Brush on Lacquer?

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Forum topic by bigike posted 03-10-2011 03:46 AM 3599 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4052 posts in 3316 days

03-10-2011 03:46 AM

Topic tags/keywords: lacquer finish spray guns

I have a brushing lacquer and wanted to know if I thin it can I put it in a spray gun and spray it with no problems? I think it’s made by behlen I got it from rockler and it says you can thin it to get a better flo off the brush and better leveling.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

9 replies so far

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2870 days

#1 posted 03-10-2011 03:58 AM

I’m not saying it can’t be done, but my experience with doing so was way less than satisfactory.


View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4127 days

#2 posted 03-10-2011 04:17 AM

The nature of lacquer is not conducive to being applied with a brush. It just flashes off and dries too darn fast.

You can get a drying retarder for lacquer at a dedicated paint supply store like Sherwin Williams, Pittsburgh Paint, etc. They are used to supplying pro’s with this product.

The retarder will be a blend of solvents that do not flash off as fast and extend the open time of the lacquer. But it still dries quickly so the other part of the solution is to brush faster too.

Another problem with brushing lacquer on is that people often apply it too thick and as it dries out over time it shrinks too much and gets crazing or a crackle effect in it.

As a pro I spray lacquer, I cannot imagine applying it with a brush. I do love the benefits of the dry time.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View bigike's profile


4052 posts in 3316 days

#3 posted 03-10-2011 04:22 AM

thanks TC!

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3165 posts in 3136 days

#4 posted 03-10-2011 04:31 AM

I’m not a pro, but as Todd says, it sprays really well. Personally, I just thin it with lacquer thinner. I think the warnings on the can are some sort of air quality mandate, not a real safety issue, as long as you make sure you have enough air to breathe and use some sort of respiratory protection. For lacquer, that’s hydrocarbons…or do it outside in still air. I’ve gotten some pretty nice lacquer paint jobs on cars in the driveway on a still day. For automobiles you can buy thinner with a drying time suited to the current temperature…but they still address auto painting by spraying.

I just finished a knick-knack shelf made of alder, using teak oil and spray lacquer (Deft satin). Once I get a decent picture, I’ll post it. If you’re doing something small, you can use an airbrush. That’s one way I’ve done it. The auto spray rig I have is a bit much, though I did use it for the shelf mentioned above. It got the finish on it real quick.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2870 days

#5 posted 03-10-2011 04:34 AM

I’m glad some people with much more experience than I chimed in. Maybe I need to give it another shot. I may have done something wrong. That is not hard at all to believe with my lack of experience with finishes.


View DLCW's profile


530 posts in 2682 days

#6 posted 03-12-2011 01:35 AM

In a word No. Your results would not be what you want. There are several solvent and water born spray lacquers that do a good job. Use your brushing lacquer for small touchups and in hard to reach areas like inside cabinet boxes (spraying an enclosed box results in a face full of overspray and a horrible finish).

-- Don, Diamond Lake Custom Woodworks - - "If you make something idiot proof, all they do is make a better idiot"

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Steven H

1117 posts in 3088 days

#7 posted 03-12-2011 01:55 AM

My finishing instructor said before, he will hire anyone that can brush it fast. He has 35 years of finishing experience, even he cant do it.

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 2981 days

#8 posted 03-12-2011 02:05 AM

I was raised in a bodyshop and have probably sprayed (and inhaled) many gallons of nitrocellulose and acrylic lacquer. Your question is interesting, as I also have a gallon of unused brushing lacquer in my shop. Never used it. Though I’ve not tried it, my understanding is that “brushing lacquer” is nothing but standard nitrocellulose clear lacquer that has a slower thinner added to slow it down enough to brush it (if you’re quick). Regular spraying lacquer dries far too fast to brush. DuPont used to offer many different speeds and varieties of lacquer thinner, retarder, blush eliminator, and the like. Don’t think the auto industry uses this stuff anymore.

I see no reason why you cannot thin the brushing lacquer and spray it. It may (probably will) dry slower than regular spraying lacquer, so you may pick up a bit more dust if you are not in a clean area, but it ought to work. I don’t know the speed of the lacquer thinner we buy in the store these days, but it ought to work at a reasonable temperature (70 degrees). Well, that’s my opinion. It’s what I plan to try with my gallon. I’d be interested in your results if you try it. This is not rocket science. Hope this helps.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

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Steven H

1117 posts in 3088 days

#9 posted 03-12-2011 02:21 AM

With EPA strictly with VOC, they have change the solvents even more. Which makes it more useless to use.

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