Julie Mo

In Praise Of Lacquer

I  made a rudder from jotoba.  In the image below I shaped the rudder then sanded it to 220.  I sprayed it with Home Depot bought Minwax gloss lacquer.  Three coats.  Let it dry.  Three more coats.  Let it dry.  Then knock down the high spots (I used a card scraper) and hit it with two more coats. 

Endv_022.jpg

I then wet sanded it to what you see here.

 

The entire process was under an hour.  FWIW...

 

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I posted this to show what can be done with lacquer in a very short time.  The actual time spent working was maybe 10-15 minutes and that included initially sanding the wood to 220, spraying the first few coats, smoothing down the bumps, final spraying and wet sanding with Micro Mesh to 12000.

 

I won't be using this rudder on the model I'm building, but if I did, I would have sprayed some more coats and done a better job wet sanding it.  I know a lot of modelers go to poly but, to me anyway, poly is too labor intensive and very difficult to make repairs later on.  Poly is designed for pieces that will take a real beating,  The models I see here should never be subject to that.

 

Nitrocellulose lacquer is the purist's choice on guitars and other instruments.  It brings out the beauty of the wood, lasts a long time and is easily repaired.  It would seem to me to be the perfect finish for modelers but I don't see it here.  Is there a reason for this that I am missing?   

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Nitrocellulose lacquer is the purist's choice on guitars and other instruments.  It brings out the beauty of the wood, lasts a long time and is easily repaired.  It would seem to me to be the perfect finish for modelers but I don't see it here.  Is there a reason for this that I am missing?   

 

I think most of us don't know about this.  And there's the "how to get" and "how to apply" issues... is it available in spray can? Brush only? Or need an airbrush?   

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Mark,

 

To do the rudder in the picture above I used Minwax gloss spray lacquer.  I bought it at Home Depot.  For the guitars I have built, I use Behlen Stringed Instrument gloss lacquer from quart cans and spray it with an HVLP sprayer.  But for models, I wouldn't think that level would be necessary.  

 

For touch ups on guitars, I have used Behlen Stringed Instrument lacquer from a spray can.  You can buy it on Amazon and even at Wal Mart.  To be honest, I really can't tell the difference between spray cans of Behlen vs. Minwax.  Maybe somewhere down the line the difference would be evident.  That's something George Wilson from SMC could tell you.  He's not a fan of Behlen but it's worked well for me.

 

As druxey mentioned, you do need good ventilation with nitro lacquer.  I took the rudder to the garage and sprayed it there.   

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That sounds like something I'll look into for the next model as the hull exterior on the current one is pretty much done and finished with Wipe On Poly.  I'm aware of the ventilation needs after painting cars with lacquer and rubbing them out.  

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I used to paint brass railroad equipment with a lacquer - Scalecoat I. Always did it outside/in the garage. Figured out pretty quickly to mask up - the smell and getting a headache.

 

Be careful spraying any paint; even acrylics. The over-spray there may not stink, but your lungs don't like any foreign objects.

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I set up a spray tent in my basement and installed a 6" fan, ducted to the outside.  I would suit up in Tyvek hooded coveralls, nitrile gloves, goggles and a NIOSH P100 respirator before I started spraying.  As I progressed through the spraying process, I would take pictures.  One picture shocked me.

lacquer_cloud_zps85cb9791.jpg

This was taken right after spraying with an HVLP sprayer.  I could not see the spray particles still in the air but the flash of the camera picked it up.  It was a real eye opener. 

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That sounds like something I'll look into for the next model as the hull exterior on the current one is pretty much done and finished with Wipe On Poly.  I'm aware of the ventilation needs after painting cars with lacquer and rubbing them out.  

Mark,

 

If you haven't already used it, boiled linseed oil works well bringing out the grain of the wood.  It also gives it an aged look as it imparts a yellow tint to the wood.  Wipe it on and just before it dries, wipe it off.  Only caveat is it needs to be sealed with dewaxed shellac before applying a finish.  Zinnser Seal Coat is a good choice for sealing BLO.  After that, you can apply any finish.  Dewaxed shellac does not react with any finish, other than alcohol based finishes.

Edited by Julie Mo
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Hi Julie Mo

 

Nice looking burst on the guitar btw!

 

Have you ever worked with shellac from flakes? No need to mask up unless you spray it, and you get a look similar to your jatoba rudder. I kind of went overboard French polishing my whaleboat, but as a luthier, you probably suffer from the same obsessions with wood finishes! :)

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My take on lacquer:

Spraying is the preferred method of application.

It is available for brush application.

It can develop into layer that has significant thickness.

I use it to coat timber patterns from my printer.

Three coats produces a pattern that is similar to having the patterns printed on Mylar.

I have over come my compulsion and only apply one coat now.

It dries fast and a repeat coat can be applied after 2 hrs when brushed. Spray may have a shorter time.

The solvent is an irritating gemisch of organic chemicals. There is a "green" version of lacquer thinner, but I 

do not find it any less obnoxious that the standard tinner. While a mask may protect against airborne material, 

when sprayed. it will not protect from the solvent vapors. They are a gas as is air.  If you can breathe thru the

mask, the solvent vapor will also get thru.  You need a separate air supply when spraying or good ventilation 

when brushed.

 

I think shellac, and the oils like Tung and linseed form much thinner layers. 

The problem I have with lacquer is the finish is too thick on a model, it is usually too glossy and would have a model

looking like a toy instead of a subtle piece of art.

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Hi Julie Mo

 

Nice looking burst on the guitar btw!

