Repair damage to lacquer finish?

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Blog entry by WoodshopTherapy posted 07-12-2019 01:07 PM 1029 reads 1 time favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

In this video, I show how to repair a damaged area of a lacquer finish. There’s also a link to a video about how to identify what type of finish is on a piece of furniture

Repair a Lacquer Finish –
Wood Finish Identification –

-- Scott Bennett - sharing woodworking knowledge

2 comments so far

View Rich's profile


5629 posts in 1368 days

#1 posted 07-12-2019 04:41 PM

I find your videos to be consistently well produced. In general your methods are sound and the results satisfactory. However, I think you missed the mark on this one.

One issue is your use of lacquer thinner for the repair. Plain lacquer thinner evaporates way too fast to do what you are trying to do with it, and I think you realized that in the video. Much of your subsequent effort turned out to be trying to repair the damage done in your first step.

You want to use a product like Mohawk’s No Blush retarder, which is a blend of slow evaporating solvents. It’s available in gallon cans, as well as aerosol. It will give you the open time to manipulate the lacquer you need to attempt something like pulling surrounding lacquer into the repair. I keep cans of the M103-0475 blush retarder around and it’s a life saver. I also use Sherwin Williams K27 retarder thinner in all lacquer I spray. I need it because the desert heat in Tucson can lead to finish problems with lacquer when it dries too fast.

That said, trying to pull the lacquer from the surrounding area is a mistake no matter what solvent you use.

You definitely had the right idea using a scraping tool, but rather than using it to repair the damage from the initial use of lacquer thinner, it would have been far better to scrape first, then spray, and continue that process until you had a smooth, level surface with the damaged area filled and even with its surroundings. At that point, some sanding with 400 grit might be needed although often an even coat sprayed over the entire surface will suffice.

Additionally, rather than using expensive utility knife blades for scraping, a very thin card scraper will do the job better. Lee Valley sells pairs of very thin scrapers that are perfect. Out of the box they have a square edge that cuts lacquer perfectly, and I like to turn a slight burr on one of them for more aggressive scraping when needed. Besides the scraper, a good de-nibbing tool is indispensable.

Finally, if you are going to use aerosol lacquer, go with a better brand with a higher solid content like Mohawk. You’ll get better results with less effort.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View LeeRoyMan's profile


1192 posts in 506 days

#2 posted 07-12-2019 05:16 PM

Looks like it left a bigger horseshoe mark than when you started. Hard to tell since you didn’t show a full picture pulled back to show it all.
I would have used the eyedropper to fill the spots with lacquer, 2 or 3 times until it was filled, sanding back to flat with a sanding block in between fills., then recoated the whole top.

-- I only know what I know, nothing less, nothing more -- That doesn't count what I used to know..

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