After having read through archives for several days, I think I am nearly
settled on a plan for the finish of a bed made of walnut.
I want to use lacquer and I will use a water based product and unless
there is a compelling reason not to. (Probably Deft) I no longer have
spray gear, so I'll use a brushable formula. I like a satin finish and
not a glossy finish. Hopefully I can meet all those criteria with a
What I'm not sure about is whether I need to sand, steel wool, or rub
between coats and what I should do for the final coat. I like for the
finish to appear that you are looking into the wood.
In addition, I don't know much about applying a sealer coat first, what
are the benefits, or which one to use or if one coat is enough.
I will be applying finish before final assembly. Would I be correct to
presume that I should not apply on the tenons and inside mortises? My
guess is that the glue needs to be able to soak into the grain and the
products will prevent this.
Any conversation is appreciated.
Come in Barry...
Are you there?....
(imagining screwy ham radio tuning noises...)
I personally don't know anyone that finishes large projects with a
brush. BUT, Deft is probably one of the most forgiving finish
products ever made, so you may be able to put it on easily with a
pad. There are many sizes of pads, so I would think unless there are
many complicated features to your design you could pad the lacquer on.
If you jump up to a pro grade finish like Target, Oxford, or MLC, you
wouldn't do anything between coats but wait for the appropriate time
to apply another one.
If you are looking for that "covered by a sheet of water look" you rub
out after the final coat.
Call the manufacturer for the recommended methods and materials.
Timing, abrasive choices, hardness of the material before the rubout,
number of coats to the desired thickness are all important factors.
Best thought here though, is practice on some scrap. Don't use your
project as your test bed.
Deft's water base finish is not lacquer, it is acrylic. Unless there
is a compelling reason not to, I'd use their lacquer. You can read
about them here...select the product then the tech sheet.
There is no need to sand lacquer between coats as the solvent in the
next coat softens the first coat(s) and provides adhesion. Same with
shellac. The only reason to do a bit of sanding is to remove a
foreign object, not to smooth.
Not sure what you mean by "looking into the wood". A flawless, clear
sheet covering the wood? If so, prepare to spend much time creating
it. Firstly, the grain of the wood needs to be filled. Walnut isn't
as open grained as many woods but it is still open. It can be filled
either with a commercial filler product or the top coat.
If filling with a lacquer top coat many (5+?) coats need to be
applied. The work then needs to dry completely and that is going to
take a while - maybe two weeks? You then use a finish sander (or by
hand) to remove most of what you put on by sanding until there are no
unsanded areas; i.e., you have to sand deeply enough to reach the
lacquer that is in the pores.
You repeat the process of applying lacquer, letting dry and sanding
until such time as you have a totally dry, totally flawless surface
with 3-5 (more is better) coats on it. If that surface is what you
want, fine; if not, you rub it out with ever finer materials until it
is. I might do that sort of finish on a special table top but a bed?
A word on drying...lacquer will seem totally dry after a day or even a
few hours. It isn't. Try to imagine a greatly magnified cross
section of a wood surface...it would be a series of peaks and valleys
(the pores). The finishing material in the valleys is much thicker
than that on the mountain tops. If you sand too soon the material in
the valleys will continue drying and your completely smooth,
completely sanded surface no longer is.
Any top coat you use will also seal. The only benefit to using a
separate sealer is that it may dry faster than the top coat you choose
and may be cheaper. In the case of water base materials - which raise
grain - it may be easier to sand too. OTOH, it is just something else
A word about Deft.
Deft's brushing lacquer is about as easy a finish as there is (only
thing easier is oil and that isn't a film finish). I *LOVE* Deft
lacquer, have never had a bad experience with it; however, until it
has several coats and is totally dry it can look disappointing as
you'll see every place there is a thicker application, brush marks if
it didn't flow enough, etc. Let it dry enough and those flaws pretty
DEFT is certainly not water based, but it is an excellent product.
ML Campbell Ultrastar is brushable on smaller surfaces, but it would be
have to be sprayed on a bed. I'm not that familiar with the brushable
water based products.
