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Applying Nitrocellulose Lacquer?

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by yeryayas, Nov 14, 2013.

  1. yeryayas

    yeryayas Tele-Meister

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    Yet again I'm going public with the vast extent of my ignorance, this time having to do with nitrocellulose lacquer. A few months ago I started making custom pickguards for Teles and Strats from five plies of fine veneer; I've got the process down, and the results are beautiful -- I've started selling them to very happy buyers. I've been using six coats of hand-rubbed polyurethane as a finish, and have been very pleased. Now, prompted by one of my postings on ebay, I've got a guy sending me some olivewood veneer to make a pickguard for his Strat, with the olivewood on top. Here's my problem and my plea for help: the guy would like me to finish the pickguard with nitrocellulose lacquer. I have no equipment or skill or facilities to spray the lacquer, so I've been experimenting with applications by hand. I'm getting close, but not fully there. Is there any good way to apply nitrocellulose lacquer without spraying -- and without brushing (tried a brush; terrible results)? Can this be done, or should I bag the effort and stick with the poly?
     
  2. HotRodSteve

    HotRodSteve Friend of Leo's

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  3. yeryayas

    yeryayas Tele-Meister

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    I've seen that. Have you used it? I know I can acquire the equipment for spraying, and can probably develop the skill to do it well, but I'm still left with the problem of no good facilities in which to do it. I live in Minnesota, so spraying outdoors will only work for about five weeks out of the year (grin), and my workshop is in the furnace room of my house -- and I don't want to do any spraying in the vicinity of a pilot flame. How easy and safe is it to use nitro in a spray can?
     
  4. Drum Strummer

    Drum Strummer TDPRI Member

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    Yeryayas,

    I made a laminated pickguard with burled wood using brushed on lacquer.

    I brushed on 4 medium coats of lacquer with a foam brush. I sanded it smooth (400, 600, 800 grit) then gave it a 5th coat. I sanded that with 1,000, 1,200 and then Meguiars Scratchx.

    The lacqer all but self levels each coat and the sanding back is just to make a glass level surface. Total finishing labor time was less than 15 minutes (not including the time required for the lacquer to dry of course). I probably could have made 5 at the same time with the space I have available.

    I found spraying such a small piece just takes too much time to build up layers to fill the valleys of the burled wood.
     

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  5. yeryayas

    yeryayas Tele-Meister

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    This seems promising and encouraging; thanks! From what I've been able to learn, I think that maybe part of my problem has to do with the schedule/sequence of steps. If I'm right about this, each successive coat of lacquer can be added about 1-2 hours after the previous one. Does that sound right to you? Is it necessary to do any sanding between each coat (as I have done, beginning after the second coat), or can I wait until before applying the final coat (as you seem to have done)? Also, how long should I wait for the final coat to dry before final sanding? I think I need to wait a lot longer than I have been -- two days? Three days? Longer?
     
  6. HotRodSteve

    HotRodSteve Friend of Leo's

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    Nope, I never tried it myself, but it looks like there are alot of good reviews.
     
  7. barbrainy

    barbrainy RIP

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    There is some specific brush on nitro. I forget who makes it, but such a thing does exist!
     
  8. Jack FFR1846

    Jack FFR1846 Tele-Afflicted

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    Go to Home Depot. Look for a black can by Minwax of clear lacquer. Buy a spray can or 2 for 8 bucks each. Go home and spray. 3 passes 3 times a day.

    I do this all winter on guitar bodies in my basement. For some reason, I do absolutely no painting in the warm months and don't use my automotive HVLP spray setup or compressor in my unheated garage. But wait till the snow flies and I'm spraying away. I turn on our clothes dryer to evacuate the fumes. (you think I'm kidding?)
     
  9. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

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    As long as you do not do a tumble dry cycle.
     
  10. DrASATele

    DrASATele Poster Extraordinaire

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    +1 On the minwax stuff, although I think the spray can they sell SUCK (well mainly the tips suck). I like the PreVal units and a Quart of the Minwax stuff. It allows you to do 2 things you can't with the rattle can version. Tint and Thin. Transtint, Colortone (these 2 use denatured alcohol mixed with some lacquer thinner as the carrier) and the Mixol stuff (this goes straight into the lacquer) work with this lacquer. The cheap Lacquer thinner is useable just don't use the standard ratios you would for the good thinner no more than say 25% to 35% of the lacquer or IME it stays wet too long and runs.
     
  11. jimd

    jimd Friend of Leo's

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    The best spray can nitro lacquer I have used is from reranch.com It is a little pricey but it sprays very easily. People say the minwax stuff is good. Deft lacquer is nitro too, but I do not like it, it does not harden for a loooong time.

    You can spray in the winter with no problems. Just keep an eye on the humidity. I like it below 50%. I'll put the can of lacquer in a bucket of warm water, take it outside, spray and then bring the piece in to dry in my basement. As long as lacquer is warm, I have not had a problem.
     
  12. yeryayas

    yeryayas Tele-Meister

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    Really helpful replies and suggestions, all -- thank you very much! I can report that I think I've worked out a usable method; my results are not yet perfect, but close enough to assure me that perfection is within reach. Main things I've learned: thin the lacquer before application; use very, very fine grades of wet/dry sandpaper; wait at least 48 hours between final coat and final finishing (final sand and polish).
     
  13. DrASATele

    DrASATele Poster Extraordinaire

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    You may want to wait longer than just 48 hours. More like a week or longer. I've found that lacquer takes forever and a day to cure properly. It may seem ready to go after 48 hours but if you get heavy scratching or lots of build up (small amount of build up is ok)on your sandpaper when wet sanding you should wait longer for it to cure. IME.
     
  14. yeryayas

    yeryayas Tele-Meister

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    Thanks, Chris; will do!
     
  15. fretman_2

    fretman_2 Friend of Leo's

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    I use the Minwax brushing lacquer in a can thinned 50/50 with lacquer thinner. I was using a Preval sprayer unit until recently when I purchased a Harbor Freight 4oz Detail Spray Gun. It works great with my little pancake compressor.

    I usually wait 4 weeks before wet sanding but the Minwax dries hard to the fingernail test in a week really.
     
  16. DrASATele

    DrASATele Poster Extraordinaire

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    fretman what thinner did you use?

    the same stuff they sell near the lacquer at HD or Lowes?

    Just curious, IMO a 50/50 mix of that stuff can be a bit too much and IME makes it take way longer to cure. I like 1 to 2 or 1 1/2 to 2. IME it runs less, dries and cures faster.
     
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