Alternatives to lacquering

SuffolkM

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Hi all,

After carefully shellacing, preparing and silvering a dial, I am often slightly hesitant about lacquering, as it can be easy to melt or smear the shellac if there is slightly too much time with the lacquer sitting in liquid form. I use Horolacq, which is the recommended finishing lacquer for Horosilv + Horofinish, but it still bleeds slightly sometimes. I have also tried sprayable lacquers for silver, which is not satisfactory as the spray can occasionally spits (ruins the result) and the surface can become slightly matte, too. I hate redoing silvering as a little bit of surface metal is lost each time the wet and dry paper comes out. It is a one-way street.

Firstly, there is scope for my technique to improve! The 'quick swipe' layering approach is definitely not beyond me and I've had good success despite stressing about it. However, as an alternative, has anyone tried using beeswax as a long-term sealant against silver tarnishing? I did a quick test on a spare sheet, with what seem to be good results, and no tarnish yet. I found the beeswax can still lift the shellac if you rub too hard, but the whole process feels controlled and it's hard to make a mistake. I'm also considering other forms of wax, probably the advanced car finishes and sealants, as they might give better durability.

Any other views on this would be of interest, especially thinking of large longcase dials where the area to cover is quite significant and imperfections show up badly.

Thanks
Michael
 

Simon Holt

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Hi Michael

If you're thinking wax, have you thought about Renaissance wax? I've no idea whether it is suitable for your needs, but it may be worth experimenting with.

Regards
Simon
 

JTD

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I have used Renaissance wax quite a lot and I think it would serve very well in your case. It is used by many museum conservators on both wood and metal. I would think this would be much better than beeswax, as it is a much finer (microcrystalline) wax.

You don't need much, a little goes a very long way.

JTD
 

SuffolkM

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Is there anything Renaissance wax can't do!

Hadn't thought of it but that does sound like a good option. I'll give it a whirl (since I'm testing, I'll try this in parallel with the other project and see how they look).
 

svenedin

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Another thumbs up for Renaissance Wax. I’ve used it for exactly the OP’s purpose with excellent long term (5 years+) results. I used it on a silvered chapter ring and the brass dial plate behind. I had also silvered the chapter ring myself and I was very pleased how easy it was.
 
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novicetimekeeper

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I have taken to using renaissance wax for this. I have noticed a slight tendency to spotting with something, I'm guessing some sort of growth on the wax, but it doesn't detract from the dial to my mind, and certainly better than any bleeding of the wax in the engraving.
 

Rod Schaffter

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JTD

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Over in the 400-Day Clock Forum, John Hubby has often noted he uses Butcher's Bowling Alley Wax on his brasswork; eg;

Gustav Becker suspension spring setup
He does, but he says that 'Renaissance is the best but more expensive', and suggests Butcher's Bowling Alley wax as a cheaper substitute.

The Butcher's product may well be very good but, as far as I can tell, it is not available in UK, so the OP would not be able to get it. Renaissance is easy to get and although it is not cheap, a small can will last years, as a very small amount goes a long way. And it has so many uses.

JTD
 
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P.Hageman

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I have taken to using renaissance wax for this. I have noticed a slight tendency to spotting with something, I'm guessing some sort of growth on the wax, but it doesn't detract from the dial to my mind, and certainly better than any bleeding of the wax in the engraving.
What is renaissance wax?
 

JTD

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What is renaissance wax?
This has been discussed from post #2 onwards. It is a micro-crystalline, colorless wax which is used by many museum conservators and others on wood and metal.

It is somewhat more expensive than other waxes but a little goes a very long way. If you look for Renaissance Wax on the internet you will find details about and stockists.

JTD
 

svenedin

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This has been discussed from post #2 onwards. It is a micro-crystalline, colorless wax which is used by many museum conservators and others on wood and metal.

It is somewhat more expensive than other waxes but a little goes a very long way. If you look for Renaissance Wax on the internet you will find details about and stockists.

