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Lacquering

Ken M

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Feb 28, 2009
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Well, I'm trying it again. I've tried various aerosol lacquers, and it orange peals and looks milky. I just got a can of gold lacquer from Timesavers, and I'm having the same problems. What am I doing wrong? The work I see you folks getting seems just impossible for me. Is aerosol lacquer just bad? I don't have the place or the resources for a full blown paint shop. Can that beautiful finish be achieved with aerosol? Thanks.
 

lesbradley

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Well, I'm trying it again. I've tried various aerosol lacquers, and it orange peals and looks milky. I just got a can of gold lacquer from Timesavers, and I'm having the same problems. What am I doing wrong? The work I see you folks getting seems just impossible for me. Is aerosol lacquer just bad? I don't have the place or the resources for a full blown paint shop. Can that beautiful finish be achieved with aerosol? Thanks.
When spraying, orange peel means too much paint or lacquer. You need to build up layers thinly and slowly. If I was lacquering I would not use aerosol. I would use a good quality clock lacquer applied with a top quality brush or mop.

I far prefer to use top quality carnuba wax, specifically Renaissance, easy to use and superb longevity. I do quite a few clocks regularly. A 200ml tin has already lasted more than 12 months.
 

Ken M

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Thanks Les, I believe I'll take your advice. I'm just not having any luck with the lacquering business, and it's just costing time and money. At least I'm smart enough to use an odd old base I don't need, so I don't have to strip it! I'll order some of that wax, I can't seem to find it locally, or I'm just not looking in the right places.
 

harold bain

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Ken, it takes a lot of practice to develop skill in using a spray can of paint, or lacquer. Better to do several light coats than one heavy one. The distance is also important (about a foot or more away). Also need to develop the right motion as you spray (don't just hold the can still while pushing the button). Sort of a wiping/sweep type motion. Don't worry about how much you waste that misses the item being sprayed. Put down lots of newspaper under the item being sprayed to catch the overspray.
 

Ken M

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Thanks Les. Good price, but then over 12 bucks to ship! Takes the deal out of it. A guy on fleabay sells them for 17 something, free shipping. I'd like to just go to a store and buy a can, but I don't know what retailers sell it. Maybe someone in the US can chime in with a retailer?
 

Kevin W.

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Hi Ken, i have tried lacquer spray in can and it,s not easy.You need good light as well as practice to spray and do a good job.
A wax with a good Carnuba content is good for these clocks.I did one with wax and it stood up pretty good.

Here is one wax with Carnuba that Lee Valley sells.
http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?p=20091&cat=1,190,42950
 
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Ken M

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Thanks Kevin! Practice is what I lack. I think I'll strip my experimental piece and practice! Maybe I'll get the feel of it before the can is gone. I tore down my Kundo Diamond to spruce up for possible adoption. I was hoping to lacquer it, but I just waxed it with what I have, a Trewax product called Indian Sand Paste Wax. Works in a pinch, but I think I'll get that Renaissance, it looks to be reasonably priced and recommended. But I'll keep an eye out for the Blue Label you suggested. Anything I can find at a store is my choice! I'm impatient sometimes, would rather drive a mile and get it, rather than wait for shipping. Since one can will last me years, I guess I shouldn't fret about shipping time!
 

Kevin W.

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I am the impatient type too Ken.
These clocks look great once shined up.:)
 

Ingulphus

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I've had very good experience with the J.G. Nikolas gold-colored lacquer, but it took some practice. Light, fast coats are imperative, as well as warming the brass lightly (and making sure that all traces of polish, finger oils, etc. are removed completely). I've also used Briwax for bare brass (it has a toluene or acetone base, so shouldn't be used on top of any finish that could be dissoloved by those solvents) - it's very "forgiving", although it too should be added in several thin coats, each drying and being buffed before the next is added.
 

Ken M

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It's the thin coats that gets me. I spray back and forth as directed, from about 10 inches as directed, but when it hits the piece, it hits in little beads. That bothers me, so I start trying to "paint" it. If it would lay down as a thin sheet, I'd be happy! It's those little beads that bother me. Is that how is goes? and the next sweep fills in? It may just be my impatience that's getting me.
 

ChuckR

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Ken,
You should be able to buy the wax from any big wood craft store. That is where I found it. Hope this helps.

Chuck
 

erngrover

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I do not know the method originally used by Schatz, et. al. It was either spraying, dipping or brushing ... perhaps a combination of all three.

Any time you have high temperature, plus humidity, you'll always have a problem with the lacquer drying too quickly (orange peel) and trapping humidity (milky finish). Spray nozzles on aerosol cans are fine for lawn furniture, but I've never had much success on the finer pieces where a high glossy finish counts as on a piece of polished brass.

Over the years I've experimented with various products. I always come back to:

Dupont automotive lacquer
Dupont retarder (helps it to set and dry slowly)
Dupont lacquer thinner
A clean badger's hair bristle brush (natural fiber)

You must have a clean and dustfree work environment. If your work is carefully placed, you have everything in place, you'll eliminate frustration and actually enjoy doing this.

I run an air filter in my shop 24/7. I have a central vacuum system so that the discharge goes outdoors. I generally keep my doors and windows shut. It's a better work environment, clean, dustfree, quiet.

The objective is to put down a THIN coat of lacquer, thus it's important to add sufficient thinner so that you don't have to contend with a thick gob of lacquer that just sits and won't flow. The retarder is for high humidity days, but my preference is to wait for a low humidity day and normal room temperature.

