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What Is And Is Not "lacquer"?


erikbojerik
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What is and is not "lacquer"?

Maybe just a nitpick, maybe not....but this occurred to me as I was reading the "Precatalyzed lacquer" thread.

From talking to various finishing guys, I get the impression that the list of finishes that can be accurately described as "lacquer" is a very small one....namely, only nitrocellulose or other cellulose derivatives.

The guys I consult with tell me that in order to be called a "lacquer", the material must be nitro (or similar cellulose derivative) and have the property that successive coats chemically melt into each other, to a degree that prohibits the formation of "witness lines" that result when consecutive coats do not melt into each other. They tell me this has to do not only with the solvent, but also the fact that cured nitro can still be dissolved (attacked) by the solvents in the next succeeding coats.

Does this sound kosher to all y'all? If this definition of "lacquer" is correct, then I don't know of ANY catalyzed finishes that would qualify as a lacquer....as far as I know they all require some scuff sanding between coats. Is there such a thing as catalyzed nitro?

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The guys I consult with tell me that in order to be called a "lacquer", the material must be nitro (or similar cellulose derivative) and have the property that successive coats chemically melt into each other, to a degree that prohibits the formation of "witness lines" that result when consecutive coats do not melt into each other. They tell me this has to do not only with the solvent, but also the fact that cured nitro can still be dissolved (attacked) by the solvents in the next succeeding coats.

That's the way I understand it... but i'm no expert on finishing.

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This pretty much lays out all the details:

Wiki page for lacquer

Well if that were true, then I wouldn't have posted the question after reading it.

Its a fine history with a bit of chemistry thrown in, but doesn't really answer the question about which materials allow the melting of successive coats without sanding between.

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I would consult with the Flexner book, 'Understanding Wood Finishes'.

I think he spells it out very clearly.

He goes over and explains EVERY finish, so you understand lacquer, and you understand all the other finishes as well, so you know where lacquer ends and something else begins and why that is.

He explains catalyzed lacquer as well in quite excellent detail, so you understand why you can have witness lines in a lacquer product.

Most excellent book, takes all the mystery and internet-guessing out of it.

http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Wood-F...r/dp/0762101911

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Again no expert and never never used catalyzed lacquer.

But even in the water based versions now on the market they can be called lacquer because they can burn into (melt down) even old coats of nitro. So technically they are lacquer.

I know this does not really answer your question but I figured I would add what little I know about it to the discussion.

Edited by Woodenspoke
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