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Brushing Water Based Lacquer


wander
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I'm looking to finally wrap up my project and was wondering if anybody has brushed on the Stewmac Colortone Water based Lacquer. I'm an experienced painter and have worked with a wide variety of poly's, oil, and water based paint with fantastic runner free smooth finishes. I'm looking for any pointers or experiences from anybody who has brushed this stuff on. I know spraying is optimal, but for the sake of this post let's assume it's not an option. Thanks!

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I've not used w/b Lacquer, but I have great experience in brushing finishes in general.

#1: Thin the finish by at LEAST 50% with it's solvent. This will lat you lay the finish a lot smoother. It'll take more coats, but the end result is much better than if going with thicker coats, and mistakes are easier to correct along the way.

#2: Understand is that it still goes on thicker than a sprayed finish. This means that it's a LOT more prone to drips, runs, and sags. I advise against putting it on any kind of curved surface. A body with a roundover of more than 1/8" is very difficult to get a flat finish onto. It's also fairly hard to brush a flat finish onto a carved top.

#3: The curves on the side of the body are where you're going to have the most trouble. If you brush it on with the body lying flat, it WILL pool into drips along the bottom surface. These are really hard to sand out. If you do it with the body vertical, you WILL get runs & sags, which are also difficult to sand out.

All that being said, it is entirely possible to brush on a great looking finish onto a rounded, curvy body.

end3.jpg

But it's a LOT easier to do it on a flat body.

bridges.jpg

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so what would you recommend as the best way to mount it for brushing? i was thinking to hang it that way i can get 360 degree access to catch runners, with it thinned so much i should have a good amount of working time so i'll be able to brush them out. i've done a lot of vertical poly on wainscotting, cabinets, and doors. That bass is fantastic btw

Edited by wander
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With all that said.......... :D

Lacquer is a Completely Different Animal when it comes to brushing it on, the normal rules really don't apply.

One, Cutting it 50% with thinner w/o checking with the manufacturer's recommended applications is a mistake you wouldn't catch me doing. Some things you can do that to, but to use it as a rule across the board is a big mistake, it doesn't apply to everything.

Two, when you brush on lacquer, you NEVER go back and forth with your strokes, you stroke it across ONCE and leave it and move on to the next stroke.

Three, you want your brush LADEN with lacquer, as much as it'll hold.

The trick basically is to just DRAG a brush chock full of lacquer across the piece and let it flow out completely on it's own, therefore the 'do not go back over it' rule is in effect.

You'll ruin it INSTANTLY if you drag your brush back through a previous stroke.

...You'll be tempted, ...your brain will tell you it's OK...but don't do it. :D

Four, with Regular Brushing Lacquer, they add more RETARDER into it so it doesn't dry on you instantly and to give it the necessary flow-out ability, but if you add too much retarder, your finish will NEVER dry.

Remember, RETARDER, not THINNER.

Five, I wouldn't even recommend doing it, it rarely comes out worthwhile.

Six, I don't even think waterbased lacquer has an option (Retarder)to brush on, so your way out on a limb if you try it (see #5).

B)

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With all that said.......... :D

Lacquer is a Completely Different Animal when it comes to brushing it on, the normal rules really don't apply.

One, Cutting it 50% with thinner w/o checking with the manufacturer's recommended applications is a mistake you wouldn't catch me doing. Some things you can do that to, but to use it as a rule across the board is a big mistake, it doesn't apply to everything.

Two, when you brush on lacquer, you NEVER go back and forth with your strokes, you stroke it across ONCE and leave it and move on to the next stroke.

Three, you want your brush LADEN with lacquer, as much as it'll hold.

The trick basically is to just DRAG a brush chock full of lacquer across the piece and let it flow out completely on it's own, therefore the 'do not go back over it' rule is in effect.

You'll ruin it INSTANTLY if you drag your brush back through a previous stroke.

...You'll be tempted, ...your brain will tell you it's OK...but don't do it. :D

Four, with Regular Brushing Lacquer, they add more RETARDER into it so it doesn't dry on you instantly and to give it the necessary flow-out ability, but if you add too much retarder, your finish will NEVER dry.

Remember, RETARDER, not THINNER.

