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Nitro Spraying and the Weather

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by GotTheSilver, Jun 11, 2018.

  1. GotTheSilver

    GotTheSilver Tele-Meister

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    Hi, all. I am (hopefully!) nearing the end of my current build. I am planning on spraying a nitro lacquer finish for the first time. I will be spraying in my garage, which is not air conditioned or dehumidified. I live in Houston, and summer is here! The temperature has already been hitting the mid 90s F daily. The average humidity in Houston is around 75% year round.

    Is it possible for me to spray lacquer in my non-air conditioned garage, or do I need to figure out a different plan? What temp and humidity conditions should you not spray lacquer in, e.g., "don't spray lacquer if the humidity is above X%"?

    FYI, I tried putting a portable air conditioner in the garage once, but the garage is not insulated. The air conditioner made no difference at all!
     
  2. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Doctor of Teleocity

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    My rule of thumb is not if over 50% or under 50 degrees.
    Of course I'm in Uvalde so the humidity isn't quite so bad as Houston.
    Might have some blush retarder on hand.
     
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  3. Outcaster

    Outcaster Tele-Holic

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  4. eallen

    eallen Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Where I am in Indianapolis it is consitently above 50% humidity, or 70% as far as that goes. I spray in any temp over 50 degrees and as long as it isn't raining with no issues. If it is over 85% I might add some K27 retarder. 90 degrees & 75% is a normal summer day of spraying for me.
     
  5. GotTheSilver

    GotTheSilver Tele-Meister

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    eallen - That is good to hear! Thanks.

    Outcaster - Thanks for the link. I will read through that thread this evening.
     
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  6. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    As far as I can tell spraying nitro is black magic. I have sprayed 8 coats successfully on a project, decided to do one more coat in the same conditions and BAM! Fisheyes throughout.!
    Obviously the big builders have issues too. I had a brand new high end Gibson Jazzbox (2004) It never got unsticky, I tried everything.
     
  7. Preacher

    Preacher Friend of Leo's

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    Spraying nitro is easy if you work with the humidity and temperature.

    I usually try to spray when the humidity is 20 less than the temp. So if it is 80 degrees out and the humidity is around 60% I am pretty good. 80 degrees out with a humidity of 80% and I wait for a less wet day.

    Of course when you are in a high humidity climate I would just add blush remover to be safe. Today it is 90 degrees with a humidity of 52%, perfect for spraying.
     
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  8. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    What lacquer are you using, and how are you applying it?
     
  9. GotTheSilver

    GotTheSilver Tele-Meister

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    Interesting approach. I will have to think about how this would apply in Houston during the summer and other seasons. For example, in January the temperature typically swings anywhere from the 30s to the 70s F, yet average humidity for the month is still around 75%.
     
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  10. bodevelho

    bodevelho Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

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    Carolinas coastal-plain I could only spray nitro in the winter.
     
  11. GotTheSilver

    GotTheSilver Tele-Meister

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    Good question! I have been stocking up on some supplies over time as I have been building the guitar, to spread the cost out. I have bought the following Behlen products:
    - Pore-o-Pac grain filler and grain filler reducer (2 separate items)
    - Stringed Instrument Lacquer
    - Qualalacq Lacquer Reducer
    - Qualalacq Lacquer Retarder
    - Jet Spray Blush Eraser (aerosol)

    I have also bought some Color Tone pigments from StewMac - planning solid, opaque colors for now.

    I plan on getting a Fuji HVLP system - not exactly sure which one yet. This guitar is a Les Paul Junior, all mahogany.
     
  12. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    You might have to experiment with the thinner (reducer) and retarder. When it's warm it helps to use retarder so that things don't flash off so fast that the lacquer will potentially trap small bubbles that don't have time to get to the surface - i.e. keep it wet longer. Also the amount of reducer is important but there's a sweet spot - needs to be thin enough to atomize for your spray rig, but at the same time can't be so thin that it flashes off too quickly.

    You may have unwittingly doubled up on one ingredient - the butyl cell-o-solve (a brand name for a component) which you'll probably find in your retarder as well as in the blush eraser.

    Does the stringed instrument lacquer have a preferred sanding sealer or vinyl sealer in the product line? Behlen, you probably already know, is the DIY label for Mohawk finishing products, all top quality stuff.