JTD
It's also fantastic on marble. It seals it but does not discolour over time.
 

SuffolkM

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Hi all,

Following up on this, as the OP I went ahead and tested everything on some dials, used a few different materials on cases etc. Here are my observations after testing a few different waxes (mainly for silvered surfaces, but also for wood).

Bees Wax:

Really good, naturally glossy finish which layers well. Rather a lot of work to apply and polish off, requiring quite a bit of elbow grease at first. Easier once you're on the second coat (or more). It has a tendency to slightly dissolve shellac in numerals, which I think is partly to due the amount of friction (heat) involved in getting it to a nice sheen. The lifting caused is very slight, but is a risk. Superb on all wood finishes in my opinion, but can leave a residue in fissures. +1 for being a very agreeable, natural substance.

Renaissance Wax (micro-crystalline wax):

Very attractive sheen, not a full gloss rather a very balanced and even brilliance. Easy to apply, very little needed, and buffs readily and without any real effort. Does not layer - one coat gets the final result. Known to be superb from a conservation point of view, seems to work on just about everything. Easily applies onto silvering, no shellac lifted. Great for coating steel parts after polishing out any corrosion, too. Leaves no residue. Should really be the first port of call but it's somewhat expensive. I think it is worth it.

Collinite 476S wax:

This is an advanced auto wax, designed for long-term use outdoors on cars. It is also labelled as suitable for use on fine furniture. It's easier to apply than beeswax, but not as easy as renaissance wax. It buffs out with a little effort, not a problem. Limited layering (2 coats is enough - any more is not helpful). There is a very slight tendency to lift shellac (less than beeswax) which can be managed by buffing it off slowly, and not pushing too hard. The glossy finish is stunning - the best wax here - very deep, lustrous, very slippery to the touch. Clearly extremely hard and durable. Given the choice, I'd use this rather than bees wax but I cannot vouch that it is a good material from a conservation point of view.

Horolaq:

Clear lacquer marketed as the next step after using Horosilv, Horofinish. It loves to dissolve shellac and needs lots of care (very thin, rapidly applied coats - don't use a brush, use cotton wool). I find it unforgiving, and came to this thread looking for alternatives, but the fact remains it produces a permanent, transparent window to the silvering and does look very fine, provided you do it properly. If you fail to get the finish you want, it's back to square one and usually that means silvering again, too. Harsh.

Sprayed lacquer:

I tried an anti-tarnish silver lacquer spray can. This was not good. The finish is slightly matt if you're too far back (almost a fine grit) and if you get too close, it pools. The spray nozzle also has a tendency to spit, which even fastidious shaking and careful use seems not to control. I was really disappointed, and just like Horolaq, if you get it wrong you're back to square one. I would say avoid this on large, flat surfaces. It might well be suitable for more intricate, detailed pieces though (perhaps easier to apply evenly and no issue on textured surfaces that you'll see pooling).

I think that's it from me. I looked at getting some photos together, but no matter how I tried to find the right light etc. I could not get any pictures that properly capture the appearance. So, a thousand words it will have to be! In summary, I'm using Renaissance Wax and Collinite for most of my work now, both silvering and wood.

Best wishes
Michael
 

JTD

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Thank you for your review, it was very helpful.

JTD
 

Bkeepr

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I may be new to clock repair, but I'm a long-time bird hunter and gun owner. I use Renaissance Wax on my best guns, both for storage and to take out in the field to hunt with. I've found over the years that Renaissance Wax's protection on metal and wood is very durable in all weather, including heavy rain and snow, and indoors it lasts seemingly forever. And, as others have said, a tiny bit goes a very long way. I have to think it is near perfect for clocks...
 
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novicetimekeeper

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I think the beeswax dissolves the wax because traditionally beeswax polish is made with turpentine.
 

