What topcoat to use

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Forum topic by NausetWood posted 05-17-2018 01:29 PM 462 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View NausetWood's profile


5 posts in 782 days

05-17-2018 01:29 PM

Topic tags/keywords: finishing topcoats lacquer

I make hand carved serving trays. I color them with GF dye stains. I spray four coats of Deft (nitrocellulose lacquer) using their aerosol cans. Then I hand rub that with paste wax and OOOO steel wool. I am pleased with my results. However, I have two concerns. 1) would it be more cost effective to bite the bullet and get a compressor and HVLP spray gun or stick with the aerosol cans? If so, would I have to get into thinning the lacquer or can it be used straight from the can? 2) Should I consider using a different topcoat instead? I do have concerns about safety when spraying lacquer. I feel I should spray my finish due to the intricate carvings in the surface of the tray rather than brushing on a topcoat. To me, the world of finishing can be so overwhelming. Any advice is appreciated.

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6 replies so far

View bondogaposis's profile


5784 posts in 3121 days

#1 posted 05-17-2018 01:39 PM

Whether it is worth it depends on how many you do. Yes, you probably will need to thin it. The thing with sprayers is that it is time consuming to get it set up and time consuming to tear it all down and thoroughly clean it up when you are done. The spray gun must be cleaned every time or it will become useless. So it would only be worth it if you are doing large quantities at once. There is a learning curve to it, like most things.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View NausetWood's profile


5 posts in 782 days

#2 posted 05-17-2018 01:46 PM

Thanks for your response. I don’t finish in large quantities. I sprayed one or two trays a week (maybe). I didn’t think about the setup and teardown with each use. Thanks for that reminder.

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View Robert's profile


3738 posts in 2250 days

#3 posted 05-17-2018 01:53 PM

As Bondo said, all depends on how big the trays and how many. HVLP guns can be bought relatively cheap, but IMO you need at least a 40gal 2HP compressor.

Lacquer is extremely toxic and you really need a bonafide spray booth to use it. I would never spray in an open shop even with a respirator because the mist gets everywhere and you’ll inhale it even after you take your respirator off.

I would suggest polyurethane is a better finish for a serving tray because it is more 1) durable & 1) waterproof. Properly diluted it will spray nicely with an HVLP sprayer.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View pintodeluxe's profile


6150 posts in 3583 days

#4 posted 05-17-2018 01:57 PM

I spray even the smallest projects. Clean up of a gravity feed HVLP gun takes 2-3 minutes tops. I clean them by soaking the parts in a Tupperware of thinner. The thinner is reusable for several projects.
Also, how do you not have a compressor? Everyone needs one of those.

I thin my sprayed lacquer slightly.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View pintodeluxe's profile


6150 posts in 3583 days

#5 posted 05-17-2018 02:28 PM

I recommend lacquer. I have tried most brands, and am using Rudd Duracat 550 VOC now. It’s a non-yellowing lacquer so it looks great on light or dark colored projects.

You want to have adequate ventilation, and no open flame when you spray. Lacquer won’t effect shop equipment, because any fine mist dries by the time it hits the floor.

I would only spray poly as a last resort. Some formulations dry too slowly for my liking.

Good luck with your decision.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View ArtMann's profile


1480 posts in 1586 days

#6 posted 05-17-2018 02:40 PM

I build lots of small articles to sell using my CNC router. I use spray lacquer or polyurethane in rattle cans even though I have a nice HVLP conversion gun and the skill to make good use of it. I have not had the same experience as pintodeluxe. It is often much more work and takes more time to clean the gun than to spray the article.

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