Crystalac - 2001 Super Premium Gloss Topcoat (Rating: 5)

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).