    And Fuji spray rigs are fantastic- find one that fits your budget, the features do add cost (less expensive ones are noisier but you also step down in the number of stages, I have a 4 and I deal with the whine by using ear muffs).
     
  13. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Good!

    I only asked because if you're finishing with aerosol lacquer your options are somewhat limited. If you're using a spray rig and bulk finishing materials you have a lot more flexibility as far as weather goes.

    I can't add anything to what others have posted, I've done a lot of finishing, but I use aerosols, and have worked out solutions to a lot of issues when it comes to weather and humidity.
     
  14. eallen

    eallen Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    If fisheyes appeard after 8 coats out od no where it likely wasn't weather in my experience. Fisheys are typically the result of of foreign contamination. Contaminated Cleaning between coats, something flew onto it...

    Most big builders haven't use traditional uncatyalized lacquer in many years do to hurried manufacturing time.
     
  15. philosofriend

    philosofriend Tele-Holic

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    If you are spraying from cans you are missing out on a lot of tricks that allow you with experience to spray under bad conditions. About the only thing you can do with cans is to keep the guitar warm with a shop light to reduce the risk of blushing. Don't get it too hot to touch! The heat evaporates the water that the cold evaporating solvent is pulling out of the air.

    Mixing your own you can use a slower (hot weather) solvent. If the blushing happens you can quickly spray some butyl cellusolve on there (super nasty poison alert.)

    The fellow with fisheyes must have touched his guitar with something with traces of silicone. Armorall, shoe waterproofer, miracle car waxes, tire polish all are full of silicone. "Smoothie" fisheye preventer is added to the lacquer, what it does is put silicone evenly in the lacquer. After you use it you have to put it in all the future coats.

    Experience shows that anything that goes wrong with nitro can be fixed. Fixing goofs with clear finishes is a million times easier than anything with pigments or dyes.
     
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  16. R. Stratenstein

    R. Stratenstein Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I have saved many a blushed finish with that Behlen's Blush Eraser. Just short of magic! I've always kind of thought of 50% RH as the no-go point, but I think it can be done with some judicious mixing in of thinner and retarder. If you can bring it into conditioned space after spraying it seems to help. Counter intuitive, I know, as I'm sure if moisture is trapped, it happens right as the coat is laid down, but blush seems to fade faster, and go away with no, or less blush eraser sprayed, if it comes into conditioned space promptly after spraying.
     
  17. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

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    It's possible. But it's probable your results will be awful.

    Dehumidifiers are not expensive, and a small portable air conditioner can be found on Amazon for under $300.

    But the ambient conditions are flat not acceptable. Blush reducer/retarder can reduce fogging but also can cause runs and inconsistent thickness. They are used to FIX problems, not to try to reduce them during application.

    Many finishers have to condition their spray environment. IF you can't do it, my recommendation is don't spray, especially if you have no or little experience. You'll bee fighting a huge uphill battle. Why do that?
     
  18. GotTheSilver

    GotTheSilver Tele-Meister

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    Unfortunately, there is not much I can do about the environment. It is an non-insulated garage. I have tried running a portable air conditioner in there before, but it was useless. Standing five feet from the air conditioner, you could feel no effect at all after it had been running for at least half an hour. I am sure a dehumidifier would be equally useless. I could wait until "winter" (not that Houston has much of a winter - more like the not-as-hot season) when the temperature is lower, but the humidity will be just as high.

    As for why fight an uphill battle, my only other option is to not finish guitars. What would be the point of building them if I can't finish them?
     
  19. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

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    There are plenty of people building guitars that deal with similar conditions. Options are change the environmental conditions, switch to polyurethane or polyester materials; or buy bulk lacquers and the additives/spray equipment that professionals use to overcome environmental issues.

    Aerosol lacquers are not the only coating option. Builders all over the planet have to adapt to their ambient conditions, with aerosol usage limited to temperate zones and specific conditions - and/or a bunch of luck.
     
  20. GotTheSilver

    GotTheSilver Tele-Meister

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    I'm not sure why the talk about aerosols, as that is not what I am planning. I have already bought bulk materials, including thinners and retarders (see post #11 for details), and am planning to buy an HVLP system. I would think this would give me flexibility to overcome some problems. I just can't air condition my garage.
     
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