Honest John wrote:
I’ve got a rattle can or two of this lacquer that I’ve had for a year or two. It’s not a thing I have much experience of and I get earache from SWIMBO when I use it because of the smell that percolates through the house. I can’t use cellulose sanding sealer for the same reason. I have now figured out a way of applying these products right next to a vent axia fan that takes the stink outside, and so far no grief. I’ve used this lacquer on three small items, giving them 4 - 5 coats. The lacquer looks lovely and shiney when wet, but seems to dry without much shine. Do I need to buff this finish, or apply a wax? I didn’t use a sanding sealer base coat sort of assuming that the first coat of lacquer would seal the wood. Should I have used a sealer under the lacquer? And a final question, I have heard of people using car shop acrylic lacquers in their Woodworking. Are these cheaper products as any good. I notice the chestnut product is about £8. Toolstation do a 500mm rattle can for a little over £5. Even cheaper ones are available elsware. Any advice would be helpful.
Start from the beginning, if you want a true mirror gloss the grain needs filling, not so critical on Beech, Cherry or Maple, but very much the case with say Ash, Oak, or Mahogany. A sealing coat helps, especially the thicker sealing coats like a shellac sanding sealer, these go part way towards doing the job of a grain filler, but on tighter grained timber it's not absolutely essential.
Moving on, you'll never get the same spray quality from a rattle can as you will from a proper spray outfit. You could work on it with burnishing cream (make your own or Mylands do a decent one) or you could, as you suggested, apply some wax. For the best results you should use a hard wax with a high carnauba content. True hard waxes are much more work to apply, you're best using a french polishing style rubber but substituting white spirit for meths. I don't think hard waxes are available commercially any more so you'd have to brew your own, but if you want to send me a self addressed jiffy bag I'll return it with a chunk of proper hard wax. PM me if interested.
You don't say what the small items are, but if they don't need a super tough finish then there's a lot to be said for the old favourite of shellac sanding sealer followed by hard wax, it's quick, easy and cheap (a lot cheaper than rattle cans!) plus unlike oil varnish it doesn't yellow paler timbers.