I'd stick with the brushable Deft on walnut, with proper ventilation /
personal protection / explosion risk precautions.
You don't HAVE to do anything between coats of Deft. In the rare case of
dust nibs you can scuff them off with a cork block and 400 grit
sandpaper. I prefer a sharp card scraper over sandpaper for leveling
runs in dried finish.
Deft is self-sealing, and the brushing action will lift shellac and
lacquer based sealers. I'd just start off with Deft. On a SCRAP
PRACTICE BOARD, of course. ;^)
You are correct.
One last thought, while they are non-flammable, it is a common
misconception that water based finishes are "safe". They're actually
not, and still require gloves, respirator, ventilation, etc...
Although the makers of finishes label them any which way, lacquer means
a finish that dries by evaporation of the lacquer thinner rather than a
chemical reaction with air. The major benefit of lacquer is the quick
dry, lacquer thinner is a mix of real volatile stuff and it dries tack
free in minutes. Gives less time for the dust to settle into the
sticky finish and get hardened into place, needing to be sanded off.
Real lacquer needs to be sprayed, it dries so fast that brushmarks
don't have time to level before the lacquer sets up hard. I'll grant
you, they sell a brushing lacquer that is a little bit slower dry, but I
don't recommend it. There may be steady handed people out there who can
brush it on smoothly, but I ain't one of 'em.
If it's water based, I don't call it lacquer, it's more like varnish,
dries by chemical reaction, the dried finish cannot be disolved by the
thinner. And it's a slow dry, hours instead of minutes. Gives plenty
of time for the dust to get into it. But you can brush it on and the
brushmarks will level out.
The first coat will raise the grain, giving a "nubbly" feel to the wood.
Soft fine wood fibers that felt silky smooth soak up the finish, it
hardens and the surface now feels slightly rough to the hand. A light
sanding with 220 grit will bring back the silky smooth feel.
To build up a clear "new piano" grade finish you have to fill up the
pores of the wood with something. One way to fill the pores is to sand
hard after each coat, removing the high spots and letting the low spots
(wood pores) fill up with clear finish. Sooner or later (3 to 6 coats)
you arrive at a glass smooth transparent finish. (Or you get tired,
accept a slightly less perfect finish and quit aftr 2 coats) 220 grit
sandpaper is about right to sand between coats. Last coat, you drop
down a grade, say 320 grit, and if the surface needs more gloss you do a
second sanding with something even finer. The old timers used to rub
with loose pumice or rotten stone powder and a rag and some oil to bring
out the gloss after the last sanding. Nowadays you can get super fine
sandpaper down to 1000 grit or lower, which ought to work fine. Or rub
the last coat down with Butchers wax to bring up a satiny gloss.
I often make the first coat (sealer coat if you like) with shellac. It
goes on quick, and dries quick. I feel shellac bonds a little bit
better to raw wood than waterbased finishes. One product sold as
"sealer" is mostly shellac if you read the fine print on the label.
You have that right, carpenter's glue doesn't stick well to finished
wood, it's much stronger soaking into raw wood.
I don't finish before assembly very often 'cause I usually manage to
ding the finished surfaces somehow during assembly.
On Fri, 16 Nov 2007 15:46:34 -0800, Larry Blanchard
And 5 years later, you'll build a finish. <G>
Quaalsoe is GREAT for French Polishing an existing finish. It's not
so good for starting from scratch. I've done some beautiful table
tops by brushing on Behlen's Rockhard or Waterlox Urethane, leveling
it with a cork block and sand paper, then bringing up the gloss with
rubbed on Quaalsole.
** http://www.bburke.com/woodworking.html **
It requires the patience and self-control to not brush over
a skip until it dries, until the next coat. Not all that different
from brushing 3 lb shellac.
Qualasole is a replacement for French polish. It needs no special
linen and cotton batting applicator (try to find actual linen for a
enough price), no oil and pumice prep. It goes on easier if you have
experience with shellac FP. Being based on an ethyl acetate solvent,
it *should* be more resistant to common household solvents when
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