JTD

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I may be new to clock repair, but I'm a long-time bird hunter and gun owner. I use Renaissance Wax on my best guns, both for storage and to take out in the field to hunt with. I've found over the years that Renaissance Wax's protection on metal and wood is very durable in all weather, including heavy rain and snow, and indoors it lasts seemingly forever. And, as others have said, a tiny bit goes a very long way. I have to think it is near perfect for clocks...
I am glad you find Renaissance Wax so useful for guns. I am a big fan of it also, although usually on clocks. I have a friend who has several guns, I will tell him what you have found.

JTD
 

shutterbug

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I'll have to give it a try on my guns. They went through a fire, and although were not burned, the heat was enough to cause severe rusting within a day of the fire.
 

Bkeepr

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Well, I am glad I *finally* got to contribute something useful to somebody here! Even if it wasn't about clocks... LOL
 

shimmystep

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I'll have to give it a try on my guns. They went through a fire, and although were not burned, the heat was enough to cause severe rusting within a day of the fire.
That a recent fire shuts? You or your family didn't come to any harm I hope?
 

Elliott Wolin

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Never heard of Renaissance Wax before, sounds great. Does it work to keep brass from tarnishing? Normally people use lacquer, but I haven't had the greatest results (I can't spray from a can evenly to save my life).
 

shutterbug

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That a recent fire shuts? You or your family didn't come to any harm I hope?
It was a few years ago. We lost our little dog, but no humans were harmed. It was mostly confined to one room.
 

Jessye

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Has anyone had issues with their dial wax blistering and smearing when applying the Renaissance wax? I love the stuff and use it on everything but in restoring a silvered dial when I tried applying it a epic mess ensued. I now have to strip it and possibly the silver off in order to fix the mess. I bought the wax from Timesavers which is where I typically get all my shellac wax.
 

novicetimekeeper

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Has anyone had issues with their dial wax blistering and smearing when applying the Renaissance wax? I love the stuff and use it on everything but in restoring a silvered dial when I tried applying it a epic mess ensued. I now have to strip it and possibly the silver off in order to fix the mess. I bought the wax from Timesavers which is where I typically get all my shellac wax.
No, but I use very little of it to get the desired result.
 

svenedin

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Has anyone had issues with their dial wax blistering and smearing when applying the Renaissance wax? I love the stuff and use it on everything but in restoring a silvered dial when I tried applying it a epic mess ensued. I now have to strip it and possibly the silver off in order to fix the mess. I bought the wax from Timesavers which is where I typically get all my shellac wax.
I have never had a problem with Renaissance Wax but I have only ever used it on bare metal (or marble) without any previous protective finish.

Can you post a picture of what happened?
 

bruce linde

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A couple of comments here about how expensive renaissance wax is… but my container has lasted me a very long time... you don't need (or use) much
 
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JTD

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Has anyone had issues with their dial wax blistering and smearing when applying the Renaissance wax? I love the stuff and use it on everything but in restoring a silvered dial when I tried applying it a epic mess ensued. I now have to strip it and possibly the silver off in order to fix the mess. I bought the wax from Timesavers which is where I typically get all my shellac wax.
When using Renaissance over any kind of finish, you have to make sure that that finish (wax, in your case) is absolutely dried and set. (On bare metal you can apply it at once)

Then use a very, very small amount of Renaissance. You really don't need much, it is just a protective micro-layer.

JTD
 
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DeanT

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I use renaissance wax on the surfaces of my renaissance clocks including the gilded cases. Works well.
 

Jessye

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I didn't think to take a picture as I was just concerned in fixing the mess so I could finish getting the movement back in the case. The silvered dial itself handled the Renaissance like any other metal I've applied it to, smooth as silk. It was just the shellac wax used for the numerals, it seemed to melt and smear where I had wiped the renaissance wax on. I let the shellac wax cure for a couple days beforehand just in case. It's the weirdest reaction I've come across in a while.
 

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