Five, I wouldn't even recommend doing it, it rarely comes out worthwhile.

Six, I don't even think waterbased lacquer has an option (Retarder)to brush on, so your way out on a limb if you try it (see #5).

B)

on the can it recommends cutting 20% for brush on jobs. brushing is not my first choice either, but i wanted to see what kind of results the folks here have had after seeing that printed on the label as brush on would save me time and money if it is possible to do.

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OK, that's a good basic start, I would do a quick 'test on scrap' then and see how it comes out, making the scrap piece as realistic to your real guitar as you can (something with curves, a top and bottom included).

You definitely should do a practice run with it, as not going back over your last stroke, if you're a painter by trade or hobby, is a hard thing for your brain to get a hold of, it just doesn't come natural, you'll WANT to do it, but if you do a practice run, you can then do it and see how it immediately ruins the job...it's all about a heavy laden brush and the flowout with brushing lacquer... :D

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The 2nd picture - the white limba V 7 Explorer - were both done with brushed-on lacquer. I cut it with lacquer thinner. I honestly don't remember how much I cut it by, but it was with thinner, not retarder.

Now, Drak is most likely going to come back and tell you that my success was a fluke because I did it "wrong". He's had a lot more experience than I have with finishing, so maybe he's right or maybe he's not. All I can say is that I brushed lacquer that was cut with lacquer thinner and the finish came out wonderful.

Everything else he said about brushing it on is dead-on. If you re-brush the same area, you'll dork it up in a hurry. Lacquer is something I have mixed feelings about. It's pretty forgiving when yuo make a mistake, and the layers "melt" into each other, so that part is great. But it's a bit difficult to brush on and takes forever to fully cure.

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Deal-Killer...

I think (almost sure) that Waterbased Lac (I don't use the stuff myself) is a catalyzing finish, which means it doesn't bond to the previous coats, which means you'll have The Dreaded 'Witness Lines'. :D

One way you might combat that is to apply it all with a brush until you have that thing almost done, sanded smooth and almost mirrored out, then use something like a Pre-Val spray for your Very last Coat.

Spray it thin and clean and perfect, you might get 'er done like a pro job.

Might work. :D

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It's not about whether I think it's right or not, it's about understanding the science and physics of the materials you want to use, how and why they interact with each other like they do, and what it takes to make it happen the way you want.

My opinion has little if anything to do with it.

Easy. :D

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it's about understanding the science and physics of the materials you want to use, how and why they interact with each other like they do, and what it takes to make it happen the way you want.

Easy. :D

and that is why i have to use water based lacquer. i used an acrylic rattle can (see rustoleum post) to finish the guitar, i spoke with the rustoleum people and the stringed instrument lacquer i intended to use is NOT an option. as i have this guitar looking beautiful (pics posted when done) i needed a product that wouldn't melt the finish (which traditional MEK based lacquer would have). Water based was my ONLY option. Kinda leaped before i looked, but it's turning out good nonetheless

newbie question- witness lines?

specific question- what style brush were either of you using 2 1/2" fine latex sash brush seems right to me

Edited by wander
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If you have something important like that going on, I would take your acrylic rattler and set up a quick sacrificial lamb piece, shoot some of whatever you used first, let it dry, then try the brushing lacquer.

If it's THAT important, check on scrap first and be sure. :D

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Witness lines are lines where one coat meets another coat of any finish that doesn't melt back into itself when you apply a fresh coat over top of an existing coat.

I hardly ever brush on finishes, I can't remember what kind of brush I used to use to be honest, but I remember it needs to be a quality silky-smooth haired brush, since you're relying on it holding a lot of product, and a cheap stiff bristled brush will take you backwards with more lines in the lac that it will have to melt out.

As well, you need to get a setup where you punch a hole in a lid and insert the brush into the lac for airtight keeping over a few weeks, or you'll use up a ton of thinner trying to clean it every time, ...like the antiquing people do for antiquing pictures.

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Witness lines are lines where one coat meets another coat of any finish that doesn't melt back into itself when you apply a fresh coat over top of an existing coat.