 

Have you ever worked with shellac from flakes? No need to mask up unless you spray it, and you get a look similar to your jatoba rudder. I kind of went overboard French polishing my whaleboat, but as a luthier, you probably suffer from the same obsessions with wood finishes! :)

Hi Buck,

 

I started on flakes.  I have amber, blonde and super blonde flakes and use those when I need a certain color tone.  I found spraying it a bit of a pain.  It clogged up the sprayer and was a bear to clean out of the cup completely.  I've done very little French polishing but I am considering honing my skills and seeing if I want to do it on the hull.  Mahogany is fairly porous and French polishing would work well filling those voids.

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lacquer is a funny animal.........there has to be a dry condition,  or you get white.........is this what your referring to?   humidity kills lacquer.  I use lacquer quite a bit....I like the hard finish and the gloss {if that's what your looking for.   I use a semi gloss.......decks will suck it up like a sponge,  so the sheen,  if any,  will die down as it dries.   I've never gone over three coats.......and I have used it with my airbrush.   there is some prep to it........especially if I do it in the cellar.   I'll run a heater..........a fan on low pointed down wind,  and the windows down wind are opened.   if you can get some heat into your booth,  it would help too

 

if you are using an airbrush with a reservoir tank,  you should drain it every once in a while,  to insure that there is no moisture build up.  depending what pressure your spraying at,  turning it down will prevent 'icing' at the nozzle.   moisture can develop when paint is sprayed through an oriffice such as an airbrush....siphon or gravity

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Julie Mo

 

Yep you are probably correct for modern boats such as those you have pictured. However, for period models (which take up a large portion of this site) gloss is not appropriate. I think that is what Jaager was trying to say anyway. I usually apply matte or satin polyurethane 50:50 with low odour turps using an airbrush. I apply 3 - 4 coats to the hull sanding very lightly between coats.

 

Cheers

Steve.

Edited by hornet

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Besides the sleek yachts, other craft like traditional Dutch boeirs and zeechouws, motor launches and many coastal wooden small craft with a spar varnish finishes will have a high gloss finish. I do respect that historic warships would not look correct with a gloss finish though. For the ones that do need a gloss though, shellac and lacquer are a great choice.

 

As a side note, if you ever have to repair a lacquer sunburst finish Julie Mo, blonde shellac with alcohol based stain in an airbrush works wonders. You can easily have a do-over using an alcohol soaked rag and when it's just right, seal it with a lacquer top coat.

 

Best wishes

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Steve is correct - I am focused on 16th c. to 19th c. -  And for a lot of later vessels that do have high gloss on the original - when viewed from a distance that approximates the size of a model - often do not appear as glossy and paint colors are not as intense.  I think this is an aspect of scale effect.

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Nice job. I build and spray cabinets for a living, so my go to finish will be a lacquer. Over a stained finish as your rudder you will not notice the yellowing as much as over say a natural finish. Gloss hulls on sailing craft look amazing and are finished in a varnish product, either sprayed ,brushed or rolled on. If you require a less glossy finish, lacquer can be bought in what is called degrees of gloss finish. 10% and so on. You have to go to a company like Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams etc to purchase this stuff. Newer products such as polyurethane, polyester and water based products produce equal or exceed lacquer. The benefit of lacquer is it dries faster than an oil based varnish. Be aware however! Lacquers of any sort are extremely volatile organic substances. Do not spray in your house without a high volume spray booth. A respirator with organic filters is mandatory. I use a 3M mask. I will still use a rattle can for small projects such as picture frames and other odds and sods. But wear a mask please. If you are considering going to the dark side look at these sites. Wood Central - Lacquer or Fine Wood Working - all about lacquers, spraying lacquers. Good luck.

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Lacquer is durable, found out how much by using a rattle can of it that I grabbed without looking. Was doing my farming with a D 6 Cat and needed to tighten the tracks. No track wrench around, the adjusting nut was about 3" and was in behind the beam and guards for the tracks, so the wrench needed to have an angle in the handle of about 60°. Had some 1/2" X 3" x 4' spring steel in the Iron pile. Made the wrench, it fit and did the job so I wanted to paint it and grabbed a rattle can, kind of a red tint and was thin, could see the steel through it, checked the can and went ahead and used it up with about 4 or 5 coats. That wrench rattled around the deck of the cat, was thrown around the shop and around rigs, never chipped or lost all of its shine, did get dull and no rust ever got a start over the 5 years I had it before someone stole it. Kept it in mind in case I ever had the need for that kind of durability again, it  impressed me.

jud

Edited by jud

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Julie,

 

A model in lacquer isn't the same as the real thing lacquered. What do you see from the lacquer on the real model when she is as far away as to resemble the size of the model. Another feature caused by size is most models will have a slightly different colour (often a drop of white added) than their real life counterpart. Furthermore, the gloss won't be visible but for those parts which reflect  the sun. Therefore, modellers tend to paint their boats/ships with a satin or matte paint or finish, to make it resemble  reality.

 

I think (although that is not a wise thing for me to do) a model with a satin finish will come very close to a gloss finish for the real size

 

Cheers

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exactamundo cog. It's called the scale effect. Those who build aircraft, armour or plastic WWII ships will add white or gray in varying amounts based on the scale to make their model look more realistic. For a good story on this go to the Finescale web site and look at the scale colour debates. A contentious issue for sure. For me it depends. On a large hull like the 1/72 scale Snowberry I am currently building I will wash the hull out a little so it doesn't look too colourfull. But other features I will paint exact so as to draw the eye to them. Depending on the wear and tear on a ship colours can vary greatly. I try to make it a mix of both so my boat doesn't look like a hag or does not look like it just sailed out after a refit. Your choice. 

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