 06:55 PM

You shouldn’t get any blotchiness with just lacquer.


View Aaron Taylor's profile

Aaron Taylor

37 posts in 3146 days

#2 posted 02-09-2011 07:51 PM


First of all welcome to Lumber Jocks!

Now I haven’t used lacquer on Alder, but I have used poly, and it worked wonderfully. If you take a look at the only project I have in “my projects” the top of the desk is out of alder, and there was no stain or conditioner used at all. Even upon close inspection did it not have any blotches.

In reality most conditioners are just some sort of clear finish thinned down so that it will somewhat fill up those spots where the wood absorbs a lot of stain. You will probably find that your first coat doesn’t cover as well as you are use to because of absorption, but just put on one more coat then you would normally apply.

Again welcome.


-- "Insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops."--Cary Grant from the movie Arsenic and Old Lace

View Michael Murphy's profile

Michael Murphy

453 posts in 3002 days

#3 posted 02-09-2011 07:59 PM

Sanding sealer and Clear lacquer should be fine without a conditioner. Staining Alder is difficult without the conditioner because of varying wood densities absorbing the stain differently. Lacquer is a surface finish.

-- Michael Murphy, Woodland, CA.

View RamonaPro's profile


7 posts in 2660 days

#4 posted 02-09-2011 08:05 PM

awesome feedback everyone
Michael, that was the exact thought process I had – thanks for affirming it.

Aaron, I will be sure to check out your profile a bit more. I work with my father, and we do things…welll…sort of the old fashioned way sometimes. Even thats not a fair statement, but I suppose we just do things “his” way or the way he has “always done it”, but with the innovative new products coming out these days, and the wealth of information and technique sharing on a great site like LumberJocks, I think its time to reinvent our company a bit.

I came here planning to post a quick quesiton, get a quick answer, and then vanish – but now I have the site bookmarked and cant wait to join the discussions and learn learn learn!
Thanks again everyone, I look forward to many more chats.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4929 posts in 3957 days

#5 posted 02-10-2011 01:14 AM

Wash coat with shellac then clear coat with the lacquer. It’ll work just fine.


View RamonaPro's profile


7 posts in 2660 days

#6 posted 02-15-2011 07:44 AM

Finished the job today. As you guys said, a basic sealer (2 coats), followed by several coats of clear lacquer. No conditioner needed :)

Thanks again for the help!

View Gerry's profile


264 posts in 3238 days

#7 posted 02-15-2011 09:36 AM


Welcome to lumberjocks! My experience with Alder is considerably limited, but I’ve had really good result using 3 coats of Watco Danish oil finish followed by 2 coats of Briwax. So far this finish has stood up to daily use for the past 7 months.

You can see the results here:

-- -Gerry, Hereford, AZ ” A really good woodworker knows how the hide his / her mistakes.”

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