Well Crap! Brushing Lacquer

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Forum topic by Dallas posted 11-05-2013 04:05 PM 1434 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3599 posts in 2723 days

11-05-2013 04:05 PM

Yeah, I know, I know…..Use a soft, natural bristle brush when brushing lacquer.
Bright early yesterday morning, actually it was pretty dark, about 03:00, I decided to go out and work on a project I’ve been doing with some of the Chinese Tallow wood.
Mostly I am just making cuts and joints to see how well it comes out and because I happened to get the glue up about an 1/8” out of square on a 4” box.
The box joints are working nicely, even though I had to make my own box joint jig.

Anyway, I opened my spankin’ new can of Minwax clear brushing lacquer and grabbed a brush…... a foam brush like I use on stain, or dye.

Well, I got the first coat on in about 5 minutes, but the foam brush had swelled up like the three tires that aren’t flat on a southern car.
I tossed the brush, waited overnight for the lacquer to dry and sanded it down. I used 240 grit sand paper and smoothed everything out because the stuff had runs like a calf with scours! I thought maybe it was from too heavy a coat but I really don’t think so now. This morning I put on another THIN coat with a soft natural bristle brush and still have runs after about 20 minutes.

Could the foam that deteriorated in the lacquer have messed p this stuff? I’ve never had it run like that before.

Hep Me! Hep Me!

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

22 replies so far

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 2749 days

#1 posted 11-05-2013 04:34 PM

That’s the very reason I switched from Lacquer to wipe on poly, hated the runs.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2723 days

#2 posted 11-05-2013 04:52 PM

With the Chinese Tallow the figure in it needs something to make it pop so I used some dark red wine Cherry dye, then was trying to do a nice finish with the lacquer.
I suppose I could use the lacquer for a couple of coats (sealer and build), then slap some poly on it, but it just seems like cheating to me.
I may have to thin this stuff out and run it through the sprayer, I just didn’t want to drag out the gun for a 4×4x4 practice box. The return on investment expressed in time and labor would be unacceptable.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5233 posts in 2729 days

#3 posted 11-05-2013 05:10 PM

Wouldn’t it be easier to pick up a rattle can? I suppose it’s possible the foam caused a reaction in the lacquer though I’ve never heard of that, but then I’ve never heard of anyone using a foam brush in it, either :). But it may not be worth taking a chance…the rattle can would solve the problem.

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

View tefinn's profile


1222 posts in 2673 days

#4 posted 11-05-2013 05:35 PM

I never work directly out of the can, always from a secondary container. If you have any contaminants on your brush, they end up in the can, possibly ruining a whole can. It could also be the Minwax. I’ve found that their lacquer doesn’t dry quick enough, causing runs. I stopped using most Minwax finishes a long time ago.

-- Tom Finnigan - Measures? We don't need no stinking measures! - Hmm, maybe thats why my project pieces don't fit.

View Richforever's profile


757 posts in 3956 days

#5 posted 11-05-2013 06:36 PM

I’ve had lots of negative experiences with minwax stuff and don’t use it anymore.

-- Rich, Seattle, WA

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2597 days

#6 posted 11-05-2013 07:26 PM

Why would you use a foam brush when the directions say natural bristle brush only?

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2723 days

#7 posted 11-05-2013 07:28 PM

Hahahahahaha! I offer as a defense that it was 03:00 and I didn’t have any coffee. I was waiting for it to perk.

Otherwise, no excuse. It was a stupid move, (Don’t tell my wife I said that)!

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View PaulDoug's profile


1708 posts in 1940 days

#8 posted 11-05-2013 07:49 PM

Two wrongs, in my opinion, Minwax and foam brush. I have a huge dislike for both.

-- “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk

View pintodeluxe's profile


5816 posts in 3049 days

#9 posted 11-05-2013 08:11 PM

You have the type of product right. Lacquer is good (I don’t buy Minwax anything) but Valspar, Magnalac, and Sherwin Williams make good lacquer. It needs to be sprayed on for best results.

I am truly surprised that more people don’t spray their projects. It is so cheap to get into now.

Good luck on this one!

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

View scotsman9's profile


134 posts in 2125 days

#10 posted 11-05-2013 08:39 PM

Finishing anything without proper caffeination is just plain silly. Even worse you’re using a percolator…YUCK

For a good mind set and proper finish techniques

this is all you will ever need:

-- Just a man and his opinion.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2723 days

#11 posted 11-05-2013 08:40 PM

I normally do spray with Sherwin Williams, but this thing was only 4” square and to get the spray gun out and go 40 miles to town, buy a quart of S-W, drive 40 miles back, make 4 squirts on the wood, clean the gun, then do it all over again didn’t seem cost or labor efficient.

The only Minwax product I’ve ever had any luck with is Helmsman Spar Urethane. I put it on the oak floor of an RV I built about 12 years ago and after living in it for 7 years the floor looked as good as new.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View gwolfe1977's profile


228 posts in 2047 days

#12 posted 11-06-2013 01:33 AM

Have you thought about spraying the lacquer? Reduce it down 2 parts lacquer to 1 part lacquer thinner and just spray nice light coats. Just a thought.

-- Gary,Nebraska

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2723 days

#13 posted 11-06-2013 01:59 AM

Gary, see post #11.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Finisherman's profile


227 posts in 2085 days

#14 posted 11-06-2013 03:17 AM

I doubt that the foam brush had anything to do with the runs in your finish. Brushing lacquer is more prone to developing runs due to the retarders in the finish which allow it to dry slowly enough for brushing. If I were in your shoes, and I didn’t want to spray the lacquer, I’d try thinning it slightly with regular lacquer thinner in order to make it dry a little bit faster. You can then brush the lacquer onto the surface, but you’ll have to work faster because of the quicker drying time. One other thought. Is your shop space cold? if it is, that will substantially slow the drying time of the lacquer. A little bit more heat might be in order.

View bobasaurus's profile


3546 posts in 3420 days

#15 posted 11-06-2013 06:24 AM

I guess lacquer thinner is a solvent for the poly foam in the brush. I’ll have to be careful… just received a bunch of foam brushes myself for finishing. Any idea how they work in oil finishes? I’ve heard that alcohol can dissolve these brushes too.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

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