Reply by CaptainKlutz

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Posted on Can I slow down the drying of shellac?

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1489 posts in 1910 days

#1 posted 05-19-2019 10:53 PM

I just ran across this article by Flexner. He says lacquer retarder can be used to slow the drying time for shellac. Who knew?

I use Sherwin Williams K27 retarder thinner in my lacquer. Any of their stores can order some for you, or if you have a commercial SW store, they almost always stock it. Mohawk offers it too.

- Rich

LOL, I knew. Am a stupid materials engineer, one that engineered many solvents, adhesives, & polymers in past before retirement. I like Flexnor’s work, refer his book myself occasionally. I just wish that Flexnor articles had the space to actually explain why things works, and not use one liners like the above article? Hardest part of his magazine work is brevity misses things that can help folks understand why/how things work well. It’s not his fault, it’s the challenge with any commercial published materials. :)

FWIW – I find that commercial retarder blends like Sherwin Williams K27 for lacquer or the multitude of others to be much more expensive than using a single slow evaporation solvent like PGMEA or MAK. Cost difference is almost half, which is not trivial when can only buy gallons of blended solvents @ $30-50 each retail.

The local ‘Painter's Supply’ sells quarts of Lowchem LR-236 (PGMEA) for $6 and gallons for $19. If you spray gallons of finish per week, then gallons of retarder solvent work well for you. But retarder is supposed to be 10% maximum of total liquid, so a quart can last me a year when I am only in shop a couple times a month.

If don’t mind using a blended retarder, many Ace Hardware and True Value hardware stores sell Sunnyside or Jasco branded retarder solvents, usually in handy quart sizes for ~$10-12.

Just remember that blended lacquer retarders ingredient lists look like this:
Sherwin Williams K27:
Methyl n-Amyl Ketone
Aliphatic Hydrocarbon Solvent
Aliphatic Hydrocarbon

SunnySide Lacquer Retarder:
Ethyl Benzene
n-Butyl Acetate
n-Butyl Alcohol
2-Butoxy ethanol

Please be aware that ethyl benzene and some ketones are mutagenic carcinogens. It not only messes up your body, but can also mess with your future offspring well being. Always use PPE with solvents!

Best Luck.

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

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