I hardly ever brush on finishes, I can't remember what kind of brush I used to use to be honest, but I remember it needs to be a quality silky-smooth haired brush, since you're relying on it holding a lot of product, and a cheap stiff bristled brush will take you backwards with more lines in the lac that it will have to melt out.

As well, you need to get a setup where you punch a hole in a lid and insert the brush into the lac for airtight keeping over a few weeks, or you'll use up a ton of thinner trying to clean it every time, ...like the antiquing people do for antiquing pictures.

It does melt in to itself, or so the label says, hopefully will mesh well with color coat

I already have a scrap chunk ready, just waiting for good weather to paint as my garage is unheated

i've got nice fine brushes, i've spent too much time on this project to cheap out with some cheapo box store brush

good idea on the top for the brush, have done this before with my oil paint and poly projects, but this stuff is water based so as long as i have an airtight seal on the lid it's all good since i can wash with warm water.

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<slaps head> ...I forgot it's waterbased, cleanup's a breeze!

But I might check into it if I were you, I'm almost certain waterbased lac is a 2-part reactive curing type of finish.

I'm guessing there is a 'window' of re-application time, maybe a few hours?, but not like a true film finish like regular lacquer where there is NO window, it ALWAYS melts back into itself, there is no time period.

Worth checking into.

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<slaps head> ...I forgot it's waterbased, cleanup's a breeze!

But I might check into it if I were you, I'm almost certain waterbased lac is a 2-part reactive curing type of finish.

I'm guessing there is a 'window' of re-application time, maybe a few hours?, but not like a true film finish like regular lacquer where there is NO window, it ALWAYS melts back into itself, there is no time period.

Worth checking into.

Clear Gloss Topcoat is a crystal-clear acrylic waterbase lacquer that has 100% burn-in between coats, without a time limit. That makes it repairable, much like nitrocellulose lacquer. It is a thermoplastic resin and will shrink and move around with the heat of buffing. 25-30% of the final finish thickness should be lacquer topcoats. It sands and buffs well to a high gloss, with good hardness and durability. Full chemical cure occurs in 150 hours.

Waterbase Retarder or WATER can be added to reduce viscosity. When hot/dry conditions cause the finish to dry too fast, thin with 5%-15% Waterbase Retarder.

http://www.stewmac.com item number 5570

also didn't say anything about NEEDING any other product for curing either on the company website or the label.

Edited by wander
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I hardly ever brush on finishes, I can't remember what kind of brush I used to use to be honest, but I remember it needs to be a quality silky-smooth haired brush.....

No it doesn't.

I brush on almost all of my finishes, and I use the cheap, throw-away chip brushes. I've used the expensive brushes in the past, and I can testify that for our purposes, the only difference is the amount of finish they hold.

Yes, a better brush will leave a smoother coat. There's no denying that. With an oil-based lacquer, the next layer melts the previous one, helping even out any imperfections in the process. We level out the finish before buffing it, so any minor uneven-ness is taken care of at that time. I've even flooded the surface of the final coat with thinner so it will melt a bit and self-level a bit more.

All that being said, we're talking about water-based lacquer that doesn't melt into itself, so it's a completely different game. Since that's where we're at, I don't see any real point in using it. Go ahead and use water-based polyurethane. I guarantee that it will cover the paint without issue, and it has all of the stated drawbacks of water-based lacquer. The difference will be a much faster drying time and you can get it at Lowes & Home Depot.

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OK, First go on over to kit guitar forum or the OLF and search water based lacquers. And search here too, I've posted on them, and a lot of good stuff on the other boards. Hate to plug the other sites, but that's where the info is.

Second, I have no experience with Stew Mac's product, but I use Target coatings EM-6000, which is a replacement for Their USL, which is what Stew Mac relabels and sells.

Third, you can brush water based lacquer. But, you don't THIN it. You need to add RETARDER, 15-20% by volume.

It, does burn in so no witness lines.

You want to use a very fine bristled brush, and put on very thin coats to keep brush marks to a minimum. I recomend the Davinci brushes Target sells in their website. I found that NOT loading the brush helps get a smoother coat. And keep the brush nearly perpendicular to the surface to avoid bubbles.

I like to put on @ 6 coats then level, then @ 6 more level again, and if I get no sand through, I'll put on 3 more, let cure a week, level, micro mesh to 2000, then hand buff with Mequirs products.