DO make up a small booth to do your work. I use an old corrugated box that the Maytag washer came in. It breaks down when not in use; it assembles quickly with duct tape and sits atop a couple of saw horses. The front is open. A slit in the top is adequate for a small portable fluorescent light. The bottom of the booth is covered with waxed paper. Finished pieces won't stick to the stuff. The walls of the "booth" are dotted with holes where I've hung pieces of the clock from bent wire (the half shells of the pendulum balls, clock plates.

Before use, I mist the inside of the box and work area with my wife's plant mister. It settles any dust. I close up the front with a piece of cardboard. Wait for a few hours for the humidity to dissipate.

Now you're ready to begin. All of your brass must be free of cleaning residue, fingerprints, etc. You could rinse down all of your clock parts to be lacquered with lacquer thinner. I do this, AND I keep them in a stainless steel mixing bowl submerged in lacquer thinner, ready to be coated. If covered, you'll not be overcome by fumes.

Wearing protective gloves (assures no fingerprints too), apply a THIN coat of lacquer with your brush. Assure your brush is loaded, brush once, one direction, set down the piece on the waxed paper. Most pieces can be lacquered "in place" on the waxed paper without handling. Keep your tweezers handy just in case.

It's a lot of preparation, but the results merit it.

If you can still stand up from the fumes, leave the room, enjoy a cuppa!
 

RickB

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May 28, 2010
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Any time you have high temperature, plus humidity, you'll always have a problem with the lacquer drying too quickly (orange peel) and trapping humidity (milky finish).
Exactly what I was about to say. Florida in the summer is not a good place to spray lacquer.

And spraying at a 10" distance from your work is too close for a light mist coat.
 

Ken M

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Thanks for all the great information and advice! Less humid days in Florida are months away. I'm getting better at preparing the surface and waxing. Learning what materials to use and technique. I'm pretty sure I'll grow up to be a waxer, but when we finally get nice days in November/December, maybe I'll experiment more with my spray.
 

Scottie-TX

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Spraying with aersol is not easy and is an acquired skill. One reason it is difficult, that different products have different pressures, different spray patterns, and vary in viscosity. Also, since you have no control of these variables, it's up to you to try controlling application by variations in distance and duration at the target.
My favorite product for clear lacquer is MOHAWK. Also if you stay with the same product, you become familiar with it's properties.
It seems application has three stages - four if you include failure.
First a foggy appearance - paint begins to adhere.
Second, an orange peel condition - paint begins to build on surface.
Third, and often with a fraction of a second it seems - gloss.
Fourth - failure. If you continue applying paint after gloss, it will run.
I like late afternoon sunlight, outdoors. I position the piece so I can watch the light play across the surface and observe the three stages. As soon as gloss appears or maybe JUST prior to gloss, I leave that area and progress to another.
 

darrahg

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The J.G. Nikolas gold-colored lacquer is ok but will give a brassy look if applied to thick.

Your orange peal and white haze are a result of applying the lacquer too thick and too fast. I work with spray cans all the time with no problems. Your problem is 'lack of patience'. Start with super clean brass (cleaned with lacquer thinner) and let warm up to room temperature. Then spray one very light coat. Let it dry for at least ten to twenty minutes. Spray another very light coat. Go away. Come back and spray the third. That should do it.

A white haze can occur if you live in an area where temperature and humidity are high or the brass is colder than room temp. Spraying light coats will reduce effects of that too.

Using a lacquer designed for brass applications seems to produce a quality result. It gets into the pores of the metal better? I like it but not the price.
 

Scottie-TX

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Also, the white haze is micro-thin and often is not cause for stripping and starting all over. Often it can be whisked away with 0000 steel wool and continue further coats or polish to finish which hasn't so far been discussed much. If finish isn't AB SO lutely perfect, polishing the lacquer can bring it to a mirror gloss quickly. I use auto paste wax - no particular brand.
 

darrahg

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I use automotive polish when polishing a finished work. Different brands will produce different results due to the abrasive, if present, each company uses. I consistantly go back to the bestest and cheapest bottle I have and that is Nu-Finish. Mothers has a slightly coarser abrasive and so forth.

As an aside, if work really needs work I go with the finest automotive wet/dry abrasive paper known to the industry. It is the type used when new paint is rubbed out. If even less coarse paper is required, I then use jewelers woven paper that is impregnated with micro sized grit. I have a tough time finding the jewelers paper at times but is worth the hunt.
 

GEG

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Ken,
I second getting a can of the Mohawk stuff. Follow the directions. So far it has held up well.
GEG
 

Ken M

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Well, I gave it another whirl today, twice. Whatever I'm doing wrong, I'm doing it consistently. I can't get a smooth shiny coat, no matter what I do or how I do it. But, I didn't strip it, I just used my high speed drill with buffing wheel, and turtle wax polishing compound. It looks real good, I'm just not sure if I just buffed off the lacquer and I'm back down to the bare brass. I guess time will tell, as I see if the tarnishes quickly.
 

Mervyn Passmore

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I suggest you go to your local car accessory store and buy a bottle of Maguires Stage 3 Carnuaba wax final polish (or any other quality Carnuaba wax protective polish, not car wash & wax!). It does the same as the old fashioned shellac lacquer, leaving a micro-thin coating on the surface that prevents the brass from oxidising. Apply two coats and you'll get no orange peel, no rainbow effects, just a hard wearing wax coating that looks like lacquer without any of the problems of lacquering.
It suits any climate, any humidity, any skill level.
 

Ralph B

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The milky white appearance that you sometimes get can be made to instantly go away if you warm it gently with a hairdryer, or, preferably, careful use of a paint stripping gun.

Paint stripping guns have more heat and less air so you need to be a bit cautious.

Ralph B.
 

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