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Can you apply cellulose lacquer by hand, any tips.

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RichardG

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I’ve always been really happy with the surface and finish after applying cellulose sanding sealer. I apply via a lint free cloth and within 5 minutes it’s gone off and ready to sand. So I thought a simple hard wearing finish would be to use the same technique with some cellulose lacquer over the sanding sealer. So armed with a new tin of Chestnut cellulose lacquer I attempted to this and ended up with a right mess. It goes off almost the instant the cloth touches the piece. I tried diluting with 20% thinners and managed to get a get a bit further but no way can I do a 150mm diameter piece. If you try and apply a second coat 15 minutes later then it’s even worse as it seems to activate the previous coat to turn it into a sticky mess.

Is this just impossible to do by hand, despite what the tin says?
 

Gordon Tarling

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Anything cellulose based is going to flash off pretty fast, as well as softening previous coats. I can't find anything other than the Melamine lacquer that's cellulose based on the Chestnut website - is this what you're using? If so, I'd suggest there's good reason that they also supply it in an aerosol can.

G.
 

RichardG

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Yes, it's the Melamine lacquer.

When you’re looking for a hard-wearing, heat and water resistant, quick drying gloss lacquer you need look no further than Melamine Lacquer.

Based on cellulose technology, Melamine Lacquer has a catalyst suspended within it; when the lacquer is in the can it is inert but once applied and exposed to the air, the lacquer dries within five minutes like a cellulose and then the catalyst kicks in and the lacquer goes on to chemically cure to give a more durable coating. 90% of the curing process happens in the first seven days after application, making the lacquer very hard wearing, the remaining 10% of the process can take up to two weeks more to give maximum toughness, something you only need to consider if the lacquer is going to be subjected to extremely hard use.

Melamine Lacquer is designed to give a full gloss finish which will be achieved with a very careful application. It can be applied by brush (foam or bristle), cloth or by spraying. Where necessary, use Cellulose Thinners to dilute the product – especially helpful if working on a large area.
 

Gordon Tarling

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Think I'd be looking for a way to spray it, or maybe consider a non-cellulose based type?

G.
 

bobblezard

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I've been able to get pretty good results with melamine on smaller items but always used a brush. I've mainly either applied it with the item on the lathe turning at a slow speed or lying as flat as possible. Applying fairly quickly and thickly and brushing out any globs or runs straight away. This way I have been able to manage up to around 150mm round or square but not much more. After 30 mins or so it should be quite hard, flatten with wire wool, and recoat. Up to three coats a day which is usually enough.
Brushed out excess onto the drawer knobs in the workshop and washed and stored in cellulose thinners, if I try to dry them they go hard.
I mainly use it now for baubles, handles, light pulls etc. I have done for small bowls, boxes and flat pieces but I prefer a less glossy finish on these in the main. Once used it on some narrow cedar shelving and it gave a good finish.
Don't know if that's any help...
 

RichardG

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Thanks that’s really useful and gives some pointers on how you’ve managed to get it to work. I’ll try using a brush and see how that works for me. I was thinking that this hot weather won’t be helping either.
I’m trying to coat some small bowls that get used for crisps and nuts, I haven’t had much luck with the longevity of other finishes, walnut oil has been the best but looks tatty after a few uses, I think the salt is the cause.
 

Terry Smart

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Late to the party as always...

You're right, Richard, that the hot weather isn't your friend here. It will certainly speed up the drying time.

Thanks to bobblezard for his helpful advice and tips. A cloth is ok on fairly small items, but for larger pieces a brush is much better, as you can load it more and keep the lacquer wet for longer. Good results can be achieved with either method, but I always say that the Melamine Lacquer is probably our most finnicky product and does take a bit of getting used to.
Using a brush on a cooler day will certainly help. If you want a very high gloss, using Burnishing Cream after will increase the gloss level. Or use a gentle abrasive (400 grit for example) to matt the final coat down if you prefer.
Let us know how you get on.

Terry
 

Gordon Tarling

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I know that a retarder is sometimes used in professional paintshops, so maybe something like this would work?

G.
 

johnnyb

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it's very difficult to get a build ( thickness) of finish applying cellulose by brush. not impossible though. you need a very soft brush and glide it on without to much overlap. slower thinners is a huge help. fading lacquer is a mix of shellac and cellulose and is a lot easier to apply. these thing can also be "pulled over"
 

RichardG

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Thanks everyone for the suggestions and help. I’ve finally managed to get an OK finish on a small table I‘ve been making.

So I stripped off my old attempts, used some sanding sealer again, then down to 400 grit. Using a brush just managed to apply a heavy thinned coating to allow enough time to cover the surface without it going off, this did make runs a real possibility on vertical surfaces though. I also did it at the beginning of the day so the temperature was more like 17C rather than the 25C when I did it last time. I really need a second coat but I’m loathed to try as after a few practice runs the second coat seems more problematic than the first. I cleaned up a couple of runs by using a solvent soaked rag and careful wiped over the run.

I normally do my woodworking during the winter months when temperatures are below 10C in the workshop so I’ll have another go then but I think this really needs to be sprayed. I have a compressor so perhaps I’ll try a small airbrush/gun and see how that works or just buy aerosols.

The table is a present and designed to match in with their existing Ercol furniture.

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