You can even use TransTint or Mixol pigments to create toners and shaders, although you don't need retarded if you use pigments. Make sure you get the ones for Waterbased.

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No more discussion, no more debate.

Just follow it's instructions and everything should work out fine.

That is absolutely bad advice.

We ARE having a discussion here, it IS healthy for various input as long as everyone contributing knows what they're talking about.

If you were an experienced finisher (which you are not) you would WELL know the various problems guitar finishers have had with waterbased products over the years.

Even though I don't use it, I've been reading threads on that stuff for 15 years and the formulations keep changing continuously.

To try a 'new product' in the waterbase catagory is just ASKING to be a guinea pig and to have your project go down in flames w/o consulting other builders who have used it first.

If there were EVER a time to CONSULT someone who's 'been there done that', it's waterbase products.

RDub's post was excellent information.

I would follow it to the letter, this is one area you want to read read read posts from people who already use these products and have worked out the kinks like he's explained in detail.

Waterbase products are a finishing catagory all unto themselves, and there is an entire community of builders who try, share, and extrapolate their experiences with it.

I would add the MIMF as another source of excellent research on waterbased as well besides the two already mentioned.

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RDub-

Can i use water or off the shelf retarder from, say, Sherwin-Williams? If it is water based what would be the difference between retarder and just water? I realize retarder is specifically made to do this, BUT for the sake of information why use that over water? Any links for this info?

Going to do test runs this weekend for brush on, also going to pick up a small quantity of H2o based poly to see how the two compare. ideally i'll have picks posted by mid-week.

Edited by wander
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I can't answer your question. I'd suggest going over to Target Coatings website and asking it on the forum there. Jeff Weiss from Target is great to deal with and will be able to tell you the hows and whys.( or why nots)

And if you're gonna do tests, you shouldn't have results by midweek. You should test the full finish schedule, includeing all the coats and a full cure time....

Edited by RDub
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Well..nothing is Really necessary in the "tool" department.You can always get by and the end result may well be just as great...but the getting to that result can be very frustrating if you are trying to paint a guitar with a foam brush and a not-so-great quality product and you are expecting a glass finish.First brush finish I tried on a guitar I had to manually pull lost brush hairs from the finish after I thought I had done a decent coat...that sure did mess with my "glass finish" :D

after that I had bubbles...many,many,many bubbles...and the beautiful wine finish I had mixed myself was no good...had to strip it and start over.

Coen did build one in particular with a small roller for painting and got a wonderful finish,but he said he used a ton of sandpaper...around here the cost of good sandpaper is as much as the cost of a good brush....so you know..

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I can't answer your question. I'd suggest going over to Target Coatings website and asking it on the forum there. Jeff Weiss from Target is great to deal with and will be able to tell you the hows and whys.( or why nots)

And if you're gonna do tests, you shouldn't have results by midweek. You should test the full finish schedule, includeing all the coats and a full cure time....

I'll be able to tell whether brush on is any sort of viable (for me) by then. really i should be able to tell that before i finish a side. if i can't get it to flow out right and will need to spend the next few months sanding and recoating it is not what i'm looking for. i know this is NOT a quick process, and i'm not trying to do a slapdash job, but three young kids and a full time job demand most of my time. I'm gonna eat the gas money and take a drive down to my buddy with a sprayer and thirty years experience using it. gonna check out the Target site sounds informative.

all this discussion has gotten me to a few conclusions. First and foremost, shell out for a decent sprayer, second i want to try a brush on finish on a guitar that isn't so valuable (to me)(i've got an old beater that could use some new paint/lacquer...i'm thinking blinding yellow...) and lastly this forum is a wealth of experience. thanks to all of you for the help.

(superfluous parenthetical)

Edited by wander
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Let's swing this discussion another way for a moment, i saw another post asking about rattle can polyurethane...how durable is that for guitars? Done a ton of wainscotting, doors and the like, but could that do the job and still look good?

That stuff i can brush on and make look like glass, i've done it before, but i'd been led to believe it was NOT for instuments from various tutorials i've encountered else i'd have used that in the first place. Thoughts?

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