Excellent Waterborne Clear Coat

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Review by NiteWalker posted 12-01-2011 10:44 AM 10849 views 3 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Excellent Waterborne Clear Coat Excellent Waterborne Clear Coat No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I decided to write this review because I don’t see this finish mentioned too often, and it really deserves more recognition.

It’s a waterborne clear coat that’s been formulated for spraying directly from the jar (that’s one really neat thing about it, it comes in plastic jars that are reusable, not tin cans). I started using it this past summer after reading some reviews around the web and from a member on woodnet I look to for finishing advice. I was looking for a durable clear coat I could spray without too much difficulty and that’s very durable. The projects I use it on (custom arcade stick enclosures) get handled and the finish needed to be able to resist the rough treatment my cases can undergo. It’s resistant to most household chemicals except for acetone (and I don’t think many clear coats, if any at all, are resistant to acetone), so the oils, dirt grime and acids the cases would be subjected to from normal handling and use are no match for this finish.

I use a cheap Tool Force detail gun to spray it and I have no issues doing so. It flows beautifully, dries to recoat in 30 minutes and fully cures in 24-72 hours. Since it’s a waterborne clear coat, and since it’s water clear (no ambering like oil based poly), I first spray my projects with a couple of coats of zinsser sealcoat (a 2lb cut of dewaxed shellac) to seal the wood so I don’t get much grain raising, and to bring out the color of the wood. I then sand with 320 and spray on two light coats of Crystalac, let dry, lightly sand with 320, then apply two more coats. As long as I get the spray gun set up properly, I get predictable results every time. And I love that I can do the entire finishing schedule in one day since it dries so quick.

It’s a somewhat thick for a clear coat, so when I strain it into my spray gun I use a medium mesh strainer.

In the pics I posted, you can see the gallon size jug it comes in, and one of my cases with the crystalac applied.

You can get it from McFeely's (who has had $1 shipping for as long as I can remember).

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

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David Grimes

2078 posts in 3449 days

#1 posted 03-15-2012 07:45 AM

Wow ! 775 views, 2 favorites and not one comment ! Well, I’ll gladly break the ice.

Thank you so much for this review ! I wish I had found this months ago.

I saw the sealer only at Rockler, but not the clear finish. I luckily saw this product for the first time in the new McFeely catalog (that I usually don’t read because I just get screws / fasteners only from them usually). I went online and found that this product was made initially for musical instruments… pianos even. Totally clear as you say… and a hardness of 100, clear of 100 and abrasion at 90. No more 2 week waits to buff out, etc.

I just finished a spray booth for guitar finishing and really REALLY did not want to use Nitro lacquer through it. This waterborne product is an answered prayer. I ordered a gallon and will spray it through the Earlex. Water cleanup (acetone if it is dry). Too sweet. Thanks again !

Can you update your experiences with the product since your post 104 days ago ? I would appreciate it.

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

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118104 posts in 4386 days

#2 posted 03-15-2012 02:15 PM

Thanks for the heads up.


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David Grimes

2078 posts in 3449 days

#3 posted 03-16-2012 04:58 AM

More to consider if the $cost$ turns you off:
- The containers are plastic (so no rusty flecks to filter).
- The dried solids are nearly 50% greater than lacquer so it takes less coats (2-3) versus 6-8 I spray with nitro.
- It flattens / self-levels better, so less final sanding and/or buffing.
- Not harmful even if you ingest it (per the msds).
- Not flammable. Use it to put out a fire if you have to.
- Clean up with warm water and detergents, so save all that wasted solvent cost
- Self-sealing
- low odor
- safe for childrens’ toys and furniture
- Made in the USA

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

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2741 posts in 3386 days

#4 posted 04-03-2012 06:47 PM

David, thanks for posting the extra info. :)
One other thing I found out is that it has an indefinite shelf life when properly sealed.

The plastic containers are nice, I rinse out and reuse them for storing odds and ends.

As for an update, I still love it. :)
I bought a new spray gun, the QualSpray QS-125WB witha bigger cup, and I can’t wait to start using it (waiting on some milton fittings to arrive). As nice as I can get the crystalac to spray in my tool force gun I’m sure it will spray 100x better with a quality gun. I’ll post a review of that once I get some use out of it.

I buy it in gallons now since I found out about the shelf life.
It really works great. The boxes I build that I spray with it (shown in the review) get a lot of handling, and it’s held up just fine. I was tempted to try target coatings, but they have a shelf life and are around the same price.

I did buy a can of rustoleum ultimate poly to try out since it was very cheap ($11/quart). I’ll write up a review once I try that out.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

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David Grimes

2078 posts in 3449 days

#5 posted 04-04-2012 03:32 AM

Gallon here, too. I’ll be shooting with this product in a couple of weeks.

Hey, thanks for keeping the post up to date.

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

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Travis of Hickory, NC

7 posts in 2552 days

#6 posted 11-23-2014 02:54 PM

Has anyone tried to apply a second coat of Crab Coat after a few years of wear and tear? Curious about process used and results?


-- "ars longa, vita brevis"

View chazmclean's profile


50 posts in 3140 days

#7 posted 08-21-2015 07:43 PM

I know this post is pretty old, but what is the time before the finish is sandable? I am used to conversion varnish, which is ready to sand to a powder in 20-30 mins. I have used a few water based finishes in the past and the dry time was 2-3 hours before it was hard enough to sand.


-- Charlie

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